Valve Box

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Squirter, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. Squirter

    Squirter LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Messages: 172

    Is it common to see pea gravel or some type of stone in the bottom of a valve box? What is the purpose (other that keeping weeds out)??? My contractor did NOT use any. Should I add???

    Also, looking into the valve box, it sure appears to be a great place for someone to do major damage to my system if they were inclined. I can just see a couple of drunk kids or even an angry neighbor pulling up wire by the handfull. Is there a way to place a lock on the lid preventing the "honest vandal" from putting me out of commission???? Is this recommended???

    Messages: 18,668

    Rarely see gravel in boxes here. Rarely see vandalized valve boxes either. More often I see dogs ripping them to shred in the backyard.
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    Rocks help keep the roots and gophers/ground squirrels out.

    Try a security screw if your really concerned about security.
  4. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,170

    We gravel & lay fine mesh screen on the gives the vb & manifold
    a finishing areas of mole concentration, we'll use a white gypsum
    rock that deters the little dears..odd they've NEVER chewed into wiring!
  5. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    Gravel seems to be a favorite of landscape architects... and they all seem to be Cal Poly SLO alumni in our area. :)

    Personally, and this is dealing only in my particular niche, pea gravel is a real PITA. Gophers will still dig through it.
  6. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    BTW... we use bolts (similar to what Kiril posted) that require a special tool to remove on some of our boxes... but like locks, they only keep the honest people honest. Others will just take a shovel and break the box lids if they really want to get inside.
  7. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,170

    Mesh, my lad & curve it up thru the cutouts & duck tape the openings.
  8. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,625

    worse thing we've ever had happen was done by datsun dogs... rotos would pop up and the stinking dogs would attack... chewed them to pieces, if it happens again we're going to try the stainless hunters so they'll chip a tooth. another instance of vandalism is when we had a irrigation sub and a homeowner didn't pay him, he snuck in at night w/ a sledge and needless to say the valve boxes didn't stop him
  9. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,170

    ROTFL...we've had that too..all I could say after I figured it out was
    "good dog".
  10. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    I don't see how rocks keep either roots or gophers out. They do provide some drainage when you have a valve apart and flush it, or at least don't make for a muddy mess.

    Smaller gravel (pea gravel for instance) is potentially more likely to enter into an opened up valve depending on how low the level of gravel is below the valve, and how much gets dislodged in flushing out a valve.

    However, dropped screws, solenoid plungers or other parts are sometimes easier to locate in small gravel. I try to keep at least 4 inches between the bottom of the valve and the level of the gravel.

    I've seen Cal Trans specs for a job I was maintaining for a while a few years ago. They used rectangular concrete Christy boxes with haevy wire mesh and 3/4 drain rock. One box per valve. The mesh does keep out the gophers. Gravel or rocks alone will not.

    Best way to avoid root damage is not to locate valve boxes within the dripline of an existing tree, and not plant aggressively rooting species nearby (or if you do, use a root barrier.) A partial list (around here) based on my experience would include Alder, Birch, Redwood, Willow, Ash, Mayten, Camphor, Eucalyptus and even Flowering Plum.

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