Irrigation valves are an integral part of an irrigation system. In fact, Alexis Bookman, product marketing manager with Irritrol, and Steve Hoveln, rotors, valves and accessories product manager with Hunter Industries, both describe valves as the heart of the system.
“If the valve fails to operate, the entire system fails,” Bookman says. These system failures may result in lost time and, in the case of repeat issues, dissatisfied customers. Contractors need to be confident that the valves they choose will operate correctly the first time and will continue to operate consistently for years after installation.
The good news is that the majority of the issues arising from valves can be solved at either the point of installation or through simple maintenance.
“I hate to be too simplistic, but valves in general are really trouble-free given a few basic things,” Hoveln says. “If there is minimal to no debris running through the system and they are wired correctly, they will last for a long, long time.”
Fit the valve.
The first step to a problem-free valve is selecting the right one for the job. Contractors should have a clear idea of the jobsite before selecting the valve, says Bookman, paying attention to the flow characteristics, the water source and even the types of sprinkler heads that will be used.
Ron Wolfarth, principal product manager for contractor valves at Rain Bird Corp., says that contractors should take the time to choose the right product, ensuring that the valve is designed well and has the appropriate pressure rating for the job site.
“A key to a long-lived valve is to not push it to its limits,” Wolfarth says. “High stresses, which can be absorbed in the short term, have long-term detrimental effects on valves, pipes, fittings and the joints between the fittings.”
In areas where reclaimed water is used, Wolfarth recommends using a valve designed to withstand the corrosive effects of chlorine in the water. Other factors to consider before choosing the valve are the wiring system and flow conditions.