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Automatic Sprinkler Inspection, Testing & Maintenance


Sprinkler Control Valves

The most common problem found with sprinkler control valves is difficulty turning the valve. A properly installed and maintained sprinkler control valve should not be difficult to turn.

Rarely is there a problem with the valve itself that causes the valve to be difficult to turn. Most problems with a hard turning valve are due to other problems. Poor lubrication is a primary reason. Failing to follow the required maintenance schedule will cause the valve to turn hard.

Post indicator valves are often difficult to turn. Just as often, the problem is within the post indicator itself, not in the valve. The interior of a post indicator contains fine brass threads. When dirt, rust, grit, and other debris accumulates in these threads, it makes the valve difficult to turn. These threads should be inspected, cleaned, and lubricated. The second major reason for a hard turning post indicator valve is that the shaft running from the post indicator down to the underground valve is not properly aligned with the valve. If this shaft is not vertically aligned it will cause the shaft to bind making it difficult to operate the valve. The only solution to this problem is to dig the valve up, and realign the post indicator on the valve.

Valves must be lubricated annually. This can be accomplished during the annual operating test. The moving parts of any post indicators or wall indicators should also be lubricated. If water is leaking from the top of the valve, it indicates that the packing glands in the valve are worn, and must be tightened or replaced.

The packing glands on a valve consists of a brass collar held in place by bolts. Tightening the bolts compresses packing material around the valve shaft to keep water from leaking out. The packing material is a square fiber rope impregnated with graphite that acts as a lubricant. As the packing wears it, the packing glands are tightened to further compress the packing around the shaft. When the packing becomes too worn to form a good seal, it must be replaced.

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NOTE: This is an unformatted excerpt from our online fire protection training library.

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