Subscribe to get Notifications
Explore how Ziptility is connecting the custom products industry through an end-to-end map making
What is a Gate Valve?
Gate valves are designed to start or stop flow the flow of water within a water distribution system specifically. However, Gate valves are used in many other contexts as well. Valves are usually either fully opened or fully closed. Because if gate valves are left open, even a little, water will leak through and you can end up with massive water leaks and expensive lawsuits caused by the damage. To open a gate valve, you must remove the disk of the Gate valve and pull it up into the valve bonnet. This will allow water or other liquids to flow through the connected pipe.
The advantages and disadvantages of gate valves
Some of the disadvantages of gate valves is that they cannot be quickly opened and closed. They also do not allow utility operators to regulate the pressure of the water flow, or throttle the water velocity in any way.
The advantages of gate valves is that they are very simple to maintain, do maintenance on, and they allow for bi-directional flow of water throughout a system. Also, given the design of their open bodies, they allow for a volume of water to flow through without the loss of pressure.
A gate valve versus a ball valve?
What is the difference between a gate valve and a ball valve?
Ball valves tend to last longer than gate valves due to their design and structure. Gate valves are susceptible to corrosion because of how many parts within it need to move in order to operate the valve. Water can get into to even the tiniest of cracks, and the presence of water on metal, always leads to corrosion or rust eventually.
The ball valve is typically opened and closed in quarter-turn increments. In ball valves there is a spherical opening that is opened and closed by the rotation of a shaft that is usually perpendicular to the hole opening. Ball valves can be full port or reduced port, meaning, the diameter of the valve will either match the opening of the pipe which feeds it, or it will be slightly smaller to try to limit pressure drops.
Ball valves can be shutoff quickly versus the gate valve which can only be shutoff by the cranking of the hand wheel which lifts the disk to shut off the flow of water. Because of the sudden onset of water pressure, ball valves are more susceptible to being damaged by the sudden onset of water, which can damage the valve seat.
Gate valves cannot be shut off as quickly but allow utility operators to better control the pressure in their system.
The importance of gate valves in a water system
Other than the pipes needed to transport the flow of water, valves are arguably the most critical components of a water system. They are needed to control flow, limit the potential damage area that any main break can cause, by allowing for the temporary shut off of water. This allows utility operators to isolate maintenance and repair during emergency situations.
Having operational valves and a maintenance program for maintaining them is critical to the health of a water system.
Do your valves open right or open left?
Some gate valves open left and some open righ depending on the installation, the manufacturer. You can typically tell which way they turn by the color of the operating nut but sometimes you cannot.
The majority of your gate valves should open the same way within your distribution system.
But we all know that there isn't a 100% certainty of anything when it comes to managing a water utility.
In your Ziptility Utility Management Software, every field employee will be able to access critical mobile GIS data directly from their smartphones so they can see in real-time which way the valves open and close, and how many turns it takes to completely open and close the valves.
Exercise Gate Vales at least once per year
Utility management best practices say that you should exercise your valves once per year at a minimum. This ensures that they are opening and closing properly and that they are without rust and defects. The data from your valve exercise is to provide your utility crews with the knowledge and peace of mind that they can confidently rely on the service of that gate valve when the time comes to turn it on or shut it off.
If you can exercise your valves twice per year, that's significantly better than doing it once per year.
With the Ziptility Utility Asset Management Software, water utility operators can schedule valve maintenance programs in advance, so that every utility employee can see when gate valves need to be exercised but also what the data was from the last exercise.
Consider A Larger Valve Box
Although a larger valve box is more costly and expensive than a smaller one, the benefits outweigh the costs of not purchasing one in the short term. If the valve in question is in a particularly crowded or busy street, it may be worth it to make sure you pay for a large valve box which will allow you to access the critical components needed to check the valve's performance without needing to break through the concrete and dig up a major intersection.
Allowing street teams and water teams to access the same utility asset management software, like in Ziptility, utility operators can make sure that both teams are on the same page.
When street teams are paving streets, require them to take a photo with their mobile phones of the work they did, so that the water team can be confident in knowing that they didn't pave over a valve box, which will make it difficult to find in the event of an emergency.
Having a flexible, cloud-based asset management software will allow busy utility operators the ability to have teams collaborate, and coordinate work to eliminate costly mistakes that can be avoided.