Everything You Need to Know About Valve Exercisers

Why Do We Need Valves and Valve Exercisers?

Valves are crucial to the transportation of municipal water from place to place, as well as in sewage processing and plumbing systems.  Even the human body has valves!  From the age of the Romans and their aqueducts, valves have been used to control the flow of water to households.  While valves are vital to regulating, directing, and controlling the flow of water, valves are also used with gases, solids, and slurries.  Modern-day municipal water and waste agencies use valves to direct water flow, adjust water pressure, shut down water access, and prevent backflow.  The public water systems are vital to a community’s infrastructure, and the citizens depend on the uninterrupted supply of potable water.  Should a valve fail to prevent backflow, an entire community’s water supply will become contaminated and unusable until properly sanitized.  When those valves fail, it is up to the municipal workers to access the faulty valve(s) and repair and/or replace it.

The best way to avoid damaged valves is through the user of a valve exerciser.  Much like a treadmill helps exercise your heart (and all of its valves), a valve exerciser is a tool used to turn valves on and off repeatedly to ensure the valve does not become stiff and malfunction.  Valve exercisers are vital to the uninterrupted flow of water for cities and surrounding communities.  Without this maintenance, valves will wear and not be able to fully do their jobs.  Nobody wants a backflow of sewage in their drinking water.  To ensure faulty valves are not an issue, municipal agencies will create valve exercising programs where workers conduct valve turning with their valve exercisers to loosen and then tighten the valves down again to ensure they are functioning optimally and have not seized or suffered from corrosion.  Regular use of valve exercisers helps keep the valves limber and free of debris.

Advances in Technology

Valve exercising is not as easy as it may appear.  It can be back-breaking work that has to be done with precision.  Thousands of people rely on the proper functioning of those valves that are being exercised.  Valves are not always placed in the most easily accessible locations.  As a matter of fact, to avoid non-municipal affiliated people from tinkering with the valves, many are placed in hard-to-reach areas.  This makes accessing valve exercisers difficult for the workers and their valve turning. The early 2000s saw truck-mounted valve exercisers that were both inconvenient and expensive. In an effort to alleviate some of the expense and size of the truck-powered valve exerciser which was needed to access and turn some stiff and corroded valves, companies like U.S.SAWS have developed technology like lightweight, battery-powered valve exercisers.  The portability of these valve exercisers makes turning valves a much simpler task.   As valve exercising research and development has grown, it has allowed advances in other repetitive valve operations as well, such as hydrant exercising.

The U.S.SAWS VEX-400

The U.S.SAWS VEX-400 is a perfect example of a solid, portable valve exerciser with the power and safety features needed for successful valve work.  These exercises are made of alloy aluminum and hardened steel which use a Metabo drill motor as its power source.  Safety features include a trigger handguard, stable foot base, overload protection, and a shear key that will break before the gearbox, preserving the integrity of the exerciser and its user.  This device has a rotation counter that tracks turns rotating in either direction, comes with three batteries for a full day’s work without the need for recharging, and has multiple extensions allowing the user access to a wide range of valve depths.  This powerful tool also has variable torque settings ranging up to 400 peak ft/lbs.  After use, it breaks down for easy transport in its carrying case.

U.S.SAWS has a valve exerciser to meet any municipal worker’s needs from the portable and powerful VEX-400 to the Deluxe Valve Exerciser Package – Hydrant KitContact us today to discuss your options.

Pipe Beveling Tool Selection

Beveling cut ends of water main pipe after an in-field cut is required to reduce the chances of damaging Bell end gaskets during installation.

The difficulty in the beveling process is keeping a consistent and smooth finish while using basic hand tools.

Mechanical beveller’s have advanced with the use of battery-powered tools in high speed cutting heads making the job extremely easy and fast.

U.S.SAWS manufactured several tools for beveling PVC pipe in the trench allowing for quick installation and excellent results .

Because of changes in pipe size in classification having a tool that is adjustable in offered in many forms to fit tools like battery-powered grinders, gas-powered saws, eliminate the need for difficult handwork.

Field repairs often allow little room to access the ends of cut pipe. The U.S.SAWS bevel tools allow tight access with very little clearance required.

For pipe sizes 6 inches through 12 inches, US Saw’s Recommends the use of an 8 flute or 16 flute cutting tool. These 2 beveller’s have identical cutting profiles but are designed for either low power hand tools (16 flute) or high powered gas construction saws (8 flute). These cutting heads meet requirements of ASTM standards and AWWA installation standards For proper bevel dimensions. For pipe sizes, 16 inches and larger US Saws recommends the 3 flute beveller version used on a gas-powered saw.

Because these cutting tools work on a variety of sizes it is a one size fits all application. Most other manufacturers require the purchase of multiple tools for different sizes of pipe making the process expensive and the loss of parts a reality.

Underground Cutting Made Easy and Safer

Public Utility companies have used a variety of cutting tools for In-trench repair in the past, such as gas construction saws, reciprocating saws, snap cutters, and other means to remove sections of a damaged pipe. Today’s workforce recognizes the need for a safer and dedicated equipment designed to solve this job. Because of this, workers today are moving away from conventional handheld rotary blade machines because it can be problematic to operate in confined spaces with tools that are attached to the pipe.

For over 30 years, U.S.SAWS has been an innovator of pipe cutting chainsaws and water line maintenance. We offer advantages of modified grinding systems that can reduce the risk of injuries. With the development of specialized cutting blades, emissions-free air-powered equipment, and attachment systems to reduce the risk of kickback in the trench, U.S.SAWS designed the “belly saw.” The belly saw was designed to cut the bottom part of a pipe in the trench. We do this while having the saw straps physically to the pipe with a roller assembly that allows the saw to move freely around the diameter of the pipe while making a straight Burr free cut. The most popular version of this tool can cut diameters from 6 inches to 24-inch diameter ductile iron pipe. Also available in sizes are 24-48” and 48 inches up to 72-inch diameter pipe. One of the primary advantages of operating with this saw is that the depth of cut is limited to an inch and one quarter, thus preventing the blade from dragging in residual water in the pipe and reducing horsepower applied in the cutting process. The belly saw is the most cost-effective, fastest, and safest pipe cutting saw in the market today.

Pipe cutting chainsaws have revolutionized utility work in the last 10 years. The ability to cut ductile iron, cast iron, PVC, AC pipe, and other materials gives this machine a unique advantage. Because the air chainsaw operates with pressurized air, it can work underwater and in extremely wet environments with no disadvantage. To make this tool more useful and safe, U.S.SAWS created the pipe mounting device that fixes the saw to the pipe while being cut. This device allows the saw to make a bottom-up cut, which offers several advantages in the repair process. Residual water drains out the bottom cut, the bar moves away from the operator during the cut, thus avoiding kickback while cutting. There is also minimal effort on the operator by using this system, and a small tab of pipe can be left at the Top securing the workpiece until final removal is required.
Removing gas powered in handheld devices from the trench has been the U.S.SAWS mission for many years. With the development of these two machines, operators have a clear advantage in safety and convenience while making underground repairs.

Picking the right magnetic manhole lifter saves time & the risk of injury

Removing manholes can be harder than you think. Not only are these lids heavy, they often do not have adequate pick holes or lifting holes.
Manhole lids can weigh up to 200 lbs or more, add that to being wedged or frozen in place with sand, corrosion, and asphalt, removing them can be very challenging.

There are many use cases where workers need to create their creative methods for removing a lid, such as crowbars, shovels, screwdrivers, and even worse—fingers.

Using a dedicated manhole magnetic lifting tool not only saves the risk of injury, but it also saves time. Operators that need to open over 12 lids per day for grease trap or stormwater collection inspection know that ease in lifting and replacing lids is essential for efficiency and reducing the chance of injury.

U.S.SAWS manufactures two distinct types of lifting systems:

First, a fold-out dolly that uses a switchable magnet. This system offers a significant mechanical advantage to lift lids easily. This system is best if the operator needs to lift the lid free and clear of the opening. Some lids have flanges or casting lugs under the bottom edge that catch and prevent removal with drag out systems, like utility hole hooks. The additional benefit is that more than one magnet could be used at one time for lifting extremely heavy lids or unusually shaped objects. These have a range of average 100 lb lids to 500 lb lids.

The Second lifting system is designed to take up less room in a truck and is a “slide-out” style lifter. U.S.SAWS calls this the “Break and Take” line of magnetic manhole lifters. These lift the edge of the lid and unseats the lid. Then the operator slides the utility hole lid out of the opening. This method is beneficial for flat bottomed lids up to 300 lbs.

With a variety of magnetic tools to assist daily operations, U.S.SAWS leads the industry with tools and equipment for safer and easier manhole lifting needs.

Truck-mounted Valve Exerciser vs. Hand-held Valve Exerciser

This process has also presented as a labor-intensive system using t- bars and a variety of hand-operated devices. Massive truck-mounted units became available in the early 2000s; however, their size and expense make them appropriate only for selective Municipal customers.

The U.S.Saws’ design team developed a battery-powered, lightweight version that offers the operators weight to absorb the torque reaction of the handheld device. This allowed U.S.Saws to increase output torque and still have a safe design for operators. The U.S.Saws Valve Exerciser VEX 400  offers many of the features of the more massive truck-mounted units while maintaining a lightweight, portable design while producing 400 pounds of output torque, a 9-foot shaft depth, a digital counter, and variable torque output, this tool does the work of the larger units for a fraction of the cost.

Many municipal customers have reported that having a water valve exerciser can pay for itself in as little as one salvaged valve. Once the device becomes part of the regular maintenance package, operators will use this to close all valves for repairs, maintenance, inspection, line breaks, sluice gates, dams, and other applications.

Continuing innovation for this tool also offers hydrant exercising OS and Y valve operations for plant maintenance in other repetitive valve operations.

U.S.Saws’ culture of innovation continues to provide solutions for municipal operators year after year.


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