Whether at the counter or on the job site, you regularly hear about it from your customers.
Right before spring, your customers will turn on the water at the main valve, only to find water gushing out of the breaker valve. The culprit is often a leaking pressure vacuum breaker (PVB).
Causes of a leaking PVB
1) Wear and tear: Over a certain period of time, things just wear out. The same goes for a PVB. Undergoing normal use of pressure over time, a PVB is susceptible to leaks. Your customers need to take preventative action—checking for leaks underneath the bonnet assembly of the valve.
2) Freezing conditions: Your customers should be assured that sometimes leaks are simply beyond their control. Temperature can factor into a leaking PVB. During the winter months, water in a PVB freezes and expands, causing cracking and splitting inside the brass body or poppet assembly. As a result of water freeze, the brass body is more susceptible to fracturing.
3) Debris: Encourage your customers with the importance of checking for dirt in the valve. Dirt can work its way under the canopy of the valve, stopping the poppet from sealing.
4) Old age: Over time, the poppet’s seal of a valve will deteriorate and consequently come apart. If the source of the leaking PVB is a faulty poppet seal, then tell your customers to set aside about 15 minutes to repair it. Some customers may want to install an entirely new valve. Just advise them that this could take approximately one hour.
Have a prevention plan
To save themselves time at the job site, customers need to be proactive and use preventative measures by blowing out their underground sprinkler lines right before winter. They need to shut off the irrigation isolation valve and use compressed air to blow out the water that’s in the lines. This allows air to get through the lines better.
Another proactive measure your customers can take against a leaking PVB is to install a Shrader valve. A Shrader valve is an air valve that’s plumbed in using a tee fitting. The tee is placed between the isolation valve and the PVB.
To help protect against freeze damage, educate your customers on the importance of backflow blankets.
Install a PVB: It’s the law
Remember to inform your customers about the importance of following local building codes. They’re established for a reason—as safety measures. Stress the importance of backflow devices, such as the PVB, and how they need to be used in all watering systems.