Some things in life do not get a lot of attention until they break! If you’re like most busy pumpers, you probably haven’t given your tank valves much thought over the holiday season. However, there are some options that will come in handy if you are fixing a broken valve or compiling your new tank wish list!
The four main types of valves installed on vacuum tanks include lever valves, piston valves, ball valves and butterfly valves. They all have unique features to accompany their pros and cons that contribute to their relevance in the water and wastewater industries.
Butterfly valves are the least utilized valve type in the grease and septic liquid waste industry. The valve features a paddle type stopper that swivels in place allowing fluid to flow around it when open. Debris can easily get caught on the stopper in the open position. This valve type is more commonly used in the oil and gas industry for water haulers and liquids that do not contain debris or solids.
Lever valves are more common and universal because of their friendly price point and full open design. Commonly these are brass valves, but are also available in stainless steel or with stainless steel components, if you’re willing to pay for the upgrades. The lever pulls the stopper completely out of the line of flow and allows liquids and solids to pass through easily. This valve design has become the workhorse solution for many pumpers; however care should be taken to prevent damage to the stopper. When closing the valve, check for small rocks or hardened debris that can collect in the valve body as these could mar the surface of the stopper if forced shut, which could cause leaks and valve failure.
Piston valves also feature a full open design much like lever valves. The handle on a piston valve is larger and easier to operate but can be bulky on trucks with multiple valves in close proximity. Many options for automation make the piston valve desirable for those needing remote control options or for land applicators. They can be powered with air or hydraulic allowing the valve to open and close from a control module. More expensive than brass lever valves, brass piston valves are a middle of the road option from a price perspective, unless adding stainless steel or automation components.
Brass ball valves carry a hefty price tag and are the endangered species of the liquid waste valve options. Most commonly available in brass these valves also have limited stainless steel upgrade options. They feature an enclosed ball with two openings allowing liquid or solids to pass when rotated to the open position. The ball sits on a Teflon seat and has seals that wear over time. This design can also break if it freezes in either the full open or full closed positions. When operating in cold weather, ball valves are best maintained in the half open position or closed with heated options.
Regardless of the valve type, repair or replacement will be needed at some point. Replaceable components are often more hassle to tear down, fix and reassemble than replacing the entire valve. Keeping some valve money in your budget is a wise consideration.
Hopefully this article finds you contemplating your new rig set up rather than nursing repairs on old faithful. Either way, be sure to keep an open mind when it comes to valve configurations.
Submitted by Tim Lightner
Tim is a sales associate for Pik Rite, Inc. His expertise in the vacuum tank product line has been sought by local operators as well as multiple international and military accounts in both septic and gas and oil industries. Pik Rite, Inc. is a custom manufacturer of commercial vacuum tanks. Pik Rite hoist units, roll-off units, slide-in units, portable toilet service units and tank trailers come in sizes ranging from 300 gallons to 6,500 gallons. Our 15 year steel tank warranty sets us apart from the competition. Tanks are available in steel, stainless steel and aluminum.