Oct 09, 2003

Silent Treatment

Valve technology upgrade at Mt. Horeb, Wis., wastewater treatment plant operates quietly and effectively

Michael Goltz, superintendent of the Mt. Horeb, Wis.,
Wastewater Treatment Plant, had a problem. The cushion swing check valves
installed at one of his eight lift stations kept slamming and clogging.

The particular lift station that gave Goltz trouble preceded
10,000 ft of pipe leading to the treatment plant and it was possibly the worst
place to have a clog. The station is on the edge of a residential neighborhood
whose inhabitants would certainly be displeased if raw sewage began to creep
around their homes.

The check valves in question were allowing sewage to build
up on top of the disc, restricting the effectiveness of the valve, which caused
it to slam. Sewage would build up on the disc, pushing the disc further down
into the flow creating incredible head loss, clogging, and the constant

The cushion swing check valves being used had a non-metallic
insert for the seal. Every time a piece of plastic, wood, or any other sewage
solid would nick or chip the cork, the seal would begin to weep.

The Mt. Horeb Wastewater Treatment Plant processes up to
600,000 gpd and they could not afford to have the valves out of commission.

Race against time

The manufacturer of the cushion swing check valves
recommended that the valve removed from the line, shipped back to them for
repair, then shipped back to the customer for reinstallation.

This particular scenario could lead to a downtime of over a
month, leaving the lift station down to one pump with no back-up coverage in
case of a pump failure--a situation Goltz did not want to encounter.

Instead, Goltz and his crew resorted to repairing the valves
on their own to decrease downtime, which was not a small endeavor.

In order to repair the valves, they were completely removed
from the line, the shaft was removed and repaired, then the entire system was
reassembled. The total repair process took roughly four hours.

Not surprisingly, Goltz decided it was time for a change.
When researching different valves, Goltz learned about the Val-Matic Swing-Flex
Check Valve. What specifically caught Goltz's attention was that the Swing-Flex
was designed specifically to combat the frustration he was facing with the
cushion swing check valves at the Mt. Horeb Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The contour of the Swing-Flex's body provided for a 100%
flow area to minimize head loss. Due to the valve's innovative disc design and
domed access port, the flow of the sewage is able to self-flush any potential
clogs and prevent them from forming.

With the disc being the only moving part, there were no
internal components to get in the way and the valve was relatively easy to
install. The valve was designed with an angled seat, resulting in a 35?
disc stroke, less than half of a traditional weight and lever check valve.

This short disc stroke combined with the Memory-Flex action
of the disc served to reduce the closing time of the valve and minimize the
flow reversal to quell any resultant water hammer.

"After the installation, when the valve closed from the
force main, there is no measurable sound," Goltz said. "I couldn't
even hear it shut and you can't get any better than that."

One to another

After the success of the Swing-Flex on one of the two pump
lines in the lift station, Goltz decided to replace the remaining traditional
cushion swing check valve with another Swing-Flex. The installation was easy
and expedient. In just about an hour, the old valve had been removed and the
Swing-Flex was being tested for flange tightness.

"The Swing-Flex was very simple to install, there were
no mechanicals to worry about, and the valves are simple," said John
Klein, senior lead operator of the Mt. Horeb, Wis., Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Wastewater treatment plant operators are all too familiar
with the labor and cost associated with using equipment of inconsistent
quality, or inefficient design.

Whether the plant is servicing a large metropolis, or a
small town like Mt. Horeb, equipment problems can be devastating. By carefully
evaluating the unique requirements of each application, operators can be
assured that the right equipment can alleviate some of the major inconveniences
associated with antiquated technology.

About the author

Megan Rapaduski is the marketing project coordinator for Val-Matic Valve & Mfg. Corp. She can be reached at 630/941-7600 or [email protected].