Air Release Disasters in the News (And How You Can Prevent Them from Happening to You)


Imagine it; a force main breaks, causing a major sanitary sewer overflow (SSO). The system is far too large and important to shut down and repair, so you encapsulate the line. Having no idea what caused the break, you can’t guarantee it won’t break again 500 yards down the line.

It happened to a California municipality and left them asking, “How can we prevent air release disasters in the future, and how do we know the force main won’t break again 500 feet farther down the line once we complete the repair?” Learn the answer and discover how a little preparation and the right equipment go a long way. 

Why Disasters Strike

Pockets of air and wastewater gases are hard to find in a liquid piping system. As air continues to accumulate in the system, the fluid velocity increases as the pipe area restricts, causing the liquid to force its way through a smaller and smaller opening. Eventually, pipes weaken, pressure mounts, and mains break.

A two-prong approach can help alleviate the problems that arise from air and gas accumulation:

  1. Automatic air release valve (ARV): Install ARVs throughout the pipeline to relieve mounting air and gas pressure.
  2. ARV monitors: Special ARV monitors provide real time and historical pressure readings within the ARV to diagnose and repair systems and instantly alert to leaking and failing valves.

If the California group had monitors, they could have pulled pressure data over days, weeks, and months leading up to the break to determine what caused the failure and prevent it from happening again.

Are You Using the Correct Air Release Valves?

After experiencing a significant force main break, a Tennessee organization spent thousands identifying several areas with undersized, broken, or non-existent valves. Although most municipalities utilize ARVs, some aren’t installing enough or are using the wrong kind.

American Water Works Association defines three basic types of air valves in standard C512 for use in wastewater, including:

  1. Air Release
  2. Air/Vacuum
  3. Combination

Using an ARV monitoring system like the one offered by Reign RMC, the Tennessee group could have identified their problem immediately with real-time data before experiencing an air release disaster and incurring costs for clean-up, repair, and diagnoses.

Solutions to Avoid Potential Air Release Disasters 

In Georgia, a municipality’s traditional supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system failed, and they lost all system control. Their solution was to use ReignAir™ to monitor pressure readings to run units and determine when to turn pumps on and off manually until they repaired their conventional system.

A Florida municipality suffered ongoing system malfunctions due to grease and fat deposits in their pipeline. After placing a ReignAir™ monitor on recently cleaned valves, they received an alert telling them the valve clogged again within a few weeks. Without the monitor, it would have been months before they knew of a problem, exposing them to potential catastrophic failures.

Take Measures Today to Stop Disasters Tomorrow

The right monitoring system can prevent disasters while allowing companies to safely repair systems. However, the wrong equipment or a lack of real-time visibility puts your business in harm’s way. Reign RMC developed a cost-effective monitoring kit to install on all popular air release valves that provide current and historical pressure readings, warnings of failing and leaking ARVs, and instant text and email alerts if the valve exhibits a problem. Avoid disaster by installing some today. Contact us for more information.

To learn more about Reign’s Air Release Valve Monitoring Solutions, click here.

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