By IVM6000 co-inventor, Kelly Galloway, P.Eng.
I think the automatic distributing valve is a really useful, ingenious and reliable device. It has stood the test of time having been invented over 30 years ago by Carl Kah of K-Rain Manfacturing Corp. Originally developed as a way to zone landscape irrigation systems, the valve has become increasingly popular in the past 15 years with on-site sewage system designers and engineers as a method of zoning various components of on-site sewage treatment, dispersal and re-use systems and large septic systems.
So many people have asked me, if you think this valve is so reliable, then why did you invent a monitor to keep watch over it ?
The short answer is: We know in the real world, with wastewater…..”stuff” happens…the budget for maintenance gets cut back, the wastewater characteristics are not what was expected, installation plans are not followed perfectly or change due to site conditions, equipment substitutions are made, or other components of the system can fail which could impact on the valve (eg. pump wear, control panel or check valve faults just to name a few).
Most designers and engineers want to their systems to be reliable and reasonably fail-safe so that if and when the unexpected happens, there will be a way of letting someone know before a costly overloading situation occurs.
To use an analogy – I specify high quality, reliable pumps in my sewage system designs. But I still want high level alarm float switches in the pump tank in case the pumps malfunction or are not keeping up with the incoming flow. Many designers also specify current sensors for pumps in case they stop working. This doesn’t mean we think pumps are unreliable. We just want reasonable and affordable checks and balances on our systems when malfunction or failure of that equipment, although unlikely, could have potentially serious, damaging or costly repercussions for the client or owner.
The 6000 series distributing valve, while ingeniously simple in its design, does have internal parts that will eventually wear out or break like almost any mechanical device. The spring inside the stem of the rubber disk and stem assembly is the most likely part to break and this could cause the valve to malfunction.
The time it will take for a spring to wear out is difficult to predict. Its seems to depend at least somewhat on the gauge of the spring, the number of cycles the valve is subjected to and the chemical composition (corrosive nature) of the effluent. From our informal research and discussions with various system operators, the time until spring breakage can range from as little as “6 months to a year” for very high cycling systems or those with corrosive wastewater, to as long as “several years to never” for low cycling systems.
Some operators have told us they make regular trips to the site to check valves for spring breakage, debris inside, or other problems. We thought it made more sense, and would be much less costly to have a monitor that was capable of detecting a valve malfunction and alerting someone immediately.
Any mechanical device has operational limits that must be respected for it to function properly and reliably. Some of these parameters (such as minimum flow rates, and locating the valve at a high point to prevent excessive back pressure) are usually the responsibility of the engineer or designer. Other factors (eg. proper installation, correct cam, correct plumbing of outlets, thoroughly flushing the system of construction debris) are usually the responsibility of the installer or contractor.
Some factors can be controlled or mitigated by the system operator, but depend on the level and frequency of maintenance. Finally, some factors (such as unexpected freezing conditions, or the owner driving over a buried pipe and breaking it) are beyond the control of any of the professionals involved with a wastewater system.
The IVM6000 will confirm that the valves in your system are operating within their design limits, and distributing effluent evenly to all the zones – not just at system start-up, but for years to come. However, if uneven distribution were to occur, you can trust the IVM6000-LP to provide immediate alert of the problem, before a minor malfunction becomes a full blown and costly problem.
And so that is the reason why we invented the IVM6000…for reliable designs and peace of mind.