We all know how cold winters can be here in Colorado. This winter is turning out to be no exception. Sub-freezing temperatures can be brutal on any equipment that involves water. Obviously that is the case with backflow preventer test kits. Part of my daily duties involves certifying test gauge kits, and I can tell you that I have already come across several kits that have obviously frozen. Not all of them had permanent damage, but at least one certainly did. While I will gladly make repairs to those damaged test kits, we all know it’s not cheap and that cost cuts into your company profits.
With just a few simple steps you can protect your test kit from the cold weather:
- Drain your test kit after each and every test. Open all the valves on the kit and let as much water drain out as possible. Tilt your kit, shake your kit. Dance with it if you have to. Keep doing it until you are sure that you have drained all the water you can out of it.
- Leave the valves open. Once you have drained your kit, don’t close the valves! In fact, open them all the way. This ensures that what water is left inside, if it happens to freeze, has room to expand without (hopefully) doing any damage.
- Keep your kit where it won’t freeze. This is a no-brainer, but I have to say it. If you use a pickup for your testing work, keep the kit in the cab with you when it’s below freezing. A test kit can easily freeze in the back of a pickup while you drive between jobs. Also, bring your test kit inside overnight. It wants a warm place to spend the night as much as you do.
By following these three simple steps you can be pretty sure that your kit will be in good working order when it’s time for your next test. Test kits are not inexpensive, and they certainly can cost a significant amount to repair, not to mention your down time if you don’t have a backup kit available. Test gauge kits are a testers bread and butter, so be nice to them.