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The first edition of Air Release, Air/Vacuum, and Combination Air Valves, AWWA Manual M51, is the latest

addition to AWWAs series of manuals of water supply practices. Operators, technicians, and engineers will find the information in this manual useful for gaining a basic understanding of the use and application of air valves. A valuable guide for selecting, sizing, locating, and installing air valves in water applications, M51 provides information on air valve types listed in AWWA Standard C512, latest edition, including the following: Air release valve, Air/Vacuum valve, Combination air valve.

AWWA M51 2001 Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction................................................................................................................... 3 OCCURRENCE AND EFFECT OF AIR IN PIPELINES......................................................................... 3 SOURCES OF AIR ENTRY INTO PIPELINES..................................................................................... 4 Chapter 2: Types of Air Valves......................................................................................................... 5 AIR RELEASE VALVES.................................................................................................................... 5 AIR/VACUUM VALVES.................................................................................................................. 5 COMBINATION AIR VALVES ......................................................................................................... 7 Chapter 3: Locating Air Valves Along a Pipeline.............................................................................. 8 PIPELINE LOCATIONS ................................................................................................................... 8 SUGGESTED LOCATIONS AND TYPES ........................................................................................... 9 Chapter 4: Design of Valve Orifice Size ......................................................................................... 11 SIZING FOR RELEASING AIR UNDER PRESSURE ......................................................................... 11 ORIFICE SIZING METHOD FOR RELEASING AIR .......................................................................... 12 SIZING FOR PIPING FILLING ....................................................................................................... 14 ORIFICE SIZING METHOD FOR PIPELINE FILLING....................................................................... 14 SIZING FOR PIPELINE DRAINING ................................................................................................ 16 SIZING FOR GRAVITY FLOW ....................................................................................................... 16 ORIFICE SIZING METHOD FOR GRAVITY FLOW.......................................................................... 17 SIZING FOR SPECIAL APPLICATIONS .......................................................................................... 20 AIR RELEASE VALVE SELECTION ................................................................................................ 21 AIR/VACUUM VALVE SELECTION............................................................................................... 22 COMBINATION AIR VALVE SELECTION ...................................................................................... 23 Chapter 5: Water Hammer Effects ................................................................................................ 25 AIR/VACUUM AND COMBINATION AIR VALVES........................................................................ 25 AIR VALVES AT WELL PUMPS..................................................................................................... 25 AIR VALVES ON PIPELINES ......................................................................................................... 26 Chapter 6: Installation, Operation, Maintenance and Safety ....................................................... 28 INSTALLATION ........................................................................................................................... 28 OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE.............................................................................................. 31 SAFETY ....................................................................................................................................... 32

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Chapter 1: Introduction
Air valves are hydromechanical devices designed to automatically release or admit air during the filling, draining, or operation of a water pipeline or system. The safe operation and efficiency of a pipeline are dependent on the continual removal of air from the pipeline. This chapter includes an explanation of the effects of air and the sources of air in a pipeline.

OCCURRENCE AND EFFECT OF AIR IN PIPELINES


Water contains at least two percent dissolved air by volume in standard conditions (14.7 psia and 60oF)(Dean, 1992) but can contain more, depending on the water pressure and temperature within the pipeline. Henrys law states that the amount of gas dissolved in a solution is directly proportional to the pressure of the gas above the solution (Zumdahl, 1997). Therefore, when water is pressurized, its capacity to hold air is greatly magnified. The bubbling in soft drinks occurs after they are opened because the pressure over the fluid is reduced, and the excess carbon dioxide gas rapidly escapes. In a water system, a similar condition may occur at the consumers tap when excess air comes out of solution. Once out of solution, air will not readily return to solution and will collect in pockets at high points along the pipeline. Air comes out of solutions in a pipeline because of low pressure zones created by partially open valves, cascading flow in a partially filled pipe, variations in flow velocity caused by changing pipe diameters and slopes, and changes in pipeline elevation. An air pocket may reduce the flow of water in a pipeline by reducing the cross sectional flow area of the pipeline and may, if the volume of the air pocket is sufficient, completely air bind the pipeline and stop the flow of water (Karassik, 2001). Generally, the velocity of the flow of water past an enlarging air pocket is sufficient to prevent complete air binding of the pipeline by carrying part of the air pocket downstream to collect at another high point. Although the flow velocity of water flow may prevent the pipeline from complete air binding, air pockets will increase head loss in the pipeline (Edmunds, 1979). Additional head loss in a pipeline decreases the flow of water and increases power consumption required to pump the water. Air pockets is pipelines are difficult to detect and will reduce the pipeline systems overall efficiency. Air pockets may also contribute to water hammer problems, pipeline breaks, pipeline noise, and pipeline corrosion, and can cause erratic operation of control valves, meters and equipment.
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SOURCES OF AIR ENTRY INTO PIPELINES


In addition to air coming out of solution, air may enter pipelines at leaky joints where the pressure within the pipeline falls below atmospheric pressure. These conditions exist in the vortex at the pump suction, at pump glands where negative pressure occurs, and all locations where the pipeline lies above the hydraulic grade line. Air may enter pipelines through air/vacuum and combination air valves following complete pump shutdown, through the orifices of air release valves installed in pipeline location where the pipeline pressure is less than atmospheric, and through pump suction pipes that are not properly designed to prevent vortexing. Finally, vertical turbine and well pumps start with air in pump column, which may pass by the check valve and flow into the pipeline.

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Chapter 2: Types of Air Valves


This chapter describes the three basic types of air valves used in the water industry that are included in AWWA C512, latest edition, Standard for Air release, Air/Vacuum, and Combination Air Valves for Waterworks Services.

AIR RELEASE VALVES


Air release valves, also called small orifice valves, are designed to automatically release small pockets of accumulated air from a pipeline while the system operates under pressure exceeding atmospheric pressure. A typical air release valve mechanism is shown in Figure 2 1. Air release valves are characterized by outlet orifices, which are much smaller than the inlet connection or pipe size. Orifice sizes are generally between 1/16 in (1.6mm) and 1 in (25mm) in diameter, while the inlet connections can range from in (13mm) to 6 in (150mm) in diameter. When received, the valve is normally open and will vent air through the orifice. As water enters the valve, the float rises, closing the orifice. When air, which has accumulated in the piping system, enters the valve, it replaces the water, causing the float to drop and allowing the air to vent through the orifice. An air release valve designed with the proper float weight and leverage mechanism will allow the valve to open at any pressure up to the maximum working pressure of the valve.

AIR/VACUUM VALVES
Air/vacuum valves, also called large orifice valves, are designed to exhaust large quantities of air automatically during pipeline filling and to admit large quantities of air automatically when the internal pressure drops below atmospheric pressure. The negative pressure may be caused by column separation, pipeline draining, pump failure, or a break in the pipeline. A typical air/vacuum valve is shown in Figure 2 2. Air/vacuum valves are characterized by orifices between in (13mm) and 20 in (500mm) diameter that match the nominal inlet size of the valve when built in accordance with AWWA C512. As a pipeline fills with water, the air in the pipeline must be expelled smoothly and uniformly to minimize pressure surges. Likewise, after a power failure or as a pipeline drains, air must be admitted to the pipeline to prevent the formation of a vacuum, which may collapse some pipelines or cause surges in the system. The operation of an air/vacuum valve is similar to the air release valve except that the orifice diameter is considerably larger and will not open under pressure. And air/vacuum valve is normally open and is designed to vent large quantities of air through the orifice. As water enters the valve during filling the system, the float will rise closing the orifice. Air/vacuum valves once closed WILL NOT REOPEN TO VENT AIR while the

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pipeline is operating under pressure exceeding atmospheric pressure or if water is present.

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COMBINATION AIR VALVES


Combination air valves are designed to perform the same function as air/vacuum valve but, in addition, they will automatically release small pockets of air from the pipeline while under pressure like an air release valve. Combination air valves can be supplied in a single body configuration or a dual body configuration as shown in Figure 2 3.

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Chapter 3: Locating Air Valves Along a Pipeline


This chapter addresses the location of air valves along a pipeline for the elimination of air pockets, which could potentially cause air binding, and for pipeline drainage. The information in this chapter is intended to apply generally to transmission pipelines but may also apply to other situations. This manual does not address the location or use of air valves for downsurge and column separation control, which should be considered for some systems.

PIPELINE LOCATIONS
The proper location of air release, air/vacuum, and combination air valves is as important as the proper size of the valve. An improper location can render the valve ineffective. The following guidelines are recommended for the general location and corresponding types of air valves. However, there may be other locations where valves may be deemed necessary. A sample pipeline profile illustrating typical valve locations is shown in Figure 3 1. The horizontal axis is the running length of the pipeline, usually expressed in station points. Station points are often expressed in hundreds of feet, such as 145+32, which is equivalent to 14,532 feet. The vertical axis is the elevation of the profile stations relative to a specified horizontal datum. Air valves are typically used in transmission pipelines where raw water is being transported to a treatment plant or where finished water is transported to a distribution system, or similar applications. Air valves may not be needed on smaller piping in distribution system piping grids where hydrants and service connections can provide sufficient removal of air in terms of both performance and cost.

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SUGGESTED LOCATIONS AND TYPES


Air valves should be installed at the following locations. High Points. Combination air valves should be installed at pipeline high points to provide venting while the pipeline is filling, during normal operation of the pipeline, and for air inflow and vacuum protection while the pipe is draining. A high point is defined by the hydraulic gradient and is considered the upper end of any pipe segment that slopes up to the hydraulic gradient or runs parallel to it. Mainline Valves (not illustrated in Figure 3 1). Air/vacuum valves or combination air valves can be used on the draining side of mainline valves to facilitate draining of the pipeline. Increased Downslope. A combination air valve should be considered at abrupt increases in downslope. Decreased Upslope. An air/vacuum valve or a combination air valve should be considered at abrupt decreases in upslope. Long Ascents. An air/vacuum valve or combination air valve should be considered at intervals of mile (400m) to mile (800m) along ascending sections of pipelines. Long Descents. An air release valve or combination air valve should be considered at intervals of mile (400m) to mile (800m) along descending sections of pipelines. Horizontal Runs. Combination air valves should be considered at the beginning and end of long horizontal sections, and air release valves or combination air valves should be considered at intervals of mile (400m) to mile (800m) along horizontal sections of pipeline. It is difficult to evacuate air from a long horizontal pipeline at low flow velocities.

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Venturi Meters (not illustrated in Figure 3 1). Air release valves should be installed upstream of Venturi meters to eliminate measurement inaccuracies caused by trapped air. Deep Well and Vertical Turbine Pumps. Air/vacuum valves should be installed on the discharge side of deep well and vertical turbine pumps to remove the air in the well column during pump start up and to allow air to reenter the line after pump shutdown. Air valves mounted on these type of pumps may require special consideration in selection because of the violent changes in flow rate during pump cycling. Air release valves are often used with time delayed, power actuated check valves to release the air in the pump column slowly under full pump pressure (Val Matic Valve, 1997). Siphons (not illustrated in Figure 3 1). To maintain a siphon on a section of pipeline that extends above the hydraulic gradient and that constantly runs under negative pressure, install an air release valve on the high point of the siphon to vent the air. However, the air release valve must be equipped with a vacuum check devie on the outlet to prevent admitting air into the pipeline. For systems requiring more venting capacity, a similar approach can be accomplished with an air/vacuum valve with vacuum check device on the outlet. When reverse flow is undesirable after pump stoppage, a specialized air/vacuum antisiphon valve can be used. An antisiphon valve is designed to vent air during start up, close tight during flowing conditions, and open to break the siphon during reverse flow conditions using a flow paddle.

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