Many years ago, when I was a younger man, I had the belief that everything should be built and installed to last.

I used to pride myself in making or installing things to withstand the test of time.  I would make sure whatever I was installing was securely fastened and not budge.  This usually works for most things unless if there is anything mechanical or electrical involved.

The idea of permanently installing something like a sprinkler anti-siphon valve seemed like a very noble idea.  I have to admit, now that some time has passed, that it wasn’t such a great idea .

Now that I am more mature and a little wiser, my philosophy is to consider all the different ways a device can fail and design serviceability into the installation.

Things to consider when installing anything electrical or mechanical:

  • Electrical / Mechanical devices fail
  • What are you going to do if you want to upgrade it someday?
  • What if it needs to be serviced?
  • What happens if a key-component fails and you’re forced to replace it?

I recently experienced a failure in my sprinkler system.  The valve that failed was an Anti-Siphon valve attached to a 4 port manifold.  It was probably one of my crowning achievements in sprinkler system installations.  I have installed a few, but this one I was particularly proud of.

I installed the sprinkler valves to endure the test of time.  They were securely fixed in the ground, attached to a 4 port manifold.  When you install sprinklers you don’t usually think about failure, you think about how wonderful it is that it works and everything is automated.

Failed Valve Lid

Point of Failure

Pictured here is the point of Failure.  The Valve Lid became weak over its many years of service; It was such a reliable valve.  Apparently, over 10 years of beating sun took its toll on the lid, it just couldn’t take the pressure any more.

Fortunately, the problem resolution was relatively painless.  They don’t sell valve lids at my local hardware store. However, they do sell manual Anti-Siphon valves that happen to be the same make, model, and size that I used when I first installed them all those years ago.  I purchased a new valve for parts, then replaced the Lid and guts.

I have seen some pretty spectacular FAILS in my lifetime.  Most of these failures were a result of wear and tear, or exposure, over time.

Note to self:  Make sure plastic parts are properly covered from the elements.