How to Clean out a Gate or Service Box
When you're working in waterworks, gate and service maintenance is a regular task that must take place to keep your system running effectively and efficiently. If debris or soil builds up in the box, it can make it impossible to operate the valve properly. The valve may not shut completely because of debris lodged in the works, or you may not be able to get a solid connection with the operating key. When that happens, your fist step should be to clean out the box to allow free operation of the valve or curb stop. Here's how to go about it.
When soil or debris builds up in a gate box, it must be removed to operate the valve. Though some people use special vacuum trucks for valve boxes, a wet-dry vac, or a suction tube to clean out small service boxes used for water house services. This approach is inefficient and time-consuming. So what other tools are available to help clean out the box?
Among less expensive tools to use to loosen up and remove soil is a service box cleaning auger, which bores down into the debris and works it loose, pulling it to the surface of the box and making it easier to remove. Cleaning augers typically work well for smaller boxes. For larger gate boxes a better option to consider in that case is a heavy-duty box cleaner, which features much wider blades to loosen up the soil and capture it making the process go more quickly, and allowing you to bring the soil to the surface much like a spring loaded post hole digger. With a heavy-duty auger, you can even use a variety of different sizes based on the type of service box you are using or add extension shafts to reach further down more easily.
A better option to consider is a cleaner with a variety of spoon tips to reach into the areas needed efficiently. The spoon tips can include clam spoons, for removing a larger amount of soil and debris, a needle-nose spoon to get into small areas and similar options. These tools remove the need to bring a special vacuum truck or equipment to the site.
We suggest when originally installing gate valves that it be supplied with a box seat gate box aligner that will make valve box installation easier and provide an egress area for dirt that may get into the box.
Cleaning out a gate box while undergoing maintenance tasks doesn't have to be a huge chore, and your valves will be much easier to work without the extra soil and debris causing problems with smooth operation of the valve in question. If you need to clean out your service box we suggest taking a look at our Service Box Cleaning Auger to get started. Also, feel free to browse our other Gate Valve Tools and Accessories by click the button below.