How to Open a Cover on a Valve Box or Service Box

In the waterworks industry, when you need access to a valve, you need access to it fast. Whether it's a failed valve that needs to be replaced, a quick service change or a bad leak down the line, you need to have quick access. Because valves need to be accessed from ground level, they're placed under valve boxes, which can be difficult to open on occasion. Here's some information on how to open a valve box quickly and effectively, allowing you fast access to the valve.

The first step you'll need to consider is how to access the box, especially if it has been buried intentionally or covered with debris. Care should, of course, be taken when removing the debris or soil to ensure that no damage is done to the box, valve, or cover. Having the appropriate tools to get the job done includes using tools that will prevent or mitigate any damage to these components. Once you can access the top of the box, you can begin removing the cover.

Valve Box Cover

Accessing Service Boxes

Let's take a minute to consider the two types of valve box covers that are commonly used. The first type screws into place using a two-hole wrench. Some municipalities use mocked-up tools, such as a piece of bent rebar or similar tool, to open this type of valve box. Unfortunately, this can cause damage to the cover, letting more debris and soil into the valve box and making its next access take longer and require more labor. The second type uses a plug with a pent head, requiring a specialty wrench to open. In either case, it's important to have the right tool for the job, preferably a long-handled one that allows you to work while standing or kneeling instead of lying on the ground.

Once you've removed the cover, check for any debris or soil that may have washed into the box over time or while the cover was being removed. Though you could remove the debris in any number of ways, most professionals find an auger helpful in that it can reach into the more remote areas of the box while still effectively removing the soil or debris that is in the way. Once the box has been cleaned, it's ready for you to perform the work you need on the valve or surrounding lines.

All-In-One-Combo Key CTA

Once you've finished, take a good look at the valve box cover. Inspect it for damage, especially on the threads or nut, which could keep it from seating properly. An unseated box cover can be blown or washed away, creating a dangerous condition that could end in litigation. Replace it if necessary and make sure it is solidly secured.

As you can see, having the right tools for the job can make opening a valve box cover much easier, allowing the job to be completed quickly and effectively before you go on about your day. In fact, we have developed the All-in-one Combo Key that includes six (6) waterworks service and valve box keys and wrenches into one lightweight assembly.

At New Concept Tools, our job is developing strong, field-tested tools that make every project you have go faster and more easily than using less effective tools. Feel free to browse our complete line of Gate Valve Tools and Accessories by clicking the button below.

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