Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blowing Up

In the past two years an issue has surfaced with our irrigation system that has caused us to make numerous repairs to fittings that connect our network of irrigation pipes. When the golf course was constructed approximately 30 miles (yes miles) of irrigation pipe was installed to connect all of our sprinkler heads back to our main pump station at the Turf Center. A pipe fitting, that ranges in size from 2" to 18", is located at each intersection or change of direction in the pipe to connect pipes in the proper manner and route water accordingly. The fittings we chose to use are made from a material known as ductile iron and is known primarily for its strength and durability which is why they are also used in municipal water distribution systems. Below is a sample photo of what ductile iron fittings look like.

These fittings are designed and manufactured to last 30 or more years in the field. In 2009 we had our first two failures and while it was odd that we were replacing ductile iron fittings so early into their useful life, we chalked it up to improper installation as the cause of failure. It wasn't until last year that we began to see the pattern developing when we had thirteen more fittings fail over the course of four months. At that point we began working with our distributor and the manufacturer to remedy the cost involved in replacing what was later found to be a bad batch of fittings. Thus far both parties have been great to work with in helping us resolve the issues as they arise. Below is a photo of leak that was dug up and exposed on hole #10 last month.

It's only a small pin hole sized piece of iron that has disintegrated from the fitting, but as you can see it is leaking a fair amount of water.