Air valves (air vents)

Air valves are critical for your irrigation system. They will help prevent your system blowing up or imploding!

Also, air trapped in the system creates large inefficiencies. Trapped air in the pipe constricts the water from flowing. In effect, it is reducing the diameter of your pipe.

In the diagram below, the trapped air is “reducing the diameter of the pipe” by 50%.

Soil suck-back protection: Installation of a vacuum breaker downstream of the secondary control head valve helps prevent soil sucking back into the drippers at shutoff. The vacuum breaker allows air into the system, thus reducing suck-back in the laterals themselves.

There are three categories of air valves.

Vacuum breakers

Application: Discharge air during the system startup and introduce air during shutdown to prevent pipes and tubes from collapsing. Also used to help reduce suck-back into the drippers at shutoff.

Continuous/automatic air release valves

Application: Release air during system operation under pressure, helping to reduce head loss and decreased flow from trapped air in water.

Combination air valves

Application: Provide air and vacuum release during system startup and shutdown, and continuous air release during system operation, hence a ‘combination’ of the two air valves above.


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