Modified Float Valves Could Land Facilities Managers in Hot Water

Technical Sales Manager at leading float valve manufacturer Keraflo, Neil Weston raises the question – who is culpable if a modified float valve fails?- following a recent rise in a worrying trend.

There is a worrying trend we’ve become aware of, which could lead to buildings flooding and hefty financial liabilities on the part of building owners or facilities managers.

Cold water tanks are a common feature in UK buildings, ensuring a constant, safe water reservoir to serve the needs of the occupants, the water inlet being controlled by a float valve, often housed in a raised float chamber on top of the tank.

The problem with using a “ballcock” type valve is that the ‘arm’ is too short to reach into the main part of the tank.

While this type of valve is available with a ‘drop arm’ it in essence means that the valve has been modified outside of its original spec.

Modifying valves in this way will almost certainly present problems with inherent design issues which can cause devastating consequences for the building, such as flooding.

These issues can present themselves in a few ways, for example, incorrect alignment could cause the valve to twist and fail, resulting in flooding.

Also, if the valve were to leak (which can often happen) the additional force on the float can cause the valve to either twist or fail at the pivot point.

Furthermore, when the valve opens fully (either when supply out-strips demand or if the tank is emptied for cleaning or maintenance) the ball could go back on itself and jam against the side wall causing the valve to fail in the fully-open position – a major flood risk.

With all of these potential failures a possibility, this begs the question; who is liable in the event of a modified valve failing?

Would the building insurance pay out in the event of a flood due to the failure of a modified valve? Or would the building owner, installer or even facilities manager find themselves with a hefty clean-up bill?

The culprit could also find themselves in deep water as such practice will render the valve’s WRAS approval invalid.

It is a legal requirement in England and Wales to conform to the Water Regulations Act 1999. WRAS-approved products have been tested and proven to have met the Act’s requirements.

If a product is not WRAS-approved a water company can insist that it is removed.

According to Item 2.7 of the Standard Terms and Conditions of WRAS Fittings Approval (www.wras.co.uk): “It is a condition of WRAS Fittings Approval that no changes or modification to the Application / Approved Product, fitting, assembly or range of fittings, including changes, substitutions or modifications to the materials of construction, components or sub-assemblies, be made without the Applicant / Approval Holder first notifying WRAS Ltd.

Full details of the proposed changes must be provided to the Scheme and if required Samples supplied for testing and reassessment.

Failure to comply with this condition will immediately invalidate a previously granted Approval.

“With respect to water inlet valves; if an aftermarket drop arm is added to a WRAS approved float valve, then the modified assembly will not be considered WRAS approved.”

Thankfully, there are a range of specifically designed, tried and tested valves that will work in tanks with raised float valve chambers without the need for modification.

Keraflo have been manufacturing such valves for over 30 years and the unique design of its top quality range provides superior performance and offers great advantages for larger tanks.

For more information call 0118 921 9920, email info@keraflo.co.uk or visit www.keraflo.co.uk

Find out more about Keraflo by viewing their company profile, here.



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