Limiting downtime for pipe repairs

May 20, 2021
Virginia's James City Service Authority Saving thousands of dollars to repair aging couplings with HYMAX solution.

James City Service Authority (JCSA) provides municipal water and wastewater service to residents and businesses in James City County, Virginia, (pop. 55,000). While paddling in a creek under a bridge, a kayaker noticed a leak from the 16” steel pipe that ran alongside it. The utility found the leak originated from a dresser-style coupling, one of ten used to connect pipe along the 600-foot bridge. The piping was installed in the mid-1970s, and all of the dresser couplings needed to be cut out and replaced as the old ones would be difficult to disassemble.

The standard process for installing new couplings would involve a crane lifting and lowering pipes during installation – a project that would impact system operations and block traffic on the bridge for about a week. JCSA was looking for a solution that could make the repair quickly and easily while minimizing interruptions to water service and traffic.

JSCA decided to use the 16” Hymax VersaÒ coupling to replace the existing dresser couplings. The VERSA could be opened to wrap around both ends of the pipe to bridge the gap between them. Instead of using a crane to lift one end of the pipe to install a coupling, JCSA and its contractor could use a smaller snooper truck which could position workers next to the existing pipe while minimally affecting traffic. Workers could then cut out the old dresser coupling and install the new coupling while leaving the existing pipe in place. Instead of a week to replace the couplings with traffic severely impeded, it took JSCA only two days to install 10 new Hymax Versas on the pipe. Nearly 10 thousand dollars per day were saved that would have otherwise been spent using the crane and hiring workers. 

“Using the Hymax Versa made a huge difference in making the repair quickly and easily,” said JCSA Chief Civil Engineer, Water Michael Youshock. “When you can minimize impacts to customers, minimize costs and allow traffic to flow, the choice to use this coupling was an obvious one. Costs were driven down dramatically.”

In addition to being fast and easy to install, the new coupling is very durable. Its weld-free construction and 100% stainless steel parts make it resistant to corrosion. Hymax Versa has a patented hydraulic pressure-assisted gasket that inflates as water pressure increases.  This allows for three degrees of dynamic deflection on each end to reduce the risk of future damage to the pipe due to heavy traffic on the bridge and temperature changes. The radial closing design and sealing systems also help eliminate installation errors.

For this repair project, the coupling was wrapped around the pipe ends to connect the pipes like a standard coupling. The product can also be used to stab-fit two pipes or repair pipe by wrapping it around the damaged section. This flexibility gives installers the option to connect or repair a range of water and wastewater piping types with diameters from 1.5" to 85”. With this multi-functionality and wide tolerance, inventory costs can be reduced substantially while saving shelf space as the product suits a wide range of pipe diameters, eliminating the need for dedicated wrap-around and coupling products.

The Hymax Versa coupling provided two main advantages for this repair.

Ease of installation
The coupling could be wrapped around the ends of the two pipes, enabling the installation without the use of a crane and multiple days of impeded traffic. This allowed the installation time to be shortened and required fewer workers and less expensive equipment to complete the project with significantly reduced costs.

The coupling is made of 100% stainless steel and features weld-free construction, making it resistant to corrosion since welded areas are where corrosion often starts.  The Hymax Versa also has a patented hydraulic progressive pressure-assisted gasket that inflates with increasing water pressure.  The resulting dynamic deflection capacity reduces the risk of future damage to the pipe due to traffic or temperature changes.

Using the Hymax Versa helped JCSA quickly make the repair to limit downtime without impeding traffic for multiple days. While installing standard dresser couplings would have disrupted operations and traffic for a week, the Hymax Versa needed only to be wrapped around the ends of the connecting pipes.

“The Hymax Versa made a huge difference to JSCA. Reducing costs while minimizing operational impacts is a win for all involved,” said Youshock. “The Authority saved thousands while ensuring our water infrastructure will be secure for many years to come. We’ll definitely use this coupling again with tricky repair situations in the future

About the Author

Vince McCaffrey

Vince McCaffrey is a Territory Sales Manager for HYMAX with nearly 25 years of experience in the water industry.

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