Hands-On Hints #2
Don't Touch That Dial!

Submitted by Mike Ahlee, San Diego County Director


During any practical hands-on exam you can see people going over the test procedures in their head, time after time, to ensure they donít leave out any steps along the way.  Sometimes, itís the exact opposite that happens.  People actually add steps that donít exist.  This can lead to disaster. With very few exceptions, people do the Reduced Pressure Principle Backflow Prevention Assembly (RP) test first during hands-on testing.  Itís probably the test they are most familiar with since RPs make up the lionís share of whatís out there.  As a matter of fact, I have yet to go through a proctoring session without at least one person saying they havenít tested a double check (DC) or a PVB (pressure vacuum breaker) since their last hands-on exam.

Getting back to the RP, during the test procedures, there are several points where one can get in trouble.  One such point that seems to cause more than its fair share of problems for people is during test No. 2; testing the second check valve.

The procedures ask you to:

Re-establish a normal pressure in the zone

ďbleed from the low sideĒ, then

supply high side pressure behind check valve #2.

If the gauge does not drop to the relief valve opening point check valve #2 is recorded as closed tight and you move along.  Itís at this point that some people get an overwhelming urge to close the by-pass control valve that is allowing high pressure to go behind check valve #2.  BIG, BIG MISTAKE!

Without the supply of high side water to the #4 test cock, your readings may be erroneous.  Instead of getting the actual pressure drop across check valve #1, you will again be looking at the apparent pressure drop across check valve #1.  Sometimes people will remember and reopen the by-pass control valve after re-establishing for the first time.  This too is a mistake; it does not correct the error.  This merely repeats the first test of check valve #2 and leaves you with possible disc compression.  Your reading could be improper, and the proctor will view this as an error.  The remedy is simple Ė once you open the by-pass control valve and test cock #4, donít touch it again until the test is over.

From that point on the test is very simple if you follow the procedures. Open the low bleed to re-establish, close the low bleed and record the reading on your gauge when it stabilizes as the actual reading for check valve #1.  The lesson here is ďThink, but donít overthink.  Donít add steps that arenít there.Ē

When the nerves take over, strange things can begin to happen.  Remember to remain calm, stop and take a couple of deep breaths, reengage the brain and you should do just fine.   Good luck - and happy testing.


home | newsletters | chapter activities | chapter contacts | tester information | calendar | links

Comments to denise@socalabpa.org
Revised 06/16/2005 5:01 PM