Water Tappings: What is it all about?

May 16, 2017


It seems like a fundamental, even simplistic question, right? What are water tappings? Curiously enough, there's more to this work than meets the eye, but that's often the case. Anyway, water tappings are defined as utility connections that don't interrupt an existing service. Try and picture that, if you can, the plumbing of an additional water connection, one that doesn't force the main line to shut down.

Demystifying Water Tapping Methods

The laws of physics and fluid dynamics say you can't just make an opening in a water vessel without suffering the consequences. The transported fluid will just use that hole to escape its containment medium. Worse yet, if the water is under pressure, it'll escape through that opening at some velocity. Water tapping technology sidesteps this issue by using a special tapping sleeve to create a permanent branch connection.

What Exactly is a Tapping Sleeve?

Depending on where you live, the name of this process can change. It's called "hot tapping" in some countries, for obvious reasons. Other nations have labelled the deep trench skill "wet tapping," but regardless of the engineering terms and colloquialisms, the same job is being described. That job requires a tapping sleeve, a special housing that covers and seals the proposed branch point. After that sleeve has been installed correctly, the water mains is almost ready to be "tapped." Incidentally, a tapped pipe is a pipe that has a threaded hole. As a verb, the tapping process cuts that hole into the pipe while the sleeve seal is maintained by a bleed valve and a packing gland.

Hydrostatic Testing

Mains water pressure is extremely high, which is as it should be because the water has to jet down kilometres of pipe. Otherwise, it wouldn't reach your home, or if it did, there would only be a tiny trickle dribbling out of the faucet. Somewhere around 500kPa of near explosive pressure is held in that line, so a controlled tapping procedure must be carried out properly. The correct application of the saddle, valve and sleeve should, therefore, be tested before any other work is conducted. In order to accomplish this test, a hydrostatic pump is connected to the water tapping valve as a pressure tester.

The water continues pumping into homes and office, plant rooms and utility centres while the live branch is made by the tapping sleeve. Installed properly, the saddle engages against the pipe, the valve creates its seal, and the entire assembly is hydrostatically assessed with a special pump. Finally, the trench uncovered mains water pipe requires reinforced cutting gear, so always source tapping sleeves and tapping machines that are built to work at the operational pressure carried in the mains pipe.

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