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Don’t skip a step: 3 reasons joint testing is crucial

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Joint testing of pipe and structures is still seen by some as an unnecessary or unrealistic extra step, but without it we risk far more than just a leak.



Plenty can go wrong during and after the homing or installation process, whether it's because of an open joint failing to create a seal with the gasket or a bad seal allowing infiltration or exfiltration. Testing takes the uncertainty out of the sealing capability and means a better product, installation and conveyance system for everyone involved.



At some point most companies test their manhole or pipe, doing what we refer to as proof of design testing, yet not many do external or internal pressure testing of the product on a regular basis.



Like a good tornado shelter, you want a product that works when it really needs to, and unlike a tornado shelter, we can test our products in advance of a bad situation. That's why companies must go above and beyond proof of design checks and make joint testing a regular part of their pre-installation routine.



The challenge most companies face when considering joint testing is simply having enough personnel, equipment and expertise to effectively execute these tests. For many, testing simply takes too much time, and often companies don't see the benefits that joint testing can offer — or they assume it's simply more hassle than it's worth.



Joint testing is not as daunting as many might think. The process has evolved a great deal from the clunky, time-consuming procedure it once was. Nowadays, the benefits of investing a little time, training and energy into joint pressure testing can far outweigh any of the costs or fears that might hold a company back.



1. Whether it's football or box culverts, the name of the game is consistency



ASTM regulation C443 requires a joint to consistently withstand 13psi of hydrostatic pressure. Most states follow this standard, which is convenient for suppliers and contractors doing work in multiple states. To meet a leak-resistant performance standard for the joint, you want a seal that will hold up to at least 5psi. A good external testing device (like the Straub Tester from Hamilton Kent) can be utilized to test joints far better compared to assembling, bracing, filling and pressurizing a line of pipes, and it will test real-world conditions far more accurately than an expensive internal testing system.



Many new products are changing the ease and effectiveness of joint testing beyond traditional concrete plugs or inflatable baffles. Modern techniques and new products make it more efficient and realistic for companies to ensure pipes and structures going to the jobsite are consistently watertight every time.



Simply put, joint testing is not as daunting of a task as some may perceive, and it will give companies and their customers more peace of mind.



2. A good seal is good for your company (and society as a whole)



It only takes one serious leak to damage a company's reputation — not to mention all the awful side effects this could have on the environment and surrounding infrastructure. Pre-testing products should mean fewer customer complaints and field service calls to repair leaking joints, meaning less wasted funds and manpower, and greater profitability. Not to mention saving installers time and money too, and that can only help a company's reputation and relationship with contractors and project owners.



Whether it's a concrete pipe, box culvert, manhole or non-round pipe, most regions and municipalities are increasingly requiring testing. This is a perfect time to begin integrating joint tests into your company's quality assurance routine.



That said, joint testing isn't just about meeting regulations or creating a good company reputation; it's about guaranteeing that a great product goes out every time.



3. It's about pride



Our industries do crucially important work. Cutting corners means the difference between a high-quality product we can stand by and something that won't survive that first real-world stress test.



A great product is a constant reflection of our work as infrastructure professionals; proof we're creating something that will function properly long after we're gone.



For these reasons and so many more, consider joint testing your box culverts, concrete pipe and manhole structures. It matters more than you think.