The repair of cast iron curb valve boxes has long been a costly, frustrating process for municipalities. Time-consuming excavations and land restorations strain public works and water department budgets. In addition, the outdated materials, vulnerable to rust and corrosive soils, too often prove inoperable during emergencies.

But now an initiative to install curb boxes designed with performance-based polyurethane and PVC piping is helping municipal agencies. The composition of these products makes them impervious to the breaks, leaks and cracking that causes cast iron to burst.  

At a trade show five years ago Bob Krueger, a systems operator for the Waverly Sanitary District in Menasha, Wis., discovered a product for repairing the grade-level caps of curb boxes. The innovation allowed his crew to lop off the metal top and slip on a polyurethane sleeve that was easy to adjust. But that made him want to take a bigger step forward.

“We liked what we saw—the ease of installation. Then I thought, it would be nice if you could do the whole box this way,” Krueger says.

Krueger had good reason to want more. The boxes in his territory typically decay within 10 years. He could no longer reconcile replacing the damaged system with the identical steel or cast iron product. “Why put the same problem back in the ground again? It makes no sense,” Krueger says.

His comments inspired Argonics, a firm with facilities in Michigan and Colorado, to engineer the 3-part Speedy Sleeve Poly Curb Box System that became available in April. The product includes the polyurethane sleeve Krueger and others now use, a valve box and a PVC extension pipe. The pieces are lightweight, durable and simple to handle, unlike cast iron. They are also expected to last more than 25 years. The firm offers two variants: The Minneapolis and the Arch style.

Waverly Sanitary District recently installed nine new curb valve boxes. But the key, Krueger says, is to insist that this type of product be incorporated in each city’s specifications for new development, including sub-divisions and apartment complexes.

“You don’t want to have ten different valves and curb stops in your town, or you’re going to be handling a lot of inventory. You want to work with the ones that last the longest and work the best,” Krueger says. He adds, “These boxes installed easily, they’re easy to adjust and they don’t rely on metal threaded couplings.”

Go here for more information on Argonics.


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