How to Maintain a Flume

One of the most appealing aspects of using a flume for your flow measurement needs is that it requires virtually no maintenance because there aren’t any moving parts that need to be replaced over time. Flumes are inherently self-cleaning, but that can only go so far. If you want to maintain accurate measurements for as long as possible, you’ll have to conduct some brief maintenance on your flume every now and then. 

Check for Obstructions

For flumes that are set up in earthen channels or near surface waters, it’s likely that they’re surrounded by vegetation. While the initial clearing of the area to install the flume likely removed all compromising vegetation, it does grow back over time. You’ll have to make sure that no vegetation is growing too close to the flume to the point that the upstream or downstream conditions are compromised. Trash and silt can cause these obstructions as well.

One of the key signs of obstruction is flume submergence. This can happen when the downstream conditions have been compromised by debris of some kind causing the water level past the flume throat to be too high and submerge the flume entirely. Clearing out the debris should be enough to fix the submergence, however, so don’t panic if you see your flume underwater.

Ensure the Flume is Centered

A flume must be centered in the flow channel in order to offer accurate flow measurements. If you had a proper installation, this was already taken care of. If your flume is set up on a natural channel, however, that centering won’t last forever. Natural channels will inevitably change over time, and your flume will need to be adjusted in response to maintain the necessary front-to-back and side-to-side level orientation.

For most flume configurations, you’ll have to reset the entire flume to achieve that centering again. If you have a Parshall or Cutthroat flume, however, there are certain corrections that can be made to account for an off-center orientation. Even then, though, it’s generally safer and more reliable to reset the entire flume.

Clean Corrosion and Growth

If your flume deals with wastewater that’s vulnerable to algae and plant contaminants, be sure to clean out any growth that forms on your flume’s interior. The interior dimensions of a flume ensure the accuracy of flow measurements, so excessive growth can change the dimensions and throw off the numbers. 

Many surface water flumes are made from galvanized steel to protect them against corrosion. This galvanization can wear down over time, however, leaving the flume structure vulnerable to the pressures of the stream or surrounding animals. Reapply the galvanization when possible, but if it’s already too far gone, it’s best to simply replace the entire flume.

Professional Flume Maintenance

You now know how to maintain a flume, but that doesn’t mean you have to tackle it on your own. At Tracom, we’re happy to help with all your wastewater management needs. With help from our team, you can construct and maintain a high-quality flume with the longevity and accurate measurements you need. Contact us today to learn more.


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