Valves are manufactured to last long. However, there are circumstances that industrial valves do not last the way they are supposed to. Identifying these conditions can help lengthen the life of the valve. In addition, valve maintenance is an important aspect of any valve life.

Different types of valves

Valve wear and tear is normal occurrence. But, with the right installation and maintenance, you can prolong your valve life service. Band-aid solutions are not long solutions when it comes to valve maintenance. 

There are so many ways to extend the valve service life, three factors have always come into play. These are the selection process, the installation process and the maintenance process. Choosing the right kind of valve is pivotal to valve life cycle. The other two maximize valve life expectations.

This article discusses the various ways of how to extend the service life of industrial valves.

#1 Understand Valves

There are many kinds of valves in just one operation. The first step in keeping valve integrity so you can prolong its life is understanding how a particular valve works. 

Check the XHVAL label on your valve to know valve specifications, including the type of system the particular valve should be used for. Additionally, always read the manual that comes along with the valve to know what material the valve is made of, the pressure and temperature range and the likes.

service engineer worker at industrial compressor refrigeration station repairing and adjusting equipment at manufacturing factory

For example, ball valves are only used for tight shut-off. Gate valve have throttling capacity but more prone to friction. Butterfly valves are lightweight and good for media isolation but there is a tendency that substrates would remain in the valve. A relief valve would be a great choice for throttling.

Part of understanding each valve is knowing its proper installation. Know what type of bore should be used for the valve if pressure is a huge consideration. Whether the valve should be bolted, welded or the likes are also major factors. This could mean potential leakages or a tight seal. 

One of the problems when you are not familiar with the valve parts, you might end up ruining the valve because of misidentification. One such example is the turning of the travel stops on the valve and the actuator. Travel stops often look like bolts and nuts. These should not be touched as these keep the disc from rotating.

However, by educating oneself of how external valve components look, and knowing where valve parts are located can save you from damaging the valves.  

Technical considerations such as pressure, flow direction, temperature, among others, are also part of the learning curve. Calculating the best efficiency point (BEP) gives you the values at which the valves work at its optimum.

#2 Ensure the Right Valve Selection

Electrical and Instrument technician fixing and replacing solenoid valve of inlet test separator shutdown valve at offshore oil and gas remote platform

Valve selection could be daunting. But, this stage is the make-or-break stage. If you scrimp on the selection process, you might choose the improper valve. This could mean a potential loss. 

One of the major causes of leakage is the wrong valve design or material in relation to the media. In the long run, the wrong valve would lose its optimal performance. That would mean loss to you.

What you should do is know the answers to these questions:

  1. What is the nature of the media?
  2. What is the temperature range of the media?
  3. What is the pressure range of the media?
  4. Is the valve going to be in an open position or is it going to be closed all the time?

To avoid being quoted the wrong valve by valve manufacturers, always review the valve specifications and always ask the right questions.

#3 Ensure Proper Installation

Proper installation begins in the upkeep of the valves after these are delivered. Valves can get damage from corrosion caused by negligence, especially when the valves are left uncovered in the elements. 

service engineer worker at industrial compressor refrigeration station repairing and adjusting equipment at manufacturing factory

Another common issue among valve technicians is the removal of end caps that act as a protection for the internal valve parts. When these are removed, chances are, foreign bodies can get inside the valve. These can cause damage to the seats once the valve becomes operational. Once the seats get damaged, there is a high potential for leakage.

Additionally, the valve should be inspected thoroughly before it is installed to the system. This is to ensure that the body and the components are not damaged during the shipping. 

#5 Clean Them

For valves to last longer, it is imperative that these should be cleaned at least once a year or if needed, especially when the plant area is dirty. Use proper equipment such as cloth, lubricant or wire brushes to clean the valve body and components such as the stem threads, studs, nuts and the likes.

It is also important that the valves are properly cleaned before installing them to the pipe system. This way, the valves do not contain contaminants that might harm not only the valve but also the media that  would flow through it.

#6 Coat Them

In some applications that contain corrosive media or those applications that require high pressure and temperature, coating the valves with thermal coatings can increase the life service of valves. Thermal coatings should use the high-velocity oxy-fuel process as these have been proven to be great in coating the valves.

#7 Regular Checkups

True enough, valves should be checked regularly. While this task could be tedious, it is a must. For ball valves and other related valves, by doing so, you are ensuring that the valves are free from damage and still maintain tight shutoff. Throttling valves need checking for friction damage.

Industrial workers with notebook, teamwork

As a rule of thumb, valves that are used vigorously should be replaced within six months of use. However, for critical applications, valves should be checked every three months. Such check-ups should include checking for leakages, corrosion and defective parts.

During regular checkups that you’d find cracks, cuts and even leaks on the valve. Such occurrences are normal when valves are frequently used over time. 

#8 Preventive Maintenance

If the valves are not corrosive resistant, use products that should prevent the onset of corrosion that could potentially damage the valve. A simple monthly application of a general purpose lubricant can do wonders and potentially increase the valve life span. However, take note of the lubricant to use as suggested by valve manufacturers.

Additionally, preventive maintenance should begin with making sure that the material used in valve making should match the specification sheet provided for the end-user. Also, as part of the preventive maintenance is to make sure that the valves are regularly greased.

There should be regular tests conducted so that there is an early detection of possible leakages and the likes. While this may be viewed as a costly endeavor, one of the best ways to increase the lifespan of industrial valves is to conduct leakage tests.

#9 Field Machining

When valves are used over and over again, the sealing capacity of the connections wears off. To make sure that the valves do not leak at the flanges without having to remove the valve from the system, field machining is utilized.

In Summary

By learning the nature of the particular valve, cleaning the valve and conducting preventive maintenance, among others, can increase the life of industrial valves. Should you wish to learn more about industrial valves, feel free to contact us.