How to Properly Maintain a Gate Valve
Valves—regardless of type—are one of the most important pieces of any system that handles and delivers liquid. They are the key to making sure liquid flows properly and stops in the right sections of pipe. If you don’t have the right gate valve, you may soon face problems with the flow of important liquids. The biggest issue many people face is the valve malfunctioning and resulting in a leak. This can result in more than just an irritating mess. It can leak potentially dangerous fluids out into a sensitive area. Further, even if what comes out is just water, this can be a big problem due to water’s corrosive properties. It is therefore important to know how to take care of your gate valve. All gate valves have the same basic function, and we will discuss that first. Then we will take a look at some of the things you can do to properly take good care of any hydraulic gage valves.
How a Gate Valve Works
A gate valve is a fairly simple device. It restricts the flow of liquid completely when in the shutoff position. It is different than some other types of ball valves that may only restrict a certain amount of the liquid from flowing through while allowing the rest to go through uninhibited. These kinds of valves have uses as well, but a gate valve is designed to completely stop the flow of liquid in its tracks.
A gate valve very frequently has a ball valve as part of its system. The ball has one side with a hole in it. As the valve is maneuvered into position, the side with the hole is put horizontally in the section of pipe, allowing liquid to pass by it. When the ball is in the closed position, with the handle perpendicular to the pipe, the side with the hole is facing the direction of the flow of water, and the rest of the ball is blocking the water from flowing past it. Moving the handle opens the valve and allows the water to flow through.
How to Care for a Gate Valve: Lubrication
One common mistake is for someone to think a gate valve is something you can set and forget. This is not the case. Anything with moving parts needs to be cared for properly. Otherwise, you are likely to have a situation where you are spending more time trying to fix your valve system than benefitting from its proper functionality. There are many types of valves, including American ball valve, high pressure ball valves, mounted ball valves, and pig valves. Regardless of the type of valve you have, you need to take care of it. Applying oil or grease to the handle mechanism is one way of making sure your gate valve gives you many years of smooth operation. When the lubrication gets inside the mechanism, it reduces friction between the parts. The friction inside a valve mechanism is one of the primary causes of deterioration, so if you do not lubricate it properly, it will soon begin to fail. Proper lubrication should therefore be a regular aspect of valve maintenance.
How to Care for a Gate Valve: Check for Corrosion
The kind of corrosion that can kill your valve is not going to happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that may take months or years. Corrosion can occur for several reasons, and you shouldn’t think that because your valve claims to be made of stainless steel that it’s insusceptible to corrosion. The metal inside a valve can fail due to the water or other liquid that is constantly moving through or trying to get through. Also, the gaskets inside a valve can crack and be compromised in short order. It’s not hard for these rubber components to corrode over time and leave your valve in a weakened state. Another concern should be debris getting inside the valve assembly. If this happens, you will need to make sure you get it out. If you feel or hear grinding, that’s a sign of debris, and you should discontinue use of your valve until the problem is fixed.
Keeping your gate valve healthy will enable you to use it for many years to come.