Stainless Steel Ball Valve Maintenance: A Comprehensive Guide

Regularly scheduled ball valve maintenance can help ensure that industrial process systems function smoothly with limited interruption or significant downtime. Proper maintenance can identify any potential issues with the ball valves before they become major problems and, in doing so, extend their service life as well. Ball valve maintenance can also help prevent equipment failures, and damage to the system, and reduce safety hazards for workers.

Ball valves are integral components in various industries that employ process systems, such as oil and gas, chemical processing, agriculture, food and beverage, mechanical engineering, and automotive manufacturing. They are designed to regulate and control the gas and fluid flow through facilities during processing, refinement, and production phases, and must adhere to ASME standards for process piping components.

Though ball valves are exceptionally durable, a number of factors such as design choices, operating environments, and maintenance practices, can influence their service life. To be certain, proper maintenance can extend the lifespan of a ball valve, as neglecting maintenance will shorten the lifespan of a ball valve.

Maintenance Strategies

Regular and preventative maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity of ball valves. Routine checks and servicing can extend the service life of ball valves and, more importantly, can reduce the risks of unexpected failures, damaged parts, or injured workers, and minimize plant downtime. Developing a preventive maintenance strategy can help avoid sudden breakdowns and unforeseen repair costs, too. Regular maintenance can avert situations that could lead to substantial financial loss in industries such as oil refineries. Implementing preventive maintenance programs then, can save both time and money in the long run, and lead to cost savings. Several maintenance strategies to consider would include:

Following the Specs

Your ball valve will come with a set of manufacturer’s specifications and instructions for preventive maintenance. Following these specifications will help maintain the valve’s optimal performance and longevity.

Regular Inspections

Perform regular inspections of ball valves on a routine basis. Inspections can detect leaks, but also monitor operational performance. Leaking or poorly functioning valves may indicate the need for maintenance or replacement. The scheduling of inspections may vary depending on the application. For example, ball valves in high-pressure and high-cycle applications may require more frequent inspections. A skilled inspector can check for the presence of mineral buildup or corrosion, any leak hazards, position indicator accuracy, ensure the opening and closure of valves, proper exhaustion and air filtration in the area, and even make sure the nuts and bolts are tight and secure.

Replace Seals

Regularly replacing ball valve seals depends on the serviceability of the ball valve design. Ball valve designs consist of one, two, or three pieces, with the latter being the only one that is serviceable. Seals in three-piece ball valve designs should be checked for wear and fraying, and replaced as needed. These seals are generally subject to immense wear that can lead to premature failure. This is especially true with ball valves used in operations with abrasive or caustic media or in high-cycle and high-pressure applications, industries like oil and gas, or chemical processing. Such operating conditions can cause valve seals to fray, leak, or fail prematurely. Routinely checking and replacing seals in a three-piece ball valve design will not only increase that valve’s serviceable life but also maintain the operational efficiency of the processing system.

Ball Valve Lubrication

For some ball valve specifications, lubrication is an important preventive maintenance measure. Lubricating valves help prevent abrasion risks and keep them operating without interruption. Proper lubrication also improves the effectiveness of valve seals. Application of the type and frequency of any synthetic, water-insoluble, or oil-based lubricants should follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Keep Ball Valves Cleaned

Debris and foreign particle buildup can obstruct and hamper flow, hindering a system’s performance. Cleaning ball valves regularly will prevent debris buildup and free the valve from obstructions. Depending on the operating environment, valves should be cleaned at least once a year, or more frequently in dusty or dirty conditions. Per the manufacturer’s recommendations, use appropriate cleaning agents and tools to remove oil, dust, or dirt from the casing and clear any buildup on the valve stem or other components. As a preventive measure, clean valves also help to maintain the optimal performance of the piping system.

Contact the Experts at Arthur Harris

Routine ball valve maintenance is vital for the proper functioning of an industrial process system. Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly shutdowns and system repairs. Proper maintenance ensures the longevity and efficiency of equipment. Arthur Harris & Company offers a range of products and services, as well as custom solutions, to ensure your process system operates efficiently and smoothly at all times. For more information on how we can service your ball needs, contact us today.