Check valves are essential components in many piping systems. These non-return valves allow liquid or gas to flow in only one direction, preventing backflow that can cause damage to other piping equipment or contamination. Check valves are commonly installed in pipelines on the discharge of pumps and compressors.
Like any mechanical component, check valves have a limited lifespan and may eventually fail due to wear of its internal components, corrosion, or other factors. The question however is, how long do check valves typically last before they need replacement?
So let’s take a closer look at the common causes of check valve failure and explore the factors that can influence their lifespan. By understanding these issues, you can take steps to extend the life of your check valves and avoid unexpected failures.
Causes of Check Valve Failure
Check valves can fail for various reasons, ranging from the incorrect selection of the check valve for the application to improper installation or even poor maintenance.
Incorrect installation and assembly
Proper installation is critical for check valves to function correctly. If a check valve is installed in the wrong orientation or its components are not assembled correctly, it may not prevent backflow or seal properly, leading to leaks or reverse flow. Proper sizing for the specific application is also essential for the valves to function optimally and provide a long service life. An undersized check valve may not allow sufficient flow, while an oversized valve may cause continual movement of the valve’s internal disc resulting in excessive pressure drop and premature failure. As such, it is crucial to carefully consider the system requirements and consult a qualified engineer or manufacturer to select the right check valve size and type for your specific application.
Check valves require regular inspection and maintenance to keep them in good working condition. Over time, dirt, debris, and other contaminants can accumulate in the valve, causing damage to the valves sealing faces or the valve to malfunction. In addition, poor maintenance practices can also lead to corrosion and other forms of damage.
While check valves are designed to allow flow in only one direction, in some cases, reverse flow can occur, either due to a malfunctioning valve or changes in system pressure. Reverse flow can cause damage to other equipment within the pipeline or contamination of fluids.
Check valves that are exposed to high temperatures can experience thermal expansion and contraction, resulting in excessive seat leakage and the possibility of premature failure. High temperatures in some instances can also accelerate the corrosion and degradation of valve materials, shortening the lifespan of the valve.
Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Check Valves
The lifespan of check valves can vary greatly depending on various factors. Understanding these factors can help you to prolong the life of your check valves and avoid unexpected breakdowns.
Material of construction
The choice of material used in construction of the check valve can significantly impact its durability and life expectancy. Different materials have different strengths and weaknesses, and some are better suited to certain applications than others. For example, check valves made of brass or bronze are often used in plumbing systems because they are corrosion resistant. Whereas, stainless steel check valves are used in industrial settings where they may be exposed to high temperatures or harsh chemicals.
The conditions under which a check valve operates can also affect its lifespan. For example, check valves exposed to high pressures, temperatures, or flow rates may experience more wear and tear than those that are not. Similarly, check valves used with corrosive or abrasive fluids may wear out more quickly than those with less corrosive materials.
Check valves that are located too close to the discharge of a pump or other pipe fittings such as elbows, etc., will be subjected to turbulent flow which can severely shorten the lifespan of a check valve. Turbulent flow causes the internal components of the check valve to continually move in directions for which they were not designed, resulting in accelerated wear of these components and premature failure of the valve.
Maintenance and servicing
Regular maintenance and servicing can help extend the lifespan of a check valve. It includes cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting the valve regularly to ensure it is functioning correctly. Neglecting maintenance can lead to problems such as clogging, corrosion, and other forms of damage, significantly reducing the valve’s sealing performance and lifespan.
Type of check valve
Different types of check valves are designed to perform different functions and are better suited to certain applications than others. For example, swing check valves are ideal for applications where flow rates are low and pressure differentials are small while tilting disc check valves are better suited to high-pressure applications where fast closing times are required. Choosing the right type of check valve for the application can help ensure that it will last for its intended lifespan.
Ways to Extend the Life of Check Valves
Now that we have discussed the common causes of check valve failure and the factors that can affect their lifespan, let’s look at some ways to extend the life of check valves.
Regular maintenance and servicing
Maintaining a regular maintenance schedule helps ensure optimal performance and a longer lifespan of check valves. It involves cleaning the valve, inspecting it for signs of wear or damage, lubricating the valve components where applicable, and replacing worn-out or damaged components as needed. In addition, it is essential to use appropriate cleaning methods and lubricants that are compatible with the valve materials and the fluid being transported, and to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance procedures specific to the valve type and application.
Use of compatible materials
Selecting a valve with materials that are compatible with the fluid passing through it is essential to prevent corrosion or degradation of the valve materials, which can lead to malfunction or failure. Using compatible materials and the right operating conditions can significantly increase the valve lifespan and provide reliable operation.
Monitoring operating conditions
Monitoring the operating conditions of check valves can help identify potential issues before they become significant problems. For example, monitoring the temperature, pressure, and flow rate can help detect any abnormal conditions that could cause damage to the valve. By addressing these issues early on, you can prevent unexpected breakdowns and extend the life of your check valves.
Proper installation is critical to ensuring the long-term performance and reliability of check valves. It involves installing the valve in the correct orientation and position, making sure all components are assembled correctly, and tightening all connections to the appropriate torque specifications. It is important to maintain a minimum length of straight pipe as recommended by the check valve manufacturer prior to the inlet of the check valve to allow for any turbulence in the flowing fluid to dissipate prior to entering the check valve.
By implementing these best practices, you can help prevent malfunctions and ensure the long-term reliability of your system.
Keep Your Operations Running Smoothly with Our Durable Check Valves
At John Valves, we understand the importance of reliable and efficient operations. As such, we take pride in manufacturing and supplying a wide range of high-quality check valves for various industries and applications. With over 125 years of combined industry experience, we have the knowledge and expertise to provide customised solutions to meet your unique needs. Whether you are dealing with corrosive fluids, high temperatures, or demanding applications, we can provide the right check valve suited to your specifications.Get in touch with us to experience unparalleled quality and service and keep your operations running smoothly for years to come.