Ball valves are widely used due to their strength, durability and affordability. They’re easy to install and a simple ‘quarter turn’ valve that improves the efficiency of piping systems. The robust traits of Ball valves have seen their widespread use in a range of industries from chemical processes, petroleum and water treatment plants.
It’s simple to see that they’re an easy choice for most applications, but there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of when selecting the correct valve for your application. John Valves specialises in helping businesses find the right valves. In this article, we explain ball valves advantages and disadvantages.
What is a ball valve?
A ball valve has a cylindrical design and uses a hollow and pivoting ball to control flow through it. When open, the ball’s hole is in line with the flow allowing the fluid to pass through it. When rotated 90-degrees by turning the valve handle, the ball closes and the flow of fluid through the valve stops. The position of the handle (or lever) is in line with the fluid flow direction when open and perpendicular to it when closed, making for easy visual indication of the valve’s status. Ball valves are characterised by providing a long service life and reliable sealing over their life-span.
Ball valves advantages and disadvantages
Below we explain the ball valves advantages and disadvantages to assist in informing you when it comes to selecting the right valve for your application:
Advantages of ball valves
Below we list the main advantages of using a ball valve:
Ball valves are considered high recovery valves, having a low pressure drop and relatively high flow capacity due to the opening size in the ball. When fully open, there is little turbulence or resistance to the fluid flow.
Ball valves are efficient and convenient to use because of their simple quarter turn (90-degree) operation. The valve is relatively lightweight and small in size allowing for them to be installed and removed without too much effort.
The simplicity of ball valves means they require low maintenance compared to other types of valves. As the ball valve stem only rotates with no axial movement, the packing seal of the valve valve stem is not easily worn or broken. When it comes to repairing ball valves, they are easy to disassemble and the replacement of any worn parts is straight forward.
The cost of ball valves is affordable compared to more complex valve types. Also, as they have low maintenance needs, they’re cheaper to maintain in the long term.
The ability to withstand high pressures make ball valves one of the most robust valve types. They are available in a wide variety of materials which allow them to be used in many environments over multiple industries.
Disadvantages of ball valves
The main disadvantages of ball valves are listed below:
Prone to blockages
They are not suitable for slurry type applications due to cavities around the ball and seats. Slurries or other thick liquids tend to solidify or clog inside of the cavities, greatly increasing the operating torque of the valve and in some cases rendering the valve inoperable.
Struggle with long term throttling
Ball valves should only be used in either the fully open or fully closed position and should not be used for long-term throttling. As well as having limited accuracy in controlling the flow rate, operating for extended periods in a partially open position will result in the soft seats of the valve deforming around the edge of the hole in the ball and possibly locking the ball in that position. Note that there are modern design ball valves featuring a special ‘V’ port shaped ball that are able to offer precise flow control characteristics.
Ball valves are simple mechanical devices that make it easy to control the flow of fluids through piping systems. They’re cost-efficient and convenient for most industrial applications and usage. The characteristics of ball valves make them a great choice for a variety of environments and industries. While they may not be suitable in specific settings, they’re hard to look past when searching for an effective but economical valve solution. Now that you know the ball valves advantages and disadvantages, you may be ready to pick the right valve for your needs. John Valves can help.