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When Should A Relief Valve Be Replaced?


When it comes to tanks, boilers and pipelines, the vacuum relief valve is one of the most important safety measures in your tank’s system.

They work to relieve excess pressure in a system by opening and allowing that excess to dissipate rather than rupturing and causing significant damage to a tank.

A major example of this happened in North Carolina, where a relief valve activated to avoid the rupture of a major gas pipeline and was so loud it caused a boom that was measured on the Richter Scale.

Had the relief valve not been in place, the pipe would have ruptured, which could have led to a major catastrophe.

When such an event happens, however, the next step can be important to ensuring the continued safety of your operation and to ensure your system is following health and safety regulations.

Here are the times you should consider repairing or replacing your relief valve.


After Activation

Pressure valves open in a system when the valve measures too much pressure in a system then close again once the pressure has passed.

Most valves can open and close multiple times without any issues, especially if they are being used in a clean environment.

However, it is important to check the valve after every activation. In some cases, debris can enter the valve’s seat when it opens, which stops the valve from closing properly.

If the leakage is beyond the original settings, it is time to repair the valve.


When The Law Requires

Employers are required to ensure systems are safe and will hire an independent evaluator known as a “competent person” to regularly examine pressure equipment, and ensure that the system remains safe.

If a valve fails a test or is deemed to be suspect, it will be time to replace or repair the valve.


At The End Of Its Service Life

The longevity of a relief valve depends on a range of factors, such as its application, how often the valve opens and closes as well as the quality of the valve itself.

If used in a clean service, such as for steam, a pressure valve can last a very long time. In some cases with a strong preventative maintenance programme, a valve can last up to 20 years.

However, when used as part of other systems, such as storing acid or in a system that causes the valve to be exposed to dirt or debris, or is, in general, operated too close to the set point, the valve system may need to be replaced twice as often.


Repair Or Replace?

The choice to repair or replace a relief valve depends heavily on relative costs.

In the interest of making the most of your investment and not wasting components that could still function for many years, repairing is a good first choice.

However, for smaller valve systems or if a large valve system has broken to the point that the repair would cost nearly as much as the replacement, it is more cost-effective to fit a new valve to the system.

Safety is the number one priority, so focus on what will avoid bigger problems later on.