The 6 Most Common Ball Valve Failures


ball valve problems

In the world of modern plumbing, ball valves play a vital role. Yet, like any other mechanical device, they’re prone to certain issues. Understanding common ball valve failures can prevent extensive shutdowns and repairs.

Whether it’s a meandering trickle or a sudden burst, ball valve issues can spell disaster if left unattended. Our detailed exploration of the six most common failures will equip you with the knowledge to recognize early warning signs and initiate corrective measures.

Dealing with ball valves need not be a pressure-packed situation. Educate yourself to navigate these challenges with ease and keep your systems running seamlessly. Read on to learn more!

What Is a Ball Valve?

Before discussing the common failures of ball valves, let’s first understand what a ball valve is and how it functions. A ball valve is a shut-off valve that manages the flow of fluids by a rotary ball that has a hole in it. The ball is connected to a lever handle, which can be turned to open or close the valve. They’re widely used due to their simplicity, durability, and ability to provide a tight seal.

Ball valves are available in various materials, such as iron, stainless steel, and steel alloy. They can be manually operated or automated using hydraulic or pneumatic actuators. The choice of material and actuation method depends on the specific application requirements.

Common Ball Valve Failures

Despite their reliability, ball valves can experience failure over time. Understanding these mishaps and their causes is essential for efficient troubleshooting and maintenance. Let’s explore the six most common ball valve failures in detail.

1. Ball Valve Clog

One of the common ball valve issues is partial clogging, which can restrict the flow of fluids and affect the valve’s performance. Clogging can occur due to debris, dirt, or sediment present in the fluid. This debris can accumulate in the ball valve’s internal components, leading to partial obstruction.

To troubleshoot a partially clogged ball valve, it is essential to identify the cause of the clogging. Regular maintenance and cleaning of the valve can help prevent blockage issues. If clogging persists, disassembling the valve and cleaning the internal components thoroughly can often resolve the problem.

2. Stuck Ball Valve

Another frequent failure in ball valves is when the valve becomes stuck and fails to open or close properly. This can be caused by various factors, such as rust, corrosion, or improper lubrication of the valve’s moving parts. A stuck ball valve can disrupt the flow of fluids and impact the overall performance of the system.

To correct a stuck ball valve, several steps can be taken. First, the valve should be manually operated by turning the handle back and forth to loosen any debris or rust that may be causing the obstruction.

Applying a lubricant, like WD-40, to the valve’s moving parts can also help free up the valve. If these steps do not resolve the issue, it may be best to replace it.

3. Ball Valve Corrosion

Corrosion is a common problem with ball valves, especially when they are exposed to corrosive fluids or environments. This problem can lead to the deterioration of the valve’s materials, causing leaks, reduced performance, and eventually valve failure.

Preventing corrosion in ball valves is essential for their longevity and optimal performance. Using corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel or PVC, can minimize the risk of corrosion. Routine inspection and maintenance of the valve, including cleaning and applying anti-corrosion coatings, can also help prevent corrosion-related failures.

4. Leaking Ball Valve

Leakage happens quite often with ball valves. It can occur due to various reasons, like worn-out seals, damaged valve seats, or improper installation. A leaking ball valve may result in fluid loss, reduced efficiency, and potential damage to the surrounding equipment or infrastructure.

To fix a leaking ball valve, it is imperative to identify the source of the leak. Inspecting the valve’s seals, seats, and connections can help pinpoint the issue.

In some cases, replacing the damaged seals or valve seats can resolve the leakage problem. However, if the leaks persist or if the valve is severely damaged, getting a new valve may be necessary.

5. Overheating Ball Valve

Overheating is a failure that primarily affects ball valves used in high-temperature applications. Excessive heat can cause the valve’s materials to expand. This causes leaks, deformation, or even complete valve failure. Overheating might occur due to factors like high fluid temperatures, inadequate cooling mechanisms, or improper valve selection.

Preventing overheating in ball valves requires careful consideration of the application requirements and appropriate valve selection. Choosing materials with high-temperature resistance and implementing effective cooling measures can help minimize the risk of overheating.

6. Actuator Issues

In automated ball valves, actuator issues can cause failures in valve operation. They are responsible for controlling the opening and closing of the valve. However, any malfunction or incorrect operation can disrupt the flow of fluids. Actuator issues may include motor failures, electrical malfunctions, or improper calibration.

Troubleshooting faulty actuators in ball valves requires expertise in electrical or pneumatic systems. Inspecting the actuator’s components, checking electrical connections, and recalibrating the component can often resolve the problem. And, of course, getting a new part will do the job as well.

If you suspect that there is an issue with your ball valve, don’t ignore it. Without prompt repair, a neglected ball valve could trigger serious issues. Some of the main consequences are environmental hazards and safety hazards. Not only that, but a malfunctioning ball valve could mean downtime for your operations, as well as increased operating costs.

Navigating Ball Valve Failure

It would be nice if there were never issues with ball valves. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. However, we hope these common ball valve failures help you navigate any problems that may arise. When you need valve products, we can supply them.

At Everlasting Valve Company, we offer an array of valve components. Our inventory includes bulk material valves, boiler blowdown valves, and more. Our company was founded over a century ago, and since that time, we’ve continued to be ahead of the innovation curve within the industrial industry.

If you have questions for us, call 908-769-0700, or request a quote!


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