When it comes to understanding pressure relief valve testing requirements, there’s a lot of information out there, but not all of it seems conclusive. If you’re new to pressure relief valves or are getting started in a new industry, it can be tough to decipher what testing requirements your facility needs to meet.

While we can’t provide the specific testing requirements for every industry, we can offer a few general testing requirements, and point you in the right direction to find the information you need for your facility’s unique testing requirements:

Understanding Pressure Relief Valve Testing Requirements

It’s good to keep in mind that every industry and region has unique pressure relief valve testing requirements. Your facility may be required to just bench test pressure relief valves every five years, or you may have to test valves every year, but bench test and repair valves every three to five years. There is a large variance in the testing requirements for pressure relief and safety valves depending on your industry and your region. That said, there are a few general testing requirements we can look at to start with.

The National Board Inspection Code, created by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Valve Inspectors, makes the following recommendations on the frequency of testing for safety and pressure relief valves, depending on the temperature, psi, and function of your boiler:

  • High-pressure steam boilers greater than 15 psi and less than 400 psi should be manually checked every 6 months and pressure tested annually to verify nameplate set pressure.
  • High-pressure steam boilers greater than 400 psi should be pressure tested to verify nameplate set pressure every three years, or as determined by operating experience as verified by testing history.
  • Low-pressure steam boilers with less than 15 psi should be manually checked quarterly, and pressure tested annually.
  • High-temperature hot water boilers operating at greater than 160 psi and/or 250° F should be pressure tested annually to verify nameplate set pressure.
  • Hot water heating boilers outside of the high-temperature qualifications should be manually checked quarterly and pressure tested annually.

It’s important to remember that these are general pressure valve testing recommendations. For specific requirements, you’ll have to verify your unique jurisdictional and industry code requirements. See the resources below for more information.

Additional Resources for Guidance on Specific Pressure Relief Valve Testing Requirements

The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors’ Inspection Code
The National Board Inspection Code is an industry-recognized name offering quality information on pressure relief valve testing requirements. Here, you’ll find a wealth of information and testing best practices.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
The ASME is another organization setting pressure relief valve testing requirements, and offering the necessary training engineers need to test and understand the testing procedures for pressure relief valves. In addition to testing requirements and standards, the ASME offers a variety of online courses on pressure relief valves, from fabrication and proper installation to inspection and repair.

Jurisdictional Code Testing Requirements
For specific testing standards, it’s best to check with your industry and your regional jurisdiction. Pressure relief valve testing requirements can vary by state or region and are most often industry-specific. Check your industry’s standards, and check local code requirements to ensure your facility is adhering to the most relevant pressure relief valve testing requirements.

Pressure Relief Valve Testing Methods

When you’re looking for the pressure relief valve testing requirements relevant to your facility, it’s important to understand the different testing methods that are available to you. It’s likely that regardless of your industry if you have safety and pressure relief valves in use at your facility, you’ll have to bench test those valves at least every five years.

In addition to those bench tests, though, you’ll also have to perform manual or on-site pressure relief valve testing. Here’s a quick look at the three most common pressure relief valve testing methods you’ll see when researching pressure relief valve testing requirements:

Bench Testing
The most commonly mandated form of pressure relief valve testing, bench testing is unique in that it requires you completely shut down your facility’s system and remove all pressure relief valves. The valves are then transported to a lab where they are tested and repaired as necessary. Tested valves are then re-installed in your system.

Bench testing is the most involved method of pressure relief valve testing, but as this is how valves are tested when they’re manufactured, the industry considers this to be the most thorough testing method.

Inline Testing
Inline testing is another accurate pressure relief valve testing method that doesn’t require the removal of valves or facility downtime. With inline safety relief valve testing equipment, a trained technician can test valves in the system to calculate the real setpoint of a valve in the system.

While inline testing cannot take the place of mandated bench testing, it is a more efficient form of testing for other regular testing requirements. Inline pressure relief valve testing is the ideal choice for any required testing that does not have to be bench testing, as it eliminates the need for downtime while still providing exceptionally accurate results.

Operated in Place
Some pressure relief valve testing requirements will call for regular manual testing for freedom of operation. This is a basic test that can be done on-site. To complete an operated-in-place test, the test lever on the valve is manually activated. This test functions to ensure that the valve can open and shut tightly, but it does not verify at what pressure the valve opens and shuts. This is a test that may be required quarterly or bi-annually, to ensure the most basic functionality of safety relief valves.

Pressure relief valve testing is necessary for any facility with safety relief and pressure relief valves. For more information about the equipment you need for pressure relief valve testing, the profitability of certain testing methods, and more, head to the AccuTEST blog. There, you’ll find a variety of resources on everything from implementing inline safety relief valve testing to minimizing plant downtime.

If your company requires regular pressure relief valve testing, you might be interested in AccuTEST’s high-tech equipment. Offering inline testing with accurate, repeatable results, our system is the best on the market. See how our equipment works in real-time — schedule a live webinar demo today.

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