Why is My Pressure Relief Valve Leaking?

Valve leakage is a common but troublesome occurrence in industrial facilities. While some valves are expected to have a certain level of leakage, especially as they begin to reach nameplate set pressure, other valve leakage is problematic and can even be dangerous for your facility. If you suspect valve leakage, here are a few reasons why your safety or pressure relief valve may be leaking, how to test the valve, and how to troubleshoot a valve you’ve confirmed is leaking. Four common reasons a pressure relief valve might be leaking include:

01. Pressure Relief Valve isn’t Fully Closed

Pressure relief and safety relief valves will leak if the valve isn’t fully closed. This is a common problem in industrial settings where environments are often dusty or dirty. If there is any debris in the valve, it can obstruct the valve from fully closing, causing it to leak.

02. Pressure Relief Valve is Damaged

Pressure relief valves age and can begin to deteriorate, especially in factories and facilities where they encounter extreme temperatures and a great deal of wear. Over time, valves can become damaged, which affects their ability to close properly. If there is any damage or excessive wear to the valve seat or seal, leakage is likely.

03. Pressure Relief Valve is the Wrong Size

Another common cause of safety relief valve leakage is when the valve is the wrong size for the project. Whether it’s a loose fit or the wrong fit entirely, a poorly fitting valve won’t be able to function properly, and will often leak.

How to Test for a Leaking Pressure Relief or Safety Relief Valve

If you suspect a leaking safety relief valve, or if you would like to complete regular maintenance to prevent valve leakage in the first place, it’s good to know that it is possible to test for a leaking valve. Known as a seat tightness or leakage test, these tests maintain the pressure relief valve’s inlet pressure at a certain percentage of the valve’s set pressure, so the valve technician can assess the valve’s condition.

The AccuTEST inline valve testing system offers a unique feature —  the Lift and Hold test — specifically designed to test for leakage. The system performs an automated leakage test according to the operator’s requirements. The operator sets the percent of set pressure and the duration of the test. When the operator starts the test, the AccuTEST system takes over, holding the valve at the appointed percentage of set pressure for the specified duration. While the system holds the valve at pressure, the operator is able to count any bubbles in the valve to assess its condition and determine whether the valve is leaking or not.

Troubleshooting a Leaking Pressure Relief Valve

If you have tested and confirmed that your safety relief valve is leaking, there are a few ways to troubleshoot and attempt to resolve the leak.

The first step is to determine the cause of the leak.

  • Is the pressure relief valve the right size for the project?
  • Is the valve damaged?
  • Is it possible that there is dirt or debris obstructing the valve?

When you have confirmed the source of the leak, you can assess whether the valve could be repaired, or if it should be completely replaced. For example, if the valve is the wrong size or if the valve is damaged, it’s best to replace it. If the valve can be cleaned and adjusted to function properly, then repair may be an option.

Reduce Pressure Relief Valve Leaks with Regular Maintenance and Testing

Once your leaking safety relief valve has been repaired or replaced and is functioning as it should, it’s important to consider implementing regular maintenance and testing. Leaking pressure relief valves can present serious complications for the functionality of your facility. Implementing a regular maintenance and pressure relief valve testing schedule can help you stay in front of concerns like this, ensuring your facility is running efficiently, and at pressure, at all times.

If you are concerned about a leaking safety or pressure relief valve, or are seeking inline valve testing equipment that is capable of performing seat tightness or leakage tests, you might be interested in AccuTEST’s equipment. With exclusive Lift and Hold testing capabilities, AccuTEST inline pressure relief valve testing equipment offers the functionality you need. See how our equipment works in real-time — schedule a live webinar demo today.

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