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"Opening Things Up" Safely

Cities, states, and countries are starting to discuss opening up again after the COVID-19 pandemic. Many governors are talking about slowly opening things back up. One governor even used the analogy of slowly opening a valve. Hopefully that valve is a needle valve or other type of flow control valve and not a ball valve! Read more to find out why…

Ball valves and flow control valves serve different purposes in a hydraulic circuit. In general, ball valves are either fully opened or fully closed, or on-off valves. These valves are often used in areas where a manual safety shut off is required, for isolating sections of a circuit, or at the inlet and outlet of a component for maintenance. A butterfly valve is another type of on-off valve that is often used in larger piping at lower pressures than ball valves. Both types of valves typically open and close with a quarter-turn. These valves are not made for precise flow control, and should not be used for that purpose, if possible. If the valve in the analogy above was a ball valve, everything would open up without precise control and would quickly open. This could cause damage to the valve in the long run.

Flow control or throttling valves come in a variety of different types: globe valves, needle valves, and flow control valves. The purpose of these valves is to precisely control or throttle the flow. The valves open and close with multiple turns of the knob or handle. Often the valves will have colored rings or other indicators to show how far the valve is open. This helps when trying to set multiple valves to the same opening or when replacing a component. If more precision is required, it is recommended to install a flow sensing device downstream of the valve. These valves are best used in applications where the flow needs to be controlled instead of slightly cracking a ball valve. Based on how they are describing the valve analogy above, the best valve for the job is a flow control or throttling valve. This will allow a precisely controlled opening that can be modulated if required without causing damage to the valve.

Waterclock Engineering offers a variety of DMIC ball valves, needle valves, and flow control valves. Ball valves are available starting at ¼” up to 6” with other sizes possible depending on application. Valves are available from low pressure up to extreme pressure (e.g. 15,000 psi) with stainless steel and a variety of accessories as options. Brass, carbon steel, and stainless steel flow control valves and needle valves are available up to 10,000 psi. These valves are available in sizes ¼” up to 2” with other sizes possible depending on the application.

Contact us today to get the right valve for your application!

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