The Most Common Causes and Symptoms of Check Valve Failure

A failing check valve can be a disaster when you’re operating any liquid handling equipment. By understanding why valves fail and how to detect the early warning signs of valve failure, you’ll be able to prevent them from failing in the first place and avoid costly downtime and repair.

Causes of valve failure

If you’re running a system that transports any type of fluid through piping, it’s likely that you rely on check valves as a system safeguard. For guidance on selecting the right valve for your system, check out our blog post on 5 Great Ways to Think About Choosing a Valve. Check valves allow fluid to flow in one direction, preventing backward flow by opening and closing in response to hydraulic pressure. Here are the top reasons for this type of valve failure:

1. Incorrect installation and assembly
By incorrectly installing or assembling valves, you are setting yourself up for problems further down the line. It is crucial to select the right check valve, sized for the application, and install it correctly. By installing the correct check valve, you’ll prevent premature valve failure. Our tip? Remember to take note of flow capacity and the positioning and orientation of the valve during installation.

2. Insufficient maintenance
Regular maintenance is a sure-fire way to safeguard against failing valves. Look out for any signs of wear and check the pipeline for debris, which can get stuck in the valve and cause damage to the internal mechanisms. If you see any signs of deterioration, replace your valves as soon as possible.

3. Reverse flow
Reverse flow occurs when water flows upstream of the check valve. This can be extremely costly and dangerous when it occurs at the pump discharge, causing the pump to spin backwards, which damages the pump over time. Prevent this problem by ensuring your valve is working correctly (fast-closing and tight shutoff).

4. High temperatures
You should be aware that any application which runs at high temperatures can cause valves to fail early. Make sure that you keep an eye on your check valves and replace them if you see any sign of wear and tear.

Symptoms of valve failure

Valves emit warning symptoms when something isn’t right. For example, check valves that are starting to fail will vibrate or make a noise indicating that the valve has broken.

A strange noise can also be a sign of ‘water hammer’ which is a high-pressure surge that occurs when the fluid comes to a stop or changes direction, often causing the disc to slam into the valve. Valves can also start to ‘chatter’ with repeated opening or closing due to oversizing. If a valve is sticking or leaking, this could be a sign of wear and tear, or that debris or other contaminants are in the pipeline.

Are you unsure about what types of valves you should be using, or how to install them correctly? Call our toll-free number on 1-800-367-4180. We have experts on hand to help you install and maintain a variety of equipment. And to answer questions about things you’ve previously tried gone wrong.