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DESIGNERS NOTEBOOK

BY JOSEPH V. MESSINA, CPD

What Plumbing Designers Need to Know About Valves, Part 1


Everyone at some time or another has to determine which valve is best for a particular application. All valves serve the purpose of controlling the flow of fluids through a piping system. Valves come in many sizes, shapes, designs, and materials. Proper selection is very important to ensure that the valve will perform to its best ability in the system for which it was selected. This article, the first of two, discusses the basic manually operated valvesgate, globe, angle, ball, butterfly, and checkwhich are used to start and stop the flow in a system, regulate flow, and prevent backflow. In Part 2, I will cover valve materials, components, connections, working pressures, and where to use what type of valve. Valve manufacturers abide by approval standards of the Manufacturers Standardization Society (MSS), state and local codes, Underwriters Laboratories, FM Global, American Petroleum Institute (API), American Water Works Association (AWWA), American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). GATE VALVES The function of the gate valve (Figure 1) is to start and stop flow, and it is intended to operate either fully open or fully closed. When fully open, it has the least resistance to flow. The gate valve is named because of the wedge (gate) that is either Figure 1 Gate valve raised out of or lowered into a double-seated sluice to permit flow or completely shut off flow. When fully open, the passageway through the valve has the same diameter as the pipe to which it is attached. The seats and discs of a gate valve come in a number of styles to suit different conditions. Bronze and iron valves have bronze or bronze-faced seating surfaces, and iron valves may be all iron surfaces. For hard-to-hold fluids such as air and gasoline, a nonmetallic composition disc is available. Discs can be classified as solid-wedge discs, double discs, or split-wedge discs. The solid-wedge disc is a single-tapered disc, thin at the bottom and thicker at the top, and is forced into a similar-shape seat. The double and split-wedge discs are designed with two discs back to back with a spreading device between them. The gate drops into the seat with the final turns of the valve stem, which forces and spreads the two discs outward against the seat. The advantages of the gate valve follow: It is good for on/off service. When fully open, there is a low pressure drop through the valve. It is bi-directional. However, the gate valve is not for throttling. Flow through a partially open gate valve causes vibration and chattering, and subjects the disc and seat to wear. Also, because it is constructed of metal-to-metal seating, the gate valve is not the best choice for frequent operation, and it is very difficult to make into an automated valve. A gate valve is recommended when a bypass valve is used, and it should be provided where the differential pressure exceeds 200 pounds per square inch (psi) on valves 4 to 6 inches and 100 psi on valves 8 inches and larger. Long periods of non-use may also cause the valves to freeze up because of internal corrosion. GLOBE VALVE The globe valve (Figure 2) is much more acceptable of varied flow than the gate valve. It can operate barely open or fully open with very little wear to the valve seat and disc, which is why it is recommended for throttling and balancing applications. The flow can be gauged by the number of turns of the wheel. The contact between the seat and the disc ends when the flow begins, which minimizes seat erosion. Like the gate valve, the globe valve has a number of disc and seat arrangements. They are classified as conventional disc, plug-type disc, or composition disc. The conventional disc is a relatively flat disc with beveled edges. On closure of the valve, the disc is pushed down into a beveled, circular seat. The plugtype disc is much more tapered, which increases the contact surface between the disc and the seat. This type of disc is resistant to the cutting effects of dirt, scale, and other foreign matter. Unlike the other types of discs, the composition disc fits over the seat. This allows the valve to be used for many more services, such as compressed air, and makes it easy to repair. 22 Plumbing Systems & Design
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Figure 2 Globe valve

The advantages of the globe valve are that it provides a positive, bubble-tight shutoff ; it is good for frequent operation; and it is easy to repair. Yet because of the flow path, it causes a significant pressure drop. Also, the globe valve is more costly than other types of valves. ANGLE VALVES The angle valve (Figure 3) is very much like the globe valve regarding operation, but the angle valve also can serve as a 90degree elbow and often is used as a shutoff at individual fixtures. It is less resistant to flow because the flow has to change direction twice instead of three times. Like the globe valve, it is available with conventional, plug-type, and composition discs. It has the same advantages and disadvantages as the globe valve.

plumbing engineers and designers should consider using a water hammer arrestor either on the line or near the installation of the valve. If this isnt done, water hammer may damage the components, piping, and fittings. The ball valve is available in one-, two-, and three-piece body types (Figure 4). The one-piece body is machined from a solid bar of stock material or is a one-piece casing. The ball is inserted into the end for assembly, and the body insert that acts as the seat ring is threaded in against the ball. The two-piece body is the same as the one-piece valve, with the exception that the body insert is larger and acts as an end bushing. The three-piece body consists of a center body section containing the ball that fits between two body end pieces. Two or more body bolts hold the entire assembly together. This design allows the valve to be repaired without removing surrounding piping. The three-piece ball valve is recommended for utility services. Some of the advantages of a (quarter-turn) ball valve are: bubble-tight shutoff ; quick 90-degree open/close (not torque-dependent of seating); straight-through unobstructed flow; easy automation capability; compact size; and long life cycle. On the other hand, the ball valves temperature and pressure range are limited because of the material of the seats, and the cavity around the ball traps media that cannot be drained from the valve. Also, the valve is susceptible to freezing, expansion, and increased pressure due to drastic temperature changes. BUTTERFLY VALVE The butterfly valve is most commonly used in place of a gate valve in situations where bubble-free shutoff is required. They are manufactured in sizes from 1 inch to 72 inches. When closed, it has a very tight seal and can be installed in tight spaces between pipe flanges. The butterfly valve is available with sev-

BALL VALVES The ball valve is a valve with a drilled steel ball that swivels on a vertical axis and is operated with a handle. The steel ball works against the seat of the valve; due to a quarter turn of the handle for complete on/off operation, the ball valve is referred to as a quick-closing valve, which means Figure 4 Ball valve Figure 3 Angle valve

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DESIGNERS NOTEBOOK
Figure 5 Buttery valve The lift check valve operates in such a manner that the disc is forced open and closed with pressure depending on the direction of flow. The lift check valve is used for gases and compressed air and in fluid systems. The swing check valve offers the least pressure drop and has a simple operation. When fluid flow through a pipe stops or flow and gravity reverse, the flapper closes the valve. The lift check comes in in-line and globe-style body patterns. Both cause a greater pressure drop than the swing check. One style of lift check is spring-actuated for immediate closure when flow stops and is sometimes referred to as the silent check because the springs closes the valve before gravity is reversed, which may cause the flapper to slam shut. Valves are one of the most important components in a piping system. Without valves, we have no way to control, shut down, and monitor a piping system. This article covered the basics types of manually operated valves, their operation, and their advantages and disadvantages. In the next issue, I will go into more detail about where and when to use each type.

eral types of operators, motorized and manual, and a variety of component material combinations. The two most common body types are the wafer body and lug body. The wafer body is placed between pipe flanges, and the flange bolts surround the valve body (Figure 5a). The lug body has protruding lugs that provide bolt holes matching those in the flanges (Figure 5b). The design of the butterfly valve allows it to fit into tight spaces where a gate valve would not fit. The butterfly valve has a bubble-tight shutoff from resilient seats and a quick 90-degree open/close, which requires the use of water hammer Figure 6 Check valve arrestors as with ball valves. It is easier to automate then multi-turn valves; it is costeffective compared to other valves; and there is a broad selection of trim materials that can match different types of fluids. Also, the butterfly valve offers a long life cycle. Some of its disadvantages are that it cannot be used with steam, and gear operators are needed for 8-inch and larger butterfly valves to aid in operation and protect against operating too quickly, which can cause water hammer. CHECK VALVES Check valves come in two basic types: swing check (Figure 6a) and lift check (Figure 6b). Both of these check valves serve the same purposeto prevent backflow. With a swing check, the flapper operates by swinging out of the way to allow a straight-through flow (hence the name, swing check). A word of caution when using a swing check valve: The flapper may possibly stay open a few seconds after the reversal of flow begins. This can allow the velocity of backflow to rise to such a point that closure can damage the valve or the system by means of water hammer. Therefore, when specifying a swing check valve, specify it with either a weight or a spring to ensure closure during backflow and seating to provide tighter shutoff.

RESOURCES American Society of Plumbing Engineers Data Book, Volume 4: Plumbing Components and Equipment, Chapter 3, Valves. Michael Frankel. Facility Piping Systems Handbook. American Society of Plumbing Engineers.

JOSEPH V. MESSINA, CPD, is the discipline director of plumbing engineering for CUH2A Inc., Architecture, Engineering, Planning in Atlanta. He has more than 30 years experience specializing in plumbing and re protection design of instructional, research, and medical facilities. For more information or to comment on this article, e-mail articles@psdmagazine.org.

All gures in this column are from the Facility Piping Systems Handbook. 24 Plumbing Systems & Design
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