In the pipeline industry, having a device that can open or shut the flow of a material is critical for function and safety. Many types of valves do this job, including floating ball valves.
Floating ball valves have applications in a number of different industries. This guide will show you why they’re so useful.
What Are Floating Ball Valves?
There are dozens of valves, each with unique functions in a pipeline. There is even more than one kind of ball valve.
A ball float valve is a valve that uses a suspended, hollow ball to direct flow through a pipe. The direction the ball is facing determines whether the seal is open or shut.
Floating ball valves are essentially sophisticated on/off switches for a pipe system. They’re sensitive to pressure which means they are compatible with liquids like oil, natural gas, or water that might experience large temperature or pressure shifts as they move through the line.
How Do Floating Ball Valves Work?
In the most basic sense, a floating ball valve works by blocking the path of a liquid, such as oil or water, when the ball is turned one way or letting the liquid through a hole when the ball is rotated a half-turn. The ball is connected to an arm that lets you rotate it.
The force that keeps the ball in place is pressure. Pressure from different parts of the valve lets the ball either seal or redirect flow through the pipe. Turning the stem changes how pressure acts on the ball, which shifts the flow of liquid.
These valves also have a built-in failsafe. If the metal seating that it sits above disintegrates, the ball is free to float down and seal off the opening. The only reason the valve is able to do this is because of the way the ball floats.
What Are Floating Ball Valves For?
Floating ball valves work best for pipe systems with low to medium pressure. While there are modifications that can make these valves safe for high pressure, it isn’t a common practice. They’re also relatively compact, so they’re useful in systems with limited space.
The petrochemical industry and other industries that transport oil and natural gas use these types of valves frequently. The built-in failsafe makes this valve type appealing for systems where leaks could be dangerous.
While floating ball valves are common in construction and industrial settings, you can also find them in pipelines for residential use. Natural gas lines that connect to kitchens or gas fireplaces can use these valves, too.
Know Your Valves
Knowing how to use floating ball valves and what their properties are will help you decide if it’s the right valve for your project. It can also help you recognize a ball float valve if you’re doing repairs or assessments on a system.
For more helpful information on home construction and materials, please read our other home improvement and renovation blogs.