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How Does a Manual Ball Valve Work?

Few valves are as popular as the simple ball valve. This standard, classic valve is one of the most popular shutoff valves on the market. But how does the manual ball valve work? What options does it come in? For a simple device, this valve has a lot of power.

What Is a Ball Valve?

A ball valve is a valve that contains a hollow ball with a hole bored in the center to allow fluid to flow. The ball’s design is to pivot and, at a quarter turn, is either fully open or fully closed. This simple motion makes the valve a highly effective shutoff valve. The valve can also be used under limited circumstances to regulate flow without fully closing the valve.

Ball valves come in a variety of materials. Stainless steel is a heavily favored choice as it holds up to extreme conditions and avoids corrosion. Valtorc is proud to be one of the leading steel ball valve manufacturers. Other materials are also popular, such as brass, carbon steel, cast iron, and PVC.

The Types of Ball Valves

There are several forms of ball valves, all of which vary to suit your exact needs. These valves are available in various materials and have different uses, but all are highly effective ball valves.

Standard ball valves have two to four ports and fit inside the pipe. These take up relatively little space but have the issue of causing a reduction in flow efficiency due to the presence of the ball. These are generally a size smaller than the diameter of the pipe in order to fit. With a low cost, the valves are the standard for the industry.

Oversized ball valves remove the efficiency issue with a larger ball and valve that fit around the pipe. These valves are a popular option but carry greater size and expense. However, for systems requiring maximum efficiency, they’re a must.

Trunnion ball valves offer a ball anchored at the top and bottom in contrast to other ball valves, which utilize a free-floating ball. These valves have a very specific purpose as they’re frequently used in larger systems with pressure approaching levels like 6000 psi.

V port ball valves open and close with a more intense flow velocity. The valves are v-shaped in either the ball or the seat. Their design is to open and close in a way that more closely matches linear flow. Because of the intensity of the flow, these require a much more stable construction than a standard valve.

Vented ball valves resemble standard 2-way manual ball valves but require holes to vent when closed. These are used in situations such as compressed air fluid systems.

Water Hammer

One risk to always be aware of is the water hammer. This phenomenon emerges when a highly pressured shockwave or pressure surge erupts in a system due to a change in direction or violent halt of a liquid or gas. The shockwave creates intense violent vibrations that knock across the entire valve. The result can often create pressure spikes up to 10x beyond what the system can handle.

Water hammer damage can be highly disruptive to the entire system, with multiple parts failing. Leaks are common with shockwaves, which can cause external damage. Pipes can rupture, requiring large-scale replacement. These pressure surges can cause mighty levels of damage.

Water hammer is a particular threat to manual ball valves. With the rapidity of the speed often used to shut ball valves, it’s important to use caution when operating the device. Operate quickly but exercise caution to keep the entire system intact.

The Advantage of Manual Ball Valves

While actuation is available for these valves, manual operation remains the most popular method of closing the system. There are several excellent reasons why.

One of the most important reasons to choose a classic mechanical option is that by having a manual option, there is a perpetually available backup. Actuation systems fail, but a hand crank will always be a reliable option. For that reason, manual ball valves are among the most trusted safety options.

A manual valve is also far simpler to install. Nobody needs the hassle of installing actuation on top of a complicated valve job.

The valves also have the advantage of speed. Operating a manual ball valve by hand can generally change flow direction much faster than an electrical system.

Manual valves also have the advantage of versatility. They can adapt to an automated system without replacing the entire valve. However, automated valves cannot downgrade in the same way a manual system can upgrade.

Finally, there is a cost-benefit. A manually operated ball valve is simply more affordable than the more expensive electronic counterparts. That applies not just to the immediate cost. The simple components are at far lesser risk of failure than more expensive and complicated electronic systems.

Valtorc is proud to offer a wide selection of manual ball valves. These devices come in 2-way and 3-way ports to fit your needs. We have a broad assortment of ends, including butt-weld, flanged, and threaded. Valtorc’s valves come in a range of sizes from 1″ to as high as 12″. The valves come in 1-3 piece designs. We also offer special-purpose valves to suit your needs, including high-temperature and fugitive emission ball valves.

At Valtorc, we aim to provide the perfect valve for your needs. In business since 1980, we’re pleased to be one of the nation’s leading experts on this front, as well as one of the top steel ball valve manufacturers. If it’s a quote on a valve you need, request it today!

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