Steam valves are used to control the flow of steam in steam heating systems. They can also be used to control the flow of hot water. However, most hot water valves cannot control steam at high temperatures and pressure. It’s worth noting that there are many types of steam valves, and how they work depends on their design and unique applications. If you want to buy a steam valve that works effectively with hot water and steam, we have discussed all you need to know in the sections below.
Uses of Steam Valves
Steam valves are commonly found in industrial processes that require large amounts of steam to be moved from one place to another. They are used on boilers, condensers, and in turbines that generate electricity. One of the most common uses of steam valves is to regulate steam flow through a system. And depending on the system requirements, it can also help control the pressure and temperature of steam. Three-way steam valves can be used to change the direction of steam flow.
Steam Valves Design
Steam valves are often made from temperature-resistant materials that can withstand high-pressure levels. Additionally, the material used should be compatible with the media flowing through the valve to avoid corrosion or other chemical reactions. Ideally, metallic materials such as stainless steel, steel alloy, cast iron, copper, and brass are used to make the steam valve body and key internal components such as the disc and ball. Rubber-based materials such as NBR, EPDM, and FKM are often used for the seal and seat valves. Some manufacturers may use plastic-based materials such as PA and PTFE to make gaskets and packaging parts.
Types of Steam Valves
Steam valves can be categorized into seven main types. Each of these valves has a unique construction or design, which makes them ideal for specific use cases within a steam heating system. These valves can be operated manually, electrically using an electric actuator, or pneumatically using a pneumatic cylinder. Below is a quick overview of the seven types of steam/hot water valves:
Steam Gate Valves
These valves are typically used as shut-off valves in steam lines. They are not ideal for use in partially open conditions since they are prone to wear due to system vibrations. However, they work well in metal-metal sealing and can be used in high-pressure, high-temperature steam supply lines. They are affordable and easy to troubleshoot or repair in case of damage or sudden failure.
Steam Ball Valves
Ball valves are quarter-turn valves often used to replace gate valves in most applications. Steam ball valves are commonly controlled by an electric actuator and used as shut-off valves. They are slow to close and open and may cause a water hammer. Even so, they are mostly used when controlling dusty dry fluids or hot slurries.
Steam Check Valves
Check valves allow fluids to flow in one direction. They are used as one-way valves, preventing backflows in hot water or steam lines. Steam check valves come in varying types, working principles and construction, so you must understand your system requirements before choosing one.
Steam Butterfly Valves
Unlike gate and ball valves, steam butterfly valves offer quick operations thanks to the minimum obstruction of fluid flow. The valve can also be actuated easily without causing much wear and tear. Since there are no cavities within the valve design, it can work well with slurries and hot water with suspended particles.
Steam Globe Valves
Globe valves work in a linear motion and are used as on-off valves or for throttling applications. Steam glove valves feature a screw-down valve within a spherical enclosure. And while they are more effective at throttling applications than gate valves, they are mostly used where resistance to fluid flow isn’t a priority. One major drawback of this valve is poor cleanliness due to the valve’s construction.
Steam Solenoid Valves
Solenoid valves are electrically actuated and are often used for precise fluid flow control. They are efficient and versatile and come in compact sizes. However, they are costly and require power to remain in an actuated position. One of best solenoid valves is a humphrey valve.
Pressure Release Valves
These valves are used to control pressure levels within the system. They prevent overpressure situations, which could damage the delicate components within the system. When the pressure goes beyond the threshold, they open and discharge the excess pressure to the atmosphere or into a different system/location. Pressure release valves are used in petrochemical, steam power generation, and oil & gas industries.
Choosing Your Steam Valve
Now that you know the different types of steam valves, choosing one for your application shouldn’t be a big challenge. Typically, you want to gather all the system parameters, such as the circuit function, response time, frequency of operation, flow rate, temperature and pressure requirements, etc. Understanding your system requirements is the first step to choosing the right steam valve for steam or hot water systems.