Ball Valve Handle Information & Replacement
Figure 1: Ball valve with lever type handle
Ball valves are widely used in industries and homes to control the flow of fluids. A ball valve controls fluid flow by rotating a hollow ball within the valve. A manual ball valve consists of a body, a ball, and a handle. Ball valve handles are used to open or close the valve. This article discusses the main types, issues, and replacement process for ball valve handles.
Table of contents
- What is a ball valve handle?
- Ball valve handle direction of flow
- Ball valve handle types
- Ball valve handle materials
- Fixing ball valve issues
- Ball valve stem extension
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What is a ball valve handle?
A ball valve handle helps open or close a ball valve, thereby allowing or obstructing fluid flow through the valve. The valve can be controlled manually or actuated externally through an electric or pneumatic actuator. A manual ball valve is controlled by a knob, lever, or wheel. Handles operated by a lever or knob are easier to use than those using wheels. You need to use both hands to operate the latter, thus making the operation hectic. The choice of a suitable ball valve handle type depends on the application. However, due to its ease of operation, the most common type is the lever ball valve handle.
Ball valve handle direction of flow
A ball valve has a ball that has a bore through it. When the handle is turned a quarter-turn, the bore is either open to the flow allowing media to flow through, or closed to prevent media flow. The valve is open when the handle is parallel to the pipe, and it is closed when the handle is perpendicular to the pipe.
Ball valve handle types
The common ball valve handle types are discussed below:
Lever ball valve handle
A lever is used to turn on or off a ball valve in the lever ball valve handle type, as seen in Figure 1. Rotating the lever by 90 degrees turns the valve on or off. The valve is on if the handle is parallel to the pipe. The valve is off if the handle is perpendicular to the pipe (fluid flow).
- Operating a lever handle is simple, and the operator can use one hand to turn the lever.
- Suitable for operators with limited movement.
- A lever handle can get knocked easily. If the lever is knocked, the ball valve is turned on and off unexpectedly.
- The lever ball valve handle is also more likely to break.
Butterfly ball handle
The butterfly ball handle features a disc-shaped body with a bore in the center. It is connected to a shaft that rotates at a 90⁰ angle to turn the valve on or off.
A butterfly handle is less likely to become stuck. Therefore, they are typically used as shut-off and regulation devices on air, gas, salt, water, and steam pipelines.
- Butterfly ball valve handles present many disadvantages if not installed correctly. It is generally not durable despite being more expensive than other types of handles.
- Butterfly handles are not easy to repair when they break.
Figure 2: Butterfly handle
Push-button ball valve handles
Push-button ball valve handles are effective in operating ball valves. The handle has a button that can be pushed to open or close the valve. Push-button ball valve handles are made of various materials such as plastic, rubber, and metal. They also come in a variety of colors, depending on your preference.
Push-button ball handle valves are easy to install and operate. This handle is appropriate for applications where the user must quickly control the flow of fluids.
Ball valve handle materials
Various materials can be used to make a ball valve handle. Each material has its pros and cons. The common materials used are listed below:
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel is a preferred material because of its durability and ability to resist corrosion.
- Aluminum: Ball valve handles made from aluminum are resistant to corrosion. However, aluminum is lightweight, making it only suitable for low-pressure applications.
- Brass: Handles made from brass are often solid and durable. Brass handles are ideal for high-pressure applications.
- Plastic: Plastics are used for low-pressure applications. Plastic materials are available in a variety of colors.PVC handles are less durable compared to other handle materials.
- Titanium: Titanium is a strong material and hence suitable for high-pressure applications. It is durable.
Read our article on the chemical resistance of materials for a detailed review of each material type.
Fixing ball valve issues
Poor installation, damage, and manufacturing faults may cause valve issues. Ball valve issues can slow the speed of valve operation. A ball valve handle can get damaged and leak occasionally. The process of checking and fixing ball valve issues is discussed below:
Leaking ball valve handle
The following are the possible cause of leaks in a ball valve:
- Damaged handles
- Faulty seal
- Misaligned seats and stem
- Incorrect valve size for application
- Damaged ball
- Debris clogged in the valve
How to check a leaking ball valve
It is necessary to check for leaks to ensure the fluids are not wasted. The right way of checking whether a ball valve is leaking depends on the type of valve. Use the following tips to check a leaking ball valve.
- Inspect the valve for damages.
- Check the valve for leaks with a pressure gauge.
- Watch for bubbles after applying a soap solution to the valve.
- Place a piece of paper or a towel over the valve and pay attention to moisture.
- Listen with a stethoscope for any hissing or dripping noises.
How to fix a leaking ball valve
A ball valve leaking from its handle usually has a problem with the seal or the ball. The first step to fixing the leaking ball valve is to identify the exact cause of the leak. Then depending on the cause of the leak, use the appropriate method to fix it.
If the leak is not significant, repairing the damaged parts can work. In the case of severe leaking, the damaged part may need replacement. Read our article on ball valve leakage troubleshooting for more details.
PVC ball valve handle broken
A broken PVC ball valve handle can lead to problems with the ball valve operation. It is impossible to open or close the valve if the handle is broken. A broken handle can also cause leaking.
How to fix a PVC broken handle
PVC ball valves can become brittle with age causing leaks. These valves fail around the plastic handle most often. The steps to replace a PVC ball valve handle are discussed below:
Push-on PVC handle
The push-on type ball valve handle snaps on top of the valve stem. The handle need not be screwed and remains in its place sturdily. To replace a rush-on handle, shut off the fluid flow in the system and firmly pluck the handle until it pops out of the valve. Knowing the model number of the PVC ball valve helps get a proper replacement for the valve handle. If you cannot find a replacement for the handle, it is better to get a whole new PVC ball valve. This gives an extra valve body if needed.
Screw-on handles are screwed to the valve stem. This gives a strong connection, but removing the handle is difficult. Make sure to shut off the fluid flow before removing the handle. Use a flat head screwdriver and pluck the small cap in the center of the handle, under which lies a fastened screw. Remove the screw using another screwdriver. This loosens the handle allowing you to remove the handle easily.
Read our article on ball valve issues and troubleshooting for more details on other ball valve concerns and checking them.
Ball valve stem extension
Ball valve stem extension is used to stretch the reach of a valve stem. The equipment is valuable when the valve is positioned in a hard-to-reach place. It also gives the user more room to turn the valve. Valve stem extensions come in a variety of lengths. If you have a bigger ball valve or need additional torque to open or close the valve, a ball valve handle extension may be required.
Why are ball valve handles easily broken?
The handle is easily broken because of the wear and tear over time.
What surface treatments are available for ball valve handles?
The treatments available include powder coating, zinc plating, electroplating, etc.
How can I fix a stuck ball valve?
Start with spraying a lubricant like wd40, where the valve handle enters the body of the actual valve. Allow it to sit for up to 20 minutes before trying to loosen the valve. You can tap on it lightly with the help of a hammer if it stays stuck.