Ball Valve Leakage Troubleshooting
Figure 1: A leaking ball valve can cause many different problems.
A ball valve is a crucial part of a plumbing system. While PVC ball valves are the most popular type, you can also get them in stainless steel, brass, and other materials. If you discover a leak in your plumbing, a ball valve can quickly stop the flow of water internally by turning a handle on the outside of the valve.
However, leaky ball valves can cause problems, making the valve challenging to operate. Depending on the type of leak, you can either fix the problem with a DIY repair or get a new valve. The ball valve may leak internally due to general wear and tear, dirt, and other obstructions. A standard solution for a leaking ball valve is replacing the packing washer. This article explores the possible causes and solutions for leaking ball valves.
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What is a ball valve?
A ball valve is a quarter-turn valve consisting of a ball sitting in a passageway, allowing or restricting the flow of liquid through the valve. The position of the hole determines whether the valve is open or closed. When the valve is open, the hole’s position is parallel to the direction of the passageway, allowing liquid to flow through. When the valve is closed, the hole is perpendicular to the passage blocking the fluid from flowing. The handle allows you to turn the valve from the outside, enabling operation.
To learn more about ball valves read our Ball valve types guide.
Types of ball valves
There are several types of ball valves. One of the most commonly used ball valves in plumbing is the PVC valve. They are simple to use and popular in residential applications. The two common types of ball valves are union ball valves and compact ball valves.
True union ball valves are used mainly in industrial applications. They’re available with either socket or threaded connections, making them easy to repair. One-piece compact ball valves are made with glue or threaded ends.
To ensure that they can withstand 150 PSI of liquid pressure, ball valves are tested by manufacturers. They can also withstand temperatures as high as 140° Fahrenheit (for PVC) and 200° Fahrenheit (for CPVC).
Causes of a Ball Valve Leakage Internally
Ball valves can burst due to a variety of reasons. Leakage can occur when the valve isn't closed correctly due to debris or if the seal or valve is damaged.
The leading causes of water ball valve leakage:
- The ball valve may leak internally if it is damaged or transported improperly.
- The sealing surface of the ball valve can corrode and leak if it is not dried before it leaves the factory.
- Rainwater and other debris can enter the valve if a safeguard is not adequately implemented at the construction site. This could lead to leakage.
- The ball can be damaged if the valve isn't in its fully open position after installation and welding.
- The valve can leak if the limit is not set correctly during installation or the stem's drive is incorrectly aligned.
Causes of ball valve leakage during construction:
- The ball valve can leak internally if it is not maintained correctly.
- Regular valve operation can cause internal leakage if construction residue is left on the sealing surface.
- The ball and valve seat will become locked if you don't use the valve for long periods. This causes internal leakage and damages the sealing surface of the valve when it is opened and closed.
- Internal leakage can occur when the ball valve tilts by two to three degrees.
How to repair a PVC ball valve
Figure 2: A PVC ball valve
A PVC ball valve is made of a spherical disc that controls the flow of drinking water or air through it. The ball valve can be shut off in an emergency, and it is an integral part of the plumbing system. The ball valve is handy, but it can also be damaged or worn out over time.
To repair a PVC valve, you only need basic plumbing knowledge. To fix a PVC valve, follow these steps. The tools you will need:
- Allen wrench
- Replacement parts
- Petroleum jelly or lubricating oil
- Sponge or dry cloth
Step 1: Shut off the water supply
Turn off the water supply to ensure that water does not interrupt the ball valve repair. After you have shut off the valve completely, drain any leftover water in a bucket and then dry the valve.
The handle that holds the PVC ball valve together must be removed. You can remove the screws holding the valve together with an Allen wrench or a screwdriver. Then, remove the ball valve.
Step 2: Disassemble the ball valve
You can inspect each component and determine the cause of the problem by disassembling the entire valve. Most hardware and home improvement stores sell replacement parts for PVC ball valves. To make it easy to put the valve back together, ensure that all parts and screws are kept together.
Step 3: Replace worn parts of the ball valve
After locating the damaged or worn-out part of the ball valve, replace it. To make it easier to replace the damaged parts, lubricate the valve with petroleum jelly or lubricating oil. Next, assemble the parts in reverse order. Before you turn on the main line of your plumbing system, secure the elements using the screw. Next, verify that the PVC ball valve has not sprung a leak.
How to replace a ball valve
You can sometimes repair one part of a ball valve, or you may need to replace the entire valve. The following steps explain the process in detail:
Step 1: Purchase a new ball valve
Buy a new ball valve before you start the project.
Step 2: Shut off the water supply
Turn off the water supply to your pipes and turn on the faucet.
Step 3: Access the Pipes
It is possible to reach the pipes beneath the sink. However, you will need to remove the wall to access the bathtub faucet and shower pipes.
Step 4: Disconnect the Old Ball Valve
Once you have access, cut the pipes with a hacksaw. This will allow you to remove the old ball located within. Then, use the two cuts you made to remove the old valve.
Step 5: Connect the Pipe
Use the new section of pipe to splice onto the pipe you have cut. Make sure the pipe is wide enough for the ball valve. A coupler can be used to hold one end of the spliced section.
Step 6: Install the new ball valve
Follow the instructions on the package to install the new ball valve. Copper pipes require sweat joints and plumber cement. Once you have secured the valve, close the line using the coupler.
Step 7: Check the new ball valve
Turn the water off to test the ball valve. Then, turn on the faucets. Before closing the pipe access hole, check for leaks.
What are the differences between a globe valve and a ball valve?
The way the valves close makes a globe valve different from a ball valve. A globe valve closes with a plug or stem in direct contact with the flow. A ball valve uses a ball that closes the flow. Globe valves can be used to regulate the flow of liquid. Ball valves can control the flow of fluid without causing pressure drops.
What is the life expectancy of a ball valve?
A ball valve's life expectancy is between eight and ten years. Ball valves can wear out from constant rotation.