Like most other valves, solenoid valves are also used to regulate the flow of gasses or liquids. The presence of a solenoid allows these valves to open or shut through electricity. They have become quite popular over the years and are in high demand in several major end-user industries such as oil and gas, automotive, food and beverages, and the utility sector.
If you are a part of these industries, you may know that their selection for optimal use is based on four key pieces of information – pressure going into the valve, type and state of the fluid, the size of the pipe connections to the valve, and the voltage. However, it is also crucial to know a few things about maintaining them properly. Just like any other part of the equipment, they also get worn out over time. So, you should be aware of replacing worn components at the right time and ensuring that parts are clean and free of debris. It will not only extend product life but also ensure predictable operation.
Basic Maintenance Guide
Following are some basic steps that will help you with solenoid valve maintenance:
- For checking the valve condition, you should first disconnect the power source and depressurize the system. And, follow all the necessary precautions required for the fluid controlled therein.
- Now you can carefully look at the coil for any cracks in the encapsulation. If your equipment in is a wet or humid environment, the moisture can penetrate the coil and cause valve failure. Besides the cracks, you should also check for damage or corrosion.
- After inspecting the coil, you should remove the remaining unit (pressure vessel) with a sleeve removal tool or wrench. Remember not to remove the sleeve by clamping onto the sleeve tube or it will bend the tube or make a dent on it.
- Check the internal components of the valve operator thoroughly including the plunger with a seal, the plunger return spring, the sleeve, an O-ring, and operator body. If there is any serious damage, the part should be immediately replaced.
- Check the seals for swelling, cracking, or general deterioration and the spring for worn or broken coils. Observe the body orifice properly the top of the plunger and the inside of the sleeve for any signs of wear.
- Some complex solenoid valves have diaphragms, pistons, spools, and levers. Follow the specific manufacturer’s instructions for inspecting them.
- Once you have cleaned up the valve and replaced any necessary parts, you can reassemble the pressure vessel as per the manufacturer’s directions and reattach the coil. Reinstall the valve back into the application and connect the power source to use it again.
Replacing Parts of Solenoid Valves
When replacing any part of the solenoid valve, you should purchase it from the manufacturer. They have replacement part kits that usually include replacement O-rings, springs, a plunger, and even diaphragms, pistons, and other components. You should purchase it from the manufacturer only as their engineers are well aware of your product and know about its operation in applications across all customer industries.
The market for solenoid valves is expected to grow consistently since they offer several advantages like affordability, compact size, reliability, and a safe (also, fast) switching option. If you are using these valves, it is crucial to know at least the basics of their maintenance so that you can optimize their utility and extend product life.