When it’s time to perform maintenance or repairs on a pressurized valve, it’s necessary to shut off whatever material is in inside. Valve locks perform this critical role, one which can prevent potentially harmful accidents. But before you install one, it’s important to know that valve locks are not one-size-fits-all. There are several different types which are engineered for specific valves.
It’s more likely than not that your valve is one of the three most common: Ball valves, butterfly valves, or gate valves. Here’s how their corresponding valve lock systems work:
Ball Valve Locks
Ball valve lock systems combine an outside handle with an interior ball to control flow through the valve. You simply shift the handle to the off position to do so. They typically range from one half to eight inches in diameter and will work on a wide variety of pipes, including ones constructed of stainless steel, brass, bronze, chrome, titanium, PVC, CPVC and others.
Butterfly Valve Locks
Butterfly valves themselves are discs positioned in the center of a pipe. When given a quarter turn, they control flow. They are generally cheaper than ball valves because of their lighter weight. Butterfly valve locks, like ball valve locks, can be used on different sizes of pipes, but have a more limited range of 2.5 to 4 inches in diameter.
Gate Valve Locks
Gate valve locks work by blocking access to valve handles. They are thermoplastic covers in the shape of half circles. After they’re installed, a padlock or hasp can be used to secure them in place. Gate valve locks are mostly used with larger pipe diameters (from 2″ to the largest pipelines).
Valve lock systems have a wide range of applications: manufacturing, mining, utilities, municipal service, and oil and gas. But before choosing one, always make sure it is the right fit for the valve you need to shut off.