Solenoid valves are a critical component in the automation process for many industries, including food production. Their job is to regulate the flow of gases and liquids in industrial processes. They have a variety of applications that range from controlling compressed air to operating pneumatic equipment, controlling high-pressure oil, to operating hydraulic equipment. However, they can be prone to some problems that need attention if you want them to continue functioning smoothly and efficiently. This post will cover the five most common problems you might encounter when using a solenoid valve and the recommended solutions.
Leaking valve sealant or fluid
One of the most common problems with solenoid valves in commercial hydroponics or other industrial applications is leakage of the valve sealant or fluid. This comes from a faulty O-ring, gasket material, or an improperly installed shaft packing gland. When testing for this problem, you should remove the shaft packing gland and reinsert it to see if there are any leaks on either side of the sealing surface.
You can also apply pressure to both sides of the seal with your fingers to test for leaks (a leak will feel wet). If all tests come back negative, then check for loose bolts/screws that may be causing problems. Leaking valve sealants or fluid can cause the solenoid valve to overheat because of loss in lubrication, leading to premature wear down.
Solution: Check the valve sealant regularly (every six months) and replace it when necessary. Also, inspect the O-rings periodically (once every three years) to ensure they are in good condition. If leakage is found, then consider replacing seals as necessary. Make sure screws are tightened to prevent future leaking problems.
Dirty solenoid valve seats are a leading cause of leaking solenoid valves. When the seat is dirty, it can lead to increased wear and tear on the valve, which will, in time, cause it to leak from its sealant or fluid. Dirt also leads to an increased risk for bacteria growth inside the valve, weakening both seals and causing them to break more easily.
In industrial applications, this could lead to an expensive and cumbersome clean-up process. Reduce risk by keeping all components clean and free of debris. Periodically inspect seat condition, replacing seals if necessary, tightening screws where applicable, and ensuring that the valve body is sealed.
Solution: Check your seats periodically (once every month) by using compressed air that has been blown through a straw with one end covered, so dirt doesn’t fly around. Clean the dirty seats and then apply a new sealant to protect against future leaks. A sealant will reduce leaks by keeping dirt out of a solenoid's seat.
Dirt, rust, and debris
Over time, solenoid valves may accumulate dirt, rust, and debris. This buildup can cause them to leak in industrial applications where leaks could lead to costly clean-ups with the potential for environmental pollution. Dirt on solenoids will make them more likely to leak and reduce their lifespan because they are working harder than normal due to leakage forces being exerted internally of their seat design and externally against the solenoid valve.
Dirt on the solenoid seats can also cause it to wear down prematurely and reduce its lifespan, depending on what sort of material is being leaked into or out of the system. If you have found any dirt, rust, or debris within your solenoid valves, remove these particles as soon as possible and put the solenoid valve back into service immediately afterward without letting any leaks occur.
Solution: To combat this problem, you should clean your valves with a hose periodically (every two weeks) to keep them free from dirt and debris that could lead to leakage problems over time.
Valve stem sticking
Another common problem with solenoid valves is the valve stem sticking. This happens when the solenoid plunger inside the body gets pushed in, opening a passage for fluid to flow through. When you turn off the power, this plunger can get stuck and not release back into its original position. This means your solenoid won't close when you want it to and again may need more force than normal to open or close properly.
Solution: If the valve is not sealing properly, try turning it off and then back on again. Solenoid valves are more prone to sticking than other types of valves, as they don't have a spring or any type of sealant inside like others do. You can solve this issue by ensuring that there's always sufficient fluid in the valve and applying a lubricant around the top surface area where you see metal rubbing against metal when opening and closing it.
If it’s still not working, your best bet is probably going for a different type (such as an electric ball-type check valve with no moving parts) so it will never stick. Pneumatic manifold advancements are also playing a bigger role in ensuring more reliable, safer, and improved components like solenoid valves and valve actuators.
Seals wearing out
Solenoid valve seals may also wear out over time, which can result in a leak. This is often due to the valve being used too much or not being installed correctly so it needs some adjustment. Additionally, if you have an older type of solenoid that doesn't use rubber seals but instead uses metal ones, they may need replacing. This type can become corroded over time since there is no spring effect anymore, which could lead to sticking issues.
The seal itself might also show wear and tear through corrosion — particularly with brass valves where water has pooled inside them for long periods of time. To fix this problem, you'll want to remove all traces of any old liquid from within the top surface area using a rag soaked in a solvent before applying Teflon tape to the seal and reinstalling it.
Solution: Replace seals every three years to prevent wear and tear that could result in leaks. Another solution is to use rubber seals as they will last up to five years. Regularly inspect your seals to avoid leaks or sticking.
Keep your solenoid valves in good working condition
Solenoid valves are often used for regulating pressure by opening or closing a passage when activated either electrically or mechanically. This means that they're found not just in industrial settings but also within homes too. To ensure proper functionality, make sure to keep your solenoid valves in good working condition. This way, you can be sure that they'll deliver the right amount of pressure needed in a system.