What to Do If a Pressure Relief Valve Is Leaking

Pressure relief valves ensure efficiency and safety in many chemical, oil, and gas plants, but they’re susceptible to leaks. If a pressure relief valve is leaking, systems can become overpressurized and even fail, especially if the valve isn’t addressed or repaired quickly.

To help you prevent system issues and dangerous overpressure conditions, here’s your guide to what to do if a pressure relief valve is leaking.

Shut Down the System When a Valve is Leaking

What to Do If a Pressure Relief Valve Is LeakingWhen a pressure relief valve is leaking, the first and most important thing you need to do is shut down the system. Leaking pressure relief valves can’t regulate the overall pressure within the pipelines. This can cause overpressure conditions, which can lead to system failure and, in some cases, system explosions and fires.

So make sure that you shut down the system when you detect a leaking pressure relief valve to prevent serious system issues and dangerous conditions.

Determine the Cause of the Leak

When you shut down the system, carefully examine the pipelines and the valve itself to determine the cause of the leak. This will help you figure out exactly what you need to do to repair it.

Pressure relief valve leaks usually occur when the valve isn’t properly seated or when the seal is broken or damaged. Leaks can also happen when the pressure relief valve is operating too closely to the set point.

Perform the Necessary Repairs

What to Do If a Pressure Relief Valve Is LeakingAfter you’ve determined the cause of the leak, you can start repairing the valve. According to federal leak detection and repair standards, companies have five days to perform the first repair attempt.

For the first repair, you should tighten or replace the bonnet bolts and tighten the packing gland nuts. You want to make sure that you follow manufacturer repair guidelines for the first repair.

If the valve isn’t completely repaired after your first attempt, you have up to 15 days to perform any additional repairs according to the EPA. If the valve still isn’t fixed, then you can either replace the pressure relief valve or wait until the next shutdown cycle to do more repairs.

Prevent a Leaking Pressure Valve

When the pressure relief valve has been fixed or replaced, it’s important to take the necessary steps to avoid leaks in the future. To do that, consider implementing a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program for your company.

An LDAR program will help to train workers on everything they need to know about detecting and repairing a leak before system damage can occur. It will also help you monitor valves more efficiently so you can spot leaks faster and spend less money on overall valve repair and maintenance costs.

To learn more about pressure relief valves for your company, read our post on how to choose the right pressure relief valve