When Good Valves Go Bad

Bad compressor valves can negatively impact an entire system, causing costly delays, eating into resources, and leaving productivity at a standstill. Compressor valves are an important part of the work cycle of any compressor. Undertaking routine preventative maintenance and installing quality compressor valves from the start can help to avoid problems. Neglecting compressor valves endangers the entire system.

The role of a compressor valve cannot be underestimated. To better understand why they are important and to assist in troubleshooting faltering ones, it is important to understand what a compressor valve does.

Since the compressor’s task is to push along an element within a machine in a single direction, it must have a driving force. This is usually a piston within a chamber. The piston is powered by a rapidly turning crankshaft. As the piston moves inside, the amount of pressure within the chamber rises and drops. These shifts in pressure as the crankshaft turn are what force the compressor valves open and shut again, ready for the next work cycle.

As the valves allow, the liquid, air, or gas inside the chamber feeds through the rest of the machine. Depending on the role of the compressor, valve, and system, compressor valves can close and open many times within a single minute. Machines house two different kinds of compressor valves, suction valves and discharge valves. In a properly functioning system, they are never open at the same time.

It is the suction valve that allows the matter to be compressed into the compression chamber. The suction valve is usually situated in the initial part of the work cycle. As the piston pushes downward through the chamber, additional space is created in the area above it. That pressure differential forces the suction valve open. When it does, the substance the machine is compressing rushes into the chamber.

The suction valve stays in the open position as long as the piston is at the bottom most point. Then it closes to allow the discharge valve to …


This article appears in the July 2019 issue of Gas Compression Magazine. You can read the entire article right now by clicking the link below.

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