Why 3 Way Ball Valves Are Not Fire Safe

Applications that require tight shut-off of flow use ball valves that have soft polymer seats. The soft polymer seats give excellent shut-off capabilities and make these valves perfect for specific applications. However, it comes at the expense of low heat and temperature resistance. The ball valves work perfectly in the temperatures dictated by the seals and seal properties, but the seals are prone to melting in case of a high-temperature rise and can result in massive leaks and ultimately system failure. However, to avoid these situations, fire safety ball valves were designed. These valves come with additional metal seats, which prevent them from melting when the soft polymer fails.

With the fire-resistant ball valves, you can minimize leakage and ensure overall safety in the industry. These types of ball valves are certified as fire-resistant, and industries often prefer them more than traditional ones. A ball valve receives the certification after conducting a series of tests. Since the test is as per the industry standards, it focuses on checking the overall performance of the valve. This test is a standard for all types of isolation valves. Thus, it is mandatory to perform before selling the valve. That means all certified fire-resistant ball valves in the industry have been thoroughly tested and are safe to use.

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How Are 3-Way Ball Valves Different?

3-way ball valves are primarily used for flow diversion, and they function as an elbow. Since elbows are unable to stop the flow, they are only used to divert the flow-through 90 degrees. The design of these valves does not support the fire test conditions. Even in the case of fire, the 3-way valves will continue to allow the flow of liquid. Although the polymer seats will melt, adding a metal seal will not be enough to stop the flow of liquid. This is one of the most significant differences between a ball valve and a 3-way ball valve. Also, this design is what makes a 3-way ball valve unsafe during a fire.

Are 3 Way Ball Valves Unsafe During Fire?

Although the 3-way ball valves are not as safe as the other ones, some manufacturers cater them with fire-resistant certificates. The fire test conducted for 3 way ball valves is a bit different. During test one, the outlet of the valve is shut off, and the other two outlets are used to maintain the flow of liquid. However, these are not the ideal working conditions of the valves. In actual usage, shutting one outlet is not possible. The outlet must allow the flow of liquid during normal conditions. That is why the test conducted to measure the fire safety of 3-way ball valves in Dubai does not meet the standards set for the industry, and thus the certification of fire safety is not entirely true.

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Can A 3 way Ball Valve Pass the Fire Safety Test?

Yes, there are more than one ways this type of valve can pass the fire safety test. One of the most notable ones is in the 3 way L port ball valves. The two-way valve has a ball inside it which can float towards the downstream seat whenever pressure is applied to it. This feature of the valve is highlighted during the fire safety test, which allows manufacturers to pass it and get the certificate. Under this setting, after the polymer seats are destroyed, the ball keeps floating under pressure, and they move towards the secondary metal seats and stop the flow, preventing any leakage. But, the problem is that the ball in these types of valves can only float in one direction.

That means, when the valve is rotated 90 degrees, the ball will not be able to float. To pass the test, manufacturers shut one outlet and arrange the ball in a manner that is allowed to float and prevent leakage. This enables them to pass the test and gain a certificate. However, the complete test is staged, and the valve is arranged in a manner that helps it pass the test. Since any ball valve can pass the fire safety test with the correct configuration that does not make them fire safe? To understand and test the limitations of ball valves, the test conditions must mimic the actual ones.

This will give you an accurate understanding of the valves and transparent results as well. The ball valves must respond appropriately during a fire hazard. A small mistake of flow can lead to a catastrophe. The accuracy rate of ball valves working in a fire hazard is only 50 percent. This is why you must understand the issues and limitations you face with 3-way ball valves before installing them into your industry. If you are thinking about installing ball valves, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive fire safety test to measure its performance and determine its capability during a hazard. Testing your units beforehand will minimize the risk of damage and ensure that your components work perfectly in the face of a threat.

Final Words

The fire safety of the 3-way ball valve is in question. You cannot trust these valves even with relevant certificates. However, not all valves suffer the same problem. Other ball valves come with metal seals that are crucial during fire hazards. These valves are considered much safer and pass all the tests without any tampering. This is why you must check the type and quality of a valve before installing it in your industry. Mohsin Trading is one of the leading suppliers of ball valves in Dubai. We offer the most reliable options at competitive prices. Browse our collection of valves from our website, or you can also contact our support team for more information at +971 55 672 1352