External vs. Internal Hydraulic Valve Leakage: What You Need to Know

If you oversee hydraulic system in your steel plant, you may have heard leaks are inevitable. The truth is that leaks are only inevitable if your system has a poor designed or isn't maintained. This leakage saps your facility’s efficiency, increases costs and can lead to dangerous conditions.
 
To help control leaks in high-pressure water valves, you need to understand the two types: external and internal.
 
External Leakage
 
  • What is it? External leaks appear as dripManaging-Valve-Leakage_blog1_image.jpgs and puddles that collect on plant floors or equipment.

  • Why is it harmful? External leaks can be dangerous to workers, the general public and the environment. The flow media may contain harmful substances. And, it adds the risk of workers slipping which OSHA lists as one of the five top reasons for lost time in the workplace. Also, the loss of flow media in a closed-loop system has a negative impact on the efficiency of that system.

  • What are the long-term effects? External leakage can result in lower operating pressure. This can lead to vibration that adds excessive stress on system components. Also, you have the added cost of replacing the leaked flow media.
 
Internal Leakage
  • What is it? Internal leakage includes leaks within the high-pressure water system. It can be intentional to provide lubrication for various valve components. The lubrication saves components such as seals, spools or pistons from friction. Another form of intended leakage maintains the pressure within a system at a safe level. But, unintentional internal leakage can be as problematic as external leakage.

  • Why is it harmful? Unintentional internal valve leakage can result in an inefficient operating system. This impacts the system’s pressure, temperature, flow and velocity. The result is equipment that is not operating as intended which leads to inconsistencies in quality.

  • What are the long-term effects? As mentioned above, leakage can lead to poor quality in the form of increased scrap and dollars lost.
 
Too often, the plant manager assumes that a running machine means it is running at optimal performance. Now you know the risks associated with leaks you can and can't see. To learn how to manage your leakage, download our guide, "Managing Leakage in Hydraulic Valve Design.”

How to Manage Leakage in Hydraulic Valve Design