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How Do You Size a Check Valve?

Jun. 20, 2023

Sizing a check valve involves determining the appropriate valve size and specifications based on the specific application requirements and system parameters. Check valves, also known as non-return valves, are designed to allow fluid flow in one direction while preventing reverse flow. Here are the key factors to consider when sizing a check valve:


Flow Rate:

The flow rate is a critical parameter for sizing a check valve. It refers to the volume or mass of fluid that passes through the valve per unit of time. To determine the flow rate, you need to consider the maximum expected flow rate in the system. This information can be obtained from flow calculations, system design specifications, or by measuring the flow rate directly.


Pressure Drop:

Pressure drop refers to the decrease in pressure across the check valve as the fluid flows through it. It is crucial to select a check valve with a pressure drop that is within the acceptable range for the system. Excessive pressure drop can cause system inefficiencies, energy losses, and potential damage to the valve or other system components. Check valve manufacturers provide pressure drop charts or curves that relate pressure drop to flow rate for different valve sizes.


Pipe Size and Connection:

The check valve should be sized to match the pipe size and connection type of the existing or planned pipeline. The valve size should be compatible with the pipe diameter to ensure proper installation and minimize any flow restrictions or pressure losses.

 Swing Check Vavle

  Swing Check Valve

Valve Type and Design:

Check valves are available in various designs, including swing check valves, lift check valves, and ball check valves. Each design has different characteristics and advantages depending on the application. Consider the specific requirements of the system, such as the type of fluid, temperature, pressure, and any special conditions (e.g., corrosive fluids, high velocities) to select the appropriate valve type and design.


Material Compatibility:

Check valves are manufactured using different materials to suit various applications. It is essential to consider the compatibility of the valve material with the fluid being transported to ensure corrosion resistance, longevity, and optimal performance. Factors such as fluid composition, temperature, pressure, and potential contaminants should be taken into account when selecting the valve material.


Cracking Pressure:

Cracking pressure is the minimum upstream pressure required to open the check valve and allow fluid flow. It is important to ensure that the selected check valve has an appropriate cracking pressure to meet the system requirements. Consider factors such as the desired flow rate, backpressure, and system dynamics to determine the suitable cracking pressure for the application.

Installation Orientation:

Check valves have specific installation orientations, such as vertical (upward flow), horizontal, or angled positions. It is important to consider the installation orientation requirements of the check valve and ensure that it aligns with the system design and flow conditions. Improper installation orientation can lead to reduced performance, increased pressure drop, or even failure of the valve.


Standards and Codes:

Check valves should meet industry standards and codes to ensure their reliability, performance, and compliance with regulations. Familiarize yourself with applicable standards and codes, such as those from organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to select a check valve that meets the necessary requirements.


Manufacturer's Recommendations:

Consult the manufacturer's specifications and recommendations for their check valve products. Manufacturers often provide sizing guidelines, flow charts, and technical information to assist in selecting the appropriate valve size for a given application.


In conclusion, sizing a check valve involves considering factors such as flow rate, pressure drop, pipe size, valve type and design, material compatibility, cracking pressure, installation orientation, standards, codes, and manufacturer's recommendations. By carefully evaluating these parameters, you can select a check valve that meets the specific requirements of your system and ensures reliable and efficient operation.

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