A Simple Pressure Safety Valve Calibration Procedure

with 3 Comments

One of the simplest but most important instruments that I encounter which are used not for displaying or monitoring the process, but for safety, is the pressure safety valves.

When I was just starting out as a cal tech, looking at it installed in a tank makes me curious about its usage. You cannot see any actions or output display as a sign of its operation.

In this post, I will present the following:

  1. What is a safety valve?
  2. Its difference with a relief valve
  3. Why do we need to calibrate a Pressure Safety Valve?
  4. PSV Calibration Setup and procedure
  5. The 3 stages to observe during calibration.
  6. How to verify a safety valve?
  7. How to adjust a safety valve?

What is a pressure safety valve (PSV)?

Pressure Safety Valve or safety valves as the name implies is a type of pressure relief valve used to protect pressure vessels from excessive pressure, characterized by a rapid opening or a pop action once it reached the set pressure.

A Pressure Safety Valve Installed in a liquid nitrogen tank

I usually encounter PSV in gas industries manufacturing cryogenics like liquid oxygen, argon, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Installed in permanent tanks or mobile tanks (in trucks).

I also see it in the food industry used in storage tanks for oil.

A Safety Valve installed in Oil Tank

PSV is used specifically on safety concern. It is simple in use but one of the very important parts of safety. Only powered by the fluid pressure to do its safety job, it does not use electrical power. This makes it the last line of protection when every other device fails.


The main purpose is to open and release pressure when it reached a set pressure and then back to close position when pressure level normalized.


PSV is comparable to a pressure switch where it is triggered also when it reached a set pressure. It is in the ON and OFF state.

Read more about safety valves in this link: more about safety valves





The Difference Between a Safety Valve and a Relief Valve

When I was first exposed in this type of pressure instrument, I thought Pressure Safety Valves (PSV) is the same with Pressure Relief Valves or PRV, I did not know that they are different in some ways.

While both terms are used interchangeably, below are some of the main differences:

A pressure safety valve (PSV) or safety valve is a pressure relief valve:

 > used mainly on a gas-filled tank ( cryogenics like liquid oxygen, argon, nitrogen)

 > that opens rapidly (pop action) and fully when reached the set pressure is reached.

 > where released gas is vented or discharged in the atmosphere or open air

A relief valve is a pressure relief valve (PRV):

 > used in a liquid filled tank

 > that will open gradually or in a proportion with the increasing pressure

 > where the released liquid is discharged back to the system

I have read a good article about its differences, Read more here:

Difference between a relief valve and a safety valve


Why Do We Need to Calibrate a PSV?

Parts of a pressure safety valves- a dismantled safety valve
A dismantled Pressure Safety Valve showing the main parts

Every manufactured PSV has a set pressure engraved on its body. A set pressure that we need to verify to ensure that the valve will perform its function when needed.

Below are some of the reasons why we need to perform calibration and testing of PSV regularly:

  1. To verify that is still within the set pressure.

  2. As a part of preventive maintenance to maintain proper working condition

  3. A PSV is purely mechanical, it has a strong spring inside that is perfectly designed to give the required set pressure. One of these mechanical parts (like the disc) can wear which can affect the set pressure.

  4. Exposure to contaminants like dust or debris coming out with the fluid can affect the resealing or closing of the disc after release that may result in a leak.

  5. Sometimes, the closed position of PSV disc where it did not open or activated for a longer period has the tendency to stick (stuck-up). This affects the set pressure. Thus, it is a good way to exercise the valve.


Different Classifications of Pressure Safety Valves

Safety relief valves are classified as:

  1. Conventional type safety relief valve
  2. Balanced bellows type
  3. Pilot operated
  4. Power actuated
  5. Temperature and pressure actuated

You can read more about the different types of safety valves. Visit below link.

  1. pressure-relief-valve-safety-vacuum-relief-valve
  2. back-to-basics-pressure-relief-devices


Pressure Safety Valve Calibration Setup

Calibration setup is the same with the pressure gauge, the only difference is that PSV has no display to be seen.

There are 2 setups you can implement.
1. By using a pneumatic pump as the pressure source. Connect the module and the valve as shown in the photo.

Safety valve calibration setup using a pneumatic pump.
Calibration Setup using a pneumatic pump

2. By using nitrogen gas or compressed air as the pressure source. You can watch the below video for a simple demonstration.


PSV Calibration Procedure

PSV calibration is done by comparing the set pressure, which is the rapid releasing action (popping) of the PSV, to the displayed value of the reference standard.

Needed reference standards:

  1. A pressure module or a test gauge
  2. Fluke 754 as a display for pressure module
  3. A pressure source like a compressed gas, nitrogen gas or a pneumatic pump
  4. Set of Fittings

Calibration Procedure:

  1. Determine the set point of the pressure gauge. Be aware of this set point to anticipate the opening of the valve while controlling the pressure source.
  2. After performing the set up above, ensure that there is no leak.
  3. Increase the pressure until a sudden release or pop action is observed.
  4. Check the displayed pressure reading in the standard and record in your Measurement Data Sheet (MDS).
  5. Slowly decrease the flow of the pressure then observe the closing of the valve, this is the reseating pressure value- record it
  6. Repeat procedure 2 – 3 up to 3 times.
  7. Do not forget to label and seal to prevent unauthorized adjustment.

The 3 stages to observe during Safety Valve Calibration.

  1. set pressure – this is the pressure reading when the valve will pop or release a pressure rapidly. Tolerance is usually 3% of the set pressure.
  2. overpressure –  This is pressure above-set pressure where the valve will open fully. It has a tolerance of up to 10% above the set pressure.
  3. Closing pressure – this is the pressure reading when the valve will fully close and stop releasing.

Because of the rapid popping action during the discharge, it is hard to notice the difference of set pressure and overpressure. Without the tolerance specified, set pressure and overpressure reading are the same.

We are using a 10% tolerance or the tolerance specified by the manufacturer or as per the requirement of the user as the basis for a pass or failed verification.


How to Verify the Reading of the PSV if it is Within the Specified Set Value?

As per international standards like ISO 4126, the tolerance is 3% of set pressure and 10% of overpressure.

Example: set pressure is 25 Bar

The tolerance of the PSV is 3% of the set value, simply multiply the set value by 0.03.
> 25 X 0.03 = 0.75

The reading should be within
> 25+/-0.75 or (24.25 to 25.75)

If the reading is not acceptable or out of specs, you need to perform an adjustment. Read further below.


How to Adjust a Pressure Safety Valve?

Since a PSV is purely mechanical. It can be repaired or adjusted. The adjustment is simple, you just need the right tool.

PSV has a set pressured that is determined by the strength of the spring inside it. The more the spring it is compressed, the stronger or higher the pressure it can withstand or create.

In order to adjust the set pressure, we need to change the compression and/or the elongation of the spring by rotating the adjusting screw located just above the spring.

3 Steps to perform Adjustments:

  1. Removing the bonnet cover, a ring with a screw will be exposed
  2. Loosen the ring-like lock screw to access the adjusting screw
  3. Once the lock is loosened, turn the adjusting screw ( clockwise or counter-clockwise) to adjust at the desired range. See photo below.
Adjusting a safety valve
Adjusting a Pressure Safety Valve
adjusting a bigger safety valve
Adjusting a bigger Safety Valve

Simply rotate the screw until the desired range is achieved. But be careful not to over rotate, you may damage the spring.

Conclusion

Pressure safety valve or PSV is the last line of protection for all pressured vessel or tanks from over pressure using only the system pressure as the source of power. In this post, I have presented what is a safety valve, Its difference with a relief valve, why do we need to calibrate a Pressure Safety Valve, PSV Calibration Setup and procedure, The 3 stages to observe during calibration,how to verify a safety valve and how to adjust a safety valve inlcuding the main parts of a PSV.

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Best Regards,

Edwin

3 Responses

  1. Sudarshan Chandrasekhar
    | Reply

    Thanks for a great valuable piece of advice.

    • edsponce
      | Reply

      Hi Sudarshan,
      You are welcome. Thank you for reading my post.

      Best Regards,
      Edwin

  2. mshalaby
    | Reply

    Excellent
    But there is a question
    What are the factors affecting the calibration PSV
    I mean, is there a difference between PSV calibration in liquids and gases in terms of set point or no difference?

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