Mechanical Integrity 101 | Relief Valves
Sometimes you don’t have to be an experienced technician or a trained engineer to identify a serious a mechanical issue. The picture on the right is an example of one of those instances. Relief valves are designed to relieve pressure and in order to function properly the inlet of the relief valve must be connected to the vapor space of a piece of equipment (or pipe) and the outlet must be connected to some lower pressure (often atmosphere). If during the scope of performing a mechanical integrity inspection you identify a relief valve that has been plugged, it should be addressed with a great deal of urgency. Depending on the circumstances, a plugged relief valve could be remedied by one of the following:
- Replacing the plugged relief valves with new relief valves that are properly terminated
- Removing the relief valves altogether because a system or code change no longer makes relief valves necessary
No matter what route is chosen to address the issue, be sure to use extra care when removing the plugged relief valves because it is probable that they were plugged in the first place because of a slow leak.