Getting Ready for Winter: Q&A on Protecting Your Valves and Actuators from the Cold

Winter is just around the corner. And according to the current predictions, this one will be quite a doozy. Most of the northern part of the country is expected to get hit pretty hard. The Midwest should prepare for bitter cold snaps, while the Northeast will likely experience frequent storms and above-average snowfall.

What this means is you need to start thinking about winterizing your valves and actuators now, before it’s too late. This article provides a quick Q&A on why, how, and when to protect your equipment from the cold.

Why do you need to winterize valves and actuators?

Valves and actuators located outside or along pipelines are highly susceptible to the cold. If water gets into a valve and freezes, the valve will stop working. Even worse, frozen water can expand as much as 9%. If this happens to the water in your valve, the valve components could break. This can be a particular risk for buried valves, because the problem is difficult to see, often until it’s too late.

Valve and actuator problems are much easier — and much less expensive — to prevent than to correct. All it takes is proper winterization and maintenance.

How do you winterize valves and actuators?

The first step in ensuring your equipment makes it through the winter is regular maintenance. If your valves are in good shape already, preparing them for the winter will be much easier.

As for what to do before the cold hits, Allied’s Pipeline and Actuation Service Manager Paul Warren recommends four approaches:

  • Annual winterization. The goal here is to make sure there is no water that could freeze, for example, by draining the water from a buried valve and filling it with antifreeze instead. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to do that.
  • Winter lube. This valve lubricant works in sub-zero temperatures. We recommend a winter lube that’s good down to -40°F.
  • Hydraulic fluid. In cold areas, we recommend using high viscosity index (HVI) 15-weight oil in gas-over-hydraulic actuators.
  • Pre-filters in wet gas applications. To prevent water and other fluids from getting into natural gas areas, we recommend putting pre-filters on power gas inlets.

When should you winterize your valves and actuators?

Ideally, you should winterize your equipment annually before the first freeze. In many places, that means now.

Taking care of your equipment now can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars down the line, in downtime and repair costs. Contact us today so we can help you get ready for winter!

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