Some pneumatic technicians live in fear of the day that they have to walk into a new workshop, largely because they never know how well kept the older machinery there was. Imagine you just took up your first day on the job and found that everything was coated in muck.
While this might seem like a horror story, it’s something that many people who specialize in maintaining compressed air-driven equipment have to deal with on a daily basis. If you’re only dealing with your own equipment, then now might be the best time to check that there’s no debris under the seals on your solenoid valves. This is consistently one of the main causes of dirt that eventually works its way into solenoid valve systems.
Take a moment as you read this to clean off any debris from the seals. You may want to use a small tool to do so as long as you take care to not rupture any portion of the valve stem. If any seals or air clamps are bad, then you’ll want to replace these as part of the cleaning process. Fortunately, the rest of your job shouldn’t be all that difficult.
Cleaning Out Pneumatic Solenoid Valves
You may want to start by using a dry piece of lint-free material to remove any moisture from the fitting or housing. Keeping this surface dry will help to ensure that corrosion doesn’t occur, which in turn will keep your solenoid valves moving properly for years to come. Of course, the machinery should all be put into a cold shutdown so that your valves aren’t receiving any voltage or flow of fluid through them while you attempt to work with them. This is vitally important for safety reasons, so you shouldn’t ever skip this step no matter how much of a hurry you might think that you’re in.
If there is a slight amount of corrosion, then you’ll want to remove this as part of the cleaning process. That being said, valves that are damaged should be removed because corrosion will start to spread to other parts of the system.
Assuming that you were able to do that, you’ll want to check the inside of the valve for any debris. There’s a simple process that many pneumatic specialists use to keep these parts in working order.
Disassembling & Processing A Pneumatic Solenoid Valve
To inspect the valve’s components, you’ll want to isolate the valve from voltage and any flow of compressed air. If you’ve taken the advice to shut off and drain the system already, then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Take off the top nut, plate and coil. Make sure to set these down next to the assembly so you won’t lose them when you go to put the system back together again. You’ll probably want to put them in the order you take them off in to make the reassembly process a little easier.
If the nut is dirty, then clean it with a dry piece of material that won’t leave any sort of lint. The coil should remain relatively clean at all times. Depending on the condition of the nut itself, you might want to wipe it down to.
Once you’ve gotten these parts aside, take out the armature tube and check for any sediment or debris that might have been able to make its way into the tube or the valve body. You should find it easy to clean away small amounts of debris as long as you take care to prevent damage to the components themselves.
Once you’ve cleaned everything, you’ll want to check that the armature and the spring assembly moves freely inside of the tube itself. Inspect all of the seals and the o-rings for contamination that might have occurred during normal usage. Since you already have the equipment taken apart, you might as well capitalize on the opportunity to perform a complete checkup.
If you’re working with pilot-operated or assisted lift valves, then you’ll want to also take apart the upper valve body. Clean the diaphragm off and check it for any tears or deformation. Be very careful with it, because it’s relatively easy to bust the diaphragm apart or put a hole in it.
As soon as you’re finished, you should be able to reassemble the components without too much difficulty. Don’t use too much force to do so, because these parts are generally designed to only accept a certain amount of torque even if they’re made from durable compounds.
There’s a few other pointers that can make your job much easier once you’ve taken the time to clean everything up.
Pointers For Cleaning & Maintaining Pneumatic Solenoid Valves
Keep in mind that some types of pneumatic solenoid valves are simply more resilient against dirt than others. For that matter, there’s a fairly good chance that the rest of your installation is impacting the way that your valves collect dirt. Consider the example of multiple types of metal used in a single installation.
Those solenoid valves that are attached to stainless steel connectors will generally perform better than those that are attached to inferior fittings. Taking just a few moments to swap out your fittings can make a dramatic improvement.
Assuming that you’ve already refurbished the rest of your pneumatic installation, cleaning a pneumatic solenoid valve shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll want to eventually get into a regular routine, which can help to reduce the risk of experiencing other types of semi-related problems.
Treating Issues You Might Have With Pneumatic Solenoid Valves
Coil and valve failure, for instance, will eventually happen when your equipment isn’t properly cared for. Applying an incorrect voltage to your coils might cause them to fail. You’ll want to only operate all of your equipment inside of the specifications provided by the original equipment manufacturer. On top of this, you’ll want to invest in speed controllers and other components that can help to further regulate the equipment you’re working with.
All of this gear should also be cleaned on a regular basis. More than likely, you’ll only need to wipe the housings with a mild rag to ensure that they’re free of debris that might otherwise get into moving parts. Assuming that your pneumatic equipment has been sealed properly, this shouldn’t normally be a concern outside of normal maintenance.
Find Your Valve Type At SMC Pneumatics
SMC Pneumatics wants to help you find the solenoid valves you need. We stock the best pneumatic parts and can provide replacements for discontinued series.
Should you have noticed that any other parts need replacement, however, make sure to contact us online at SMC Pneumatics and tell us more about your company’s requirements. We’ll make sure to help you find the parts you need to get all of your equipment moving again.