How to Safely Operate a Gate Valve

Written by bob white
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How to Safely Operate a Gate Valve
Operating a gate valve is easy with the correct information. (valve 2 image by askthegeek from

A valve's purpose is to control the flow of fluid by opening and closing a gate. The gate valve is one of the oldest and simplest designs. A screw mechanism raises and lowers a gate to stop or start the fluid. This simple system is used in faucets, hose bibs, factory piping systems and other mechanical systems for many different types of applications. Operating a gate valve safely requires a little knowledge on its potential weak points.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Check the gate valve for any evidence of fluid leakage. Most fluids will leave some type of stain on the exterior of the valve. If the valve is leaking, do not attempt to open or close it, as this may worsen the problem.

  2. 2

    Turn the valve clockwise to close it or counter clockwise to open it.

  3. 3

    Continue turning the valve until it is completely open or closed. Do not leave the valve in the partial open or closed stage for a prolonged period. The fluid rushing by the gate will damage its smooth surface, and it will no longer seat properly. This can cause the valve to malfunction.

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful when operating a gate valve that has not been used in a long time. It is common for a valve in this condition to leak immediately once turned. It is wise to have and know the location of an alternative valve upstream that can be shut off in the event of a valve failure.

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