All you wanted to do was purge the stale smoke from your vase, but what you got was an explosion of steam, crackling sounds an possibly even the ominous crack of a shattered bowl. You purged too hard and the valve was stuck, which shot water up the stem and into the bowl.
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All of this could have been avoided if you had just cleaned out your purge valve once in a while and tested it before your session. Well, you haven’t cleaned the valve out in a while and the ball bearing now seems to have fused with your stem. What are you to do?
The first roadblock is the purge valve cap. It can easily get gummed up and become almost impossible to remove. The simplest way to fix this is a little brute force. If you’re not lucky enough to have a purge valve cap with squared edges that you can put a C-wrench on, get yourself a pair of pliers and put a piece of cloth between the jaws and the actual purge valve. This cloth or a folded paper towel is to prevent the teeth from digging in and marring the metal. I use my Leatherman for pretty much everything.
Now that you have the cap off you need to get the ball bearing out. Most of the time you can just pop it out with the tip of a knife. Be careful not to cut yourself or shoot the ball bearing across the room.
If this isn’t enough then you may need to resort to chemical warfare. Mix up some Bar Keeper’s Friend into a paste and cover the purge valve so that it can soak in. This should help loosen up the gunk and the ball bearing.
Now that everything has been taken apart it is time to clean out the inside and the threading. The stars here are Bar Keeper’s Friend making another appearance and pipe cleaners:
- Mix up some more paste.
- Let it sit on the threads and inside the actual purge valve.
- Drop the purge valve cap and the ball bearing in a plastic bag with some Bar Keeper’s friend and water.
- After that’s eaten through the muck, scrub the threads down with a mildly abrasive sponge and clean out the inside with pipe cleaners.
- Rinse it all thoroughly with water an put it all together.
Your purge valve should be sparkling and function smoothly, but you can avoid this problem in the future by replacing the ball bearing with a non-biodegradable airsoft BB. You still need to clean everything out from time to time, but the BB is lighter and less likely to get gummed up while never rusting.
Thank you to folks at Black Professionals of Houston Group.