Pressure cookers have become commonplace in modern households, and their improved safety features have made them twice as popular. In the past, pressure cookers earned a dark reputation for explosions, but today, most pressure cookers have at least 10 or more safety features.
That said, when the pressure cooker safety pressure valve starts leaking, you should know the cause because pressure cookers must release steam to stay safe.
Safety Valve: Leaks Not Always Dangerous
You find many pressure cooker safety valves on top of the lid near the handle. This depends on the type. If you see a leak from here while pressure cooking, that doesn’t always mean danger.
The safety valve releases the steam to lower the pressure to safer levels and regulate the pressure. The newer models, like the electric pressure cooker, even release the steam using a computer chip. A pressure cooker model like this will release light vapors or condensation from the safety valve, which doesn’t pose a danger.
Important to note: The safety valve leaking doesn’t pose a danger as long as the pressure cooker continues to build to the desired PSI. Once you reach your desired PSI, the safety valve should stop leaking altogether. If it continues to leak, that indicates pressure control failure.
Learn what is preventing pressure buildup in my article why is your pressure cooker not building up pressure?
Common Reasons a Steam Release Valve May Appear Faulty
Check these things because one of these could resolve a common problem:
- Handle seated properly in the sealing position and not in the venting position
- The handle is not locked or sealed when closing the lid
- Check that the sealing ring inside the lid is fitted correctly
- Check the handle for denting, warping, or bending out of shape
- You may have loose screws on the safety release valve – gently tighten them and check if it fixes the problem
- Check that small parts of food particles or food residue are not blocking the steam valve
- Check for a dirty gasket. Food debris will allow excess pressure to build up during the cooking process
- Check that you have enough liquid so the water boils and then builds enough pressure to reach full pressure
How Does a Pressure Cooker Safety Valve Work
Pressure cookers will open the safety valves enough to release the pressure cooker steam building in the pot. This causes a hissing sound or rattling sound. Don’t feel intimidated. That is normal. If you want a quieter pressure cooker, electric pressure cookers don’t make as much noise.
You must maintain consistent pressure to ensure that the pressure cooker will cook the food throughout. Safety valves can be bought and replaced if you have a broken one. However, buy a quality safety valve from reputable brands to ensure the quality.
The Purpose of Safety Valves
Manufacturers made safety valves to protect consumers from exploding pressure cookers. If you have a defective safety valve that doesn’t leak, you could use it. You could use it, but you wouldn’t be wise to do it. Don’t do this.
Safety valves let out the dangerous excessive steam. When they leak, they let out steam unnecessarily, and the pressure cooker won’t cook the food. On the other hand, when defective and closed, you have a higher risk of it exploding. Never use a pressure cooker that has either a leaking valve or a defective valve.
Possible injuries from an exploding pressure cooker include:
- First, second, and third-degree burns
How Do You Handle Steam Coming Out of the Safety Valve?
You don’t want to see steam exiting the safety valve because the leaking from high pressure can put you in a dangerous situation. The escaping steam can cause second and third-degree burns if exposed to the skin. If you notice a leak, immediately turn off your pressure cooker from the heat source and release the steam. Even smaller leaks pose a danger.
Why Does Steam Come Out of the Safety Valve?
Steam exits from the safety valve of your pressure cooker because of a broken disc, or rubber gasket, on the inside. Because of this, it releases too much steam, and the vessel never boils. If you damage the valve, you will see a hole in the valve.
Luckily, you can replace a safety valve quite easily. You have two different methods that you can use to repair the safety valve.
Warning: Working on the safety valve yourself does pose a small level of danger. Do this at your own risk. If you don’t want the risk, take it to an authorized service center. A utensil repair professional can also repair this, depending on how much damage was done to the pressure cooker.
A few reasons exist for why the steam might come pouring out of the safety valve, such as:
- Too old of a pressure cooker
- Poor quality pressure cooker brand
- Damage under the rim
- Damage to the gasket
- Lack of regular maintenance
Buying a low-quality pressure cooker could be the cause of why these products don’t last long. They have a proneness to issues. You should also clean and maintain your pressure cooker after each use because it can begin to leak if not cleaned properly.
How to Replace the Safety Valve
As we said, you can use two methods to replace the safety valve if you leak: You can replace it from the inside of the lid, or you can return it from the outside of the lid. Before attempting either, consult your user manual.
To replace the safety valve from the outside, you will use a screwdriver on the outside to turn the screw while you hold it and keep it from twisting on the inside. Once it releases, use a cotton swab to clean the inside of the hole.
Check for surface damage as well to make sure that you don’t have structural problems. Examine the o-ring as well to make sure that it doesn’t have defects. Replace the safety valve with the new one and tighten it up.
From the inside, you will use a wrench to unscrew the safety, while the screwdriver will hold the screw in place. Once you have released it, do the same thing as you did with the first method. Replace the safety valve and tighten it back up.
Expert Tip: Don’t overtighten the screw because this can damage the new valve. The minimum hand tight will prove adequate for your safety valve.
Can You Repair a Safety Valve?
We spoke about the replacement of a safety valve, but I hope you noticed I never talked about repairing it.
You can’t repair a pressure cooker safety valve!
While you can replace them via the DIY method, don’t try to fix a broken safety valve. The replacement parts only cost between $2 to $17 to replace a safety valve. Buy from a genuine brand because it guarantees that you fix the problem.
Should You Use a Damaged Safety Valve?
Considering the cheap cost, you may want to buy a spare because you can replace it immediately. When the pressure reaches a dangerous level, the safety valve acts as the canary in the coal mine. This blows out before it explodes. The safety valve attempts to bring the pressure back down to a normal level.
Never use a damaged valve because it doesn’t provide the same level of protection. You may experience similar problems as before, like the valve leaking or shutting down altogether. Both scenarios put you in a dangerous situation.
Resource my article How to Fix a Melted Pressure Cooker Safety Valve
When Should I Replace My Safety Valve?
The safety valve leaking poses a danger at the first sign of damage. With that in mind, a leak only gives you one example of what can happen to them. You should replace the safety valve whenever it becomes cracked or brittle. As soon as you see the damage, replace it.
Inspect the safety valve for signs of wear before each use. Another reason that manufacturers say to only fill the pressure cooker two-thirds full is that it ensures that the food doesn’t block the safety valve. The pressure cooker will build a dangerous level of pressure if that happens.
Let’s say that the food blocked the pressure release valve. The safety valve may melt to release the steam. That becomes the last stop before the pressure cooker explodes. The valve helps to maintain the pressure levels. While you have other safety features, this component especially protects you.
Never use a pressure cooker with a damaged safety valve. Replace it. Leaks don’t always pose a danger, but you should check to see what kind of leak.
Read about damaged gaskets what are pressure cooker gaskets? Materials, care maintenance.
How to Prevent Leaks
Thorough cleaning after using your pressure cooker will go a long way to helping it stay in tip-top condition. Handwash the pressure cooker lid with soap and warm water. Never put a pressure cooker in the dishwasher because this can be hard on the more sensitive components like the gaskets and rubber ring or seal.
Replace the safety valve or other parts at the first sign of wear and tear. Usually, you will see cracks form as the first signs of damage.
To Finish – Pressure Cooker Safety Valve Leaking
A leaking safety valve doesn’t always mean danger, but look for the cause if it continues after you reach the desired PSI. Some steam leaking is normal, but you shouldn’t see an excessive amount of it leaking. That indicates that your pressure cooker has too much pressure.
Never try to repair a damaged safety valve. You can replace them, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, hire a professional. Always pay attention to leaks because they can stop your pressure cooker from building pressure.
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