Pipe Marking: Valve Tags 101

Maintenance engineer overlooking pipes

Identifying and tagging the valves in your facility is an important component to any pipe marking strategy. There can be very serious consequences if someone from the maintenance crew or an operator is working to repair a pipe and opens the wrong valve because it’s not tagged. Taking the time to audit the pipes and valves and properly tag them will work to improve not only safety in the workplace, but also efficiency.

Valve tags are a fairly straightforward concept: a simple tag placed on valves to communicate the pipe’s contents but labeling every individual valve in a workplace can seem like a strenuous task. Below we have gathered some best practices and piece of advice you may find helpful whether you’re going to use valve tags for the first time or you want to refresh your facility’s current program.

  • Know what goes on a tag: Valve tags communicate important and necessary information for those working on pipes. The information on a valve tag will vary depending on different situations but can include an identifying number, the chemical or substance name, potential dangers that exist, safety precautions that must be taken, and more.
  • Choose the right tag: All valve tags are not uniform, and it is most likely a single facility will have several different types of tags. The tag itself can be made from a number of materials like plastic, metal, wood, or even paper and it will be important to assess the needs of your facility and choose an appropriate material for a valve tag. For instance, stainless steel tags are durable and will not rust or corrode, but if you just need a temporary valve tag, paper may be the best option. Valve tags also come in different shapes (circles, triangles, and squares) and different sizes depending on how much information will need to fit on it.   
  • Choose optimal placement: Valve tags can only be useful when they are seen! Tags should be placed in locations that are easily seen by everyone and can be attached to the valve with a hook, chain, pin, zip tie, or other type of fastener. 
  • Understand color coding: Metal tags made out of brass, aluminum, or stainless steel have limited color options, but plastic valve tags give you the option to tag by color. The ASME/ANSI A13.1 standard does not have any specific requirements for valve tag but does require a facility to have a properly marked piping system. Valves are a component to a piping system and consequently valve tags should follow the color coding standard set forth by ANSI and ASME for pipe labels. For instance, the valves on a pipe carrying compressed air should have a blue valve tag with white text. 

Auditing your pipes is critical if you’re using valve tags for the first time and it is a good first step to refreshing your valve tags. Take inventory of the valves and note the valve ID along with what tag text would be needed, where the valve is located, and how many tags you will need. Knowing all of this will make ordering or customizing valve tags a breeze, and you will be well on your way to implanting a safe and efficient pipe marking strategy!


Additional Resources