The Different Types of Plumbing Valves – Understanding the Use of Each Valve

Plumbing valves ensure that water is properly directed from one pipe to another. In fact, the complete control of water is regulated through a series of valves. A handyman or plumber will need to know the different types of plumbing valves and which ones are best for certain applications. Each valve has its own characteristics which makes it stand out.

Ball Valve

Ball valves are great when control is needed. The valve is an actual ball that rotates and allows water to flow through a hole in the middle. These valves are installed inside of pipes and are easily controlled with a lever. A user can choose to open, close or partially close the valve. The latter allows a person to control the exact pressure of the water.

Butterfly Valve

Much like its ball counterpart, the butterfly valve is great for complete control. This valve is in the shape of a disc that comes with a gasket. This is used to ensure that when the valve is closed, no water is able to flow through the pipes.

Also controlled with a lever, the butterfly valve is easily able to be adjusted to allow for adequate water flow or stoppage. The only fault with the butterfly valve is that it can hinder water flow even when it is fully open. However, if you need full control of the flow, the butterfly valve is definitely the right choice.

Check Valve

Check valves controls the direction of the flow. There are many different variations of the check valve with some activating only when water is flowing in the wrong direction. Others, however, can be adjusted to allow two-way flow as well as the complete stopping of water. These valves are a great option when water can only go in one direction.

Diaphragm Valve

Typically seen with shut-off valves, the diaphragm valve is controlled with a level that is adjusted by hand. These levers are in the shape of a wheel and can be closed by twisting right and opened when turning left. This is the valve that is most commonly seen coming from the bottom of a toilet. With this valve, it is possible to completely shut off the water.

Weir-type and straight-type models are available. The weir will hinder the overall flow of water through a pipe while the straight-type does not cause any water pressure loss.

Gate Valve

One of the most common valves in a Plumbers arsenal would have to be the Gate valve. If you go to any local pipe supply store you will see a large selection of gate valves available. The gate valve is much like the diaphragm valve we mentioned previously. This valve is in the form of a wheel that is turned right or left to open the valve. This is what you may find outside when attempting to turn on a hose or shut the garden hose off.

These valves are not meant for flow control, but rather for the opening and closing of water. When closed, a strong seal is formed which ensures no water is lost. Once opened, with a single turn, the water is able to flow freely. The only downfall of this valve is that they do tend to get stuck when they are not used often.

Globe Valve

When liquid must be checked frequently for proper flow, the globe valve will be the optimal choice. These valves are controlled with a wheel or knot and restrict water. Those that need a lot of water pressure will find that the globe valve is a bit restrictive. However, it is the best choice when water flow needs to be adjusted frequently.

Pressure Balanced Valve

When hot and cold water are needed, a pressure balanced valve will be the optimal choice to control the overall temperature of the water coming out of a spout. For instance, the water used when taking a shower has its overall temperature balanced with these valves.

The idea is that when one pressure drops, the valve adjusts the other pressure’s temperature so that there is no noticeable difference in the water’s temperature. A good example of this is when someone flushes the toilet when another person is in the shower. Since cold water is restricted at this time because it is being used to refill the toilet, the pressure of the hot water in the shower is also lowered. This ensures that there is never a concern for being burned by hot water.

These are the valves that are seen in every home or commercial building. While we are used to seeing these valves with plumbing applications, they can be used for any type of liquid. There are many custom solutions used in manufacturing that use these very valves to control the flow of liquid.

When choosing a valve, first look to see what solution is currently installed. More often than not, you will want to replace a valve with the same type. Otherwise, you may utilize the wrong valve for the application causing improper water flow as well as pressure.