A Complete Guide to Plumbing Valves

Table of Contents

Ball Valve Push-fit G100 Lead-Free

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Valves can be used in both household and industrial plumbing systems. Valves are a vital element of any plumbing system since they are used to regulate flow, modify the flow of water,  or shut off the water in the occurrence of an emergency. Based on the valve manufacturer and design, they may be particularly fit for simple on and off regulation of the flow of water or for adjusting the volume of the flow of water. Mastering the various types of plumbing valves is crucial since they play a key function in plumbing systems.

The numerous varieties of plumbing valves might be difficult to distinguish at first, but by taking some time to study about these important plumbing components, you can have a better grasp of their functions and designs. 

Here is a detailed guide to all things you need to know about plumbing valves.

What is a valve?

Resilient Seal Gate Valve

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A valve is a sort of fitting that regulates, controls, and directs the flow of fluids via a pipe. Valves are often employed in systems to shut off water access, guide flow,  prevent reversal and alter water pressure. People often use valves to separate portions of plumbing for maintenance or to cut off a water supply when a leak appears. They are also frequently employed in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. P pharmaceutical factories, Wastewater treatment plants, car production, and chemical plants all depend on valves for gas and water direction and control.

Although valves are a sort of fitting, they are often addressed as a separate, distinct category. Each valve works differently and comes in a variety of forms tailored to meet certain plumbing demands. Plastic, cast iron, lead-free brass, stainless steel, and galvanized tubing are among the materials used to make valves. This article has been put together to give information on some of the functions of the most popular valves, as well as their particular advantages and disadvantages.

What Is a Plumbing Valve?

Carbon steel Globe valve

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Plumbing may be described as the profession of installing, building, and repairing pipes, fixtures, gadgets, and appealing in connection to storm drainage or sewage facilities, a venting system, and private or public water supply systems.

Plumbing Valves are devices that regulate, control or guide the flow of fluid by opening, shutting, or obstructing it partially. A valve is a hydraulic device that regulates fluid pressure and flows in a system. In essence, it regulates pressure and flow.

The Different Plumbing Valve Classifications.

Cast Iron Check Valve

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Tailored to the needs, the following list of plumbing valves are used in pipes. Plumbing valves in a pipe system cost between 20 to 30 percent of the overall pipework cost. And the price of a particular kind and size of plumbing valve might vary by a hundred percent.

That is if you select a butterfly valve over a ball valve to perform the same purpose. It might not work and eventually cost you more. As a result, the process plant’s finances, as well as the choice of plumbing valves, are critical.

The following are the most common types of plumbing valves:

  1. Ball Valve

A Stainless Steel Ball Valve

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Ball valves are a popular form of valve that is extremely dependable. They are often used in household and industrial applications to turn on and off water without causing a pressure reduction. There are several sorts of these valves, such as floating ball valves, Trunnion Mounted, 3-way ball valves, 3-piece body ball valves, and so on.

Ball valves use a rotating ball in the middle of the valve to control water flow. The flow of water is controlled by a hollow core running through the heart of this ball. Fluids are permitted to flow thru the valve and out into the pipelines when the hollowed core of the ball is aligned to the water intake. The route is shut when the hole is spun perpendicular to the conduit, and water cannot enter through the valve. A handle situated on the upper edge of the valve rotates the ball. A quarter-turn of the lever is enough to cut off the fluid flow. 

Ball valves tend to have the highest lifespan than any other Shut-off valve and are not susceptible to deterioration or premature failure. Ball valves, on the other hand, should only be used to open and seal fluid passages. They are not meant to limit flow since doing so might damage the seats or the rotating ball, potentially destroying the valve.

Ball valves are designed to redirect or change the flow of fluids through many openings. These multi-port valves may guide water via up to four separate flow channels. The fact that most shut-off valves are strictly designed to regulate valves in one way adds to the prominence and popularity of ball valves.


Ball valves are more widely utilized in home plumbing than gate valves since they are more dependable and consumer-friendly.


  • They provide a solid seal when closed.
  • Ball valves are smaller and lighter in size than gate valves.
  • Ball valves are strong and efficient, able to resist high pressure and high flow rates without harm.
  • Ball valves are less expensive than many other valves that perform comparable functions.


  • They are easily clogged if any particle or matter gets caught in the ball core.
  • Unsuitable for throttling: A ball valve is only good for separating water flow.
  • Due to their inherent positive stops, they lack accurate flow control. There are three stops: zero 45 °, 90 °, and zero degrees.
  1. Gate Valve

Flange End Gate Valve

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Gate valves are another common form of plumbing valve.   Gate valves have a wedge-shaped metal gate that may be lowered to stop the water flow and lifted to resume flow. When the gate is fully brought up into the valve, it pulls back completely, enabling water to pass through with no pressure drop. Gate valves are controlled by a wheel-shaped knob at the valve’s top. Twisting the knob drops the gate into the valve progressively. One of the advantages of gate valves is that they gradually restrict flow, reducing water hammers.

There are several varieties of gate valves, such as flexible wedge gate valves,  solid wedge gate valves, non-rising stem gate valves, Split wedge or parallel disks gate valves, and so on.

Gate valves, like ball valves, should strictly be used to open and close the fluid flow.  Employing them to throttle pressure will harm the gate and impair the valve’s performance over time. Gate valves work well in straight lines with little constraints and diversions, such as bigger water supply lines.

Gate valves can get jammed in an on or off position because their internal metal parts can corrode. They are most usually employed in applications where the water must be turned off only occasionally.


Gate valves, one of the most common types of domestic water valves, may be utilized as main cutoff valves, hot water tank valves,  isolation valves, and more.


  • The progressive opening and shutting off of the valve modifies the water pressure, protecting the pipe from the hammering sound of the fluid mechanics.
  • Because the gate within the valve retracts completely into the body, the valve does not obstruct water flow.


  • The valve can only be raised and lowered manually, and this can be time-consuming.
  • Because of prolonged use, the valve’s seat might wear out, weakening the seal and lowering the valve’s effectiveness.
  1. Check Valves

Tubomart Check valve

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While a check valve does not resemble a standard valve and may not have the same power to stop the passage of flow of fluids, this does not diminish its importance in the plumbing system. This type of valve is particularly intended to allow water to flow thru the valve’s inflow. The pressure of the feedwater pushes open a hinged disk, preventing the valve from lowering the water pressure. Nonetheless, the same hinged disk stops water from flowing in the reverse direction via the valve since any force applied to the disk just pushes the disk shut. These discs are sometimes spring-loaded, which adds another layer of protection against backflow.

A check valve guarantees that water can only flow in one direction. Check valves are a form of backflow prevention mechanism. They keep tainted water and sewage from drainages from entering plumbing and corrupting pure water. Check valves guarantee that water is only allowed to pass in one direction regardless of pressure decrease or flow reversal.

Backflow is frequently caused by changes in water pressure. A cross-connection is the point in a plumbing system where wastewater might possibly pollute drinking water. Cross-connections require a safety fitting, such as a check valve, to be placed to prevent pressure changes from pushing wastewater back into dishwashers, faucets,  pumps, or water main lines.

Check valves may be found in many homes. If you have a submersible pump, you most likely have a check valve placed on the outlet pipe to prevent stormwater from re-entering your property. They are also often seen on electric-powered well pumps, to ensure that water does not cascade backward into the well in the case of a power outage. 

Because the moving components of check valves are constantly in the path of water flow, it is critical to choose a valve that can manage the water flow adequately. Preferably, the disc should be stabilized in one of two positions: completely open or securely shut. When the check valve’s disc twirls open and closes, wear and tear is applied to the valve, causing it to degrade and eventually require replacement.

This sort of valve is highly effective, but it must be fitted correctly and at the proper pressure conditions. If the pressure is too high or too low it will drive the disc open, fluid flow may be blocked even if that was not the intention.


Check valves can be used to prevent backflow in safety applications, pumps,  sprinkler systems, and any other household plumbing that is susceptible to constant or intermittent backflow.


  • Check valves keep water flowing in a single direction while maintaining line pressure.
  • Check valves are totally automated and do not require energy or operator help to operate.


  • A check valve is ineffective in the presence of irregular or pulsing flows. The repeated opening and shutting of the disc will batter the moveable portions of the valve, resulting in decreased efficiency and, eventually, valve failure.
  1. Butterfly Valve

Butterfly valve

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Another well-known form of plumbing valve is the butterfly valve! This valve type is particularly light and small, taking up little space, and is readily operated by hand. Butterfly valves come in a variety of configurations, such as flanged ends, wafer type ends, double offset butterfly valves,  triple offset butterfly valves, zero offset butterfly valves, lug type ends, and so on.

A butterfly valve is another type of shut-off valve that is widely used to isolate and control water flow. A butterfly valve has a spinning disc in the center. This moving part, like ball valves, is manipulated by a quarter-turn of a grip. This disc flies open as the handle is cranked, enabling fluid to travel through the pipe. Whenever the disc is shut, any fluid movement is prohibited. Butterfly valves, together with plug valves and ball valves, are members of the rotational valve class. This is owing to the fact that they manage flow by deploying a rotating mechanism that begins flow restriction.

A butterfly valve may be opened progressively to throttle fluids, however, it is less competent than globe valves for this purpose. Some butterfly valves are intended to lock in position with the disc just half-open to maintain the throttled state, although using a butterfly valve to restrict fluid for long periods is not advised. Constant contact with flowing water will erode the disc part and compromise the protective barrier.

A pressure decrease is unavoidable when a butterfly valve opens. When the spinning disc is turned on, water is pushed to flow around it. Whenever the valve is open, there is always an impediment in the system, which limits where butterfly valves may be employed. Because the disc transitions on an axis, they are simpler to close and open mechanically against approaching water pressure than most other valves.


Due to their massive size, butterfly valves are best suited for institutional,  commercial, and industrial plumbing. They are rarely utilized in ordinary home applications.


  • Butterfly valves are lighter and less costly than ball valves.
  • They are commonly used in industrial applications because of their small size.


  • Butterfly valves depend on a gasket that must be changed over time.
  • Butterfly valves are less robust and work more slowly.
  • The butterfly disk that regulates the flow is located within the water (when completely open), causing a pressure decrease.
  1. Globe Valve

Brass Globe Valve

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The globe valve is another common form of plumbing valve. It is named a globe valve for its globe-like form. There are several types, including angle types, Y and Z types. A stopper is located on the edge of the valve stem of the valve. To enable it to be elevated or lowered using a twist known.

The Globe valve is often used in plumbing systems where the flow must be altered on a regular basis to control or restrict the water flow. Globe valves, as opposed to gate and ball valves, are intended to moderate and throttle water flow.

The body’s spherical valve holds a fixed ring seat. Whenever the handwheel knob is cranked, a spinning disc-shaped mechanism is freed from the ring seat and rotates upwards, to allow water to pass from one compartment into another. To provide for slowed flow and lower water pressure, the lever can be fully opened, half-opened, or sealed closed. They operate similar to a kitchen tap or an outdoor hose connector in this manner.

Globe valves, like gate valves and ball valves, could be used for separation. Globe valves, on the other hand, exhibit a bigger pressure drop than typical shut-off valves. Because the curved Z-shaped inside of the valve is much more flow limiting than the configurations of gate valves and ball valves, it is best suited for handling steam or liquids at lower pressures. However, because globe valves open and close slowly, they can be employed to avoid hydrostatic pressure. They are also not susceptible to leaking while working under low pressures.


Globe valves are a feasible substitute for gate valves for larger home plumbing networks and are best utilized to assist eliminate water hammer concerns.


  • Globe valves are utilized in situations where the flow must be modified on a regular basis but does not need to be entirely open.
  • They are simple to maintain and offer powerful throttle and shutdown capabilities.


  • Since the baffle inhibits the flow, globe valves can’t be operated when entirely open.
  1. Plug Valve

4-Way Plug Valve

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A plug valve is a circular valve that is used to isolate or divert flow. Within the plug, the valve is cone-shaped. The plug valve is bored through the middle, similar to a ball valve. Whenever the handle is twisted a quarter turn, the cork rotates to face the approaching flow of water and enables passage. Whenever the valve is shut, the hollow center is aligned with the valve walls, and the flow through the valve is halted. Plug valves with multiple ports could also be used to divert flow across multiple channels.

Plug valves are relatively basic in construction and may be opened with a quarter-turn of a handle. Plug valves operate similarly to ball valves, as their concept was a predecessor of the ball valve. Plug valves, though no longer as widespread, are a good substitute for a ball valve.

These valves are produced in non-lubricating or lubricating designs, as well as several forms of port openings through plugs.

Plug valves can be “full ports,” allowing complete fluid passage through the valve, or they can be built with narrower cores. This will produce flow resistance and enable the flow to be regulated. The ports of plug valves are typically diamond, rectangular, or circular. Round and rectangular apertures allow for unrestricted flow, but diamond ports limit flow. Plug valves, on the other hand, shouldn’t be used to control flow.


  • Unlike ball valves, plug valves may be serviced at the site of operation without having to shut down the whole line.
  • A plug valve is a dependable and durable valve. Plug valves, as opposed to handwheel-operated valves such as globe valves and gate valves, provide leak-tight closures with clear visual indications of the valve’s state.


  • Plug valves are significantly more costly than ball valves.
  • Because of the tremendous friction caused by spinning the plug valve, it is far more hard to open and close a plug valve than a ball valve.
  1. Pressure Relief Valve

A Pressure relief valve

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The pressure relief valve is the final item on our list of prominent types of plumbing valves. This valve is also known as a pressure safety valve, a pressure balancing valve,  and a pressure-reducing valve.

There are several types of valves in this category, including safety relief valves, vacuum relief valves, reclosing-type pressure relief devices,  non-reclosing type pressure relief devices, and so on.

A pressure relief valve does not work the same way as a typical water valve. Instead of restricting or stopping the flow of water through the system, a pressure relief valve is intended to protect the system by dumping hot water and steam if the pressure builds up inside the system becomes too high. The mechanism is made up of a spring and a diaphragm that is adjusted to a specified limit based on the force of the water supply.

These valves are typically installed on hot water tanks to assist avoid overheating, bursting, and deformation caused by high pressure. Within the valve is a spring component that reacts to stress and contracts when it becomes too high. The spring’s compression unlocks the valve, allowing steam and water to escape and lowering or relieving pressure.


  • They are typically employed in residences that get relatively high-pressure water from the public water supply, in which the pressure might cause damage to house piping systems and equipment.
  • Users can lessen the pressure within the hot water tank by introducing a pressure relief valve, which is specifically intended to safeguard the home’s plumbing system.


  • If correctly scaled and operated, it is quite dependable.
  • Versatile- may be employed in a variety of applications, including firefighting, high-rise structures, drinking water applications, water towers, and water tanks.


  • If the back limit is exceeded, it is prone to chatter.
  • Relieves pressure in the piping system that is generated by backpressure.

3 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Plumbing Valve

Gate valve

With so many alternatives, it’s critical to consider all of the aspects to ensure you’re picking the right plumbing valve for your requirement. Here are a few starting points:

  • Valve Operation: Determine the gap that your valve must fill. 2-way valves are ideal for on and off regulation in a system, but 3-way valves may be utilized for both on and off control and redirecting or mixing fluids. Please note if your valve will be closed or open a majority of the time. Order a valve that is ordinarily in that orientation but switches to the other way when powered to increase the life expectancy.
  • Requirements for Upkeep: If frequent maintenance is required, ball valves are an excellent choice since they resist blockage and are one of the easiest valve types to repair. Ball valves can also be purchased in three-piece variants, which include two end closures and a body. This permits the main body portion to be readily removed for cleaning without having to detach the end caps from the pipe, which prevents the line from being closed down during servicing.
  • Media Type: The valve material chosen will be determined by the properties of the gas or liquid being regulated.  (PTFE)  Polytetrafluoroethylene and (PFA) perfluoroalkoxy alkanes are excellent alternatives for monitoring harsh or corrosive compounds since they can tolerate these conditions. For the highest degree of safety, metallic valves should be used to regulate pressurized gases.


We hope that our guide to the seven popular plumbing valves, their types, strengths, and downsides has addressed your questions about plumbing valves.

A reputable plumbing valve manufacturer should be able to provide you with a wide range of plumbing valve alternatives. The key to limiting your selections is to make a list of your plumbing system’s needs and evaluate them against the possibilities. A contrast like this, together with all you’ve learned on this page, will certainly point you on the correct route. 


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