Plumbing valves help control the flow of water which makes them an important part of most plumbing projects. But not all valves are the same. Instead, there are different valves for specific applications. Valves range from the main valve located near a water meter where water enters a household plumbing system, to individual fixture shutoff valves located on the supply lines feeding faucets, toilets and appliances. Valves vary in size, but they generally operate in one of two ways: either a solid internal part rotates to open and shut the flow of water, or a stem with a washer or gasket “squeezes” down to form a seal. We’ve included information about seven essential plumbing valves below.
Angle Valve (Angle Stop)
These oval-handled valves are located on the water supply lines of toilets, plumbing fixtures and appliances. A quarter turn of the handle on an angle valve will quickly shut off the water being supplied to a fixture and help prevent an overflow. This allows repair work to be performed without interrupting water flow to other areas. Angle valves are named because they sit on a plumbing line at an angle.
Like angle valves, ball valves also open and close with a quarter turn. They have a rotating ball with a hole through the center. In the open position, the hole lines up with the pipe, so water can flow through. When closed, the hole is perpendicular to the pipe to prevent the flow of water. Their durability makes them one of the most common valves used in plumbing applications. They come in a variety of sizes (up to 2"). Ball valves are ideal for situations where water simply needs to be turned off or on.
These valves use a disc attached to a handle, to regulate flow. The disc is parallel to the pipe when open and perpendicular to the pipe when closed. Water flow can be precisely adjusted with butterfly valves. They typically include a gasket to ensure a full seal. Butterfly valves are similar in size and function to ball valves.
These valves are normally used for flow control in water tanks. This type of valve was designed to keep water flowing in only one direction. A ball-check valve uses a ball to stop the flow of water in the wrong direction. Back-flow preventers are also a type of check valve.
These valves control water flow by raising or lowering a gate, which is usually a piece of metal. They work in a fully closed or fully open position but aren’t intended for adjusting flow or throttling. Gate valves tend to corrode over time, so they won’t last as long as other valves.
These valves have a stopper that is moved up or down. The stopper fits into a baffle to stop the flow. These versatile valves can stop and throttle water flow.
Pressure Reducing Valve
These valves are used to reduce water pressure. They normally have a spring and diaphragm that is adjusted to certain limits depending on the pressure required. These valves can be installed in copper, PVC and other types of pipe. They are durable and can last up to 10 years if maintained.
These valves are very similar to angle valves. A straight shutoff valve works the same way as an angle shutoff but is used in situations where water flow can run straight to the fixture. These are often found when a water pipe comes out of a floor rather than out from a wall.
These are irrigation fittings used to keep sprinkler lines from freezing when the temperature drops. Stop valves turned on and off with a meter key. In the off position, they will automatically drain water from the line.
Controlling the Flow
This list includes many popular types of valves used in plumbing, but it is far from exhaustive. The right valve for you will depend on your application. Trust First Supply for a full selection of valves, pipes and fittings.