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Introduction to Plumbing Valves

Ever wondered how we control the flow of water in our homes, buildings, and industrial plants? The answer lies in plumbing valves. These essential components come in various shapes and sizes, each serving a specific purpose. In this article, we will explore the different types of plumbing valves and their uses, helping you make informed decisions for your projects.

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Types of Plumbing Valves

Shut-Off Valves

Shut-off valves are critical in controlling the water supply to various parts of your home or building. They allow you to isolate specific sections, making repairs and maintenance easier. Let’s dive into the most common types of shut-off valves.

Ball Valves

Ball valves are characterized by their rotating ball inside the valve body. This ball has a hole through it, and when the handle aligns the hole with the water flow, it allows water to pass through. The 90-degree turn of the handle makes it easy to open or close the valve. They’re highly durable and reliable, making them perfect for main water shutoffs and branch line shutoffs.

Gate Valves

Gate valves work by using a metal gate that moves up and down within the valve body. When the gate is lifted, water flows freely; when it’s lowered, the water flow stops. These valves provide an excellent seal when closed but are more prone to wear and tear over time compared to ball valves. Gate valves are often used for main water shutoffs in older homes.

Globe Valves

Globe valves get their name from their globular-shaped body. They control the water flow by using a plug that moves up and down within the valve body, restricting or allowing the flow. They are great for regulating water flow but can be less durable compared to ball valves. You can find globe valves in applications where precise flow control is needed, such as under sinks and toilets.

Check Valves

Check valves ensure that water flows in one direction, preventing backflow and protecting your water supply from contamination. Here are the most common types of check valves.

Swing Check Valves

Swing check valves consist of a disc that swings on a hinge, allowing water to flow in one direction. When water flows in the opposite direction, the disc swings shut, stopping the backflow. They’re commonly used in residential and commercial applications, such as sump pumps and sewage systems.

Wafer Check Valves

Wafer check valves are compact and lightweight, making them ideal for tight spaces. They use a spring-assisted disc that opens when water flows in the correct direction and closes when the flow reverses. They are often found in industrial settings, such as chemical and power plants, where space is limited, and backflow prevention is crucial.

In-Line Check Valves

In-line check valves, also known as spring-loaded check valves, use a spring and a small disc to allow water flow in one direction. The spring-loaded design ensures a fast response to reverse flow, making them suitable for high-pressure applications. You can find these valves in residential water systems and industrial equipment, such as pumps and compressors.

Pressure Regulating Valves

Pressure regulating valves help maintain a consistent water pressure in your plumbing system. They come in various types, serving different purposes.

Pressure Reducing Valves

Pressure reducing valves (PRVs) lower the incoming water pressure to a safe and consistent level, protecting your plumbing fixtures from damage due to high pressure. They are typically installed near the main water supply entrance in homes and commercial buildings.

Pressure Relief Valves

Pressure relief valves (PRVs) are safety devices that release excess pressure from your plumbing system when it becomes too high. They prevent damage to pipes, fixtures, and appliances by releasing water when the pressure exceeds a predetermined threshold. PRVs are commonly found in water heaters and boilers to ensure safe operation.

Thermostatic Valves

Thermostatic valves help regulate the temperature of the water in your plumbing system. They are essential in maintaining a comfortable and energy-efficient environment. Let’s explore the two main types of thermostatic valves.

Thermostatic Mixing Valves

Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) blend hot and cold water to achieve a preset temperature. They are commonly used in showers and faucets to prevent scalding and ensure a consistent water temperature. TMVs also help save energy by reducing the demand for hot water.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) control the temperature of individual radiators in a heating system. They automatically adjust the flow of hot water to each radiator based on the room’s temperature, ensuring a comfortable environment, and reducing energy consumption. TRVs are ideal for homes and commercial buildings with central heating systems.

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Understanding the different types of plumbing valves and their uses is crucial for the proper maintenance and operation of your plumbing system. From shut-off valves to thermostatic valves, each type serves a unique purpose and offers specific benefits. By selecting the right valves for your needs, you can ensure a safe, efficient, and comfortable environment in your home or building.


  1. What is the difference between ball valves and gate valves? Ball valves use a rotating ball with a hole to control water flow, while gate valves use a metal gate that moves up and down within the valve body. Ball valves are more durable and require a simple 90-degree turn to operate, while gate valves are more prone to wear and tear.
  2. Can I use a check valve as a shut-off valve? No, check valves are designed to prevent backflow and allow water to flow in one direction only. They do not function as shut-off valves and should not be used for that purpose.
  3. How do I know if I need a pressure reducing valve? If you’re experiencing high water pressure in your home or building, resulting in leaks, pipe damage, or excessive water usage, you may need a pressure reducing valve to regulate the incoming water pressure.
  4. Do thermostatic mixing valves save energy? Yes, thermostatic mixing valves help save energy by reducing the demand for hot water and maintaining a consistent water temperature, preventing excessive use of heating systems.
  5. Can I install a thermostatic radiator valve in any radiator? In most cases, you can install a thermostatic radiator valve on any radiator in your home or building. However, it’s essential to consult with a professional to ensure compatibility and proper installation.

Contact us!

If you need expert help with selecting, installing, or maintaining any of the plumbing valves mentioned in this article, don’t hesitate to contact Jilly Plumbing. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to assist you with all your plumbing needs. Get in touch with Jilly Plumbing today and experience top-notch service and expertise!

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