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Types of Valves Used in Plumbing

Valves are a common and useful part of all plumbing systems. They allow the complete halt or flow of fluids inside a pipe and also regulate flow and pressure. Many valves are also used to change the direction of flow or even split the flow into multiple directions.

We usually take valves for granted in our lives, but they are an integral part of any plumbing system. Without valves, there would be little to no control overflow and pressure. Moreover, if one part of a plumbing system failed, the entire system would become useless if not for valves.

In short, plumbing without valves would be chaotic. Therefore, we need to understand the different types of valves used in plumbing systems and their uses.

Remember to consult a reputable company like Top of the Line Plumbing for all your plumbing solutions in Jacksonville, Florida.

Types of Valves Used in Plumbing

Here are the main types of valves used in plumbing systems, which you may commonly see in homes, buildings, and industrial settings.

We will discuss their purpose, mechanism, pros, and cons to give you a better understanding of their function and application.

Gate Valves

Gate valves are the most commonly used type of valve in plumbing systems. It has a twisting knob or hand-wheel on the top, which is used to twist open or close the valve. The mechanism inside uses a wedge-shaped, disk metal gate that raises and lowers to let the water flow or stop respectively.

Many people may use gate valves to control water flow; however, this is not its purpose. It is designed specifically to shut off or open the flow of liquids completely. When used to control the flow, the wedge mechanism takes a toll, causing the gate valve to wear out.

Gate valves are used for a variety of fluids including, water, oil, and many hydrocarbons.


  • Gate valves do not impede water flow because the wedge inside can completely retract for even flow
  • The slow opening and closing nature of gate valves allows for water to flow or halt gradually, which means less pressure and noise in the empty pipes that follow


  • Manual operation of the hand-wheel means the process is slow and time-consuming
  • Repeated usage over time weakens the valve and its integrity, causing inefficiency in its operation

Ball Valves

Ball valves are quite common and have a very simple design. There is a lever on top which connects to a sphere-shaped mechanism in the pipe, hence the name. The valve’s rotating ball has a round hole through it, which allows flow through its openings.

When the openings are in line with the pipe, the valve is open, and there is a free flow of water. When the valve is closed, the hole becomes perpendicular to the pipe and the ball obstructs the flow of water. The lever is a good indicator of whether the ball valve is open or shut.

If the lever is in line with the pipe, the ball valve is open. If it is perpendicular to the pipe, the ball valve is shut.


  • Easy to use
  • Efficient seal of the water flow when the ball valve is shut
  • Ball valves are simpler, lighter, and more compact than a similarly sized gate valve


  • Imprecise control of flow due to the typical stop interval of the ball valve at 45 degrees.

Butterfly Valves

Butterfly valves come from a family of valves known as the quarter-turn valves that use a quarter-turn of the rotating disk mechanism inside to open or close the valve completely. Butterfly valves get their name from the butterfly image they create while in operation to regulate the flow.

They have a compact design and are very short, which makes them a relatively lighter and inexpensive valve option.


  • Relatively less expensive and lighter than other valves
  • The compact design of butterfly valves make them ideal for industrial use


  • Not very durable and operation is relatively slow
  • Some pressure drop is experienced since the disk is submerged in the flow.
  • Gasket replacement is needed overtime

Globe Valves

Globe valves are named as such due to the globe-like shape of their valve housing or body. They are the most common valves used in plumbing, where there is a need to regulate flow. The twist knob or hand-wheel on top is rotated to raise or lower a plug-like stopper at the end of its stem.

This stopper regulates the water flow by pressing down on a stationary ring seat or opening inside the housing. You may commonly find globe valves being used for hose bibs and other outdoor or utility faucets to regulate the flow of water.


  • Great for plumbing systems where the flow needs to be regulated and not completely open
  • Effective sealing capabilities for complete shut-off
  • Low maintenance


  • Globe valves restrict the flow of water because of their ring seat design, and this restricts the fully open flow of water

Pressure Relief Valves

Pressure relief valves are also commonly known as pressure balance valves or pressure-reducing valves.

They do exactly what their names suggest; they relieve, balance, or reduce the pressure in pipes to mitigate bursting in plumbing systems. Moreover, you can set the desired limit of water pressure as you require for your pipes and plumbing system.

Pressure relief valves do this by adjusting the spring and diaphragm mechanism inside to limit the water pressure to a certain amount, depending on the flow. The disc that sits on a ring seat inside has a disk holder that surrounds it.

The spring puts pressure on the disk holder and its disk, which regulates the pressure of water coming through the ring seat opening. These valves are used in a wide range of applications, like high-rise buildings and structures, water tanks, water towers, firefighting hoses, etc.


  • Versatile applications
  • Reliable functionality
  • Safety benefits


  • May create high-pitched noises due to building up of high back-pressure


These different valves used in plumbing offer much-needed functionality that makes it possible for water flow and water pressure to be regulated and controlled. They have different applications, benefits, and disadvantages.

Experienced, professional plumbers understand their uses and limitations quite well and know exactly how to install, maintain, and repair them. Hopefully, this article also helped you understand these valves better.

If you want to learn more about the types of valves used in plumbing or the best plumbing solutions in Jacksonville, Florida, Contact Us today.