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Valves are used in various ways for different plumbing jobs, and each type of plumbing valve is designed to suit specific applications. Learn how to choose the right pipe valves for your projects with help from Ace Hardware.

How Do Water Valves Work?

Your residential plumbing system most likely contains several types of plumbing valves that control the flow of water. Valves are typically part of your water supply system and are essential for controlling the flow of pressurized water from either a private well or public water utility.

In residential settings, a main shut-off water valve stops the flow of water from the water meter to the home. Other pipe valves are designed to control the flow of water from individual fixtures, faucets and appliances. Pipe valves might be designed with on/off switches or adjustable switches to allow a customized control of water flow.

What is a Water Pressure Regulator ?

Before diving into the most common water valve types, understanding how a water pressure regulator works is important. A water pressure regulator is a type of valve designed to reduce water pressure coming from the main water line into the home. This plumbing valve is responsible for bringing water pressure down to a safe level before the water reaches plumbing fixtures. Water that comes into the home is constricted then released at safe pressure levels to cut back on water usage and prevent plumbing issues.

Common Water Valve Types

Plumbing valves come in an array of materials such as PVC, bronze, brass and plastic. When purchasing new valves, selecting materials that are compatible with your existing plumbing lines is highly important. Materials aside, the below information explains some of the most common types of valves and how they work.

Gate Valves

Typically used in certain residential, industrial, commercial and institutional applications, gate valves are designed with a "gate" that seals off the flow of water when lowered. Although the valves are controlled by twist-type wheel handles, they should never be used to control the volume of flow. Gate valves are designed to remain fully open or closed and using these types of water valves to control pressure can cause premature wear and tear.

Ball Valves

One of the most widely-used valves in residential and commercial applications, ball valves are constructed with cored, rotating balls that control the flow of water. Usually operated by lever handles, these valves allow full-flow control with minimal risk of damage. In fact, quality ball valves can be opened and closed several times a day with minimal impact on their valve mechanisms, ensuring long life with little maintenance.

Globe Valves

Often used to regulate or throttle the flow of water, globe plumbing valves are usually installed in applications where water flow needs to be regulated or adjusted frequently. Since globe valves offer an ideal way to control water pressure, they're often installed on outdoor faucets and hose bibs. The design of a globe pipe valve features a stopper at the end of a valve stem that's raised and lowered by a twist knob.  

Additional Valves and Valve Parts

In addition to the above types of valves, we also carry:

  • Shut-off valves
  • Rough faucets and hose bibs
  • Needle valves
  • Vacuum release valves

We have valve boxes and covers as well as valve parts and handles in stock, too. Shop Ace Hardware for the best variety of valves and related parts today.