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The ABC’s of Plumbing – Shutoff Valves

When it comes time to repair or replace a plumbing fixture in the home, the first thing you will want to do is look for the shutoff valve. Shutoff valves allow for plumbing work to be performed in a specific section of the house without turning of the water supply to the entire home.

Here are the most common types of shutoff valve:

Washer Valves

Most plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets will use a washer-style shutoff valves. They are usually located under the sink or directly behind the toilet and have either a round or t-shaped handle. The handle should be turned until it feels tight.

Ball Valves

Ball valves are identified by a straight lever handle. The will turn ninety degrees or one quarter turn. Ball valves use a machined ball to stop the flow of water. Because they don’t rely on a washer, they are one of the most long lasting and reliable valves.

Globe Valves

Globe valves are used to reduce the flow of water. They have a wheel and stem like gate valves, but the stem is connected to a stopper that seals two half-walls, causing water to flow in an Z-pattern. Globe valves are designed to reduce water pressure, even when fully open.

Outdoor Faucet Valves

Outdoor water shut off valves are modified form of a washer valve. Frost free valves have a extended rod on the handle that closes a washer far inside the wall where freezing to eliminate the risk of freezing.

Gate Valves

Gate valves are rarely found in homes today. They are similar to ball valves in that they have a machined inner mechanism rather than a washer. Instead of a ball there is a ‘gate’ mechanism that stops the flow of water.

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