Common Household Valve Applications

Sep 7th 2022

Common Household Valve Applications

Household Valves - Introduction and Definition:

A valve is a mechanical device that controls the flow of fluids (liquids, gasses, slurries, etc.) by opening, closing, or partially obstructing passageways. Valves are critical to residential and household applications as they regulate water pressure, protect plumbing systems from backflow, and prevent contamination. They also safeguard household appliances from damaging pressures. For example, a household washing machine is rated to operate at a specific water pressure (20 - 116 psi); a valve is installed in the water line to the washing machine that will open to allow water to flow at the required pressure and then close to prevent further flow if the pressure exceeds the rating.

Household Valve Applications:

From a household perspective, valves typically have the following functional applications and characteristics:

    1. Start or stop flow based on the valve state
    2. Regulating water pressure in homes and businesses
    3. Controlling the flow direction and preventing the backflow of water into the appliance
    4. Protecting appliances and equipment from throttling flow rates and damaging pressures
    5. Enhanced safety measures by relieving pressure or vacuum in a piping system
    6. Controlling the flow of gasses in appliances such as stoves and dryers

The following household situations illustrate a few of the valve functions described above:

    • Toilet flush valves - control the release of water from the tank to the bowl
    • Faucet shut-off valves - preventing water flow to the faucet
    • Dishwasher inlet valves - open and close to regulate water flow into the dishwasher
    • Washing machine shut-off valves - control water flow to the washing machine
    • Sump pump check valves - allow water to flow in one direction, preventing backflow
    • Air conditioner and furnace gas valves - open and close to regulate the flow of gas into the appliance
    • Water heater pressure relief valves - open to release pressure from the tank when it becomes too high
    • Garbage disposal shut-off valves - block water flow to the garbage disposal unit.

Valves - Types and Selection Criteria:

Depending on the problem of your household valve, operational necessity, and application size, you can select from various valve types and models. Each option has its advantages and features that may be more or less beneficial for your individual needs. To make things simple for you, we have divided household valves into three groups - According to their Actuation principles, Design/functional classification, and Opening processes:

1. Valve selection/classification based on Actuation Mechanism:

Actuation is a mechanical motion within the valve to control the flow by opening or closing the pathway. Manual valves, Actuated valves, and Automated valves are three common actuating mechanisms in a household valve.

  1. Manual valves: They are hand-operated, with a wheel, level, or gear wheels and chains. A typical example of a manual valve is a Globe valve that regulates the supply flow from the city water or wastewater pipes. These valves are inexpensive and easier to use, but they are less accurate in controlling flow.
  2. Automatic valves: These valves operate on a logic-based control mechanism when a pre-set flow condition is met. For example, a check valve closes automatically when to restrict the backward flow of water from an overhead water tank to the underground sump through the residential pump.
  3. Actuated valves: These valves are remotely operated, either with electric motors, air or pneumatic systems, hydraulic systems, or solenoid systems. Actuated valves are often integrated with manual levels, offering operational flexibility. Most integrated systems use Actuated valves to control flow in:
  • Automated household appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, etc)
  • Hard-to-reach areas (water sprinklers, concealed plumbing in residential areas)
  • Underground applications (sewage tank pipelines)
  • Hazardous applications (firefighting or garbage discharge)
Types of Actuated Valves
    • Electric Motor Actuators: MCVs (motorized control valves), such as actuated ball valves, are powered by a motor that transforms electrical current into the plunger's rotary-linear mechanical movement. These valves are commonly used for regulating water temperature in district heating and cooling systems and HVAC applications. With MCVs, you are guaranteed stable and precise control over water/glycol/steam mixtures.
    • Pneumatic Actuators: Air pressure is used to drive these valves, which have an external actuation mechanism. These valves are best utilized in industrial settings where electric or solenoid valves are not feasible, such as high-pressure lubrication lines, mixing of colors, etc.
    • Solenoid Actuators: These SVs valves are an easy, cost-efficient way to manage and regulate fluids and gasses in various commercial and household applications. Solenoid valves work on the concept of using an Electromagnetic field to induce linear motion in a conductive plunger. The plunger is the movable core that regulates fluid flow. Based on the design, SVs come in various sizes and configurations, such as 2-way, 3-way, NO (normally open), and NC (Normally close). You can find SVs in many household appliances like water sprinklers, dishwashers, washing machines, and water purifiers.

2. Valve selection/classification based on Design/functional classification

The most common functional designations and their typical design types include:

  1. Isolation Valves: Ball, butterfly, diaphragm, gate, pinch, piston, and plug valves
  2. Regulation Valves: Ball, butterfly, diaphragm, globe, needle, pinch, and plug valves
  3. Safety Relief Valves: Pressure release and vacuum relief valves
  4. Non-Return Valves: Swing check and lift check valves
  5. Special Purpose Valves: Multi-port, float, foot, knife gate, and line blind valves

3. Valve selection/classification based on opening methods

Though multiple types of valves serve similar purposes, they differ in their mechanics. A valve's method of opening and closing will affect the overall performance and how much control you have over the flow and speed at which it operates. Therefore while selecting a valve, it is important to consider the type of opening. Most valves fall under one of these three categories:

  1. Multi-Turn valves: These valves can be considered a screw or piston. Depending on the valve, these higher or lower differentials allow you to open or close them at various speeds.
  2. Quarter-turn valves: Quarter-turn valves allow for a 90-degree turn of the handle, which is ideal for applications where accuracy is not as crucial as fast action and simple opening or closing.
  3. NO, NC Valves: Normally close (NC) or Normally open (NO) valves are designed to be in a closed or open position when they are not being actuated. 

Common Household valves and Maintenance Guidelines:

In general, five valves are most common in household applications. They are:

  1. Water valves
  2. Gas valves
  3. HVAC valves
  4. Appliance valves
  5. Check, Shut-off and Pressure relief valves
  1. Water valves: Household water valves are used to regulate water flow in a home plumbing system. There are several types of water valves, each with a defined purpose. Following are the different types of water valves in a home:

  • Shutoff valves: Used to turn on or off the water flow to a specific fixture or appliance. Ex: Shut off ball valves, gate valves, and cock valves
  • Check valves: A valve that only allows water to flow in one direction.
  • Pressure relief valve: A valve that releases water pressure when it gets too high. Ex: Pump-motor applications, LPG lines, and cooling lines.
  1. Gas valves: Household gas valves are used to regulate the flow of gas in a home. Similar to water valves, shut-off, check, and pressure relief valves are the most common types of gas valves in a household environment. Applications: Propane tanks, natural gas lines, Air vents, Exhaust vents, and LPG lines.
  2. HVAC valves: HVAC valves are used to regulate the flow of air in a heating or cooling system. Generally, for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, plug (seat) valves, ball valves, and butterfly valves are used. In addition to triple duty valves (check valves, shut-off, and balancing valves), automatic flow limiting valves to vary the rate of pumping and pressure relief valves to regulate the water pressure are used.
  3. Appliance valves: Each household appliance, such as a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine, uses designated valves to operate. The most common appliance valve is the solenoid valve, which is used to open or close an electrical circuit to allow or shut off the flow of water or gas based on a pre-defined logic or program.
  4. Check, Pressure Relief, and Shut-off valves: Check valves are used to prevent water from flowing back into the system. Pressure relief valves are used to release water pressure when it gets too high. Shut-off valves are used to turn on or off the water flow to a specific fixture or appliance.
  • Check valve examples: Washing machine shut-off valve, Sump pump check valve, and Toilet shut-off valve.
  • Pressure relief valve examples: Water heater pressure relief valve, Boiler pressure relief valve, and Steam safety valve.
  • Shut-off valve examples: Main water shut-off valve and Faucet shut-off valves.

Automate your Home with Solenoid Valves:

Your home has many different types of valves that perform various functions. While some are designed for specific purposes, others can be adapted for various uses. Solenoid valves are one type of valve that can be used in several ways to automate your home. Consider these scenarios:

  • Solenoid valves can be used for automatically locking the doors
  • SVs can be used with home heaters to distribute heated water to various fixtures such as bathrooms, kitchen faucets, and other installations.
  • Car washing machines can also be fitted with an SV to deliver high-pressure water and detergents to clean your automobiles.
  • Hot drink dispensers often use stainless steel solenoid valves to dispense hot beverages, coffee, and tea to regulate the milk, water, and sugar mixtures based on your choice
  • Floor washing machines can be set with SVs to dispense water and cleaning solutions in proper proportions at the right time.
  • Washing machines fit with SVs to turn off the water supply to your washing machine when the cycle is complete to prevent waste and save you money on your water bill.
  • You could also use a solenoid valve to irrigate your garden automatically. By connecting it to a timer, you could program the valve to open and close at specific times, ensuring that your plants always have enough water.

Therefore, solenoid valves are an excellent choice if you are looking for a reliable and accurate way to control the flow of water in your home.

Maintenance guidelines for Household valves:

  1. Check the condition of the valve regularly and ensure that it is free from any damage or defects.
  2. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions while replacing, operating, or cleaning the valve.
  3. Ensure that the electric coils are not in contact with the water while performing a repair.
  4. Regularly lubricate the valve to ensure smooth operation and ensure that the valve is clean from dirt or debris to avoid clogging.
  5. Never force the valve to open or close, as this can damage the mechanism.

Summary and Benefits of Automated valves:

Today, the addition of IoT and Automation to valves has transformed them into devices capable of real-time displaying and controlling flow parameters. These valves are more efficient and easier to use than manual valves and have become a universal choice in industrial and household settings. Household applications also include automated valves utilized in washing machines and water purifiers to refill the water levels automatically when necessary. Following are a few benefits with automated valves:

  1. Regulate water pressure in appliances and plumbing systems
  2. Protect against backflow, contamination, and damaging pressures
  3. Automatically refill water levels in appliances and filters
  4. Display flow parameters in real-time
  5. Shut off the water flow in case of a leak or burst pipe.

If you are interested in staying up-to-date on the latest automated valve applications, solenoid valves, and valve technologies, check out our website, where we regularly post news and reviews. We also offer a wide range of resources for plumbers of all experience levels, including tips, advice, and product recommendations.

If you have any further questions about the types of valves needed in your home, we have valve specialists available via phone, email, and our website chat during normal business hours.