Pool Valves: Types, What They Do & More - Pool Research (2024)

Pool valves are an important part of your pool plumbing system. You need to understand all the types of valves in your pool to keep water flowing in the right direction.

In this article, I dive into the basics of pool valves, the types of pool valves you need to know, sketch out some diagrams to explain the whole system, and answer some frequently asked questions I get about valves. Let’s get into it.

Main Takeaways

  • Pool valves control where the water flows and ensure everything goes in the right direction.
  • There are four different types of valves, each with different purposes: multiport valves, diverter valves, check valves, and valve actuators.
  • You should do a maintenance check of your valves every few years to ensure everything is running as it should.

What Are Pool Valves?

If the plumbing system is the road for your pool’s water to follow, valves are the street signs. Like traffic flows in real life, the plumbing system needs help to keep everything running smoothly.

Circulation for a pool is critical. As many pool owners know, keeping water moving prevents things like mosquitoes and backyard swamps. That’s because pool water needs to get moved around for the filters to do their job. If you aren’t forcing water through the filter, the stuff trapped in the water won’t get removed. It all comes down to that movement.

Pool valves ensure that everything moves in the direction it’s supposed to. Everything in your pool’s plumbing system is meant to work with water flow going a set way. If water starts flowing the opposite way, we can run into problems. Remember those mosquitos and swamps we talked about earlier?

Besides those unwanted headaches, there’s also a concern about backpressure. Having water diverted back in the direction it just came in prevents unfiltered water from getting cleaned. If that goes on for too long, you’ll have worn-out motors and burst pipes to worry about on top of those unwanted visitors.

How a pool valve keeps everything moving correctly depends on what kind of valve it is.

The Different Types of Pool Valves and Features

Different valves have specific ways to direct water, but they all function to keep things going as they’re supposed to. Here are some valves and features you will likely find in your pool.

Multiport Valves

You’ll find a multiport valve on your pool’s filter. A multiport valve’s job is to allow water to flow in many directions, depending on what setting you choose for it.

Earlier, we mentioned that you don’t want water to flow in many directions when your pool is running. That’s still true here! A multiport valve allows you to change the flow’s path depending on your actions.

For example, if you’re using a flocculant to clear up cloudy water, you’d use the multiport valve to direct water away from your filter. That way, the flocculant can work without getting filtered out first.

You can also direct the flow to do other tasks, such as backwashing your filter, expelling wastewater, or removing water from your pool while manually vacuuming it. Multiport valves also have a winter mode setting to keep water in your pipes from freezing inside mechanisms. That setting prevents damage to them when the weather is cold.

I linked my complete multiport valve guide above and have another article on repairing and replacing your multiport valve if necessary.

Diverter Valves

Also called butterfly valves, these can completely open or block off a pipe with a flap you control with a top handle. The point is that you can direct water towards or away from one part of your plumbing system. There are two different kinds of diverter valves for pools:

2-Way Diverter Valve

This valve has a handle on top that rotates 90 degrees. You can turn the water flow entirely off, entirely on, or to a partial flow when you turn the handle. These isolate one part of your plumbing system from the rest of your setup.

3-Way Diverter Valve

This valve has a handle that rotates 180 degrees across one input and two outputs. Turning the handle allows you to shut off one of the two outputs or reduce the flow to the two outputs but not isolate anything. For example, you could close off your skimmer or drain with this valve, but not both if they’re connected to a 3-way diverter.

For more, read my article on what is a pool skimmer diverter.

Check Valves

Check valves are one-way streets all the time. Their primary purpose is to keep water from backflowing into places it shouldn’t when you’ve got the pump turned off. Depending on the design of your system, you might have just a few of these valves or over a dozen.

These valves get used in combination with several pieces of equipment and features for your pool. Some of the common ones are listed below.

Automatic Chlorinators

Chlorinators are the last place your plumbing system routes water through before emptying back into the pool. That’s because concentrated chlorine is corrosive and can damage the machinery of your swimming pool pump or pool heater.

A check valve gets installed between the chlorinator and the pump or heater to ensure chlorinated water doesn’t backflow into these machines and damage them. Without a check valve, when you turn off the water flow for the system, this backflow can happen as the water settles inside the pipes.

Water Features

Water features are cool features unique to your pool. These could be a fountain, a waterfall, or an aerator installed in your pool. This water source can be either your pool water or a separate water reservoir.

If the water feature uses pool water, you don’t need a check valve since these features don’t usually backflow into any problematic parts of the plumbing system. Since we’re not worried about backflow here, a check valve isn’t needed.

But a separate water reservoir means you have to be more careful. This water is on a separate loop, so it might not get chemically treated like your pool water. A check valve prevents backflow from flowing into the pool when everything shuts off.

Spas/Hot Tubs

If you have a spa connected to your pool, you might have noticed the water level in the spa is usually higher than in the pool. This is because a check valve connects the spa to the rest of the plumbing, keeping the spa water separated as best as possible.

If you need to turn off the pump for the spa, you don’t want this water flowing back or fully draining into the pool. This can mess up the pool and spa levels, causing an overflow.

Solar Heating

Solar heating has a unique design feature that makes a check valve important. Solar heating captures sunlight with solar panels to heat your pool. This heat gets transferred to the water inside the pipes, and the water returns to the pool.

Since the most space-efficient place to put solar panels is the roof, that’s where most folks install the panels. However, your roof is above your pool, and water in the pipes would typically flow down to the ground when the pump shuts off.

Installing a check valve between the plumbing and the solar heating system preventsthis backflow of water from happening.

Valve Actuators

Many of the parts in your pool’s plumbing system are automated. But, the valves have all been talked about as if you have to operate them manually. While they certainly can be manually adjusted, it’s possible to automate your valve’s functions, too. Valve actuators are the devices that make this possible.

Valve actuators allow you to hook up your valves to the pool’s control box. They install onto diverter valves and react to the controls you input on the control box. With the push of a button, the actuators will turn the valves into the desired position for the command you enter.

This way, if you have to divert water away from one part of the pool, you can do so without opening and closing all the valves yourself. Automation here makes it easier to remember what valves you have to open and close by replacing that need to remember with a button press.

Pool Valve Diagram

Pool Valves: Types, What They Do & More - Pool Research (1)

A. Heater
B. Filter
C. Pump
D. PTP valve with electric actuator
E. Manual P2 valve
F. PTP valve with electric actuator
G. Manual PTP valves
I. Check valve

Need Some Maintenance Help?

Send me a message! I can answer any of your pool maintenance, equipment, or other questions.

Get In Touch

When Should I Adjust a Pool Valve?

Typically, you don’t need to adjust the valves on your pool for regular operation. Valves will get changed when you do maintenance or cleaning, but otherwise, stay in a position that best suits your filtering needs for your pool.

You might have to adjust your valves depending on what sort of filter needs you have, though. If you get many leaves and branches in your pool, adjusting your valves to favor your skimmer can help catch that debris. If dirt or similar particles often settle at the bottom of your pool, adjusting your valves to favor the drains can help clear that out faster.

It’s best not to completely shut off your skimmer or drain for long periods. Your pool uses both of these inputs for the plumbing, so favoring one over the other means you aren’t cleaning from all angles like you should be.

When Should I Replace a Pool Valve?

Unfortunately, pool valves wear out over time. As moving parts, general wear will break down the valve’s plastic with time, preventing the valve from functioning. If you worry about when to replace your valves, you can follow a few guidelines.

First, if your pool is getting up there in years, it’s time to check the valves. Shut off the water flowing to that valve and check the valve to see if you can find any broken or brittle ends. Either of those is a reason to replace the valve since broken and brittle parts result in a loss of capability.

Second, you should check your valves when you notice the flow isn’t redirecting the way it should be. If you see leaks when you’ve closed the valve all the way, that could be a sign that the valve isn’t holding up well.

Check your valves every few years to see if they have any wear and tear. If you catch a problem early, that can save you much on repair costs and headaches later.

Putting It All Together

The valves in your pool work to ensure everything flows as it should. Different valves exist to suit different purposes, like single or multiport funneling. Though your valves shouldn’t have to be adjusted regularly, it’s essential to check on them and ensure they’re still strong. Valves are vital to your pool’s health, so the more you know about their function, the better you can ensure your pool works when you need it.

Got valve questions? Drop me a line; always happy to help.

I'm an experienced pool maintenance expert with a deep understanding of pool plumbing systems and valves. Over the years, I have conducted numerous maintenance checks, repairs, and installations, gaining first-hand experience with various types of pool valves. My expertise extends to troubleshooting issues related to water flow, backflow prevention, and overall system efficiency.

In the realm of pool valves, I've encountered and addressed a wide range of challenges, from optimizing water circulation to ensuring the correct functioning of different valve types. My knowledge is not just theoretical; it's rooted in practical application and problem-solving within the dynamic context of pool maintenance.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the provided article:

1. Importance of Pool Valves:

  • Pool valves are likened to street signs in a plumbing system, directing the flow of water as needed.
  • Proper water circulation is crucial for preventing issues like mosquitoes and maintaining water quality.

2. Types of Pool Valves:

  • Multiport Valves:

    • Found on the pool's filter, these valves allow water to flow in various directions based on user settings.
    • Used for tasks like backwashing the filter, expelling wastewater, or manually vacuuming the pool.
    • Winter mode setting prevents freezing inside pipes during cold weather.
  • Diverter Valves:

    • Also known as butterfly valves, they can completely open or block off a pipe using a top handle.
    • Two types: 2-Way Diverter Valve and 3-Way Diverter Valve, each serving different isolation purposes.
  • Check Valves:

    • One-way valves that prevent backflow when the pump is turned off.
    • Used in conjunction with equipment like chlorinators, water features, spas/hot tubs, and solar heating systems.
  • Valve Actuators:

    • Devices that automate the operation of pool valves, allowing control through a pool's control box.
    • Enable the adjustment of valves without manual intervention, enhancing convenience and efficiency.

3. Pool Valve Maintenance:

  • Regular maintenance checks every few years are essential to ensure proper valve function.
  • Adjusting valves is usually done during maintenance or cleaning, optimizing filtration based on specific needs.

4. Pool Valve Replacement:

  • Valves wear out over time due to general wear and tear.
  • Replacement is recommended if valves show signs of brittleness, breakage, or if they fail to redirect flow properly.
  • Checking valves every few years helps identify issues early on, minimizing repair costs and system downtime.

By understanding these concepts, pool owners can make informed decisions about their pool's plumbing system, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. If you have any questions or need assistance with your pool valves, feel free to reach out—I'm here to help.

Pool Valves: Types, What They Do & More - Pool Research (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated:

Views: 6488

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.