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10 Common Shut off Valve Types

Updated
Plumbing 101.

Shut-off valves play an important role in various plumbing systems, including both liquid and gas pipes. They allow you to remove components and perform maintenance without needing to turn off your home’s main supply.

There are shut-off valves designed for different materials and fitting types. Although shut-off valves all serve a similar purpose, they can differ in some key ways, so it is important to familiarize yourself with them.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common shut-off valve types. This should help you determine which type is suitable for your task.


What Is a Shut-Off Valve?

In a plumbing system, a shut-off valve controls the flow of water (or other liquids) through the pipes. As the name implies, they can completely seal a pipe, meaning you can perform tasks such as replacing baths and sinks without needing to shut off your home’s entire water supply.

There are many different types of valves, with each being suitable for a different task. Some of these valve types will probably be familiar to you, but there are others that you might have never seen before.

Which shut-off valve type you need will usually be determined by your pipes and overall plumbing system. For example, copper valves are generally used on copper pipes, just as plastic valves go with plastic pipes. There are exceptions to this, but you might need an adapter if your valve isn’t a natural fit for your plumbing.

Shut Off Valve Types

Ball Valve

Product Image of the 1/4 Inch Ball Valve NPT Air Compressor Brass Valve Female Male Shut Off Small

A ball valve is quite large and has a lever handle. It is commonly used in places where water needs to be allowed through quickly, such as the main pipe in your home. It can be opened and closed fully with a simple quarter-turn of the lever.

This type of valve is easily recognizable due to the bulbous section that holds its ball, hence the name. When the valve is opened, the internal ball aligns with the pipe, allowing water to flow through. When it is closed, the ball rotates 90 degrees and completely blocks the hole, preventing water from passing.

Pros

  • Quick to turn on and off
  • Large lever handle
  • Ball design that seals the pipe

Cons

  • Too large to be used everywhere

Compression Stop Valve

Product Image of the SharkBite 1/2 x 3/8 Inch Compression Angle Stop Valve, Quarter Turn, Push to Connect Brass Plumbing Fitting, PEX Pipe, Copper, CPVC, PE-RT, HDPE, 23036-0000LF

Compression stop valves are commonly found in copper water pipes but are much trickier to install on other types. They are very strong valves that can be closed quickly when needed.

These valves function by pushing a brass ring between the pipe and valve using a compression nut.

Pros

  • Easy to install on copper pipes
  • Turns off quickly

Cons

  • Could require complex tools such as a compression sleeve puller

Three-Way Stop Valve

Product Image of the Quarter Turn 3 Way Valve 1/2-Inch FIP by 3/8-Inch OD by 3/8-Inch OD Dual Handle, Lead-Free

This type of valve is more complex as it is designed for more than one pipe to be connected. It is commonly used under kitchen sinks, but less often with bathroom sinks or toilets as these plumbing systems generally use single pipes.

A three-way valve can shut off the fluid in one pipe while still allowing full pressure on the other. You will often see them in your kitchen or bathroom, but they are also commonly used in oil or steam systems.

Pros

  • Suitable for hot and cold water supplies
  • Used with different fluid types

Cons

  • More complex installation

Angle Stop Valve

Product Image of the Heavy Duty Chrome Plated Brass 1/4 Turn Angle Valve (1/2' NOM In x 3/8' COMP Out)

Angle stop valves are usually found where pipes exit the wall and connect to plumbing outlets. They enable you to stop the flow of water to a specific toilet or faucet, allowing you to remove it without shutting off the water supply to the entire building.

This type of shut-off valve is very durable and can last many years without any issues. Stop valves are generally found with either brass or chrome-plated finishes.

Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Allows you to stop the water supply to specific areas

Cons

  • Can be tricky to install

Straight Stop Valve

Product Image of the Kingston Brass CC44452X Vintage 5/8-Inch IPS X 1/2-Inch OD Comp Quarter-Turn Straight Stop Valve, 2-1/8-Inch, Polished Brass

Straight stop valves are usually used in water pipes that rise from the floor, rather than coming from the wall like angle stop valves. They are designed to prevent water from traveling back in the direction it came from.

Much like angle stop valves, this type allows you to shut off the water supply to a specific area or outlet. This means you can perform maintenance or replace plumbing fixtures without shutting off the water supply to your entire home.

Pros

  • Easy to open and close
  • Allows you to shut off the water to specific areas

Cons

  • Only suitable for vertical pipes

Sweat Stop Valve

Product Image of the MIDLINE VALVE 81212QS-OM Water Supply Stop Valve with Quarter Turn Wheel; Lead Free; One Piece Design; Angle Shut-off for Toilet, Sink, Dishwasher; 1/2 in. Sweat x 3/8 in. O.D. COMP; Chrome Plated Brass

Professional plumbers generally use sweat-stop valves on construction projects. The valve is usually fitted to copper water pipes, which makes them very difficult to remove. However, as they are brazed into the pipes, they are also very durable and will last a long time if fitted properly.

Sweat stop valves are usually made of brass or copper. This makes them a permanent stop-valve solution and they will be leak-free throughout their lifetime.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Difficult to remove or replace

Push-Fit Stop Valve

Product Image of the SharkBite 1/2 x 3/8 Inch Compression Dual Outlet Angle Stop Valve, Quarter Turn, Push to Connect Brass Plumbing Fitting, PEX Pipe, PE-RT, CPVC, Copper Pipe, 25558LF

Also called push-on stop valves, push-fit stop valves are installed by sliding them over copper, CPVC, or PEX pipes. Push-fit stop valves are very simple to install and only require basic tools. This means anyone with basic plumbing knowledge should be able to install them.

They consist of a rubber O-ring and stainless steel locking teeth. The locking teeth are designed to keep the valve from sliding off the pipe. The O-ring works like a gasket and ensures the intake port is watertight and sealed.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Durable

Cons

  • Will eventually wear out

Iron Pipe Stop Valve

Product Image of the LASCO 06-9273 Straight Stop Quarter Turn Ball Valves, 1/2-Inch Iron Pipe Inlet X 3/8-Inch Compression Outlet, Chrome

Iron pipe stop valves are used on water pipes with male threads. They are usually installed onto iron pipes, hence the name. All you need to do is screw it onto the pipe to install it. However, if you have copper or PVC pipes, the installation will be trickier as you will need a male adapter.

It is a very durable shut-off valve and can be used on a range of pipes as long as you have an adapter. Male adapters use the US standard tapered thread, NPT.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Easy to install on iron pipes
  • Will fit other pipes with adapters

Cons

  • Can be difficult to install on non-iron pipes

PEX Stop Valves

Product Image of the 10 PIECES XFITTING 1/2' PEX X 3/8' OD COMPRESSION 1/4 TURN ANGLE STOP VALVE - LEAD-FREE BRASS WITH METAL HANDLE

PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene material similar to plastic. This type of valve is generally less expensive than brass or copper. It is usually used in pipes with clamp rings or crimp rings.

It works by pressing a ring compression tool against the crimp ring on the outside of the pipe. A clamp ring tool then presses a tab on one side of the ring.

The installation method makes PEX valves challenging to remove, similar to copper sweat valves. This is because you have to cut the ring off, which usually damages the pipe. The pipe will usually need to be replaced alongside the valve.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Durable

Cons

  • Difficult to remove

CPVC Stop Valve

Product Image of the Eastman 04349LF Multi-Turn Dual Outlet Shut-Off Valve, 1/2 inch CPVC x 3/8 inch Comp, Chrome

CPVC stop valves are usually used in CPVC piping systems — CPVC stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. They use a specific type of cement referred to as simple “glue” during installation.

This type of shut-off valve can also be used on PVC pipes — however, PVC adhesive doesn’t bond well with CPVC material. The different adhesives are the reason that they are usually installed by professionals. However, once you learn how the different “glues” work, you can easily install a CPVC valve yourself.

Pros

  • Durable

Cons

  • The sealant can wear out and allow leaks

FAQs

Where Is My Home Water Shut Off?

The main shut-off valve of a home is usually found on the perimeter of the house. Look where the mains water supply enters your home — there should be a valve here somewhere. You can turn this valve to stop all the water within your home.

However, you can often find smaller valves next to appliances or fixtures such as toilets or faucets. These enable you to only shut the water supply to this specific area, allowing you to use water elsewhere in your home while conducting repairs or replacements.

Do Shut Off Valves Reduce Water Pressure?

Shut-off valves only reduce your water pressure when they are partly or fully closed. For plumbing appliances to operate properly and to protect your plumbing, it is important to maintain the correct water pressure.

Too much pressure can damage pipes and fixtures, but too little pressure can mean faucets and showers take longer to receive water. One way to control water pressure is to use shut-off valves, which reduce or increase flow depending on the position of the valve handle.

Are There Other Names for Water Shut Off Valves?

A water shut-off valve is a simple device or mechanism that blocks the water flow in your property. This type of valve is commonly found in plumbing fixtures and appliances, such as sinks and washing machines.

These valves might have other names depending on the region or country where you find them. In some areas, you might hear this type of valve referred to as a check valve, a stop valve, or a stopcock.

Whatever it is called, this plumbing equipment plays a vital role in maintaining safe and effective water flow throughout your home.

Which Valve Is Best for Flow Control?

There are several different valve types that can control fluid flow in a pipeline or other system. For example, trunnion ball valves offer precise control over the direction and speed of flow, making them ideal for regulating the powerful streams from large pumps and compressors.

The V-port ball valve design is another popular choice due to its simple construction and ability to work effectively at moderate pressures.

Ultimately, which valve you need will depend on several factors, including operating conditions, available space, and your desired level of control.

What Are Automatic Shut-Off Valves?

Automatic shut-off valves, or ASOVs for short, are a type of plumbing device that helps regulate the flow of water in and out of your property.

These valves are designed to detect sudden fluctuations in pressure and respond by closing quickly to prevent potential leaks or damage. Many ASOVs also feature manual override options that allow you to turn the valves off yourself in case of an emergency or system failure.

The main advantage of ASOVs is they provide an extra layer of protection against water damage, reducing the risk of costly repairs and insurance claims.

By reducing the amount of damage and flooding, these valves make it easier for plumbers and other professionals to perform their repairs more quickly and efficiently.

Which Is Better: Gate Valve or Butterfly Valve?

When choosing a gate valve or butterfly valve, there are multiple factors to consider. Both valves are widely used in high-pressure systems, where they must be able to perform reliably even under intense stress.

On the one hand, gate valves have been shown to have excellent performance even at very high pressures. They can also be easily modulated to only allow a certain amount of liquid through, making them ideal for situations where precise control is important.

However, butterfly valves are preferable for some applications due to their simpler design and ease of maintenance.

Different applications will require various valves depending on cost, pressure levels, and other factors, making it impossible to say that one type is the best overall.

What Type of Shut-Off Valve Is the Best?

Ball valves are generally considered the most effective and reliable shut-off valves. They are popular as they are easy to operate and provide good control over the flow.

This type of valve comprises two ports, which can be switched between open and closed positions by turning a ball that sits in the middle of the valve. However, ball valves can require regular maintenance as small particles might get stuck to the ball and interference with its operation.

Another popular option is the gate or plug valve, which uses a piston-like piece to block the fluid. This type of valve tends to be more durable than ball valves and has fewer moving parts, but it can be tricky to use as you need to apply some physical force to move it.

Whether you should choose a ball or gate/plug valve will depend on your specific requirements. Whichever type you go with, ensure that you choose a high-quality valve so you never have to worry about leaks or water damage in your home.


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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.