pool valves

A pool has many components that need to be appropriately maintained for it to function properly. Failure to maintain your pool can result in costly expenses and keep you from enjoying it on a hot summer day. 

One of these components is the valves that make up your pool’s filtration system. Valves can also be found in certain accessories. Knowing this, you need to make sure you understand the ins and outs of how they function and the different types. 

Keep reading to get the latest information to keep your pool functioning properly.

What Are Pool Valves?

Pool valves are an essential part of any pool. They are responsible for regulating water flow in and out of the pool. 

There are a variety of different types of pool valves, each with its own specific purpose. It is important to know which type of valve you need for your pool to keep the water flowing properly and avoid leaks.

The three most common pool valves are backwash, skimmer, and drain valves. Backwash valves are used to clean the filter of your pool. Skimmer valves are used to regulate the amount of water flowing into the skimmer. Drain valves are used to empty the pool of water.

Different Types of Pool Valves

We’ve mentioned the three common variations for pool valves. Now let’s look at how each one functions. Understanding the purpose of each valve will help you better understand its role in your pool’s performance and how to evaluate its operation.

Multiport Valves

On your pool filter is a multiport valve. This valve has six or seven different positions, depending on the model. The different positions allow you to change the direction of water flow to complete various tasks:

  1. Filter – This is the primary position of a multiport valve. It directs water through the filter and back into the pool to keep it clear of debris and contaminants.
  2. Backwash – Like many filters, the one in your pool needs to be cleaned from time to time. This setting reverses the flow of water through the filter, allowing you to knock any debris free from it. 
  3. Rinse – Nearly every time you clean something, you must rinse it. The same is true of a pool filter. After backwashing, it’s important to switch the multiport valve to the rinse position and run it before putting it back in the filter position.
  4. Waste – Vacuuming a pool uses the pump’s power to pull debris out of the water. However, you don’t want that debris going into the filter and clogging it up. The waste setting bypasses the filter and lets you vacuum your pool without having to backwash and rinse the filter immediately.
  5. Recirculate – A pool clarifier is a chemical that helps remove cloudiness from your water. It must be circulated throughout the pool to work properly. However, if it goes through the filter, it will be filtered out of the water. The recirculate mode skips the filter so chemicals like clarifiers can be used.
  6. Closed – This setting can prevent water from entering the pump. It can be used if you want to blow out the lines of the pump and filter system. This setting is less frequently used in modern pump systems.
  7. Winterization – If your pool’s multiport valve has the seventh setting, it’s likely the winterization position. This moves the handle up slightly, which gives freezing water room to expand so the cold weather doesn’t damage the system.

Diverter Valves

A diverter valve redirects water from the main pool line to a secondary line, such as a heater or waterfall. By diverting water to a secondary line, the valve prevents water from flowing through the main line. There are two-way and three-way diverter valves, explained below.

Two-Way Diverters 

A two-way valve has two ports and a handle. Water flows from one port to the other when the handle is open. When it’s closed, no water flows. A partially open valve can control the amount of water allowed to flow.

Three-Way Diverters 

A three-way valve has three ports. The water can flow from one port and out of one or both of the other two. These are slightly more complicated internally than two-way valves.

Check Valves

Often, water flowing in one direction mustn’t be allowed to flow back in the other. In these situations, a check valve is used. They are of a special design that only allows water to flow one way. There are several common areas in a pool where a check valve might be used, as outlined below.

Water Features 

Some pools have features such as waterfalls or fountains. These features are often fed from a separate reservoir rather than the pool. A check valve ensures that water doesn’t flow from the reservoir into the pool when the feature isn’t turned on.

Solar Heaters

Solar heaters use check valves at both ends. The check valve at the intake end prevents water from draining back into the pump. At the outlet end, it prevents water from backing up into the system. Other heating methods, such as using AC to heat the pool, may also require check valves.

Automatic Chlorinators 

Automatic chlorinators make it easier to manage how much chlorine to add to a pool. When water flows into an automatic chlorinator, the chlorine concentration increases as it flows out.

This chlorine goes into the pool and is diluted by the water. A check valve prevents the water from flowing back into the pool equipment, which may be sensitive to such high levels of chlorination. 

Hot Spas 

Most pools come with a spa, which is raised slightly higher. Normally, gravity would cause the water to flow from the raised surface back into the pool. A check valve prevents this from happening.

Valve Actuators

A valve actuator is used by some pool systems to automatically open and close a valve that controls the flow of water into and out of the pool. It attaches to the valve in replace of the handle and uses electromechanical means to operate it. 

The actuator is operated by a timer or other type of control system. Valve actuators make it easier to maintain optimal water levels in a pool. They can help reduce the time and effort needed to keep a pool clean and functioning properly.

Checking Pool Valves

An important part of maintaining your pool is inspecting your pool filter valves to ensure they’re still operating correctly. The steps to inspect a pool valve are as follows:

  1. Identify the valves – First, you’ll want to identify which valves control the water flow to your pool. There are usually valves used in at least two locations – main drains and skimmers. The main drain controls water flow from the pool to the pump. The skimmer controls the flow of water from the pool to the filter.
  2. Turn off the pump – Next, you’ll want to turn off the power to the pump. This is usually done by flipping a switch on the power control panel.
  3. Check the water flow – Once the power is off, you can open the valves to inspect them. Start by opening the main drain valve. You should see a steady stream of water flowing from the valve. If the water flow is weak or intermittent, the valve may need to be replaced. Repeat the process for the skimmer valve.
  4. Check for leaks and corrosion – You can now turn the power back on to the pump. As the water begins to flow through the valves, check for any leaks around it. These leaks may come from the handle, one of the ports, or the valve’s body. Look closely at the valves for any sign of corrosion or other damage.

If your pool has any equipment requiring a check valve, be sure to locate and inspect those valves as well. As with multiport and diverter valves, you’ll want to check for signs of leaks or corrosion.

You can also check whether the valve is functioning as intended. It will be easy to tell when some check valves are failing. For example, water may drain from your water feature or spa back into the pool.

Other check valves are part of a closed system. You might not know the ones in your solar heater are failing until the water no longer flows through the system or heats as well as it should, for example. 

If your pump isn’t working, and the valves appear to be functioning okay, there are other ways to fix a pool pump.

How to Replace Pool Valves

If you find that one of your pool valves needs to be replaced, you can follow the steps below:

  • Turn off the pump and switch the filter to the off position.
  • Find the drain plug for your pool’s filter and drain the water.
  • Cut the old valve free at the inlet and outlet sides with a PVC cutter. Leave about six inches on each side to make room for a PVC coupler.
  • Remove any screws attaching the valve to the filter.
  • Discard the old valve.
  • Test fit the new valve using a PVC coupler to connect each end to the filtration system.
  • Once the coupler and valve fit nicely, use PVC primer and glue to attach the new valve permanently.

If the valve has already been replaced, there may already be a PVC coupling. If there’s no room for another one to be used, you might have to replumb the whole system. If you are unsure how to do this, consult with a professional.

Functioning Valves Means a Healthy Pool

Your swimming pool valves are a key component of your filtration system and, therefore, an important part of the pool itself. Maintaining them properly will keep your pool cleaner and save on costly repairs. 

You can also help keep your pool’s equipment in good working order by using a quality pool skimmer to remove debris before the filter has to deal with it. To learn more about how ProTuff Products can help with your pool maintenance needs, contact us today.

Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at info@protuffproducts.com with any specific questions you may have.

All About Your Pool Valves
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