Water ball valves: types, classification, device and principle of operation

Amir Gumarov
Checked by a specialist: Amir Gumarov
Author: Alexey Dyuzhev
Last update: July 2019

Water taps of various designs are in every home. I don’t feel like inviting plumbers every time when the tap breaks, do you agree? But in order to cope with the repair, you need to know the device of a ball-type water tap and its main details.

It is here that we will come to your aid - this article discusses the existing types of ball valves, their arrangement, classification, features of marking and the principle of operation. Thanks to the knowledge gained, you will be able to cope with the repair of all varieties with your own hands.

For a better understanding of the material, we provided the article with visual photos and diagrams with a crane device with a ball mechanism, as well as selected videos, where information on how to close and install the crane is presented in an accessible form.

Classification of Water Ball Valves

The most popular ball valves, invented as early as 100 years ago. They are easy to install, affordable. The consumer is presented with a number of options with functional and structural differences.

Speaking of ball valves, it is worth separating the concepts of “water tap” and “mixer”. Both varieties are united by a common structural element - a locking or regulating part in the form of a body of revolution of a rounded configuration.

The actions for locking the pipeline or adjusting the flow are made by turning this element around its conditional central axis.

Faucets can both be installed between the elements of the water supply system, and can be the end point of the pipeline.

In the first case, the devices are called locking, and in the second they play the role of water-folding devices and most often are mixers well known to all.

Varieties of Ball Valves
A huge range of water taps allows you to choose a device for any water supply system with optimal parameters and an external design

A mixer is a mechanism for mixing water and regulating its temperature, while a through-tap can only control the pressure.

Shutoff ball valves are divided into checkpoints, i.e. installed in a straight section of the pipeline, angular, i.e. located on the site with a change in flow direction by 90º, and on a three-way, i.e. supplying flow to two inlet pipes.

Ball valve device
Due to the simplicity of the design, the ball valve rarely breaks, it is extremely easy to repair and install

Valves with ball valves are used in water and heating circuits.

According to the capacity parameters, the taps used in thermal systems are divided into:

  • Full bore. Ball devices, in which the diameter of the outlet of the ball plug, it is a shutter, is equal to the diameter of the pipeline on which the crane is installed.
  • Reduced. Plumbing fixtures in which the diameter of the outlet of the ball plug is less than the same size of the pipeline in most cases by one standard size.

Reduced-type cranes allow you to block the heat main quickly, but without the threat of the formation of a water hammer.

By type of connection to the water supply system:

  • Threaded.Valves with internal or external conical or cylindrical thread. Mounted by screwing on couplings or screwing in pipe fittings. The most common type in public utilities is easy to install and makes repairs easy.
  • Combined.Devices equipped with internal and external threads. On the one hand they are connected by means of a coupling with an internal thread, on the other a nipple fitting.
  • Welded. Mounted by welding. With an impeccable design, the joints provide perfect tightness, do not require periodic adjustment of the position of the couplings, as the previous version. However, inconvenient to repair, because together with them it is necessary to dismantle part of the pipeline.
  • Flanged. Installed using flanges on critical pipelines. They can be repeatedly dismantled with subsequent installation. Periodically require control of bolt tightening of flanges.

AT autonomous water supply systems most commonly used are conventional threaded devices that allow assembling a pipeline of any complexity from all known pipe varieties or their combination.

Types and arrangement of ball water taps
Ball valves are made with external and internal threads, allowing them to be connected to the pipeline by means of couplings or fittings

By type of housing:

  • all-weldedwhose case is a single structure;
  • collapsiblewhen housing elements are bolted together and can be easily disassembled.

The first type of product is considered the most reliable, but in the event of a malfunction, such a device cannot be repaired. Collapsible cranes often fail, but are easily repairable.

Information on how repair ball mixer, considered in our other article.

By type of fluid passed:

  • for cold water up to +35 ºС;
  • for hot water up to +90 ºС.

Devices are controlled using a lever or a butterfly valve. The choice of a crane with a specific control method depends on the location of the valve and the preferences of the owner. Cranes with a lever are often installed on the central sections of the pipeline, with a “butterfly” on the branches of the system.

Mixers with a spherical mechanism are installed in kitchens, in bathrooms and are the end points of the water supply system.

Application of ball valves
There are a lot of options for wiring the water supply system inside the house, but in all cases, ball valves are installed in the areas as shut-off valves

Device and principle of operation

The body of the locking device is a piece of pipe, expanded in the middle part. A saddle made of sealing material is installed in the extension, inside of which there is a main element - a ball, it is also a lock or a stopper.

The ball can rotate freely inside the saddle. In stop valves, it has only one through hole.

In regulating devices and valves redirecting the flow, there may be 2 or 3 holes. If the tap is used to control the pressure of hot or cold water, then there are two holes, if the device is a mixer, then there are three holes.

The principle of operation of a ball water tap
The ball valve is actuated by turning the lever, to which a ball valve with a hole is connected through the stem. By turning a hole around the axis of the pipeline, we open / close the passage to the medium or partially let it pass

The principle of operation is very simple: when the axis of the hole in the ball is combined with the axis of the valve body, water will begin to flow from it.

Those. when the plug is deployed so that its opening coincides with the direction of the pipeline, as if continuing it. In this position, the flow of liquid, steam, gas passes through the pipeline, including through the tap, freely.

When the ball valve is turned 90 °, the passage for water, steam, gas is blocked by the side on which there are no holes. In this position, the flow of the medium completely stops, because it abuts against the continuous wall of the shutter.

However, this simple device can also adjust the flow parameters. When turning 45 °, for example, the flow will be only half blocked.

To control the ball, a rod connected to a lever is used. O-rings are located on both sides of the stem. The hole in the housing through which the stem passes is also equipped with a washer and an o-ring.

The device and repair of the ball valve
The single-lever ball mixer is equipped with a shutter with two openings for the passage of cold and hot water and another opening for the exit of the mixed stream

Ball valves are made of brass or various steel grades. Brass devices are considered more reliable, their service life exceeds 10 years. Steel products are very rarely used in everyday life, mainly used for industrial piping systems.

Most recently, manufacturers began to produce cranes, the casing of which is made of high-strength plastic. Unlike brass, such devices are not subject to corrosion, are much cheaper.

The only drawback of plastic products is that they cannot be used for hot water.

Ball valve device
All o-rings are made of high-density rubber, these are the “weakest” places of the crane that cause leaks, but are easily replaced with a conventional repair kit

These cranes are most common in everyday life. A feature of their design is that the ball is not rigidly connected to the rod and can move under the action of water, pressing against the o-ring, thereby sealing the valve.

A floating ball is used in mechanisms whose nominal size does not exceed 20 cm. Such devices are installed in domestic water and heat supply systems. In almost all domestic mixers of domestic and foreign production, a floating ball mechanism is also installed.

The design of the crane body with a floating ball can be either welded or collapsible. Sealing elements can be of different stiffness. Small household appliances are usually collapsible and have soft seals.

Ball valve with a floating shutter
Cranes with a floating shutter are installed on highways with a diameter of up to 200 mm with a constant movement of the working medium. The ball under the pressure of the medium is pressed against the sealing rings, sealing the fittings

There are cranes in which the locking element is fixed on the axis of the rod, and the seals are pressed against the ball using coupling bolts or springs. The axle is equipped with bearings to facilitate closing / opening.

This design is the most reliable, but due to the high cost it is used very rarely in everyday life and usually on the most critical sections of the water supply system.

Marking Ball Valves

Each manufacturer has its own range of manufactured cranes, but all Russian-made products, as well as imported devices sold in the Russian Federation, correspond to GOST 52760. This standard governs the labeling of shut-off and control equipment, which includes ball valves.

Labeling should include:

  • nominal passage (nominal diameter), abbreviated as DN;
  • indicator of nominal pressure - PN;
  • the value of the calculated (working) pressure;
  • an arrow indicating the direction of water movement;
  • maximum operating temperature;
  • release date.

In accordance with GOST 4666 devices made of cast iron have a black color, stainless steel - blue (blue). Red marked taps for hot water.

Crane marking
Today, more than four thousand sizes of taps for various needs are produced; small diameter devices are used in domestic water supply systems

Installation and operating rules

The device of a spherical water tap allows you to easily install it yourself where it is required. The crane must be mounted in such a place that during operation it does not interfere and is not subjected to mechanical stress.

At the same time, unhindered access to the crane should be provided in case of monitoring the operation, correcting removable damage and dismantling if necessary replacement.

The locking device is mounted on metal or plastic pipes according to the following algorithm:

  1. The old tap is removed (if any), the thread is cleaned of residues of tow and sealant.
  2. A tight winding of the threaded tab is made.
  3. A new, suitable-sized locking device is wound. Please note that the thread on which the product is wound should not be rotten, it should have at least four turns. Otherwise, it is necessary to change the entire pipe or its part.

When installing a water supply system from scratch, first of all, it is necessary to outline the place where the tap will be mounted. Then the pipe is cut off at this place, appropriate thread is madeon which the locking device is wound.

For pipe cutting special equipment is used - a pipe cutter. But you can use improvised tools, although this is not so convenient, and the cut will not be so smooth and smooth. You can read more about choosing a pipe cutter for copper pipes. in this article.

Do you have plumbing pipes? ABOUT types of pipe cutter for such a pipeline can be read in our other article.

In both cases, before installation, you need to pay attention to the arrow indicating the direction of flow and be sure to observe this condition. Before screwing on the tap, it is recommended to wrap the threads with FUM tape. This will provide the most reliable sealing.

After installation, it is necessary to check the operation of the locking device. To do this, turn on the water and check for leaks, the gradual formation of drops, smudges. It is also necessary to make sure that nothing interferes with the control of the crane, i.e. the lever or “butterfly” has a free play.

For mounting the device by welding, electric welding is used. AT welding process It is important not to damage the ball mechanism and o-rings.

First, one pipe is welded, then the second, while on the vertical sections the valve should be installed in the “closed” position, and on the horizontal sections - “open”.

Ball valve installation
Using a fitting and a lock nut, a ball valve can be installed not only on a metal or plastic pipe, but also connect pipes of different materials to it

The operation of ball mechanisms is not difficult, they are used either in closed or in open form. It is theoretically possible to regulate water supply with a ball valve.

However, it is worth considering that such a crane is, first of all, a locking device and too intensive operation will lead to rapid wear of the seals. To control the flow, it is better to use ball mixers or a needle valve if the mixer cannot be installed.

Domestic taps cannot be installed where industrial water containing solid impurities passes through the pipes, as they will quickly damage the o-rings, disabling the locking device.

The device of a rotary ball valve
Before buying ball control valves for a water supply system, you need to check the plan and determine how many passage and rotary pieces are required

Advantages and disadvantages of ball valves

Ball valves are very popular in a wide variety of industries. They are considered reliable locking devices, are part of the water supply system of a city apartment and a private house.

In addition to the reliability and simplicity of design, products of this type have many other advantages:

  • large working resource, long service life;
  • rarely break, easy to repair;
  • high degree of tightness, with proper installation there are no leaks;
  • convenient use, to turn off the water flow, turning or pressing a lever is enough;
  • a huge assortment of sizes and types;
  • ease of installation, you can install it yourself without involving a plumber.

There are no drawbacks to ball-type cranes, they are affordable, in each hardware store you will be offered a choice of several products of various sizes.

The mixer with a spherical mechanism will save its owners from the time-consuming and frequent replacement of gaskets, as well as the problems with water leakage that are so common with obsolete valve taps.

Single lever ball mixer
Ball mixers rarely fail, the main cause of the breakdown is hard water, so manufacturers recommend installing water filters in the water supply system

How to choose a good ball valve?

As already mentioned, modern manufacturers produce more than 4 thousand different types of ball valves, so for an unprepared buyer, the choice of a locking device is a difficult task.

When choosing a mechanism, in addition to the main parameter - the throughput diameter, it is worth paying attention to the following factors:

  1. Appearance. A quality product does not have chips, nicks, dents. Its surface is flat, the marking of the manufacturer is clearly visible.
  2. Allowable pressure. Of the two options, it is better to choose the crane, the maximum allowable pressure, which will be greater.Please note that this indicator for hot water should be at least 20 kg / cm², for cold - at least 10 kg / cm². The greater the allowable pressure, the better the product will withstand. water hammer in the water supply system and heating periodically occurring in the pipeline.
  3. Housing design. For connecting household appliances, showers, cabling of the water supply system inside the house or pipe wiring in the apartment it is better to give preference to simpler and maintainable collapsible cranes. For the most important sections, for example, the central water supply system, the all-welded case is the best option.
  4. Body material. The highest quality products are made of brass. Be careful! Under the guise of a brass faucet, they can sell you a fake from silumin - a cheap low-quality metal. You can determine the fake by weight: the brass tap is heavy.

Steel products look solid, but they quickly rust and fail. Of course, this does not apply to stainless steel devices, which, however, are quite rare. If only cold water passes through the tap, you can choose a plastic product.

PVC Ball Valve
Ball valves made of unplasticized PVC can be used to shut off the flow in non-pressure and low-pressure systems transporting drinking water, domestic non-caustic and storm drains

When choosing a crane, focus on the average price, too low a cost should alert, because you are probably offered a marriage or a fake of cheap steel.

Regarding the cost of ball valves, Made in Italy devices are the most expensive. Spanish, Czech, Hungarian devices are slightly lower in cost. Russian and Ukrainian manufacturers occupy an average price niche, combining quality and reasonable cost.

Coated Ball Valve
The most expensive and durable ball valves are made of brass, coated with a chrome or nickel layer, such devices can be used for a long time at temperatures above one hundred degrees

The cheapest are traditionally Chinese-made products. The quality of Chinese mechanisms leaves much to be desired, they can only be used as temporary locking devices.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Detailed instructions for installing ball-type fittings in steps:

Problems of ball water taps:

A ball valve is a useful invention that has greatly simplified the design of a safe water supply system. Installation is carried out without problems, there is no need to call plumbing or use a complex tool.

Familiarization with the device of different types of ball water tap will help to carry out a number of simple repair operations with your own hands without the involvement of plumbers.

Do you select shutoff valves for the water supply system? Perhaps you still have questions after reading the material? Ask them in the comments - we will try to help you with a choice.

Or maybe you recently engaged in the repair of a ball valve? Did you succeed or the breakdown was too complicated and you had to buy a new crane? Share your experience in the comments section - it may be useful to other users.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Sergey Antonovich

    I decided to replace the axle box faucet in the kitchen sink, because I did not like to shut off the water by turning the mechanism counterclockwise. Time is 24.00, I close the ball valve under the sink so that cold water does not flow and ... a butterfly in my hand with the central part of the crane with a ball, water under a pressure of 6 atm, or even more. With the help of the person on duty, after 3 hours I managed to find a plumber, that hour I was looking for the keys to the basement of 80 sq. at home. As usual, not a single crane worked in the basement, and it will not work to close the valve at the entrance to the house without agreement with the management company. This is an hour at least. As a result, the entire 3-room apartment turned into a beautiful pool, the crane stood for about a year. After this incident, I take only brass taps, I avoid China (it was silumin), and before doing such work, I first close the highway in the place where I am going to repair or change.

    • Vitaliy

      This is right - the highest quality taps need to be installed at the pipelines inlets to the apartment; Yes, and for other pipes, for example, I do not put plastic fittings. It is too fragile: you turn the handle several times, and the locking device remains in your hands! Our water is hard, so I try to open and close all the taps once a week, so less plaque is going to.