3 Way Valves

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Three-way valves are a valuable addition to many different systems for both gases and liquids. When used appropriately, they can make the difference between a mediocre system and one that works excellently. Let’s take a closer look.

3 Way Valve Image

What is a 3-Way Valve?

As the name suggests, a three-way valve is a valve that has three distinct ports. For this reason, they may also be known as three-port valves. They may be used in either industrial or plumbing applications for the diversion or mixing of gases or liquids.

What Are the Common Applications of 3-Way Valves?

Three-way valves may be used for a wide range of applications. Since these valves are so versatile, they may be used for the following purposes:

  • HVAC systems - 3-way control valves are used to moderate the flow and control the mixing of hot and cold water in HVAC systems. This helps to moderate the temperature.
  • Water purification systems - In water purification systems, a 3-way control valve may be used to control and moderate the flow of disinfectants and other necessary chemicals.
  • Hydraulic systems - In hydraulic systems, a three-way control valve may be used to moderate and direct the flow of hydraulic fluid.
  • Pneumatic systems - In pneumatic systems, 3-way valves are used to control and direct the flow of compressed air towards specific cylinders or other actuating devices.
  • Chemical processing - A three-way valve is an essential element in any chemical processing plant because it allows the controller to direct and mix fluids or gases only when required.
  • Process control - In industrial processes, a valve with three-way capabilities may be used to control and direct the flow of various chemicals or gases.

3-Way Valves - Available Materials and Sizes

3-way valves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Some of the different options that you may encounter in terms of materials include the following:

  • Brass
  • Bronze
  • PVC
  • Stainless Steel

In terms of size, there’s a vast array of diversity as well. They range all the way from ¼” to 4”.

Three-way valves may also be assembled in one of two ways. They may either be L-ports or T-ports.

These valves also come with a range of different actuation options. These may include the following:

  • Manual
  • Pneumatic-Double Acting
  • Pneumatic-Spring Return
  • Electric Actuator

What Are the Advantages of Using 3-Way Valves?

There are many different ways in which a three-way valve proves advantageous to the user. Some of these may include the following:

  • Versatility - Depending on the type of three-way valve used, these specific types of fitting may be used for a wide variety of different applications. From transporting gases and liquids to separate different substances and allowing you to control flow, the options are almost limitless.
  • Cost and space savings - Since you only require one valve where you might otherwise have needed three, you save both money and space within your system.
  • Control simplification - Since they take up so much less space and are easy to use, 3-way valves help to significantly simplify your control system.
  • Simplified design - With their simple three-port design, 3-way valves simplify the design of your entire system. Instead of using three different valves, you can use one that meets the same specifications.
  • Flexibility over flow control - another way in which 3-way valves are highly effective and advantageous is the flexibility they offer you over flow control. When appropriately installed and set up, you can easily use 3-way valves in multiple different ways within your systems. This means that you get optimal flow control with minimal investment.

What Are Three Way Valves For?

Sometimes called "mixing" valves or multi-port valves, three-way valves, as well as their applications, are numerous.  They are used extensively in any application where diverting and changing flow direction is necessary or desired.  They also may be used for regulating speed and amount of flow, as well as flow pressure. Some three way ball valves--such as a side entry--can actually eliminate the need for more than one valve on a line because of their unique diversion and mixing designs.

Differences in Construction in 3 Way Valves

Valves can be highly specialized; each individual application will require specifics in their fabrication.  The range of material from which they are made includes tungsten carbide, stainless steel, brass, chrome carbide, and even carbon.  They may be threaded or flanged (such as the afore mentioned bolt-on side entry valve), may utilize a vented ball, or may have a particular weld, such as a butt weld or a socket weld.  They may be constructed for a full or reduced flow application.  A general purpose three way valve will be manually operated--utilizing a shut-off lever or a handwheel--while more sophisticated valves may incorporate an electric or pneumatic actuator.


Importances of Quality and Properly Specifying

When there is no room for error, you must specify your needs very carefully. And when doing so, you prefer to speak with a supplier who knows what you're talking about--someone who knows the difference between a threaded valve and one that is flanged, or the difference between a 3 piece valve and one with 3 ports.  You won't find this knowledge with our competition, who try to sell one of everything.  That's why you can put your trust in our valve store.  You know that ValveMan.com's 50+ years of experience in the valve industry ensures quality in parts and in service, every time.  We know all about 3 way valves.  That's because all we sell are valves.  It's simply what we do, and we do it better than anyone else.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Select the Right 3-Way Valve for My Application?

When selecting the right three-way valve for your application, there are a few things to consider. However, the main consideration should always be the application itself. It’s wise to define the application and ask yourself questions like:

  • What will the system be transporting?
  • How big is the system’s piping?
  • What is the application’s flow rate and pressure rating?
  • Does the application have unique temperature requirements?
  • Do you require manual or remote actuation on the valve?

If you answer all these questions, you’ll know which size valve to get, as well as which material it should consist of and what kind of actuator it should have.

How Should 3-Way Valves Be Maintained?

In general, three-way valves and three-way control valves are fairly easy to use and require very little maintenance. However, it would be wise to check them periodically to ensure that they are clean and free of debris.

It’s also a good idea to regularly check for leaks and other problems. Other than that, these valves shouldn’t require lubrication or other forms of maintenance.

Where Can I Buy 3-Way Valves?

You can buy your three-way valves right here at ValveMan. We have a wide array of different valves for every application. From the smallest to the largest, PVC to stainless steel, manual to pneumatic or electric, we have a three-way valve for your application.