How Does a Water Check Valve Work

Feb 1, 2016

Check Valves
Check valves are devices that are installed in pipelines in order to stop the backflow of material. In many cases, the material flowing through the pipe is water, and the check valve keeps the water from flowing backwards in the pipe. They do not require any outside activation, but are rather designed with mechanisms that block the water from reversing direction at a certain point.

Uses
Water check valves are used in several different devices, and they are advantageous for several reasons. For example, they stop flooding or overflowing in sump pumps and water heaters. They protect equipment in control valves, strainers and flowmeters. They also save power, because the backwards-flowing water would use up electricity even when the device was off.

Types
There are several types of check valves that are installed in water-using devices, but they are all based on the same underlying principle. A ball check valve consists of a ball held in place by a spring. When the water flows forward, the spring contracts and the ball is pushed away from the opening of the valve. Therefore, the water can flow through the valve. When the water stops flowing, the spring pushes the ball back into the opening in the valve and stops the water from flowing backwards.

Swing valves work in a similar way. Instead of a ball, swing valves contain a small door on hinges. When the water flows by the door, the door swings back on its hinges and allows the water through. When the water stops flowing, the door slams shut and stops any backflow from forming.

Similarly, a split-disk check valve contains a metal plate that folds in half as the water flows past it. When the water stops flowing, the plate springs open and blocks the entrance of the valve.

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