Everyone loves a good diversion. For some, it’s a good book. For others, it’s a sappy romantic comedy. For industrial materials (water, oil, gas, solvents, etc.), it’s probably a three-way ball valve.
Three-way (3-Way) ball valves are the simplest means to divert the direction of flow in plumbing, pipe-fitting and other industrial applications. The turn of a handle can change the flow from one port to another, open two ports to receive fluids/gasses, send the content of two pipes into one or shut down flow completely. See a flow diagram at the bottom of this article.
Depending on the application, you will want to consider what type of three-way ball valve to use. There are two types of three-way ball valve – L-Port and T-Port – named for the shapes made by their direction of flow. In an L-Port (L-Type), the ball has two openings drilled at 90-degree angles and meeting in the middle. A T-Port (T-Type) is similar, with the exception that one of the opening is drilled completely through the ball, forming a “T” shape with three openings.
The L-Port, which also goes by “diverting valve” is the most commonly used version of the three-way ball valve. Depending on the piping arrangement, turning the handle 90 degrees will divert the materials being pumped from one pipe to another. Or in other applications, you can switch from one pump to another, with a common outlet. To use an L-Port valve either way, you would use the middle port as the common port.
With a T-Port, which may also be called a “mixer” or a “mixing valve,” you would generally use one of the side ports as the common port. That alignment would allow flow straight through the valve as well as 90-degree direction of flow with the turn of a handle. The versatility of the T-Port design also allows one source to supply two outflow pipes at the same time if the application calls for it.
The T-Port valve is called a “mixing valve” because you can use it to push two substances into one pipe. In that case, the two inlet pipes might be connected to the two side ports and the middle port would be the common port for outlet.
Although an L-Port is useful in most applications, you should consider the piping layout of your project. In some cases, a T-Port might be the best option since the side port is considered the common port. That configuration also has the benefit of creating maximum flow when the fluid/gas is being pumped straight through the valve, rather than having to turn a corner, as it would in any L-Port use.
However, it is important to note that there is no “off” position for a T-Port valve, save for an intermediate position between the four normal directional positions. That is not recommended, as complete shutoff cannot be guaranteed.
What can be guaranteed is a good price at DirectMaterial.com. Whether you call them by L-Port, T-Port, L-Type or T-Type, mixing valve or diverting valve, we carry both varieties of three-way ball valves from 1/4” to 2” in size. Check us out anytime.