With outdated water delivery systems still being used in homes and water scarcity becoming more prevalent around the globe today, water damage, wastage and safety are of the utmost concern to homeowners and water-wise engineers alike.
Advances in plumbing technology, and specifically water shut off valves, have made it is possible to address these kinds of issues at a fundamental level.
But, which types of water shut off valves are the best fit for your home or next building project?
Explore the different types of water shut off valves and the pros and cons of each so you’re better equipped to effectively manage the delivery of water and so much more going forward.
3 Common Types of Water Shut Off Valves
Today, most homes are fit with water shut off valves. A significant majority of these are manually operated valves that are installed in one or more areas of a home or business (i.e. where the water comes into the house from a municipal line or under a sink tap), but remote controlled/auto shut off valves are becoming increasingly popular.
The usage of these water saving devices is being driven by stricter regulations, most notably by countries like Norway, where more stringent rules pertaining to the mandatory use of manual or auto shut off valves are being enforced.
Preventing water damage and wastage, as well as promoting safer drinking water starts with making sure you’re using the right kind of water shut off valve.
With that said, let’s take a look at 3 different types of water shut off valves in use today:
Manual shut off valve
The manual water shut off valve ranks as the most commonly used today and is also the most affordable. These valves offer longevity, but they can corrode over time. For most homes, they are located in basements, crawl spaces or near the water meter. Here are some common manual water shut off valves:
- Compression Fit Shut off Valve: These valves can be used with PEX or copper water supply inlets. Compression fit shut off valves are available in quarter and multi-turn varieties. The multi-turn needs many turns of the stem to stop the water flow. As these start to age, they tend to leak.
- Sweat Fitting Water Shut Off Valve: Sweat fitting valves are non-removable and non-leaking, or, at least they are designed to be so. These fittings must be soldered to a copper pipe and installation may require a few extra tools like a solder, flux and propane torch. If an improper joint is made, leaking will begin immediately.
- Barbed Fitting Water Shut Off Valve: A barbed fitting is made for PEX piping. It requires a crimp ring and tool to complete the installation.
- Compression Nut (Female) Shut Off Valves: This compression nut valve is for threaded galvanised steel pipes. For installation, pipe thread compound is needed to screw the piece onto the supply pipe.
- Push Fit Shut Off Valve: Push fit valves are a newer technology. They are easy to install, but not as cost-effective as other shut off valves. The supply line must be square cut, and the push fit is pressed on.
- Manual shut off valves are by far the most affordable and commonly used
- There are valves for every situation and pipe material available
- They are easy to install
- Depending on the types of pipes used they might require different materials/tools for installation which may complicate things
- Metal can fatigue and corrode over time, and disuse may make valves more challenging to use
- If the homeowner is not at home to detect a leak, they won’t have time to shut off the valve before water damage occurs
Remote Control Shut Off Valve
Remote controlled water shut off valves can be controlled by a smartphone or a special remote panel. Most remote control systems do not have leak detection integration, and this needs to be installed as another component to ensure protection from potential leaks.
- Remote water shut off is convenient and means you don’t have to worry when you have to leave your premises
- Ideal for integration with home automation systems that make water control and delivery easier
- Some remote-controlled water shut off systems have button pads that must be within a short distance of the transceiver. If the system does not include a leak detection system, having a remote control shut off may not be any more helpful than a manual shut off
- These systems tend to be more expensive than manual shut off valves
Automatic Water Shut Off Valves
Auto water shut off valves work with water sensors that are placed throughout the home. When a leak occurs, a signal is sent to the main controller, which in turn shuts off the water supply. Some automatic types of water shut off valves fit over existing manual valves, while others have a more streamlined installation.
- One button turns off incoming water. Having this feature is convenient for many homes and businesses, especially when water conservation is a concern.
- Water pressure in the pipe supply can be regulated better to minimise the risks of bursts
- Cleaner, safer water becomes possible, especially if a system like this is integrated with PEX manifolds
- False alarms may set off the water shut off valve
- Some automatic systems do not have remote or “smart” remote access
- The initial investment in an auto shut off valve system is higher than both manual and remote access systems
All of the above water shut off valves have their strengths and weaknesses, and usage of each/combination of systems will depend on an occupants’ budget, convenience, safety, and ultimately, their peace of mind.
Given the concerns over water safety and the inconvenience of manual valves, as well as the limitations of only using a remote control shut off valve system, it is perhaps more prudent to look towards a more holistic solution that addresses all these issues and more.
It is to this end that Uponor created something that covers all of the bases.
The Uponor Aqua PLUS Waterguard
This is an easy-to-use system that automatically shuts off the water inlet if a leak is detected. The system monitors leaks via wireless sensors. If a leak occurs somewhere in the network, the sensors react. A signal is relayed to the control panel which forces the valves to stop the water supply. Valves can be installed in the tap water cabinet and integrated into Uponor’s PPM manifold for a safer water supply.
The components of the system are listed below:
- One Valve Set & Two Solenoid Auto Shut Off Valve Set: These solenoid valves are made of grivory plastic. It’s 12V aliminted to avoid the danger of electrical shock to the tap water system. Since it’s plastic, there is no danger of corrosion or metal stress.
- Sensor: The sensors are wireless. These are placed in strategic areas throughout the building including under the kitchen sink or near the dishwasher. Sensors require two AA batteries, enough for them to last five years.
- Control Panel: This is mounted on a wall with a standard double electric box. The front panel is easy to use and includes buttons with coloured lights to indicate function.
- Connection Box: The connection box is installed within the cabinet. It connects the valves, sensor wire, and control panel. If power is lost, this is where the user would manually open the valves.
Fast, Seamless Installation
Installation requires a plumber and an electrician. The process is easy and requires four simple steps:
- Magnetic valve assembly
- Control panel installation
- Connection box installation
- Sensor preparation
Once tested, the installation is complete.
The result is a sleek panel box, usually in a hallway. When the end user is ready to leave their home or business, all they have to do is tap the button to shut off the water to the property.
It’s that simple.
Long-term Water Safety
The Uponor Aqua PLUS Waterguard was created to meet the rigorous requirements of the official Norwegian regulations regarding tap water installation. Before, one would have to manually drain a room with a tap or water outlet. Today, the Uponor Aqua PLUS system offers an easy, push-button alternative to manual water shut-off valves.
For countries that prioritise water safety and conservancy, the Uponor Aqua PLUS system is the answer.
Benefits to Consumers
In ASEAN countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand, water conservancy in large urban centres is crucial. For instance, Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department (WSD) supplies over 7 million people with water, which translates to 8,000km water mains.
According to the WSD, “In the 1990s, the condition of water distribution network became poor resulting from a considerable length of water mains approaching the end of their service life. In order to rejuvenate the water distribution network to arrest the rapidly rising trend of main bursting and leakage, replacement and rehabilitation (R&R) of aged water mains was the most effective solution. The R&R programme, covering about 3,000 km of aged water mains was therefore launched in 2000.”
Today, there is a complex Water Intelligent Network in Hong Kong responsible for discrete monitoring of water systems. It seems Uponor’s Aqua PLUS system integrates well into this government mission. It serves to detect leakage, save water and improve water quality. It gives some power to residents and business owners as it allows them to control the flow of water to their properties.
For engineers, Uponor’s Aqua PLUS offers distinct advantages over older, outdated alternatives. Installation is easy to integrate into an existing home or business. For apartment dwellers, it gives personal control over the unit’s water system.
The bottom line: the Uponor Aqua PLUS provides peace of mind through water safety, conservation and protection from destructive water damage.