• When to Use Metal Valves - Common Metal Valve Applications



    stainless steel gate valveBefore discussing metal valve uses and the various jobs they do well, we should acknowledge the fact that many types of metals exist. Just like the category of "plastic" covers PVC, CPVC, ABS, polypropylene (PP), etc., "metal" includes cast & ductile iron, brass, bronze, carbon & stainless steel, and more! Knowing exactly when to use metal valves requires knowledge of the metal and the medium.

    This blog post discusses different metal valve applications that, for one reason or another, plastic valves cannot handle. Countless specific jobs exist for metal valves, but we will focus on a broader view of applications. Diving into every single job would take far too long. But let's dig deeper into the different materials used and when to use metal valves!

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  • Common Uses for Butterfly Valves



     

    CPVC butterfly valve lug styleUsing PVC valves to control water in a system is not difficult and can be extremely rewarding when done correctly. These valves are especially useful in home irrigation & gardening systems, homemade fish tanking piping, and other such home applications. Today we will be looking at a few different butterfly valve applications and why these pieces of equipment are so useful.

    Many valves are made from PVC or CPVC including butterfly valves, ball valves, check valves, and more. Each type has it's own strengths and weaknesses, but butterfly valves are unique in their body style and the way they regulate flow. With a quarter-turn disc that sits amid liquid flow even while open, nothing else is quite like a butterfly valve. Further down we will discuss "wafer butterfly valves vs. lug butterfly valves," but first let's look at some uses for butterfly valves!

    Common Butterfly Valve Applications

    Butterfly valves are a quarter-turn valve that has a plastic or metal disc in the middle that rotates on a metal rod or "stem." If the stem is the body of the butterfly, then the disc is the "wings." Because the disc always sits in the middle of the pipeline, the fluid is slowed slightly as it rushes through an open valve. The following examples are a few jobs -- some specific and some general -- that butterfly valves are perfect for!

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  • Bronze vs. Brass Valves: What's the Difference?



    Bronze and brass are easy to get confused. They look similar, have similar-sounding names, and are used for many similar applications. These materials, while sharing many positive qualities, are not identical. There is more than one difference between bronze and brass valves, but not everybody knows about them. While both materials are alloys that incorporate a generous amount of copper, they differ in price and properties.

    What is Bronze?

    bronze vs. brass valvesBronze is one of the original metal alloys. Using copper and tin, metal workers developed a material that was both strong and malleable, meaning it would not crack as easily as something like iron. Bronze has not changed very much, aside from the reduced amounts of lead and the occasional addition of manganese, aluminum, or nickel. Parts made of this material can only be manufactured by casting the material into a mold or by machining a pre-cast bronze ingot.

    Bronze has a rough, porous exterior with small cavities in the surface. This is due to the casting process. However, bronze alloys with select additives can hold a polish and are not as abrasive. Bronze has many benefits, including high ductility (resists cracking), corrosion resistance, and low cost. There are tons of uses for bronze valves, including safety relief, flow direction control, shutting off flow, and more! Lead free bronze valves for potable water are available, but they must meet or exceed Clean Water Act lead restrictions.

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  • Malleable vs. Ductile Iron



    black malleable iron elbow fitting
    People know us for our plastic products (hint: it's in our name), but we are fans of everything to do with piping. Metal pipe, fittings, valves, and filters are no exception! This blog post is titled "Malleable vs. Ductile Iron" and will lay out a comparison between malleable and ductile iron.

    You may be thinking, "If they're both iron, they should behave basically the same, right?" That's a great question, but the answer is no. These are two iron alloys with different chemical compositions, so you cannot always use them interchangeably. First, we will look into the history of these materials. Then we will lay out the physical properties of each material. Finally, we will investigate common applications for each material.

    Iron History

    Humans have been manipulating iron to build things for centuries, maybe even millennia. However, most improvements to iron are somewhat modern. Until recently, the strongest types iron were "gray" and "white" cast iron. To make cast iron equipment, molten iron was molded in a cast. They had to do this because hammering cast iron breaks it. Gray and white iron were structurally sound, but cracked if bent or expanded.

    Malleable iron was the first iteration that could be hammered and bent into shape. This made it much easier to work with and less likely to fail. In 1943, however, ductile iron was developed. The difference between malleable and ductile iron was toted to be strength. This would allow ductile iron to be more easily bent and manipulated without breaking. So which material is actually better? Let's list their physical properties.

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  • Block Valve: What It Is & How It's Used



    If you've ever read our blog, you may know a thing or two about valves. We've posted an overview of butterfly valves, guides to cleaning and fixing ball valves, and even a semi-comprehensive list of the most common types of valves. Until now, however, we have not mentioned block valves. But the term "block valve" describes many of the valves we've talked about.

    The strictest definition of "block valve" (or shutoff valve) refers to it as "any valve that has the capacity to block movement in one or more directions." Usually, however, people use the term when referencing a valve that can totally prevent or allow motion. This means that a block valve should A) be able to completely stop flow when closed and B) allow fluid motion to happen unrestricted when open. Flow is either completely allowed or completely denied when a block valve is in action.

    In this post we will cover the most common types of valves that fall under the "block valve" umbrella. This could help you when choosing block valves for your next project!

    Types of Block Valves

    An important detail about block valves is that their name is not an official classification of a specific type of valve. Rather, it is a broad description of several types of valves that are designed to block flow.

    Several valves immediately disqualify themselves from being block valves due to their design. Globe valves are a type of control valve that, because of their design, limit flow regardless of how far open they are. The same is true of butterfly valves, which have discs right in the middle of the pipeline. The following are a few types of valves that have block valve characteristics.

    Ball Valves

    PVC ball valve with red handleBall valves are probably the most common type of valve there is, especially in the PVC applications we tend to see.These valves are usually used to totally turn on/off flow in a system using a spherical seating with a hole in it. This hole allows liquid to flow through when the valve is in the "on" position.

    Some ball valves are available in "full-bore" configurations, which means the hole in the ball is the same diameter as the pipeline. Full-bore ball valves are perfect examples of block valves, as they are not ideal for slowing down or limiting flow, but excel at completely stopping it and letting it pass uninterrupted. Ball check valves are not block valves, as they typically limit flow even when being pushed open by liquid.

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  • What are the Different Types of Butterfly Valves? - Valve Buying Guide



     

    lug butterfly valves and wafer butterfly valvesButterfly valves, as you may already know, are a type of quarter-turn valve with disc-shaped seatings. The disc sits perpendicular to flow of when the valve is closed and parallel to flow when the valve is open. These valves are handle-operated, gear-operated, or mechanically/pneumatically actuated. While the operation of butterfly valves is straightforward, most people do not know about the different types of butterfly valves that exist.

    With butterfly valve options such as different body types, materials, and operation methods, many types of butterfly valves are available. First, let's examine the different body types, then move on to materials and operation methods. These factors tell you what the valve is capable of. Choosing butterfly valves for your application can be difficult, so we will attempt to make it easier with this blog post!

    Butterfly Valve Body Types

    Butterfly valves are popular because of their low-profile designs. They are thin, usually taking up much less space in a pipeline than ball valves. The difference in the two main variations of butterfly valves is how they attach to the pipeline. These body styles are lug and wafer style. What's the difference between lug and wafer style butterfly valves? Keep reading to find out.

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  • What is Black Iron Piping?



    black iron pipe

    Earlier this year, we started selling a selection of black iron pipe and fittings on our web store. Since then, we've learned that a lot of shoppers don't know much about this great material. Simply put, black iron piping is one of the best options for gas lines that exists. It is strong, easy to install, resists corrosion, and maintains an airtight seal. The black coating helps prevent corrosion.

    Black iron pipe used to be found in water lines, but has been much more popular for gas since the advent of copper, CPVC, and PEX. It is a great option to gas for two reasons. 1) It is strong, and 2) it is relatively easy to put together. Just like PVC, black malleable iron uses a system of pipe and fittings that fit together with compounds instead of welding. Despite its name, black iron pipe is actually made of a low-grade "mild steel" compound. This gives it much better corrosion resistance than traditional cast iron piping.

    Black Iron Pipe Properties

    Since this post is all about black iron pipe and fittings, we will go in depth about a few of its traits and properties. It's important to be knowledgeable when it comes to your home's plumbing.

    Black Iron Piping Pressure Limits

    "Black iron" is a term that usually refers to a type of black-coated steel, but many different types of black iron pipe exist. The main problem with this is that there are few standards that all black iron pipes adhere to. However, they are all made to handle natural and propane gas, which usually stay below 60psi. The standards that black iron pipe must conform to guarantee a pressure rating of at least 150psi, if installed properly.

    Black iron is stronger than any plastic pipe because it is made of metal. This is important, because a gas leak can be deadly. In the case of an earthquake or fire, this extra strength could be what causes potentially deadly gas from leaking throughout a home.

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  • Common Methods of Cleaning Out a PVC Ball Valve - DIY Guide



    cleaning out a pvc ball valve

    Working with liquid in a piping system can be satisfying yet challenging. Problems can occur that make the job harder, such as leaks, freezing, contamination, and clogging. Unplugging a PVC ball valve can be difficult if the valve is cemented into the middle of a pipeline. If you use unions or even a true union PVC ball valve, cleaning out a PVC ball valve is as easy as cleaning the dishes!

    If you need a clean, uncontaminated system for potable water or brewing systems, you will need to clean out any valves regularly. These valves can collect debris over time, so keep an eye on them! Plugged valves are extremely detrimental to any piping system. In this blog post we will cover how to clean out a plastic ball valve, from unclogging to disinfecting.

    Types of Ball Valves

    First, we will take a look at a few different types of ball valves. Some are easier to clean than others, with a variety of body types available.

    One-Piece PVC Ball Valve

    This is the most common type of PVC ball valve, with a one-piece body and a quarter-turn handle. These valves can be either threaded or socket. Threaded ball valves can be attached using pipe dope or teflon tape, which can be unscrewed. This makes maintenance straightforward, but make sure you shut off water flow before removing your valve. Ball valves with socket ends are more difficult, as they cannot be removed from the system.

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  • PEX Piping vs Flexible PVC



    pex piping vs flexible pvc

    In this day and age, there are many interesting and creative piping methods. One of the most popular materials for home plumbing right now is PEX (cross-linked polyethylene), an intuitive system of tubing and fittings that is flexible enough to move around obstacles in floors and walls while also being tough enough to withstand corrosion and hot water. PEX piping connects to plastic or metal fittings at hubs in the system with crimps instead of glue or welding. When it comes to PEX piping vs flexible PVC, which is the better option?

    Flexible PVC is exactly what it sounds like. It is a type of flexible tubing with the same sizing as regular PVC and that can be attached to PVC fittings with flexible PVC cement. Flexible PVC is usually much thicker than PEX tubing, as it has schedule 40 dimensions and wall thickness. Keep reading to find out whether PEX tubing or flexible PVC is better for your application!

    Material Composition

    These two materials may seem similar due to their flexible nature, but their composition, application, and installation, are totally different. We will start by looking at the materials. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene. It is made from high-density polyethylene that has cross-linked bonds in the polymer structure. This sounds complicated, but it just means that this material is flexible and can handle high pressures (up to  180F for plumbing applications).

    Flexible PVC is made from the same basic materials as regular PVC: polyvinyl chloride. However, plasticisers are added to to the compound, making it flexible. Flexible PVC can withstand temperatures from -10F to 125F, so it is unfit for hot water. Despite this, it is still extremely useful in several applications, which we will cover in the next section.

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  • Replacing a PVC Ball Valve Handle



     

    traditional pvc ball valve socket endsPVC ball valves are a simple, yet effective way to control flow in a countless variety of applications, including pools and irrigation. They resist corrosion to an extreme degree and can handle a reasonable range of temperatures and pressures. PVC, however, is not rated for hot water use and can become brittle with age, so sometimes leaks occur. PVC ball valves most often fail around the handle. Luckily, replacing a PVC ball valve handle is easy!

    These types of ball valves have stems with O-rings that can fail when pressure or temperature limits are exceeded. On some of the older, more common styles (shown on the right), the handle itself can crack quite easily. Whether or not this causes leaks, it is awfully inconvenient and can make valve operation difficult if not impossible. Keep reading this article for tips on how to replace a ball valve handle.

    Replacing a Push-On Handle

    The two major types of handles found in PVC ball valves, regardless of body or end type, the those with a screw and those without. In this section we will focus on those without a screw. These handles snap on the top of the valve's stem. Despite not being screwed on, they remain in place very well.

    Before removing the handle, make sure your system is shut off. To remove it, you just need to firmly tug at the handle until it pops off of the valve. You can often find replacement handles for sale on their own if you know the model number of your PVC ball valve. If you cannot find just the handle, you may want to just buy a whole valve. This will give you a back-up valve body if you ever need it.

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