The Ultimate Guide To 3 Way Valve

In this blog post, you’ll read:A 3-way valve can work in three different directions to control the flow of a liquid or gas. It has three openings, like small tunnels, for the fluid to flow. The "3-way” valve has this name because it can divert the flow direction between three ports.A 3-way valve brings ease as flow control equipment. Instead of three separate valves, you have one valve with three different positions. It means you can change the direction of the water flow by turning the valve to other positions. It's like a switch that can redirect the water to different paths.
Table of Contents

Benefits of a 3-way valve

A 3-way valve brings ease as flow control equipment. Instead of three separate valves, you have one valve with three different positions. It means you can change the direction of the water flow by turning the valve to other positions. It’s like a switch that can redirect the water to different paths.

What is a 3-Way Valve?

A 3-way valve can work in three different directions to control the flow of a liquid or gas. It has three openings, like small tunnels, for the fluid to flow. The “3-way” valve has this name because it can divert the flow direction between three ports.

brass 3 ports ball valve
brass 3 ports ball valve

For example, you have a pipe system with a 3-way valve in the middle. The water goes straight on its original path when the valve is in one position. But when you turn the valve to another position, the water diverts and flows through a different path. And when you turn the valve to the third position, the water flows through yet another path.

A 3-way valve can be useful in many different situations. It can control the shower flow of hot and cold water. It allows you to adjust the temperature. It is also useful in heating systems to control water flow. It can regulate the flow in industries as fluid system components.

How to Use a 3-Way Valve?

 The correct way of using a 3-way valve depends on the specific application.  It also varies on the purpose for which it is being used. Here are some general insights for the correct use of a 3-way valve.

Understand the Valve: Start by knowing the specific 3-way valve you are using. Read the instructions to understand the valve’s design, ports, and functionality.

Identify the Ports: A 3-way valve contains three primary ports. These are Port A, Port B, and Port C. One port is often the inlet, another is the outlet, and the third is a diverter or bypass port. Identify the purpose of each port in your specific application.

Position the Valve: The valve handle or lever has three positions on the three ports. Turn the handle to the appropriate position depending on your desired flow.

  • Position 1: In this position, the valve connects Port A to Port B. It allows fluid flow between them.
  • Position 2: The valve connects Port A to Port C. It diverts the fluid flow from Port B to Port C.
  • Position 3: In this position, the valve closes off Port B and Port C. It stops the fluid flow altogether.

Choose the valve position that suits your desired operation.

Adjust Flow and Direction: Once the valve is set, observe the flow and direction of the fluid. Make sure it syncs with your intended purpose. You may need to adjust other components, such as pumps or pipes. It will optimize the flow as per your application.

Safety and Maintenance: Follow proper safety protocols when operating the valve. Secure the valve in the open or closed position. It will prevent unintended flow. Regular inspections can maintain the valve to proper functioning.

How Does a 3-Way Valve Work?

The working mechanism of a three-way valve involves a clever design. It allows the valve to control the fluid flow in three directions. Let’s check how a 3-way valve works.

A three-way valve consists of a hollow body with three openings. These are like small tunnels for the fluid to flow through. Inside the valve is a movable component called a “diverter” or “plug.” This diverter has passages that align with the ports in different ways.

working mechanism
working mechanism

Here’s an explanation of the working mechanism:

  1. Position 1: Imagine the diverter is in its initial position.  It joins ports A and B. It means the fluid can flow from Port A. Then, it passes a diverter. Then it exits through Port B. It allows the fluid to follow its original path.
  2. Position 2: On rotating, Port A and C align. Now, the fluid entering Port A goes towards Port C. It changes the course of the fluid. It directs fluid to a different path.
  3. Position 3: Moving the diverter further can close off Port B and Port C by not aligning any passage with them. The flow blocks in this position, and hence it cannot go across.

By changing the position of the diverter, the valve changes the port connection. It allows the fluid to flow accordingly. This working mechanism provides versatility in controlling fluid flow in different applications. It allows for redirection, mixing, or blocking of the flow. The changes depend on the specific needs of the system or process.

The general working mechanism of a three-way valve remains the same. Yet, there can be variations in design and construction depending on the valve.

Types Of 3-Way Valve:

These are the main types of 3-way valves. Each type offers ways to control the flow of fluids in various applications.

  • T-Type 3-Way Valve:

The shape of the T-Type valve is like “T.” This valve has three openings in the shape of a “T.”  the valve body has a ball or plug. It handles controlling the flow.

When the ball or plug is in one position, it aligns with one port. This condition blocks the other two ports. It allows the fluid to flow from one port to another while blocking off the third port.

By rotating the ball or plug, the alignment changes. It enables the fluid to flow between different combinations of ports. The T-Type 3-way valve is common when the flow must divert between two directions.

t port
t port
  • L-Type 3-Way Valve:

The L-Type 3-way valve resembles the letter “L.” Like the T-Type valve, it has three openings.  The ports in this type are in the shape of an “L.” This valve uses a diverter or plug to control the flow.

l type 3 way valve
l type 3-way valve

In one position, the diverter aligns with one port and blocks off the other two ports. It lets the fluid flow from one port to another while blocking the third port.

By moving the diverter, the alignment changes. It enables the fluid to flow between different combinations of ports. The L-Type 3-way valve is common when the flow must divert between three directions.

  • Mixing 3-Way Valve:

The mixing 3-way valve blends different liquids or gases. It has three ports, one of which has mixed fluid. The other two ports have fluids from two sources.

mixing 3 way valve
mixing 3-way valve
  • In one position, the valve allows the primary fluid to flow to the output port. It bypasses the secondary fluid.
  • When the valve is in another position, it allows the secondary fluid to flow to the output port. It bypasses the primary fluid.
  • The third position lets primary and secondary fluids mix before reaching the outlet.

This type of valve is applicable where we need precise control of fluid mixing. It includes chemical processes or HVAC systems.

Applications Of a 3-Way Valve:

A 3-way valve has various applications in different fields. Let’s explore some of them:

  • In bathrooms, a 3-way valve controls the flow and temperature of water in showers. It can blend water to achieve the desired temperature.
  • 3-way valves in heating and cooling systems regulate hot and cold water flow. They control the mixture of hot and cold water moving throughout the system.
  • HVAC systems often use 3-way valves to control refrigerant or water flow. These valves help direct the flow of the heating or cooling medium to specific areas. It ensures comfortable temperatures throughout a building.
3way shutt off valve
3way shut-off valve
  • 3-way valves can control flow through stages in water treatment processes. They help redirect water to various treatment units, such as filters or disinfection.
  • 3-way valves find applications in industrial processes. They help control the flow of various liquids or gases. It allows for diversion or mixing at different stages. Gas, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries rely on these valves for control.
  • 3-way valves apply in piping systems where the flow direction needs changes. These valves enable the redirection of fluid flow to pipelines, tanks, or equipment. It ensures proper distribution and regulation.
  • In certain applications, a 3-way valve can divert the flow of fluids from one path to another. This feature is helpful when switching between different supply sources. It also helps redirect fluids to alternative outlets.


Product:3-Way Plug Ball Valve.
Material:Lead-free brass, C46500, C37700.
Max Temperature:180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Working Pressure:150 Psi.
Applications:Sewage, drainage, irrigation, etc.

Size Chart:

size chart
size chart

Best Raw Materials for a 3-Way Valve:

The choice of materials for 3-way valves depends on the specific applications. Here are some best raw materials for 3-way valves:

Brass: Brass is a popular choice for valve bodies and components. It is easy to manufacture and contains the best sealing properties. These properties make it suitable for 3-way valves.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel contains high corrosion resistance and durability. It is often applicable to corrosive fluids. Stainless steel is also suitable for high-pressure and high-temperature applications.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): PVC is a plastic material common in valve construction. It is lightweight and cost-effective. PVC valves are common in water applications and non-corrosive fluids.

Cast Iron: Cast iron is very durable in industrial valve applications. Cast iron valves are common in pipelines, heating systems, and industrial processes.

Bronze: Bronze is ideal for marine and plumbing applications. Bronze valves suit applications involving water, steam, and some chemicals. It is another popular raw material for 3-way valves.

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene): PTFE is a synthetic fluoropolymer. It is famous for its use in valve seats, seals, etc. PTFE can endure corrosive fluids or chemicals.

Advantages and disadvantages of Using 3-Way Valve:

Considering these advantages and disadvantages is important when deciding on a 3-way valve. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of a 3-way valve.

Advantages of Using a 3-Way Valve:

Versatility: The 3-way valve has versatility, which is a favorite advantage. It allows for more flow configurations. It can control the flow of liquids or gases in three directions. This flexibility makes it suitable for various systems.

Simplified Plumbing: Using a 3-way valve can simplify plumbing systems. It reduces the number of required valves and pipe connections. Instead of many valves, a single 3-way valve can handle many functions. It saves space and reduces costs.

Cost-Efficiency: using a single 3-way valve instead of more valves can reduce costs. It saves from purchasing and installing separate valves. The streamlined plumbing design may also reduce maintenance and installation expenses over time.

Control Options: 3-way valves offer diverting, mixing, or blocking options. This control allows for precise adjustments and regulation of fluids. It makes them suitable for applications that need specific flow control.

Disadvantages of Using a 3-Way Valve:

Complex Operation: A 3-way valve can be more complex than a simple 2-way valve. Understanding the proper positioning and alignment of the valve may need extra knowledge.

Increased Pressure Drop: A 3-way valve can sometimes increase pressure drop across the valve. It means there may be a slight decrease in the pressure of the fluid passing through the valve.  It can affect the system’s performance.

Limited Flow Capacity: Due to the design and size of the 3-way valve, it may have a limited flow capacity.   It shows less capacity compared to larger valves or flow-control devices. This limitation can impact applications requiring high flow rates.

Potential for Leakage: The 3-way valve has extra pathways and connections. Thus, there is a little higher leakage risk than in a simpler 2-way valve. Proper installation, maintenance, and use of quality components can reduce this risk.

pvc union 3 way ball valve
PVC union 3 way ball valve

How to Choose the Right 3-Way Valve?

Selecting the right 3-way valve for a specific application involves various factors.

Identify the Application: Check the role of the valve in a certain application. Determine whether you need a valve for diverting, mixing, or blocking flow altogether. Knowing the application will help narrow down the options.

Fluid or Gas Compatibility: Consider the type of fluid or gas that the valve will be handling. Different materials are suitable for different media. The valve material should be resistant to the fluid. It prevents corrosion, contamination, or damage.

Pressure and Temperature Ratings: Determine your system’s operating pressure and range. Choose a 3-way valve that can handle the required pressure and temperature. Check the 3-way valve’s specifications provided by the manufacturer.

Flow Capacity: Check the flow capacity needed for your application. It refers to the fluid or gas the valve can handle within a given time. Ensure the valve can have the desired flow rate without excessive pressure drops.

Valve Size: Consider the size of the valve in your piping system. Select a valve size that matches the diameter of your pipes. Using the correct valve size ensures proper. It avoids any restrictions or problems in the system.

Valve Actuation: Decide on the method of actuation for the valve. It can be manual using a handle or lever. The other is automatic with an electric or pneumatic actuator. A remote-controlled valve is also available. Choose the actuation method based on your system requirements and resources.

Manufacturer and Quality: Look for reputable valve manufacturers producing reliable 3-way valves. Read customer reviews and seek recommendations if possible. Quality valves serve longer and have minimal maintenance.

Budget Considerations: Take into account your budget limitations. It would be best to find a valve that is within your budget. Compare prices from different suppliers while checking the valve’s features and specifications.

Consult Experts: If you need more clarification about the selection process, consult experts. These can be valve manufacturers, suppliers, or professionals. They can provide valuable guidance and help you make an informed decision.

Concerns While Buying a 3-Way Valve:

When buying a 3-way valve, you must remember these concerns.

  1. Compatibility: Consider the compatibility of the valve with your specific application. Ensure that the materials in the valve are suitable for the fluid it will handle. It helps prevent corrosion or damage to the valve and the system.
  2. Specifications: Check the specifications provided by the producer. Look for pressure and temperature ratings, flow capacity, and size details. Ensure the valve meets your system’s requirements. It should be able to handle the necessary pressures and temperatures.
  3. Warranty: Check if the 3-way valve comes with a warranty. A warranty assures that the manufacturer stands behind their product. It can be helpful if any issues arise with the valve after buying.
  4. Reviews and Recommendations: Read customer reviews before buying a 3-way valve. Ask about the experiences of others who bought similar valves. Their experiences can guide you in reliable selection. It can guide you about the performance of different brands or models.

Considering these concerns, you can decide better when buying a 3-way valve. Remember to prioritize compatibility, specifications, and warranty. Gather information from reviews or experts to select a valve that performs well.

How to Install a 3-Way Valve?

toilet stainless steel angle valve
3-way shut-off valve

Installing a 3-way valve may need some basic knowledge and tools. Here’s how to install a 3-way valve.

Prior to the installation process, collect the tools you’ll need ahead. It includes:

A wrench.

Pipe cutter or Saw.

Pipe fittings.

Pipe tape

A Measuring tape.

ball valve leakage
Ball valve leakage

Before installing the 3-way valve, it’s important to shut off the fluid in the system.

Mark the sections of the pipes where you need to cut and install the 3-way valve. Take a saw to make clean cuts on the marked spots. Remove any rough edges from the cut pipes.

Take the 3-way valve body and apply pipe tape on the threaded ends. It will provide a seal between the pipes and the valve body. Screw the valve body and cut the ends of the pipes. With a wrench, secure the connections.

Identify the inlet and outlet ports on the valve body. Determine which pipe will carry the fluid or gas to the valve. Also, check which pipe will carry fluid away. Connect the appropriate pipes to the same ports on the valve body. Again, use pipe tape and a wrench to ensure tight connections.

Restore the fluid or gas flow once the valve is set and the pipes are in place. If you notice any leaks, fasten connections tight. You can also apply more pipe tape.

Be aware of the operation of the 3-way valve. Depending on the valve design, a handle or lever may be rotated to control the flow. Practice operating the valve to divert, mix, or block the flow.

If you need clarification on the installation, it’s always a good idea to seek help from a technician. Proper installation of the 3-way valve is essential for its effective operation.

Comparison of 2-Way Valve and 3-Way Valve:

comparison of 2 way valve and 3 way valve
Comparison of 2-way valve and 3-way valve
Property2-Way Valve3-Way Valve
Flow Paths.It has two flow paths. One is for the fluid to come in, and another for it to go out. We can open it to let the flow go through or close it to stop it.It has three flow paths. One is for the fluid to enter, and one to go out in one direction. The other is to go out in a different direction. It can divert the flow or mix it.
Working.A 2-way valve allows or blocks fluid or gas flow in a single direction. The flow goes on when the valve remains open. When in a close position, the flow stops.A 3-way valve has multiple flow configurations. It can divert the flow between two directions or mix them. The positioning of the valve determines the specific flow path.
Usage.We use it when we need to control the flow in one direction. For example, we can use a 2-way valve in a water pipe to turn the water on or off.It applies when controlling the flow in two different directions or mixing. For example, we can use it in a swimming pool to direct the water flow to the main drain.
Applications.Regulation, HVAC, Irrigation, and process control.Water treatment, mixing, diverting, fluid transfer.

FAQs about 3-Way Valves:

Q1. Why would you need a 3-way valve instead of a 2-way valve?

Sometimes, we need more than a 2-way valve to control the flow. A 3-way valve gives you more options. You can send the flow in one direction or another. You can even mix the flows.

Q2. Can I repair a 3-way valve if it’s not working well?

Yes, you can repair a 3-way valve sometimes if it’s not working. You can rely on a technician who knows about valves to help fix it.

Q3. Do I need to maintain a 3-way valve?

Yes, maintenance of your 3-way valve is important so that it works effectively. Regular maintenance, like cleaning it and checking, is a good idea. If you notice trouble, it’s best to ask a technical expert to solve it.

Q4. Where are 3-way valves used?

3-way valves apply in many different places for certain functions. You can find them in HVAC, swimming pools, and water treatment plants. They are even in some toys or games involving water flow.


3-way valves are in high demand because of their versatile working. You can find them with adaptable features. Plumberstar is offering a wedge-lok 3-way valve. It lets you change the valve without replacing the valve assembly. You can consider the above factors before having it bought.

Solutions For Waterworks Plumbing

Get quote Now

Free Sample with OEM

× How can I help you?