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A check valve is a small, simple device that can save you from some massive headaches. In this guide we’ll show you where we recommend installing check valves and how check valves can offer you big savings in time, effort and money.
What Does a Check Valve Do?
A check valve keeps water flowing in one direction. So, when you turn off your pool pump, check valves stop water from flowing backwards through your pool’s system.
Are There Different Types of Check Valves?
Yes, there are two types of check valves:
Both these types of check valves are made of either plastic or metal. They both come in standard plumbing size and are plumbed in place with typical plumbing methods (glue, thread, etc).
Installation Tips for a Flapper Check Valve
A flapper check valve should be installed with the with the hinge of the flapper on top. Otherwise, gravity will pull the flapper, keeping the gate open all the time.
If you already have a flapper check valve, but notice some rust on the hinge then the valve should be replaced. The rust can cause the gate to fall off.
If you hear a clatter sound as the flapper opens or closes and the valve is metal, then this isn’t something to worry about. The sound is normal, especially if there is air in the system.
Installation Tips for a Spring-Loaded Check Valve
Make sure that your spring-loaded check valve is threaded, or is installed with unions, so that it is easier to remove it, clear any clogs and reinstall. Or, you can install a 90-degree check valve, which allows you to unscrew the cap to access the spring and gate. With easier access it much easier to maintain this type of valve.
Easy access is especially important with the spring-loaded check valve because it has more parts, which makes it more prone to failure, especially if it is clogged by debris that has found its way inside the line.
General Tips for Check Valves
On older check valve is prone to cracking, so be careful not to over tighten the cap (newer models are made with beefier caps to prevent this problem. Some check valves have an O-ring in the cap to prevent leaks. We recommend that you clean the o-ring out every few months and lubricate the gate (but be sure to use only silicone lubricant).
What Areas of Your Pool Need a Check Valve?
Let’s look at the areas where backwards water flow might cause trouble.
Your chlorination device is the last stop before water re-enters your pool. That’s because the concentrated chlorine it discharges damages other pool equipment. In fact, if your pool heater fails there’s a good chance the culprit is chlorine corrosion. But a check valve is a simple fix for this problem.
All you need to do is install an inexpensive check valve just before the chlorination device. This prevents any water that contains concentrated chlorine from flowing back towards your heater and damaging it.
A solar heater depends on solar panels to collect the energy it uses to heat your pool. To do this efficiently the pipes running through the solar panels need to constantly be filled with water.
Since solar panels are usually on the roof of your home your pump needs to send water through a pipe straight up the side of your house. Here’s where the check valve comes in handy: a check valve on the pipe leading up to the solar panels stops the water from being sucked back down—even when the pump is off.
Spa or Hot Tub
A leaky spa or hot tub can ruin your day (or evening). Especially if you are unable to locate the problem. If your water level is mysteriously lowered, then you should have a look at your check valves. Dropping water levels might boil down to a faulty (or absent) check valve.
Often, the spa's pump will be located above the water line of your pool. Water will always try and drain to the lower level once the pump is off. If this is happening to you, consider placing check valves in front of the pump to keep water from flowing back into the pool when the pump is turned off.
The check valves on the return line of your spa should prevent water from draining from the spa back into the pool.
Check valves also have an important part to play in a variety of water features. So if your fountains, jets or waterfalls aren’t working as they should then it may be a check valve issue. You’ll find that many of these features draw water from a reservoir. As in other cases turning off the pump will result in water draining from these reservoirs.
If you have a properly functioning check valve leading in to the reservoir, then it will maintain the reservoir’s water levels.
Having a Problem? A Check Valve is a Good Place to Start to Look for a Solution
Check valves control water flow in your pool’s system. So if you are experiencing any of the problems we’ve mentioned then taking a look at your check valves is a good way to start.