Plumbing and piping systems often rely on both the gas valve and water valve to operate efficiently. Yet many don’t appreciate the distinct roles these two types of valves play.
Without a balance between them, not only would our home’s pipes lack crucial pressure control but also be at risk for potentially hazardous system failures.
Gas valves regulate combustible substances like natural gas, propane, and methane with precision, while water valves maintain a steady current of liquid. Despite the overlap in their options, each type is unique due to its unique materials, pressure ratings, applications, and safety features to ensure safe operation.
This post will guide you through all the key distinctions between gas and water valves, arming you with everything required for informed decision-making.
Five Differences Between the Gas Valve vs Water Valve
Gas and water valves are two of the most important components used in various industries. They serve the purpose of controlling the flow, pressure, or temperature of gas or liquid. Despite their similar purpose, there are significant differences that must be considered when choosing a valve for a specific application.
Here are the five main differences between a gas valve and a water valve:
Difference In Functionality
The primary difference between gas and water valves is in regard to their functionality. Gas valves are designed to control the flow of gasses such as natural gas, propane, and butane. While water valves control the flow of liquids such as water or other fluids with similar properties.
Gas valves have unique features that include shut-off functions and regulators, allowing them to precisely control gas pressure and flow rate. Besides shut-off and non-return flaps, water valves can also have a check valve to ensure fluids flow only in one direction.
Material Distinctions Between Gas and Water Valves
Another thing that separates gas and water valves is their material construction. While both types of valves can be made from various materials, including metal alloys, plastic compounds, or composites.
But certain materials are better suited for each type due to their unique characteristics. For example, gas valves need a strong material that can withstand high pressure, like stainless steel. Softer materials, such as polymers, may be better for use with liquids because they are more flexible and resistant to corrosion.
Pressure Differences Between Gas and Water Valves
Gas and water valves are used for different applications, which are influenced by pressure requirements. Generally speaking, gas ball valve operation requires higher operating pressures than those needed for water.
Since it must account for fluctuations in line pressure caused by changes in demand or gas supply levels while still maintaining safety standards. The standards are determined by regulatory bodies such as the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association).
By contrast, liquid flows tend to be more steady, so they do not require intense regulation. The operating pressures for water valves are generally lower than those specified for gas valves without compromising safety standards.
Differences In Applications
Although both types of fluid control devices serve similar purposes, regulating the flow rate and pressure. They have very different uses depending on the application at hand. Gas valves are primarily used in residential contexts where natural gas needs to remain under strict control due to its explosive nature.
Some industries, such as power plants and petrochemical plants, can also use them when large quantities need to be handled efficiently.
On the flip side, water-based systems are mainly employed for tasks related to plumbing within domestic dwellings. Although they might also be used in irrigation projects or drinking systems where precise liquid flow control is needed.
Differences In Efficiency And Safety
Each type has its advantages that can impact efficiency/safety levels depending on context specifics, like environmental conditions or hazardous substances in pipes/systems (e.g., natural gasses). The use of an appropriately sized/configured gas ball valve in certain applications (e.g., thermal management) can provide greater accuracy than a traditional liquid solution.
Conversely, if managing toxic substances, then a properly installed/maintained liquid-based system could prove safer due to reduced risk associated with potential fuel leaks, etc.
Can You Use a Gas Valve Instead of a Water Valve?
Yes, it is possible to put a gas shut-off valve in place of a water valve. Then again, it is not advisable as the unprotected steel used in the construction of the gas valve may corrode due to exposure to water.
Apart from that, some valves are made for gas and water, so using one for either will result in inefficiency or even damage over time. It is therefore recommended to use either a dedicated gas shut-off valve or a water shut-off valve, depending on the application.
Gas Valves And Water Valves: How Long Should They Last?
Gas valves are typically expected to last around 12 to 15 years under normal conditions. Water valves, meanwhile, have an estimated life span of 8-10 years before needing replacement.
Both types of valves can vary greatly in terms of durability depending on their intended application and the environment that they are exposed to.
Things like direct sunlight, salt air, high pressure, and temperatures can all affect the life expectancy of these valves and lead to premature failure. Performing regular maintenance checks and replacing your valves whenever signs of wear appear is crucial to ensuring optimal performance.
When Should You Use a Gas Shut-Off Valve?
In the event of a gas emergency, such as a leak or buildup, it is essential to immediately turn off the gas at the shut-off valve to prevent the potential for fire or other damage.
Also, any time maintenance needs to be done on an appliance that requires it to be disconnected from the gas line, such as replacing a water heater or changing out a stovetop.
Keeping your gas appliances in working order is key to a safe home, but it’s also important for you and those around you that any repairs be made safely. Whenever a strange smell wafts from the appliance when performing maintenance, remember it’s best practice to shut off the gas before proceeding.
It is important to note that when using a gas shutoff valve, all safety protocols must be followed. Doing so will save you the hassle and protect your property in case of an accident or malfunction.
When Should You Use a Water Shut-Off Valve?
A water shut-off valve should be used when performing any maintenance on plumbing fixtures or lines, such as fixing a leaking faucet or toilet. You can also use it in the event of an emergency plumbing issue, such as a burst pipe or leaky water heater. The water pressure can be controlled quickly and effectively with this tool.
Aside from that, it can act as a preventative measure for large-scale flooding by shutting off the main water supply if necessary. Also, if you plan to leave the house for an extended period, such as when going on vacation. It is wise to turn off the valve just in case of an unexpected emergency.
Further, turning off the main water line with a water shut-off valve can help save money on utility bills. This is because you can turn off the water temporarily when making repairs or updates without having to do any major work on the home’s plumbing system.
When a Gas Valve Fails, What Happens?
If a gas valve fails, it could potentially cause gas leakage into the air, which poses an extreme safety hazard due to its flammable nature. Sparks or flames from nearby sources may ignite the leaked gas, including smoking materials, sparks from appliances and other electronic devices, or even nearby heat sources like pilot lights.
When the leak goes on for too long without being fixed, it could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. This is because poisonous gasses will build up in small areas like basements and garages.
Therefore it is important to pay attention to any signs of a gas leak (such as strange smells). If you think there might be a problem with your gas ball valve, it is important to contact your local plumber right away.
If a Water Valve Fails, What Happens?
When a water valve fails, it can cause a great deal of disruption. The consequences can vary depending on the type of valve that has failed and its location. For example, if a main water valve malfunctions, it could lead to a complete loss of water supply to the entire property.
Alternatively, if an individual fixture shut off valve fails, it could only affect one specific part of the property, such as a single bathroom or kitchen sink. In either case, the result is inconvenient and potential damage caused by flooding due to water leakage or pipe breaks.
Can a Stuck Water Valve Be Repaired with Penetrating Oil?
When a water valve gets stuck, it is highly advisable to use good penetrating oil to help loosen and free it up. A stuck water valve can lead to undesirable consequences such as water leaks, pipe damage, and costly repairs.
Penetrating oil works by seeping into the tight spaces between the valve components and breaking up the corrosion or rust that is likely causing the valve to stick. However, not all penetrating oils are created equal, and it is essential to select a top-rated product that is proven to work effectively.
If you’re unsure which penetrating oil to use, check out our article about top rated penetrating oils for stuck water valves. We’ve compiled a list of high-quality oils that have successfully loosened stuck valves.
By investing in the right penetrating oil, you can save time and money on valve repairs while ensuring the safety and reliability of your water system.
Where Is the Gas Shut-Off Valve Usually Located?
The gas shut-off valve is typically found near the gas meter and main service line, which is usually situated on the side or front of a building. Depending on the age and type of building, it may also be present in a breezeway.
The location of the shut-off valve should also be indicated via diagrams or blueprints. When installing a new gas line, it is important to ensure that the shut-off valve will be easily accessible and visible from outside the building.
While this valve should never have to be used as part of regular maintenance, it is necessary for emergency purposes. It’s important to note that even if you cannot actually see the valve, there will always be an accessible marker indicating where it is located.
Where are Water Shut-Off Valves Located?
Typically, water shut-off valves are located in easy-to-access areas such as basements, utility rooms, and sometimes even outdoors along the main water line entering the building. It’s typically a round metal handle with either a “turn on” or “turn off” label.
In some cases, there may be more than one valve, depending on how many pipes enter the home. You’ll want to make sure you have identified each one correctly so that they can be operated swiftly in an emergency situation when needed.
The valve itself will be connected to a main water line (typically on the right side) and should have a cap covering it, which needs to be removed before turning it off.
Also, if you’ve recently repaired or replaced any part of your plumbing system, you might have additional ball valves installed there.
Navigating the Maze of Gas & Water Valves
When it comes to valves, the choice between gas and water can be difficult. Careful consideration should be taken of all aspects to find which type is best, from functionality to material construction and pressure ratings. Both have unique advantages based on their purpose, so make sure you choose wisely.
Despite this, it’s essential to consider all aspects mentioned above when selecting. Understanding these distinctions can help ensure your plumbing and piping system runs more smoothly, helping you avoid costly mistakes.
So, now you know everything you need to know about the differences between a gas valve vs water valve. This will help you decide what is right for your home or business.