One of the most underrated and under-appreciated part of a building’s plumbing system is the series of control valves that help control the flow of water in the structure. Like much of your building’s plumbing, control valves are mainly unseen, except when there is an emergency or repair necessary.

What are they?

A building’s plumbing control valves are devices that are placed in various areas of a structures plumbing to control water flow. They can be adjusted to help maintain appropriate pressure and to completely shut off the flow of water.

Where are they?

Control valves are located throughout an entire building. A utility-owned control valve will allow the water company to shut of water to the entire building. Past the demarcation line, the building itself will have its own large control valve, giving the building’s management and maintenance staff control of water flow to the structure in the event of a widespread issue. From there, smaller control valves will be located throughout the buildings pipe runs to segregate sections of a building. From there, individual units will each have a control valve. Finally, inside the units, individual control valves will allow water to be turned on and off to sinks, toilets, water heaters, ice makers, washing machines and other water-based appliances.

Why are they important?

Control valves are critical in stopping the flow of water to specific areas of a building. This is important when there is a pipe failure or when plumbing repairs are necessary. They also provide a way to stop the flow of water to a water appliance when it is being replaced. Properly placed and functioning control valves allow building managers to minimize damage to the building in case of failures. They also allow managers and maintenance personnel to minimize how many tenants are inconvenienced during a failure, repair or replacement.

How do I maintain them?

Maintaining control and shut off valves is simple, but it can be time-consuming due to the sheer number of them that may be in a structure. Valves should be exercised to assure they are working properly, don’t leak, and have not locked-up due to mineral deposits. Exercising control valves will also keep any minor deposits from building up by flushing them through the system. Exercising control values is as simple as turning them completely off, and then on again. When performing this task, you’ll want to make sure flow has been completely stopped and restarted, and after exercising, the valve itself does not leak. Valves should be exercised several times a year.

When there is a failure in a control valve, it is usually already during an emergency or when a repair is necessary. A failure can lead to extensive damage and expensive repairs. To find out more about the value of control valve exercising, we invite you to read an article from our partner company, Althoff Industries.

At Nu Flow Midwest, we provide an innovative alternative to expensive and invasive pipe replacement. If you have been experiencing an increase in plumbing repairs in your Chicago area building, we invite you to learn more about all of your options.