An automatic multiport valve may significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on maintenance while also improving the overall performance of your sand or diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filtering system. Despite this, the multiport valve (MPV) might appear to be a bit daunting at first sight. But fortunately, understanding how to use a multiport valve is easy to learn.
As long as you understand the purpose of each setting, MPVs make pool maintenance way easier. In this post, we’ll go over the common functions of a multiport valve as well as the situations in which swimming pool owners would wish to use them.
How Does a Multiport Valve Work?
A multiport valve is controlled by an electric solenoid or a cartridge (or both), depending on the model. The pool operator can change the settings of the multiport valve by moving the lever back and forth.
The multiport valve has five ports that allow water to enter one port and exit through another. Four of these ports are used to control flow into or out of the filter tank. The fifth is connected to either a skimmer or an optional cleaning head port connected to your robotic pool cleaner.
One step remains constant in whatever setting you wish to use: switch off the pump before adjusting the valve setting.
Skipping this step endangers the entire filtration system. In addition, the increased pressure can destroy O-rings, rubber diverter gaskets, and other internal components. Failure to do so can also create danger throughout the lines, damaging not only equipment but people nearby.
Enhancing Your Multiport Valve Knowledge
Valves: Compatibility and Mounting
When it comes to multiport valves, compatibility is crucial. Notably, valves are designed to fit specific filter models, brands, or filter types, making them non-interchangeable across different setups.
An interesting distinction exists between sand filter and DE filter multiport valves. While sand filters can have either top-mounted or side-mounted valves, DE multiport valves are strictly side-mounted. And here’s a crucial detail: the in/out pipes for these valves differ – sand filters have a top-in setup, whereas DE filters adopt a bottom-in approach.
Handling Direction: Safeguarding the Gasket
The direction in which you turn the valve can impact the gasket, especially the ‘Spider’ Gasket. Users needn’t worry about potential gasket damage if they follow a simple precaution: always turn off the pump and wait a few seconds, allowing the valve handle to relax (you’ll notice a slight upward motion). After this, sticking to the ‘one-direction’ rotating rule might optimize the maintenance cycle.
Actuator vs. Manual Valves
Understanding the difference between an actuator and a manual valve is vital. While the former is automated, the latter requires manual intervention. A key distinction is the 3-way valve, which signifies the number of ports available for connection. The flow direction is governed either by the handle position (manual valves) or by the actuator in automated systems.
The Intricacies of a Multi-port Valve
The multi-port valve has a unique design, changing flow direction internally using predefined paths. It can shift between 90 or 180 degrees, enabling media flow through two or even three ports when required. In industries, the primary function of such valves is to manage the flow direction, moving it to the subsequent manufacturing stage.
Valve Handle Concerns
The valve handle plays a pivotal role in multi-port valves, enabling pool owners to effortlessly backwash their filters. However, handles can sometimes break. Replacing them is relatively simple: tap out the handle pin to discard the old handle. If you notice leakage around the valve handle, it’s often due to the failure of stem o-rings situated underneath the handle. This leads to water seepage and spillage around the handle.
Regarding delivery details, it’s vital to note that product availability varies across locations. Therefore, next-day delivery might not always be feasible, with some exceptions like Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
Ensuring Gasket Integrity
Potential gasket damage can be a concern for some. However, taking the proper precautions, such as shutting off the pump and allowing the valve handle to relax, can minimize risks associated with the ‘Spider’ Gasket.
Repair Tips: From Spider Gasket to Entire Assembly
A leaky Vari-Flo valve doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul. Depending on the issue, replacements can range from the spider gasket and the key assembly to the entire valve assembly.
Multiport Valve Settings
Most multiport valve settings have eight settings to control the pool’s filter’s functionality.
The filter position is the default setting for your filter valve, and it will remain in this position for the majority of the time. When the filter tank is in this position, water is forced into the tank, passes through the filter media, exits the tank, and is returned to the swimming pool.
When vacuuming the pool, another common application for the FILTER setting is to remove debris from the pool.
On a multiport valve, the waste setting is one of two ‘bypass’ settings that you can select. WASTE redirects the water that has been pumped from the pool to the backwash line or hose.
There are two situations in which you might want to use the WASTE option. The first is to get the water level down. The second situation is when you need to vacuum up particles but don’t want the material to pass through the filter media itself.
The winter setting is designed to provide space for droplets. In case the weather drops to freezing levels, the droplets of water trapped in the MPV have space to expand by sitting above the grooves that otherwise allow the entrance and exit of the flowing water.
The valve could be destroyed without this additional space when frozen ice droplets shatter or dislodge critical internal components.
Winter “setting” is especially critical in areas where the temperature drops to freezing levels. While the multiport valve is not the most expensive pool component, you may not realize it is broken until it begins creating more severe problems the following season.
The closed position doesn’t allow backwashing or circulation, which allows you to clean the filter tank without any wastewater going into the pool. This setting is often used when taking the filter media out for cleaning or servicing.
Running the filter or pump in a closed position might create major issues due to the pressure buildup that occurs when there is nowhere for the water to go. This can cause catastrophic failure requiring extensive repair, not to mention creating a dangerous situation everyone closes when something ruptures.
The skimmer setting diverts water normally pumped into the filter system and instead sends it directly to the pool’s skimmer. This is a handy setting for those who wish to manually drain their pool via the attached garden hose and those who wish to set up robotic cleaning systems.
The backwash setting is used to clean the filter by draining away dirt and debris collected in the filter media and directing it through to the backwash line.
Recirculate is the multiport valve’s second ‘bypass’ setting. The pump draws water in and then returns it directly to the pool, bypassing the filter entirely. The RECIRCULATE option is most useful when your filter has a problem and needs fixing. This will keep your water moving and prevent stagnation until your filter works again.
The rinse setting flushes and cleanses any leftover dust particles from the sand bed, preventing dust from blowing back into your pool. Rinsing a sand filter bed takes about 15-20 seconds.
“Always remember to turn off your pump before attempting to operate the Multiport Valve. Changing the position of the valve while the pump is running can cause damage to the valve and develop pressure inside the system. This can damage your pump and lead to major repairs and possibly cause an explosion. Nobody wants that.”Dr. Pool, Doctorate in Chemistry, Swimming Pool Enthusiast\
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When should I use the filter mode on my multiport valve?
Use the filter mode for regular pool filtration when water is clean and clear.
How often should I backwash my pool filter using the multiport valve?
Backwashing frequency depends on water quality and filter size but typically occurs when the filter’s pressure gauge indicates a 7-10 psi increase from the clean pressure.
In which situations should I use the waste mode on my multiport valve?
Use the waste mode when you need to lower the pool water level or remove large debris directly from the pool without passing it through the filter.
Can I replace the multiport valve myself if it’s damaged or malfunctioning?
If you have the necessary plumbing skills and follow manufacturer instructions, you can replace the multiport valve. Otherwise, it’s recommended to hire a professional.
What should I do if my multiport valve is leaking?
Check the valve for loose or damaged parts, including the spider gasket or o-rings. Tighten or replace as necessary to stop the leak.
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