I have a pond setup where there are two pools, a lower pool and upper pool. Water is pumped from the lower pool into the upper pool, with an electric pump, then flows back through a waterfall.

Much of the pump is plumbed with 2" schedule 40 PVC pipe.

In certain situations, such as during storms, or extreme winds, I'd like to be able to stop the pump from sending water to the waterfall. There may also be situations where I need to be able to quickly lower the water level (e.g. before an impending monsoon), so I'm setting up pipes to divert the water elsewhere.

I hope to be able to achieve that with some kind of switch, much like a switch you see on a railroad crossing. Switch is pointed one way, the water goes that way.

I went to the local hardware store and asked if there is some schedule 40-compatible product that is essentially a switch, basically a Y, and if the switch is set one way, water goes to the left, and if switched the other way, water goes to the right.

The hardware store employees said there is no such way, I need to setup two shut-off valves. That would lead to a lot of confusion in my situation and also could cause problems, as the pump does build up some pressure in the pipes.

Is there some product for switching the water to another pipe?

  • 1
    It would be helpful if you would explain why and how this is to be used. What is wrong with a shut off valve on each branch?
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 5 at 19:13
  • You can bolt the two handles together at 90 degrees so one shuts as the other opens. But I have seen Y valves as well but if they exist in schedule 40 is a different question. Perhaps check manufacturers...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 5 at 19:15
  • Okay, updated to provide more details. The water is somewhat pressurized, which is why I don't want to have two switches, that could lead to confusion and the pipes possibly breaking if the switches aren't switched at exactly the same time.
    – Village
    Apr 5 at 19:24
  • A quick search for "PVC pipe diverter" seems to return a lot of options.
    – isherwood
    Apr 5 at 19:28
  • You can install a backflow preventer in the pumping line, and a valve on the drain line. When the pump is turned off, the water will start to drain by gravity, but the discharge is controlled by the valve ultimately to meet your need.
    – r13
    Apr 5 at 19:29

Sounds like you're looking for a 3-way ball valve. Inasmuch as your use has one source and two destinations, the source would go to the middle port of this valve and the destinations would be fed from either side. (image from supplyhouse.com)

3-way ball valve

It seems one of your concerns with using two ordinary valves is the possibility that the pump could be turned on while both valves are closed. There exist "tamper" or "supervisory" switches that can be fitted to valves, or valves with the switch built-in, to provide electrical indication whether the valve is open or closed. The electrical output could be used to inhibit pump operation. These valves are often used in fire sprinkler applications.

Another way to deal with the problem of two valves both being closed is to set up a high pressure cut-out to stop the pump when pressure rises too high.


You might want to check hot tub stores / online sites. This sound like the sort of thing they need all the time.

That said it might be easier and simpler to have two sump pumps and separate piping. I'd worry about something going wrong and the waterfall pump pumping all the water out when you don't want it to.


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