Aside from personal preference, is there any reason why I would want to buy a "1/4 turn" water supply valve instead of "multi-turn valves"? Is one technology/design clearly superior than the other in terms of reliability? Or is this purely just a style preference?

  • ball valves have less resistance to flow when open ... it's basically just a straight pipe ... the rate of flow quadrupled when I replaced the main valve at my house with a ball valve
    – jsotola
    Sep 3, 2021 at 2:01

6 Answers 6


Yes, ball valves or quarter turn valves tend to be more reliable than globe valves. Globe valves require a washer and a tight friction fit between the seat and washer, and if either of these wear out (which they do over time), leaks start. Ball valves are much simpler in construction.

A downside to ball valves is that they are more difficult to get variable flow out of and are best when you need either on or off states, but nothing in between.

While there are more considerations for industry-specific applications, around the house, ball valves would be my choice for any shutoff valve.

  • Plus you have problems with the stem packing leaking, another annoyance. May 26, 2014 at 20:02
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    The wikipedia images for the two really sum up why the ball is more reliable than the globe.
    – Yakk
    May 26, 2014 at 20:09
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    Addendum: Many ball-valves restrict flow a little, even in the fully open position. You can buy "full-bore" ball valves if this is important. Where I live, the main alternative (in houses) seems to be "gate valves" not "globe valves". May 30, 2014 at 10:31
  • I agree with the answer+ as I have had gate valves fail (always closed) the gate breaks loose from the stem. The washer based valves the washer fails over time as the packing but all 3 have a stem oring or packing. The only problem I have ever had with ball valves is the small area outside the ball has water and this can freeze and crack the casting, the valve still works in open and closed positions but when moving from one to the other it leaks, I have had this happen next to other valves types that did not get damaged. I think at my farm I probably have 20 or more that do this for years.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 12, 2022 at 15:53

The quarter turn valves usually have a few things going for them:

  • Clear indication of whether it is on or off
  • They (at least in my experience) seize less often, and the handle shape gives more leverage for turning it.
  • Less clearance needed around the valve
  • Where I live, some quarter-turn valves are sold as "isolating valves" or "service valves" - these do not have (or need) a high-leverage handle - just a slot for a screwdriver. "washing-machine valves" have a small red or blue plastic lever (which can be broken easily). May 30, 2014 at 10:34

The multi turn shut-off valves use a rubber washer. Over time the rubber deteriorates and gets cracked or dissolves into something that looks like black ink and the valve will no longer shut off. The 1/4 turn valves don't have a rubber washer. They have Teflon seats. The hope is that the Teflon will not deteriorate and the valve will last longer. I can't say for sure that it works because I only have a 4 ball valves installed. The oldest of them has only been in service for ten years. BTW I use compression fittings rather than solder.


I just had a problem with mine: when I turned on the 1/4 turn valve after the winter, it would not turn off completely, dripping slightly. I tried to take it apart, but it did not completely apart. In the process of taking it apart, I think I spun the plastic gate around several times in trying to remove it. I would not come out, so I put it back together, and looked into unsoldering and replacing it. However, the next time I disconnected the hose that had a sprayer on it, stopping the water from leaking out, the valve was no longer leaking. Given that experience, I would never install a 1/4 turn valve that cannot be repaired.

  • 4
    I'll add my anecdotal evidence to yours: In my house I have had one gate-valve lock up completely and one break internally (the wheel spins - the valve cannot be closed). This is very inconvenient in an emergency. I have many extremely stiff gate valves. None of the ball valves I have installed in my home has ever leaked past the stem, failed or become excessively stiff. I prefer to replace failed valves rather than attempt repair as new valves are very low cost. May 30, 2014 at 10:53
  • When I shut down for the season, turning the inside vale off, then opened the outside show on the same pipe, that valve started dripping again. I'll be replacing it with a repairable valve next spring.
    – sborsher
    Dec 17, 2014 at 17:51
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    Ball valves must be turned all the way on or off. If turned partway, water pressure will push the opening in the ball against the lining of the valve to form a divot, and that divot will create a path for water to drip through the valve next time you turn the valve off. I had this happen with a newly-installed valve I left halfway on for just a few days. I turned it off to replace the faucet it supplied and it dripped constantly. Aug 30, 2017 at 6:15

My house had 18 of such quarter-turn valves installed on under sink and toilet supply lines. Over time many of these developed issues - stiff, hard to turn, or completely failed to shutoff water. This happened as early as then the house was 10 years old. Now the house is 19 years old, I can count about half of these valves failed (turned to closed position and water still flows at full speed). Most of these failures happened on the hot water side which rarely get used. A few of these got replaced with the multi-turn types about 8 years ago, and these multi-turn ones still work well - no issues with stiff turns or leaks.


I had to replace a few of my stop valves for faucet repairs since I couldn’t turn the valves. I could wiggle it a little but I couldn’t turn the water off. I also noticed that the faucet had some black bits of something in them at the outlet screen. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was until I saw the condition of the sealing washer of the stop valve. The washer was starting to disintegrate. Those black bits were from the worn out washer. That’s when I decided to buy 1/4 turn all metal stop valves. I’ve seen people in videos mentioning that they were finding black bits in the catch screen of their faucets. I wonder if they had to replace their stop valve before taking apart their faucet to try and figure out the water output was low.

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