How to Select a Pool Diverter Valve

Written by Michael Dean
January 20, 2024

swimming pool diverter valve

Your pool diverter valve is an important part of your swimming pool that occasionally needs replacing. If your swimming pool needs a new diverter valve, and you aren’t sure where to start with selecting a new one, I’ve got you covered in this post. Finding the right diverter valve for your pool isn’t rocket science, but it takes a little research to figure it out.

Below, I go into all the different types of diverter valves, what they do, and the factors you need to consider to select the best one. Let’s jump right in.

Main Takeaways

  • Pool valves control the direction of the water flow to and from a pool.
  • There are two types of diverter valves: two-way valves and three-way valves.
  • To select the right replacement diverter valve, consider the size and number of ports and whether you want a valve with or without unions, lubrication, and/or a valve actuator.

What Is a Diverter Valve & What’s Its Purpose?

Many pool owners don’t even think about their diverter valve until it is time to replace it. But these are actually pretty essential parts of your pool system. So, what exactly is a pool diverter valve, and why is it important?

A diverter valve is essentially a flap that opens and closes. This flap blocks the pipe completely when closed, stopping all water flow. As you open the valve, the flap shifts over to the side to unblock the pipe. It’s a pretty simple concept.

Typically installed near the pool pump, this valve allows users to redirect water to specific areas of your pool, such as the main drain, skimmer, and water features like fountains or spas. As the water gets sucked through the filter by your pump, your diverter valve dictates where the newly cleaned water will flow.

These valves are an important part of your pool system that allows you to control the water flow of your pool, which in turn optimizes your filtration and circulation.

Why Are Diverter Valves Important?

You probably already know how important it is to keep your pool’s water swimmable and clean via proper pool circulation. Your pool valves control the direction of water flow as the water makes its way in and out of the pool via the pool’s piping system.

Diverter valves are your ticket to controlling your pool plumbing system, allowing you to quickly and easily redirect water to other parts of your pool.

For more on the basics, read my complete guide on pool skimmer diverter basics.

Types of Diverter Valves

There are two main types of pool diverter valves: 2-way diverter valves and 3-way diverter valves. Let’s take a closer look at both types of diverter valves and which one you should have in your pool.

2-Way Diverter Valve

A 2-way valve is a much simpler contraption than a 3-way valve as it only controls the water flow between 2 pipes. You can turn the water flow partially on or off, completely off, or entirely on with a 2-way diverter valve. This type of valve controls water flow to or from one port only. A handle is used for control and allows for a 90-degree turn.

Here’s an example of a 2-way valve you can pick up at any pool supply store. I found this specific one at Leslie’s swimming pool supply store in my town.

3-Way Diverter Valve

A 3-way valve has a middle port as well as two other ports that sit on each end. You can turn the swimming pool’s water flow on or off (partially or fully) through either one of the end ports. However, the center port doesn’t allow for a cut-off of water flow. Unlike the 2-way diverter valve, the handle on a 3-way valve turns 180 degrees. Here’s an example of a 3-way valve.

Always use caution and move slowly when closing or opening your diverter valves. You might cause water pipe damage if you close a valve too forcefully. If the water pressure is high enough, then all that water pressure hits the valve, and you might end up with an expensive pipe repair job.

How to Select the Right Replacement Diverter Valve

Finding the correct swimming pool diverter valve isn’t too complicated. My recommendation? Take your existing diverter valve to the pool shop with you and ask the staff to help you find a replacement. If you can’t get the same one or are looking to upgrade, the following details can help you choose the right replacement for your pool.


The first step to choosing the correct replacement diverter valve is determining what size of valve you need. Typically, you can find the size printed on the valve itself. If you can’t find it, you can measure the diameter of the pipe fittings directly.

On the off chance you don’t have the existing valve, you can simply check the current pipe size of your pool. You should be able to find the size printed on the pipe itself. The standard pool pipe size is 1.5″ or 2″.

Number of Ports

Once you have the correct sizing, you’ll want to determine the number of ports you want for your valve. As mentioned previously, diverter valves can be 2-way or 3-way. Generally, a 2-way valve is enough for a simple pool system, but there are times when a 3-way valve may be more efficient.

You can use a 3-way diverter valve to fully or partially turn the drain or skimmer on or off via one of the port ends. However, you couldn’t divert water from flowing to the pump because the center port doesn’t close.

With or Without Unions

Unions are pipe fittings that allow you to connect two pieces of piping without glue or sealant. You can buy diverter valves with unions or without unions.

To ensure the connection is watertight, you can opt for a diverter valve without unions and glue it in place. However, a diverter valve without unions may add difficulty to future maintenance. For example, if it’s not working correctly or got clogged up, you may have to cut it out to inspect it.

If you choose a valve with unions, you can replace or repair your diverter valve without cutting it away from the plumbing. It is easy to install and remove; you simply have to unscrew the unions. You don’t need to use a wrench to do this. It should fit properly if you have the sizing right and the O-rings sitting in their grooves. Of course, you could also add adhesives to the valve with unions to ensure there won’t be any leakage.


Older models of diverter valves require regular maintenance. Ideally, you should lubricate them once every year. However, the newer models on the market are mostly maintenance-free. You can install ones with NeverLube technology, and you won’t have to worry about them again.

Valve Actuators

While pool diverter valves are pretty straightforward to use, they can be inconveniently placed. If you want to enjoy your pool quickly, you may want to automate the process. You can install a valve actuator on top of your diverter valve and connect it to your pool controls.

With the actuator, you can easily switch the valves on and off with a button instead of going to the pipes to turn the valve handles manually.

Need Some Maintenance Help?

Send me a message! I can answer any of your pool maintenance, equipment, or other questions.

How to Tell Your Diverter Valve Needs Replacing

You should be checking your pool valves at least once per season to ensure they are in good condition. If your diverter valve looks worn out, brittle, or leaking water, it is probably time to replace it. Pool diverter valves can last a very long time, but as with anything in your pool, eventually, you’ll need to fix or replace them. Once you have determined that it is time to replace your valve, head over to my article on pool diverter valve setup for a step-by-step guide on how to replace it properly.

Control Your Flow with a Diverter Valve

Your pool’s plumbing components aren’t something you probably think about often. However, it’s amazing how much of a significant effect they have on the functionality and health of your pool. Don’t underestimate the value of quality, well-functioning diverter valves to keep your pool sparkling clean. Remember that your pool valves have the same issue all pool equipment struggles with. They don’t last forever and periodically require replacement.

Questions about diverter valves? Drop me a line.

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