How a Multiport Valve Operates

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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There are three major types of pool filtering system: cartridge, sand, and diatomaceous earth (DE). Sand and DE filters use a multiport valve primarily to help clean or backflush the filter media. Cartridge filters do not have multiport valves. These filters are cleaned by removing the cartridge and spraying it with a garden hose. A typical multiport valve has 7 settings: filter, backwash, rinse, waste, closed, recirculate, and winter. This guide explains the function of these setting and shows how they circulate water in a typical sand filter. The operation of a DE multiport valve is very similar.


Step by Step


Step 1

There are five ports into and out of a typical multiport valve. Three are shown in this picture. The top left port, labeled "PUMP", brings unfiltered water in from the pump. The middle left port, labeled "RETURN", sends filtered water back to the pool. The middle right port, labeled "WASTE", sends water to an external drain hose.

Step 2

The other two ports control flow though the filter. This picture shows the valve as it is connected to the inside piping of the filter. At the bottom of the valve, a pipe port connects to the collection tubes (laterals) on the bottom of the filter. The area around the pipe on the bottom side of the valve directs water to the top of the filter. This picture shows water flow for a "FILTER" setting. Water will flow in the opposite direction with a "BACKWASH" setting. The next series of steps explains how each of the valve setting directs water though these ports. CAUTION. When selecting a valve setting, make sure that the pump has been TURNED OFF and always depress the handle before turning.

Step 3

FILTER. This is the normal setting for filtering your pool water and for regular vacuuming. Water from the pool is pumped into the "PUMP" port to the top of the filter. Contaminates are removed as the water makes it way to the bottom to be pushed back up through a central pipe to the "RETURN" port and back to the pool.

Step 4

BACKWASH. After a period of time, the contaminates start to clog the sand to the point where water flow is significantly diminished and the pressure gauge rises 8 to 10 psi above normal operation readings. To clean out the contaminates, you have to backwash the sand. In the backwash setting water flow is reversed though the filter. Water comes from the "PUMP" port down the filter through the central pipe, then back up through the sand to flow out the top exit of the filter and out the "WASTE" port to an external drain. As the water flows up though the sand, the sand is lifted about 7 inches above its normal height releasing the trapped contaminates to be purged out in the waste water.

Step 5

RINSE. After backwashing, the sand is loose and needs to be reset. Also any dirty water from backwashing has to be rinsed out of the filter to waste to prevent it from returning to the pool. With the valve in rinse mode, water is directed from the "PUMP" port to the top of the tank to compress the sand. As in the filter setting, the water flows down though the sand and back up though the central pipe but instead of going out the "RETURN" port to the pool, the water is diverted out the "WASTE" port.

Step 6

WASTE. This setting is used to bypass the filter when you want to vacuum the pool after an algae treatment or to lower the pool level. The water enters the valve though the "PUMP" port and exits though the "WASTE" port.

Step 7

CLOSED. This setting is used for shutting off all flow to the filter and pool. Water flow is stopped at the "PUMP" port.

Step 8

RECIRCULATE. This setting is used to bypass the filter during certain pool cleanups and chemical treatments when you don't want the water contaminating the sand. Water enters the valve through the "PUMP" port and exits back to the pool through the "RETURN" port.

Step 9

WINTER. Use this setting when you are closing down the pool for the winter. This will allow water to drain from the valve.


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Russ  Posted: 09/18/2018 16:10 PM  Latest

Thank you. Very easy to understand again thanks

Grish  Posted: 09/08/2018 3:22 AM 

On which port of Multiport valve we can Back wash

Inyopools  Posted: 04/16/2018 13:44 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Thank you for the feedback, Robert!

robert  Posted: 04/15/2018 23:27 PM 

Thank you. No one else has made it make sense. Thank you for your time.

Inyopools  Posted: 01/24/2018 13:57 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Marilyn - Check your spider gasket at the bottom of your MPV to see if it is damaged. It provides the seals to control the flow in the various modes. See our guide on "How to Replace a Spider Gasket on a Multiport Valve". If the gasket is ok, you may have a blockage in the return pipe coming out of the MPV. To blow this pipe, you may have to cut it out of the piping system.

Marilyn  Posted: 01/24/2018 1:58 AM 

When I put the multivalse on backwash, rinse and waste the filter works. When I put it on filter and circulate there is no water going back into the pool. Please can you tell me what I should check to fix this problem. Thank you

Inyopools  Posted: 01/02/2018 13:39 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

rxc - See our guide on "How To Backwash a Pool Filter With No Valve Label". It shows you a method for identifying the settings on blank or missing labels for most Multiport Valves.

rxc  Posted: 01/02/2018 11:16 AM 

I justy bought a house with one of these valves, but all the labels have disappeared. Are these positions standardized among the valve manufacturers? I can't find any manufacturer marks on the valve, so don't know how to line the system up to backflush the filter. Any help would be appreciated.

Inyopools  Posted: 10/13/2017 16:17 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Santosh - You may have a defective spider gasket in your multiport valve that is diverting water into the wrong ports. See our guide on "How to Replace a Spider Gasket on a Multiport Valve".

Santosh  Posted: 10/10/2017 17:50 PM 

How the Sand Filter doesn't pull sands, only contaminates while doing backwash.

Inyopools  Posted: 09/14/2017 11:24 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Nan - See our guide on "How to Correct Low Water Pressure in Your Pool System". Look at Step 6 first. It is a common problem for low water flow.

Nan  Posted: 09/07/2017 16:46 PM 

now the original issue which I was trying to solve by closing the filter. The pool motor basket does not completely fill with water like it used to do. I guess water is not running fast enough from the main drain and skimmer. Skimmer alone, drain alone, or half each makes no difference. Is this the way pumps start to fail or could it be something else. Thanks!

Nan  Posted: 09/07/2017 16:38 PM 

Thanks, unscrewing the pressure valve did the job. Yes the gauge was reading 15 and I couldn't move the lever. Now it is fine.

Inyopools  Posted: 08/30/2017 9:48 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Jchambers3 - When you say you didn't see any difference, was water flowing through the pump and out the waste line and you didn't see any difference in the pool level? If so, you are probably ok. You won't see much of a drop in level in 10 minutes. It takes awhile to lower the pool level. Generally, you don't have to do anything else but set the MPV to waste and turn the pump on. Please be careful. If the pump is even partially flooded, don't turn it on. You can damage the pump and even yourself. Best of luck to you all over there.

Jchambers3  Posted: 08/29/2017 23:12 PM 

Help! I'm outside of Houston in an area affected by Harvey. I need to drain water out of the pool of a neighbor that evacuated. I turned it off, moved the handle clockwise to waste, and turned it back on. After almost 10 minutes, I couldn't see any difference. The weather turned bad, so I had to turn it off and leave it. I want to go back tomorrow when it's clear and try again. What should I look for to troubleshoot? Do I need to mess with the two valves on the pipes attached to the sand filter?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/25/2017 13:26 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Nan - I don't know why opening up the pump strainer box didn't depressurize your filter. You should have an open system into the filter. What tells you that the filter is pressurized - a reading on the pressure gauge? Sometimes these gauges fail and give a bad reading. Your Tagelus apparently does not have an air relief valve. Try unscrewing the pressure gauge a little bit. Be careful. If the filter is under pressure, the gauge could blow out if you unscrew it too far.

Nan  Posted: 08/23/2017 20:13 PM 

I tried the pump strainer. Tank still stays pressurized

Nan  Posted: 08/23/2017 20:11 PM 

Where would the pressure relief valve be on the Tagelus® Sand Filter top mount. Do you unscrew the pressure gauge?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/22/2017 12:52 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Nan - If your valve is stuck, one of the pieces in the valve stem may be broken, and you may have to replace it. See our guide on "How To Replace a Pool Multiport Valve Spring". Assuming your filter does not have a pressure relief valve, try opening the pump strainer cover slowly.

Nan  Posted: 08/20/2017 15:13 PM 

My valve is stuck in the closed position. It will not lift up and the tank is pressureized. How do I relieve the pressure so I can lift and move the valve handle?

Inyopools  Posted: 07/09/2017 16:21 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (valve spring) - I'm not sure I understand your problem. The spring should be compressed and held in place with a pin before you bolt the key assembly back onto the valve body. See our guide on "How To Replace a Pool Multiport Valve Spring".

Anonymous  Posted: 07/07/2017 7:20 AM 

I have a hayward S02465 sand filter which is leaking from the valve. I have removed the top to check the seal (O ring) but I can't bolt the cover on again. The spring is very strong and even with all my weight on it I can't get the bolts to line up. What do I do?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/30/2017 9:19 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Cdm - New sand that you just put in your filter often has very fine sand mixed in it that gets thru the laterals when you are first starting up. This problem should go away. Also, check that you have the required free space between the top of the sand and the top of the tank. Check your user's manual for the height of the space.

Cdm  Posted: 06/27/2017 22:31 PM 

I have the pentair sand dollar filter. It is brand new. I notice sand entering my pool. The laterals are fine. What else could cause sand entering the pool?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/04/2017 22:51 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (MPV modes) - Did you pull the top off of your MPV recently? If so, could you have rotated the top 180 degrees so that the Backwash and Filter modes were swapped? Most MPVs are slotted so you can't misalign them but not all. Or did you recently buy a new MPV and select a DE MPV instead of a sand MPV. Some are designed differently depending on the manufacturer. See or guide on "How a Hayward Sand Multiport Valve Differs from a DE Multiport Valve".

Anonymous  Posted: 06/03/2017 16:41 PM 

My sand pump is hooked up correctly but when in the filter position it backwashes and in the backwash position it filters and i have changed and checked every hose several times and the pump is only 2 years old also the pressure gage shows normal

Inyopools  Posted: 05/25/2017 22:34 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

tkehoe - If you had a weak spring, it might contribute to your problem, but is I understand you correctly, you have had this problem with two new MPVs and one key assembly unit with a glued in spider gasket. At 10 psi, pressure is not a problem. Are you shutting off the pump before you rotate the handle? Is the leak always into the waste line? It sounds like a faulty spider gasket problem. Take the MPV apart to see if the gasket is damaged.

Inyopools  Posted: 05/24/2017 11:01 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Rover100 - Typically, backwashing a DE filter removes 80% of the DE powder, so you would only want to refill with 80% of the install load. If you add the full amount, you may overcoat the grids to a point where they would restrict the water flow creating high pressure and low water flow.

tkehoe  Posted: 05/23/2017 20:35 PM 

I have a hayward multiport valve brand new install everything including pool and water. I added 150 lbs of sand per manual. I have a leak coming from the waste. I have been in contact with hayward and they sent out a new "channel" with gasket which was installed and only made the leak worse. They than sent out a whole new unit and yet the problem still persists. The pressure is reading at just 10 psi. Is it possible that the pressure is pushing up on the spring for the slow leak? I was told anything over 15 psi than it's time to backwash. Does high pressure push on the spring and open the valve? How would you control the intake and out take of water?

Rover100  Posted: 05/23/2017 13:09 PM 

On a DE filter using the multiport valve does backwash remove the DE from the filter cartridges? and if so, how much of it is removed (50%-90%, ?) So when you RINSE and then go back to FILTER you need to add same amount of DE or slightly less?

Inyopools  Posted: 03/31/2017 11:13 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Anonymous (Multiport Valve) - Check the spider gasket in your MPV to see if it is damaged. See our guide on "How to Replace a Spider Gasket on a Multiport Valve". Then check that the Spring and Washers on the MPV handle for damage. See our guide on "How To Replace a Pool Multiport Valve Spring".

Anonymous  Posted: 03/28/2017 18:54 PM 

I do all the right things with the pool . However I have a lot of trouble pushing the lever around . It is so stiff . Is it alright to spray the lever with WD40 . I have done this and it makes it a bit easier . Can you replace this part of the pool system . Regards June Jennison .

Inyopools  Posted: 02/27/2017 14:44 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Haypool - I would check the spider gasket in your multiport valve first. Even if you can't see leaks from the valve, you have a damaged gasket that opens up paths in the MPV that shouldn't be opened. Then I would look for suction leaks before the pump that could be sucking air into the system and causing pressure buildup. When the system is shut off, this buildup could reverse water flow through the system pushing water back into the pool. This could cause your system to drain and require additional priming on startup.

Haypool  Posted: 02/26/2017 16:43 PM 

I have a SP071620T multiport which works in all positions and no external leaks of water on pump or filter (anywhere visible). When the timer shuts off the pump though, something is leaking air back through the system which leaves the pump needing to pull water back from the pool every time the timer starts things up again. If I move the multiport selector to rinse, it held much more water than before but still slowly leaked air in. Where could the air be coming from and what's causing it? The waste port has a separate inline close valve after the multiport waste exit so shouldn't be coming from there.

Inyopools  Posted: 02/14/2017 11:23 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Multiport Valve does not turn - I'd check two areas. The white plastic bearing washer underneath the handle sometimes cracks and interferes with the handle's rotation. See our guide on "How To Replace a Pool Multiport Valve Spring" for the location of this washer. Also, check that the spring is not broken or weak. The other area to check is the spider gasket. See our guide on "How to Replace a Spider Gasket on a Multiport Valve" for the location of this gasket. If the gasket is damaged, it can interfere with the rotation of the handle.

Multiport Valve does not turn  Posted: 02/13/2017 22:04 PM 


Thanks for your video, my Multiport Valve can be turned at all. It's pushed but it's stuck somewhere that I can turn it (i.e from filter to backwash?

Any suggestion?

Inyopools  Posted: 12/12/2016 11:15 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

cklapd - Generally the top of the valve assembly is keyed preventing you from rotating the top 180 degrees. If it is not keyed, you could try rotating the top. I'm not sure how the other settings would line up, but it's worth a try. You label of course will be off.

cklapd  Posted: 12/07/2016 22:59 PM 

I just bought a pentair MPV for DE FNS plus filter. My plumbing config does not match the MPV Waste (on the left side) and the Return (on the right). I want to switch those. Can I just open the unit and rotate the guts 180 degrees?

Inyopools  Posted: 11/29/2016 10:42 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Mike - Do you know the make of the valve or what filter it is attached to?
And what are the other valve settings? "Drain" is probably "Waste". The others don't seem to correlate.

Mike  Posted: 11/27/2016 13:16 PM 

On my valve I have test, whirlpool and drain. Do these correspond to closed, recirculate and waste?