Snifter Valve Vs Schrader Valve: Know The Actual Difference

If you’re considering an air volume control valve, you must’ve come across two of the most popular choices around — the Snifter valve and Schrader valve. These two terms are often interchangeably used, although they aren’t really the same.

snifter valve vs schrader valve

A Snifter valve is a widely used tool in well piping, whereas the Schrader valve is a type of pneumatic valve used on almost every motor vehicle around the world today.

Understanding the differences between these two valves will help you figure out which one excels where.

So here we have a comparative discussion on the Snifter valve Vs Schrader valve to help you decide which one’s right for you.

What is a snifter valve?

What is a snifter valve

A Snifter Valve (also known as a breather or drain-back device) is the air inlet installed in a well piping that lets air enter at every pump on cycle.

It can also be considered as a drain-back device for lines that go between the pump and the pressure tank. This valve vents excess air out of the well piping tank to maintain the level of air charge.

It’s generally located at the top part of the tank. With a Snifter valve installed, there won’t be a full head of water at the pump startup. The valve reduces the head pressure helping the pump to start easily.

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How does a snifter valve work?

How does a snifter valve work

The Snifter valve is an air inlet valve that also acts as a water pipe drain valve. But how does it work? It uses a loose air cap that includes a low-pressure spring to let the air enter at the opening of the valve stem when there’s a vacuum in the well piping.

Gravity also plays a major role in the opening or closing of the valve. In one of its configurations, the valve is elevated onto its seat using steam pressure while it falls away due to gravity once the steam is over. So the air can be drawn without any restriction through it.

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What is a schrader valve?

What is a schrader valve

The valve stem that includes a threaded valve core (a poppet valve) and is helped by a spring is known as the Schrader valve (also called as American valve). It’s widely used on the tires of cars, motorcycles, and virtually every other automobile.

You’d frequently see it in wider rims of bicycle tires. However, these valves aren’t only used on a tube or tubeless tires but also on different air conditioning units and refrigeration systems.

The Schrader valve is used to recharge refrigeration units with refrigerant, conduct leak-down pressure test during pipe installation, as test port and bleeding of the fuel-injected engines, on shock absorbers of vehicles, in high-pressure aircraft hydraulic systems, and so on.

How does a schrader valve work?

How does a schrader valve work

The Schrader valve is partially wrapped in rubber material. Its top part is threaded so that it can accept a dust cap. The threaded part also helps to fit the pump head over the orifice.

It includes a spring-loaded center pin to act as a check valve. As a result, the air flows only into the system but not out of it. While filling the tire using air via the Schrader valve, the pump pushes the orifice by employing pressure on the center pin.

After the pump is shut, the ground check valve closes and maintains the pressure in the tank from going back down. Since the water drains out, the Schrader valve allows air to get sucked into the system.

The Schrader valve is an easy-to-use device that is built in a way that a regular gas station pump can act as the air source.

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Snifter Valve Vs Schrader Valve: What’s The Actual Difference?

Snifter Valve Vs Schrader Valve What's The Actual Difference

Since we’ve seen what these two valves really mean, now it’s time to check out their actual differences.

Scope of Application

The scope of application is different for both the Snifter and Schrader valves. You’ll typically use a Snifter valve for well piping as an unparalleled option. However, you can also use them in other applications like extinguishers.

On the other hand, the Schrader valve is the most commonly used device for virtually all automobiles today. This is a wider valve and is used on wider rims. It’s also a popular choice for different air conditioning and refrigeration units.


The two valves differ in terms of appearance as well. The Snifter looks pretty similar to the Schrader valves used in tires. However, they’ve some dissimilarities as well. The Snifter valve looks like a flat disc or a simple poppet valve.

On the other hand, the Schrader valve includes a threaded hollow shell along with the poppet valve inside it. The nickel-plated brass construction has a metal pinpointing along the valve stem’s axis.

These two valves also differ in size as well where the Schrader valve size is slightly larger than the Snifter valve.

Spring Power

The Snifter valve comes with a weaker spring than the Schrader valve made for vehicle tires. Snifter valves also require more protection from insects, dirt, and dust than the Schrader valve.

Mounting Location

Mounting location is a key factor in identifying the difference between these two valves.

A snifter valve could be mounted at the bottom of the tank or on its body which is usually top of the tank. On the other hand, the Schrader valve tool could be installed in different locations.

A few convenient and popular locations to install this valve include the flanges of the wheel well, beneath the Glass Cap Access Door, through the License Plate Recess, and the License Plate itself.

Which One Is For Me?

Schrader Valve vs Snifter Valve

Since you know the actual differences between these two devices, it’s time to decide on which one’s for you.

If you’re planning to use a drain-back valve for your well piping system, then a Snifter valve has to be your go-to option. But if you’re considering one for your automobile tires, then the Schrader valve makes an unparalleled option.

You should also consider this valve for a wide range of refrigeration and air conditioning units.

Final Thoughts

Let’s have a short recap of what we’ve seen so far in this Snifter Valve vs Schrader Valve discussion. The article has covered the definitions and working procedures of both these valves to help you get an insight into them.

To sum things up, we can say that both these valves are anti-vacuum valves and work in the same principle. However, they have a different set of applications.

While a Snifter valve is a dedicated option for a well piping system, the Schrader valve comes with a broader range of applications, including automobile tires, air conditioning units, refrigerators, etc.

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