Gate valves are used to shut off the flow of liquids rather than for flow regulation. When fully open, the typical gate valve has no obstruction in the flow path, resulting in very low flow resistance. The size of the open flow path generally varies in a nonlinear manner as the gate is moved. This means that the flow rate does not change evenly with stem travel. Depending on the construction, a partially open gate can vibrate from the fluid flow.
Gate valves are mostly used with larger pipe diameters (from 2" to the largest pipelines) since they are less complex to construct than other types of valves in large sizes.
At high pressures, friction can become a problem. As the gate is pushed against its guiding rail by the pressure of the medium, it becomes harder to operate the valve. Large gate valves are sometimes fitted with a bypass controlled by a smaller valve to be able to reduce the pressure before operating the gate valve itself.
Gate valves without an extra sealing ring on the gate or the seat are used in applications where minor leaking of the valve is not an issue, such as heating circuits or sewer pipes.