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I think the grey valves you're talking about are the quick disconnects. It doesn't matter which way you install them, but you do need to have the switch handle open so the water can flow through (the switch handles parallel to the tubing rather than perpendicular). The first time I prime an Eheim classic I have to suck on the tubing to get the water to start flowing into the canister. From then on using the quick disconnects keeps it from losing the prime.

I've found it works best to stretch out the hoses when I first reconnect in order to avoid any loops that would keep the water from flowing easily and to keep air bubbles from getting trapped. Once the canister is up and running again I push it back into it's normal place.
 
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