Foot valves are crucial to priming, protecting, and maintaining an effective water pump system. Whether you’re using them for a commercial property, industrial irrigation system, or a residential well or pond, these unlikely pieces of equipment ensure that your pumps stay intact.

Moreover, foot valves protect your water systems, keep them clean, and even improve them—especially in gardening and farming applications. But what is a foot valve exactly, and how can it help to enhance your irrigation and watering systems? Uncover the answers to those questions in this brief guide.

What Is a Foot Valve?

A foot valve is a piece of equipment attached to a water pump. It works much like a check valve; it keeps water flowing one way through your pump system. But foot valves also have a filter that helps things clean and operate properly.

Most of the time, you can find foot valves attached to pump systems on:

  • Pools (residential and commercial)
  • Ponds and wells (residential)
  • Irrigation systems (large and small scale) 
  • Suction lines on pipelines

Essentially, you can find foot valves on any water system that requires a pump to operate properly. However, not all foot valves are the same.

What Are the Different Types of Foot Valve?

Like many other pieces of equipment, there are a few different types of foot valves out there. Each is best suited for a specific purpose. To start with, foot valves are broken into groups based on their construction. The construction of a foot valve will determine where it falls within the following categories:

1. Membrane Foot Valves 

Membrane foot valves have a rubber, cylinder-shaped membrane fitted inside a steel strainer. When suction from the pump hits a membrane foot valve’s filter, the rubber piece moves out of the way, allowing water to flow through the valve. If a reverse flow occurs, the membrane closes, preventing backflow and protecting the water system to which it’s attached.

2. Ball Foot Valves 

On the other hand, ball foot valves have a cylinder-shaped chamber and seating used to guide the valve in the right direction. Basically, when water flows inward, the ball in the foot valve is moved along with its chamber, allowing water to flow through the system. However, if a flow rate decreases with this type of valve, the ball will run down the chamber onto its seat, preventing backflow.

After initial construction, foot valves are placed into categories depending on their flow capacity. Typically, foot valves fall into the three categories listed below:

  • Microflow system valves—stainless steel, primarily used in direct push micro-well applications.
  • High-flow system valves—used in larger, deep wells, capacity to withstand high pumping rates
  • Low-flow system valves—used in small wells and other low-flow applications.

As you can see, foot valves have a few distinctions between them. But why do these distinctions matter?

Why Does Valve Type Matter?

Understanding what makes each foot valve different can help you determine which valve will be best for your applications. Perhaps you’re looking for a valve to help build an irrigation system by pumping water from a deep well on your large-scale property. If so, you’d likely want to use a high-flow system valve.

Maybe you need something a little less intense for watering your veggie and herb garden. In this case, you may want to go with a low flow system valve that doesn’t need to withstand tons of pressure and pumping to provide the water supply your garden requires.

How Does It Improve Farming?

So how can foot valves improve farming? Believe it or not, there are a few ways your foot valve can impact the success of your agricultural pursuits. All of them, of course, have to do with irrigation. We’ve listed some of the most compelling benefits of having solid foot valves on your farm.

1. Keeps Water Supply Cleaner

To start with, foot valves keep the water supply that pumps through your irrigation system cleaner. An excellent foot valve prevents backflow, which means your irrigation system is free of harmful contaminants that could otherwise impact crop yields.

Plus, foot valves ensure your water pump systems maintain the consistent flow of water necessary to ensure the health of your crops. This creates a healthier water supply, which means healthier, more abundant crop harvests.

#2. Prevents Water Loss in Irrigation and Agriculture

Because foot valves help ensure that your system always pumps your water supply optimally, they can also prevent water loss in your irrigation systems. Perhaps the most important thing a foot valve does is prevent backflow in a water system.

Regarding irrigation systems, this also means that foot valves play an integral role in preventing water loss. This is incredibly advantageous for large-scale farms in particular. As temperatures rise and dry spells become more common, having an irrigation pump foot valve that makes the most of every ounce of water is imperative to seeing excellent crop yields.

How Does It Improve Gardening

Of course, foot valves aren’t just beneficial to large-scale farming. They can also be an incredible feature for small-scale agricultural pursuits and gardening. But what exactly can foot valves do to help improve gardening and small-time farming pursuits? We’re glad you asked.

1. Create Cost-Effective Garden Irrigation

First and foremost, foot valves can create cost-effective irrigation systems for large and small gardens alike. Perhaps you have a couple of acres or a sizeable backyard. You have enough space to grow row crops and several types of herbs, and you even have a makeshift greenhouse where you keep plants in special growing conditions.

In this case, with the right foot valve attached to your water system, you could supply all your crops with the necessary amount of water. And because your foot valve would prevent water loss and backflow, you can expect healthier yields and savings on any expenses tethered to water usage.

2. Allow for a More Versatile Garden

You can also expect a more versatile range of veggies, fruits, and herbs to thrive on your land than if you depended on your garden hose alone for irrigation. With a foot valve and water pump system, you can accommodate various row crops, herbs, and much more.

You can do this without fear of over or underwatering—especially if you use a drip irrigation system. But you’d need a foot valve and water pump system to pull it off, which is why we recommend them so highly. The need for foot valves becomes increasingly obvious when you consider how many people have started growing veggies, fruits, and herbs on their own land.

Perhaps you already have a water pump system on your property or farm, or you might be looking to set one up for the first time. Either way, your system will need a foot valve if you expect to get the best results from your gardening and farming pursuits. Give our experts at Rural Water Direct a call if you’re in the market for a foot valve. We’ve got the equipment you need!

How Foot Valves Improve Farming and Gardening