Can a Ball Valve Reduce Water Pressure?

Water pressure is a critical factor in any plumbing system, and its proper management is essential to ensure the smooth operation of your water supply. One common question that often arises is whether a ball valve can be used to reduce water pressure. In this article, we will explore this question and provide insights into the role of ball valves.

Ball valves are widely used in plumbing and other industries for their reliability and ease of use. These valves are known for their simple yet effective design. They control the flow of water by turning a lever 90 degrees to either open or close the valve. While the primary function of ball valves is to regulate the flow of water rather than control pressure. They can be fully open, fully closed, or partially open, which allows some flow control. 

Still, the key question is whether they can effectively reduce water pressure in a plumbing system, especially in cases where the incoming water pressure is too high.

What Is a Ball Valve?

Before diving deeper into the potential use of ball valves in controlling water pressure, it’s essential to establish a solid understanding of what a ball valve is and how it functions within a plumbing system.

A ball valve is a type of quarter-turn valve that uses a hollow, perforated, and pivoting ball (the “ball”) to control the flow of a fluid, in this case, water. The ball inside the valve has a port or bore through its centre. When the handle of the valve is turned 90 degrees, the bore either aligns with the flow, allowing water to pass through, or it is perpendicular to the flow, stopping it. This simple yet efficient design makes ball valves easy to operate and reliable.

Key features and components of a ball valve include:

  1. Body: The outer shell of the valve, typically made of materials such as brass, stainless steel, or PVC, which encloses the internal components.
  2. Ball: The spherical disc within the valve, with a hole (bore) through its centre that controls the flow of water.
  3. Seat: The part of the valve where the ball rests when the valve is in the closed position. It provides a seal that prevents water from passing through.
  4. Handle or Lever: The control mechanism that turns the ball, opening or closing the valve.
  5. Port: The opening within the ball that aligns with the inlet and outlet ports of the valve, allowing or blocking the flow of water.

The Role of Ball Valves in Plumbing

Ball valves are fundamental components in plumbing systems and offer a versatile solution for controlling the flow of water. In this section, we’ll delve into the various roles that ball valves play in plumbing and highlight their significance in different applications.

On/Off Control / Isolation Valves: Ball valves are commonly used as shut-off valves in plumbing systems. Their quarter-turn operation means they can be quickly and easily turned on or off, making them convenient for isolating water supply to specific areas or fixtures.

Versatility: Ball valves are available in a variety of materials, such as brass, stainless steel, and PVC, which makes them suitable for a wide range of plumbing applications, including potable water, irrigation, and chemical handling.

Reliability: Ball valves are known for their reliability and long service life. They are less prone to leakage and corrosion compared to other types of valves, making them a preferred choice for critical applications.

Emergency Shut-Offs: In residential and commercial settings, ball valves are often used as emergency shut-off valves, allowing quick response to prevent water damage in case of leaks or emergencies.

It’s important to note that while ball valves excel at many tasks in plumbing, their primary function is not pressure control. However, there are alternative valves dedicated to reducing water pressure.

Alternatives to Ball Valves for Pressure Reduction

While ball valves can be useful for temporary and localised pressure control in plumbing systems, it’s important to be aware of alternative and more effective solutions for comprehensive pressure reduction. Dedicated pressure-reducing valves (PRVs), also known as pressure regulators, are designed specifically for this purpose. 

Pressure Reducing Valves (PRVs):

Pressure-reducing valves are precision-engineered devices designed to reduce and regulate the water pressure in a plumbing system. They are typically installed at the point of water entry into a building or system and are equipped with an adjustable setpoint that allows you to specify the desired outlet pressure.

Here are some key features and advantages of PRVs:

Precise Pressure Control: PRVs offer precise and consistent control over water pressure, ensuring it remains within the desired range.

High Capacity: PRVs are available in various sizes and capacities, making them suitable for a wide range of applications, from residential to industrial.

Reliability: PRVs are highly reliable and provide long-term pressure regulation, minimising fluctuations in water pressure.

Compliance: PRVs are typically designed to meet plumbing codes and regulations, ensuring compliance and safety.

Protection: PRVs protect your plumbing system from damage caused by excessively high water pressure, extending the lifespan of pipes, fixtures, and appliances.

Reduced Water Usage: By maintaining the optimal pressure, PRVs can help reduce water wastage and lower water bills.

In contrast to ball valves, which offer partial flow control, PRVs are specifically engineered for pressure regulation and are the recommended choice for systemic high water pressure issues. They are installed by professionals and set to maintain the desired pressure level throughout your plumbing system.

When dealing with persistent high water pressure problems, seeking the expertise of a licensed plumber to install a PRV is typically the best course of action. While ball valves may provide a stopgap solution in specific situations, their use for pressure regulation is not a substitute for the precision and reliability offered by dedicated pressure-reducing valves.

Conclusion

In conclusion no, a standard ball valve cannot reduce water pressure. Ball valves are primarily used to control the flow of fluids, such as water, by either allowing or blocking the flow. They are not designed to reduce or regulate water pressure.

Consider more permanent solutions for managing high water pressure, such as the installation of dedicated pressure-reducing valves (PRVs). PRVs offer precise and reliable pressure regulation for the entire plumbing system.