What is a foot valve, and why do you need one? If you’re asking, you probably have some sort of plumbing project in mind, or perhaps you’re digging a well on your property.
Maybe you’ve heard of and looked at check valves, and you’re wondering if there’s a difference between the two, or if the terms are interchangeable.
In short, a foot valve is a type of check valve with a little more to it. First of all, check valves have two openings, one that lets fluid in and another that lets fluid out. And these valves are one-way to prevent contaminated fluids from going where they shouldn’t.
Check valves are employed in pumps, sprinklers, and even in the human heart. The foot valve, however, not only keeps the one-way flow, but it also has a screen that prevents debris from getting in. Consider your well: do you want to drink dirt along with your water? If not, you need to install a foot valve.
Should I Install My Foot Valve Myself?
The answer depends on how handy you are. If you’re the go-to guy when anyone needs a toilet or leaky faucet fixed, then you might be able to handle this project on your own.
YouTube and do-it-yourself websites have any number of videos and FAQs about installing your own foot valve. Your local hardware store should carry all the parts you need, and it’s likely that they might also offer classes on how to install it.
A word of caution, however: do your research first. While you could save money by doing the project yourself, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Depending upon the brand of foot valve that you purchase, you could have several attachment styles from which to choose, and not all styles are created equal. For instance, some are not compatible with PVC pipe, so be familiar with all the parts you’re using before you pull out your credit card.
Secondly, once you’ve made your purchase, you need to do a little work before you can go straight to installing. The suction line that you’re attaching to likely needs to be drained.
If instructions aren’t included with the valve you purchased, check with your hardware store, or do a quick web search. Lastly, you might need more than the screen that comes with the foot valve.
If this is the case, you still have several options, from purchasing a screen with smaller perforations to double-decked screens that should catch everything on the second pass, if not the first.
If, however, this all sounds like so much gibberish to you, it’s best not to use this as your do-it-yourself debut and trust it to the professionals instead.
The plumbers will thank you for giving them work – and making it easier on them for not having to un-do what you did incorrectly from the start.
A quick inspection of the site of the project should give them sufficient knowledge to know what kind of foot valve to buy, along with the kind of screen. You will spend a little more money but save yourself much frustration in the installation.
Whichever method you choose, the answer to your pump problem will be solved by your new foot valve.