A Guide to Water Ball Valves

Water Ball Valves

Ball valve faucet for water

Figure 1: Ball valve faucet for water

Ball valves are the most common type of valve for water applications. Water ball valves have advantages that make them appropriate for residential and commercial water applications. The device is lightweight, simple, and leakproof, making it suitable for water use. The valves are also available in various styles and sizes, giving you more options.

Table of contents

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Ball valves for water

A water ball valve is a shut-off valve that regulates water flow. A hollow ball inside the valve rotates to control the flow of water. The ball valve also opens and closes using a handle attached to the valve. A water ball valve has desirable properties that favor its use in many areas. Read on to learn more about water ball valves.

A ball valve is an essential device in a piping system. Water ball valves allow for regulation of pressure and water flow with the needed precision. Unlike other valve types, water ball valves are less likely to leak. The advantages of using ball valves to control water flow are listed below:

  • They are easy to operate
  • Water ball valves require less installation space
  • They are light, hence convenient for transportation
  • Water ball valves are available in many designs
  • They work effectively under high temperatures and high pressure

Ball valves for water are highly versatile and come in various designs as listed below:

  1. Manual or actuated ball valves depending on the mode of operation
  2. Full port, standard port, and reduced port designs based on the port size
  3. 1, 2, and 3-piece ball valves depending on the number of pieces constituting the valve
  4. Threaded and flanged ball valves depending on the connection type

Water ball valve materials

Water ball valves can be manufactured from a variety of materials. Materials not susceptible to corrosion and rust are ideal for water ball valves.

Water ball valve housing materials


Brass is a strong metal alloy. Brass is durable and can withstand high temperatures. Brass is not suited for saltwater (seawater), distilled water, acids, and chlorides. However, in such cases, dezincification brasses (DZR or DR) can be used. It is sometimes also called corrosion-resistant brass (CR).


Bronze is a more robust material than brass and does not wear out over time. Because of its desirable properties, it is more expensive than brass.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant. It is a preferable material for water ball valves as it is immune to wear and tear, but the material is costly compared to other materials.

Plastic (PVC)

Plastic is a light and soft material suitable for water installations. Besides, plastics neither rust nor corrode. However, PVC has lower pressure ratings than brass and stainless steel.

Water ball valve seal materials

EPDM or NBR can be used as the seal materials for ball valves working with water, while the seats are made of Teflon.

Water ball valve applications

Water ball valves have a variety of applications. Depending on the need, several designs of water ball valves have been created. Some designs have specific applications, while some have overall applications. Below are the uses of various water ball valves.

Water heater ball valve

Water heater ball valves are critical parts in the installation and maintenance of water heater systems. The role of water ball valves in a heater is enumerated below:

  • Regulating water flow to a water heater
  • Stopping the flow of water to a water heater during emergencies
  • Regulating water temperature in a water heater
  • Controlling water pressure inside a water heater
  • Isolating the water heater from the plumbing system during repair

Water ball valve for irrigation

When the water is dirty, the ball valve may become clogged, resulting in possible leakage or unreliable operation. Moreover, the lifetime may be reduced due to increased wear. To avoid this, a filter needs to be installed at the supply side (for particles < 500µm). There are several types of irrigation water ball valves. Each type has its specific use. The type chosen for an application also depends on the size of the agricultural operation. The applications of irrigation water ball valves include:

  • Controlling water flow in irrigation operations
  • Isolating parts of the irrigation system during maintenance
  • Controlling water pressure in irrigation systems
  • Restricting the backflow of water in irrigation systems

Hot water tank valves

The applications of hot water tank valves include:

  • Controlling water flow in tanks
  • Regulating the temperature of water in the tank
  • Restricting the backflow of water into the tank
  • Isolating sections of the piping system during repair
  • Stops the flow of water during an emergency or leakage

Drinking water ball valves

In domestic water distribution systems, the valves are often permanently installed. Over time, a water valve can degrade, causing potential contamination and enabling microbial growth. Therefore, it is important to select a valve type that meets several requirements for drinking water. A good practice is to check the manufacturer’s documentation for compliance with the valve for drinking water applications. For more information on drinking water requirements, you can also read our drinking water article. Depending on the country, different certifications and regulations are required for valves that come into contact with drinking water. Read our article on drinking water ball valves for more details on these certifications.

Drinking water ball valves have both commercial and residential applications. The drinking water ball valves are also suitable for applications in the irrigation system. Here are its applications.

  • Controlling the flow of water in residential and commercial piping systems
  • Regulate the flow of water in swimming pools
  • Regulating water pressure in plumbing systems
  • Isolating sections of plumbing systems for repair
  • Used in sprinkler systems to automatically control water flow


A water ball valve is a reliable option for controlling the flowing water in residential and commercial plumbing systems. The simple structure of water ball valves can be easily operated by hand. In addition, water ball valves are long-lasting.

Water ball valves, on the other hand, have some drawbacks. They are expensive, and if you do not properly install them, they can be difficult to operate. It can also be hard to find the ideal water ball valves for your needs.


Can I use a gas ball valve for water?

You can use a gas ball valve for water; however, the valve may corrode. Water ball valves are usually galvanized or made of materials not susceptible to corrosion.

How can I open or close a stuck water ball valve?

You can use a pair of pliers to turn the handle of a stuck water ball valve. If it is impossible to turn, you might need to replace the ball valve.

What are the advantages of using a water ball valve?

Water ball valves are easy to install and operate and less likely to leak. The valves are also available in several designs suitable for several applications.

What are the disadvantages of a water ball valve?

Water ball valves may become clogged with debris over time. The water ball valve can leak if not installed properly.

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