Master Valves and Pump Stations: What You Need to Know

Master valves are a common component in most irrigation systems, but they are not always required. Let’s review master valves and why you might want to, or not want to, specify a master valve when utilizing a pumping station for an irrigation system.

What is a master valve?

A master valve is an automatic valve that is installed at the point where the irrigation system connects to the water supply. The purpose of the master valve is to protect the system from a line break by shutting off the water to the irrigation system when none of the zone valves are operating.

Master valve considerations when a pump station is used.

When a pump station is used to pressurize the water, a master valve can work against the pump station, making it difficult for the pump station to operate properly. Why? Because the master valve may cause the pump to become over pressurized and shut down, to avoid pump damage. How can you stop these two critical pieces of your irrigation system from fighting with each other?

Pressure boost applications – make sure that they work in harmony.

In pressure boost applications, you can use the pump station to control the master valve. Properly wiring the master valve to the pump station will enable the pump station to open and close the master valve, based on signals from the irrigation clock. This will ensure that the valve opens when the pump runs and closes when the pump is not running, avoiding damage to the pump due to over-pressuring.

Suction lift applications – consider eliminating the master valve.

What? Eliminate the master valve? Yep, that’s right. When you’re using a pump station to pump from a surface water source, you may not need a master valve at all. In this case, you can treat the pump station itself as a master valve by starting and stopping the pump based on the irrigation clock management – there is no need to have a separate valve to open when the irrigation cycle is called. This can help simplify your irrigation system as well as conserve overall product and installation costs.

There are many variables when it comes to pump stations. That’s why it’s so important to have the right partner. At Central, we’ll help you find the professional-grade product that’s right for your application. For questions about pump stations, call or email the experts at the Central Pump Hotline at 1-844-PUMP-101 or