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A Gamechanger for
Sustainable Irrigation

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A Gamechanger for
Sustainable Irrigation

What is Low-Head Drainage?

When the irrigation system is turned off, the water leftover in the lines naturally flows downhill and exerts pressure on the emission device at the lowest point. Eventually, enough pressure will cause the water to force its way out—a phenomenon known as “low-head drainage.” Depending on the property topography and the size and length of the irrigation pipe, this recurring leakage can waste a significant amount of water and wreak havoc on landscaping.

Conserve Water & Eliminate Low-Head Drainage with Check Valves

A check valve holds back water where elevation changes occur, preventing wasteful low-head drainage and keeping pipes primed for the next irrigation cycle.


Sustainable Benefits of Installing Irrigation Products with Check Valves

Conserve Water Conserves water

Conserve Water Prevents overwatering at the base of a slope

Check ValveEliminates unnecessary water

Check Valve Minimizes land erosion from surface runoff

Check ValveReduces wear on system by minimizing water hammer

Check ValveGuards against backflow contamination of water supply

Check ValveProtects against property damage from puddling and pooling

Check ValveBlocks air from entering the system

Not All Check Valves are Created Equal

Check valve performance will vary greatly depending on the manufacturer. Rain Bird is proud to offer check valves that provide the highest hold-back in the industry. Many Rain Bird products offer built-in check valves capable of holding back anywhere from 8 to 14 feet of water.

Check Valve Holdback

The Importance of Hold-Back

A check valve’s “hold-back” capacity is especially important when it comes to hills and slopes. For every 1 foot of elevation change, 0.433 psi is generated. Therefore, the greater the change in elevation, the longer the line will be and the more water it will hold. This puts more pressure on the low point emitter(s) and without adequate check valves significant water waste will occur in the form of low head drainage.


How to Put Check Valves to Work for You

Make the Most of Maintenance

Replacing a rotor or spray? Now is the perfect time to upgrade to a product equipped with Rain Bird’s check-valve technology. Start saving water and increasing sustainability immediately when you make the switch.


Be Proactive with New Irrigation Installs

Consider making check valves a priority for all new installations. You can’t go wrong with water-saving, check-valve technology. Opt for products like the XFS-CV dripline—even when elevation changes are slight. Integrating check valves into your design ensures maximum flexibility, should plans or topography change in the future.

Check Valve - check valve work


Water-Saving Solutions for Every Project

Check Valve Drip


Rain Bird patent-pending check valve keeps the line charged, providing 10 feet of hold-back—the highest in the industry.


Check Valve Spray


Rain Bird Seal-A-Matic™ Check Valve holds back up to 14 feet of water.


Check Valve Rotors


All Rain Bird Rotors are available with built-in SAM check valves ranging from 7 to 10 feet of hold-back. Be sure the model you select has a built-in check valve.



Does your city code require the use of a double-check valve or pressure vacuum breaker (PVB)? Rain Bird’s Anti-Siphon Valves are specifically designed to prevent irrigation contamination of your drinking water supply. Check your local city codes to determine if the ASVF Series might be right for you.

Sustainability…Without the Stress

Sustainability requires commitment—not stress. Rain Bird makes it easy to conserve resources and improve water stewardship. Our goal at Rain Bird is to make sustainability simple for our customers. Call 1-800-RAINBIRD to see how we can help you save water and achieve your sustainability goals.