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Water Pressure Regulators

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Are you having problems with your water pressure, and looking for a way to regulate it? Water pressure should be flowing at a nice and easy steady flow. Anything different than that could be a problem.

So, what are water pressure regulators and how do you shop for the best one to meet your needs? Water pressure regulators work to balance out the water pressure in your home and ensure it is not too high or too low. This makes your home appliances run more efficiently.

water shutoff valve

You will need to test your water pressure and determine if it is too low (under 40 psi) or too high (over 60 psi), and then install a water pressure regulator if you need one. A water pressure regulator will help your water pressure consistently stay in the right range. Read on to learn more about water pressure regulators, so you can confidently move forward in purchasing one for your home!

What are Water Pressure Regulators?

Water Pressure Regulators are just that, they are a tool to regulate the water pressure in your home. If your pressure is too low or too strong, using a water pressure regulator will even it out and allow you to have more consistent water pressure. 

The regulator is going to hook on to the main water line and act as a valve to regulate your water pressure and keep it in the right range. This will lower the risk of your pipes bursting and a damaged home.

What if you do not install a Water Pressure Regulator 

It’s important to have the right water pressure, or you risk ruining your house. A lot of problems will occur whether the pressure is too high, or it is too low.

  • If your water pressure is too high, you could end up with leaks or damaged pipes. If the water is too strong your pipes will not be able to contain it and it could cause problems. A burst pipe has damaged many homes. One burst pipe can cause thousands of dollars of home improvement projects and ruin items that cannot be replaced. In most cases, a burst pipe is caused by high water pressure that could have been fixed with a water pressure regulator. 
  • Low water pressure can be just as troublesome. While it might not break pipes or cause physical damage, it is going to inconvenience you every time you use your water. Your showers are going to take longer, and you are going to end up using more water than you would if the pressure was right. You could end up damaging appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers, if you run them with too little water pressure. Not enough water will go into them, and this could cause them to break, or at least cause them to operate inefficiently.  

How does a Water Pressure Regulator work? 

When you use a water pressure regulator you are essentially using a valve that is specialized for water pressure. The valve is designed to reduce the water pressure that comes into your house through the main water line. Sometimes water pressure regulators are also called valves, specifically pressure-reducing valves (source).”

Inside a water pressure regulator is a spring-loaded diaphragm. The diaphragm contracts or expands as needed to release the right amount of water pressure. 

Water essentially flows into the water pressure regulator at one speed, or pressure, and flows out of the regulator at the correct speed. The regulator adjusts the pressure of the water, so that when it flows into the pipes in the rest of your house, it is flowing at the right psi. 

Think of a water pressure regulator like cruise control for your car. Set it at a certain psi and it will either speed up or slow down the pressure accordingly, so it stays in the right range.

Old pressure gauge

Where are Water Pressure Regulators located? 

Water pressure regulators should be located near to the main water valve. Find the main shut off valve for your house and go from there. The pipe will lead you to the water heater, and that will help you find the water pressure regulator.

This video gives you a good look at exactly where water pressure regulators are located. Watching this video will give you insight into the different places in your house where the water pressure regulator, or valve, could be located. 

If you do not already have a water pressure regulator located, that video will also help you decide where exactly you should install one, as it will show you the main water line.

Do all homes have Water Pressure Regulators?

Not all homes have water pressure regulators, but you can install one on any home. Newer homes usually have these regulators, but if you buy an older home, the house likely will not have one unless someone installed one later.

If you are just purchasing a home, you can ask your home inspector to test the water pressure and to see if there is a regulator already installed. If there is not, he can likely show you where a good place to install one would be. 

If you are buying an older home that does not have a water pressure regulator installed, make sure your home inspector looks over the pipes and plumbing and verifies that decades of high-water pressure have not caused any plumbing problems. 

Since old homes already have some old pipes and fixtures, it is advisable to install a water pressure regulator in any old home that does not already have one. The pipes are already old, which makes them more likely to burst than newer pipes, so make the pipes’ job a little easier and at least make sure the right pressure of water is flowing through them.

Why you need a Water Pressure Regulator 

You will want to determine what the water pressure is going into your house, so you will want to test the water pressure to know if you need one. Make sure that no water is being used in your home when you do the pressure test or that will skew the results.

When you perform the water pressure test, you will first need to purchase a pressure meter gauge from the local hardware store. Once you have the gauge, proceed by screwing it onto the bib of any available hose, such as your washing machine.

Go ahead and turn the water on. If your water pressure stays steady between 40 to 60 psi, then you should not need to purchase a water pressure regulator.

If your water pressure is regularly below 40 psi or over 60 psi, then you will need to install a water pressure regulator. Do not risk pipes bursting or unpleasant showers. Add a water pressure regulator to your home if the pressure is out of range. It is a simple fix that can help prevent some major problems.

How to tell if your Water Pressure Regulator needs to be replaced

You might also need to buy a water pressure regulator if your current regulator or valve is no longer functioning. Here are five ways you can tell if your existing water pressure regulator is going bad and needs to be replaced:

  1. Diminishing Water Pressure – if you find your water pressure is getting lower than usual, it’s a sign the regulator is not working. You will see water trickling at a slower speed when this happens.
  1. No Water Pressure – this is a major red flag. If you have no water pressure at all, stop what you are doing and investigate the water pressure regulator. The water could be building up and causing stressful pressure in a pipe.
  1. Hammering or vibrating noises in your walls – This could be a sign that your pipes are working harder than they should. Take a look at these funny noises as soon as you can. It is best to catch the problem before the pipe bursts and the problem worsens.
  1. Any visible leak that you see – A leak anywhere needs to be investigated immediately, and you might find water laying somewhere like in a flower bed. Unless it rained or you have a sprinkler going, there should not be water laying anywhere inside or outside your home. It could be that a pipe has cracked due to high water pressure, and you’ll need to replace the pipe and the water pressure regulator. 
  1. High Water Pressure – Is the water in your shower coming out so forcefully it is leaving little dents on your shoulders? If you see any signs that your water is flowing faster than normal, check it out. Again, it’s imperative to find this problem and fix it before pipes burst and ruin your house.

Look for fluctuations in your water pressure. If it is higher or lower than it was a month ago, then your regulator has probably gone bad and should be replaced. 

You also might have obvious indicators that it has gone bad. For example, if you are taking a shower and the water pressure changes drastically while you are in the shower, then your regulator is not functioning correctly. Not only should your water pressure be the right psi, but it should also be consistently the right psi.

What if your Water Pressure Regulator Leaks?

A leaky water pressure valve could be another reason to replace it. Sometimes the gaskets will deteriorate. You might be able to get away with just replacing the gasket, or you might need to replace the entire valve. You can start by troubleshooting the gaskets and go from there.

There are a few different reasons your valve might be leaking. Most likely, you will see leaks in your water pressure regulator manifest in two ways:

  • Water might drip onto the floor of your home
  • The water might leak inside the regulator itself, which is going to let more water into your home’s pipes. This will increase the pressure and could cause a problem. 

To find an internal leak, you will need to regularly keep track of the water pressure measurement on the meter. Fortunately, external leaks can be easier to spot since you will see a puddle on the floor of your house. To fix the leak you should remove the water pressure regulator and look into replacing it (source).”

To troubleshoot a leaky water pressure regulator, you will want to determine first if it is an internal or an external leak. After that, you can start troubleshooting and trying to decide if you can replace parts or if you will need to replace the whole regulator. 

It might just be the gaskets that need to be replaced. Gaskets are probably the easiest, and cheapest, thing to fix on your water pressure regulator. Gaskets should be rubbery and are used to form a tight seal. As they deteriorate, they become like a hardened plastic and lose the ability to form a tight seal.

If you have tried fixing the gaskets, and it is still leaking, you might need to replace the entire assembly.

What if your home does not have a Water Pressure Regulator?

Most likely, you will want to install a water pressure regulator if your home does not already have one. You can get away without installing one if your water pressure tests between 40 and 60 psi. If it tests outside of that range, you will want to install a water pressure regulator. Many homes already have naturally high water pressure, so you will indeed want to install a regulator. 

If it is in the right range now, you will still want to test the water pressure annually to see if there are any changes that would necessitate you buying a water pressure regulator. You will also want to make sure you test the water pressure any time you purchase a new home appliance that uses a lot of water. Test the pressure whenever you install a new appliance like any of these:

  • Dishwashers
  • Washing machines
  • Whirlpool tubs
  • Hot tubs

Any appliance like that is going to use a lot of water, and you will want to make sure the water pressure remains consistent after using the appliance.

Installing a Water Pressure Regulator

Take a look at above video for some tips on how to install a valve to help reduce water pressure. There are a few key steps to take when you are trying to install a water pressure regulator:

  1. Make sure you have the right valve – do your shopping and make sure you buy the right water pressure regulator for your house. The most important thing to consider is if your water pressure runs low or high, so if you will be regularly lowering it or raising it. 
  1. Find your pipes – You need to determine where you are installing the water pressure regulator. You want to install the water pressure regulator on the main water line going into your house.
  1. Install the regulator – This should not be too difficult. You have the right valve, you’ve found the pipes, and now you just need to install it. 
  • After the water is turned off, remove the pipes from their nipples. One pipe is in charge of having clean flowing water move into your home. Use your wrench and unscrew the large fitting from that pipe.
  • The water pressure regulator should slide easily onto that pipe. Put that on, and then reinstall the pipes. 

** A caveat with your installation – you might need to remove a piece of the pipe. After the regulator is installed, if the pipes are too long to fit back together easily, you can remove an inch or two from the pipes.

What else should you consider when buying a Water Pressure Regulator?

Here are a few other topics you might want to consider when comparing different water pressure regulators to purchase:

  • Brand – Not all brands are created equal. Check out some consumer reviews and get feedback on different brands, so that you make sure you buy a quality product.
  • Price – While it is true you get what you pay for, and a more expensive water pressure regulator will likely be higher quality than a cheaper one, you should still shop. Some may be similar in quality, with one being a lot more expensive than the other.
  • Used or new – Do some shopping and research to determine if you should buy a new water pressure regulator or if you can save some money and buy it used. If you know the history, or maybe a friend is getting rid of a gently used regulator, used might be the way to go. But, be cautious of buying one used if you do not know the history and cannot tell how well it functions.

Quality and reviews – Are you planning on living in your house for the next 30 years? If so, you want to buy a high-quality product with 5 star reviews that will last you a very long time. However, if you are flipping a house, or have no intentions of staying there long-term, you can get away with purchasing a lower quality product at a cheaper price, since you will not be concerned with how long it will last.

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