How to Adjust Your Water Pressure Regulator
Water pressure regulators, or pressure reducing valves, are an important part of your home’s plumbing system. They help keep the water flowing through your pipes at a regular, consistent pressure. You might find that the pressure in your home is too high or too low, and are wondering how you can adjust the pressure yourself.
In this article, we’ll go over how pressure regulators work and why it’s so important to have one that works properly. Then, we’ll give you an overview of the adjustment process so you can tweak your home’s water pressure to your liking. Then we’ll let you in on some tips to help you decide if it’s time to replace your old pressure regulator.
What Is A Water Pressure Regulator?
Water pressure regulators are devices that are installed near your water main. They take high pressure water flowing from a municipal water supply and lower the pressure to a level more suitable to homes and their fixtures. Any home built after the 1980’s should have a pressure regulator already installed.
Pressure regulators are important because most municipal water suppliers pump water at very high pressures – often four or more times higher than your home can handle. That’s because municipal water sometimes has to service high-rise buildings, high-elevation neighborhoods or fire hydrants.
Why Does Water Pressure Matter?
Water pressure is huge for the health of your home plumbing network. And while a high-pressure shower might feel great in the morning, water pressure can (and often does) get too high. Any sort of high water pressure will put stress on your home in a number of ways.
- High water pressure wears out pipe joints, which can eventually lead to leaks hidden behind walls and under floors.
- High pressure can wear out your fixtures and appliances and cause them to fail or break down prematurely. Faucets, showerheads, dishwashers and washing machines are all designed to operate at standard home pressure levels.
- During winter, when pipes are at risk of freezing, high water pressure can lead to sudden pipe bursts, costing you thousands of dollars in water damage cleanup.
- Your water heater is also sensitive to high water pressure. A healthy, well-maintained water heater can last ten year or more. If it’s under the constant stress of high water pressure, you’ll have to replace it sooner.
- High water pressure means higher water bills.
How To Adjust The Regulator
As far as plumbing jobs go, adjusting your water pressure regulator is pretty easy. You don’t need too many tools, and you can finish the task in less than an hour. If you experience a sudden drop in pressure, you might want to check in with the local water supplier and see if the problem is on their end before you make any adjustments.
Tools You’ll Need
- Crescent wrench
- Pressure gauge
Adjusting The Regulator
Before you start adjusting the pressure regulator, get an accurate reading on your home’s current water pressure. Attach a pressure gauge to any hose spigot and take note of the reading.
Next, locate the water pressure regulator. It should be close to your water main, and sits on top of the pipe. Look for a “bell shape.” On top of the regulator should be an adjustment screw and a lock nut. The adjustment screw raises and lowers the water pressure, but before it can be adjusted, you need to loosen the lock nut below it.
Loosen the lock nut by half a turn with the crescent wrench. Turn the adjustment screw counterclockwise to lower or clockwise to raise the pressure. Only go one full revolution at a time and get a new psi reading with your pressure gauge. Once you’ve reached your desired pressure level, tighten the lock nut on the pressure regulator.
When To Replace Your Pressure Regulator
Like most plumbing components, your water pressure regulator isn’t going to last forever. The average pressure regulator has a lifespan of about ten years. The question is, when do you need to replace it?
Water hammer, a banging, hammering noise in your pipes, is a common sign that your pressure regulator is nearing the end of its lifespan. The noise happens when high-pressure water suddenly stops in your pipes, literally hammering into the pipe walls. You’ll probably notice water hammer after you shut off a fixture or flush a toilet.
If you notice regular fluctuations in pressure and have to frequently adjust the regulator valve, it’s probably time to start looking for a replacement. Having a new water pressure regulator professionally installed will set you back a few hundred dollars. But it’s a worthwhile investment considering the risks of leaks, pipe bursts and appliance failure that can result from a faulty regulator.
Monitoring Your Water Pressure
Water pressure is one of the most critical measures of your home’s plumbing health. Not only is high water pressure damaging to so many components in your home, but also, sudden changes in pressure can be signs of other problems that need to be addressed. But how can you keep a watchful eye on your water pressure? You’re not going to walk around with a pressure gauge all day.
Here at Flo, we know all about the importance of pressure. Our device, the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff, works by constantly measuring the pressure in your home’s water network. Not only that, it monitors temperature, flow and can detect leaks as small as one drop per minute.
And since it connects to your wireless network, you get up-to-the-minute alerts no matter where you are. As soon as something out of the ordinary comes up, you’ll get a notification. The Smart Water Shutoff will even close the water main automatically if it detects a leak to prevent water damage.
Keeping the water pressure in your home at a safe level can help keep your pipes, fixtures and appliances safe. Pressure regulators help reduce high water pressure coming from your municipal supplier, but sometimes they need to be adjusted to either lower or raise your water pressure. Knowing how to adjust your pressure regulator and keeping a close eye on your home’s water pressure will help you protect your home.