What is a Pressure Regulator Valve?
The heart of a plumbing supply system.
Here is the straight deal on Pressure Regulator Valves (PRV’s). They are the most important fixture in your house. They can prevent catastrophic leaks. They can prevent water heater tanks from bursting. They can reduce wear and tear on the supply pipes. They even screen out debris and sediment that will clog showers, toilets and sink faucets.
Most people that I meet don’t even know what a PRV is. This is shocking to me. Frankly it scares me. I have considered moving to Canada because of this, but I am pretty sure they have the same problems up there, plus it’s a lot colder. I often begin my discussion with customers about PRV’s by using a metaphor. I say, “If you think of your house as an organic methaphor, then the electrical control panel is the brains of the house, and the PRV is the heart”. Most people need to take better care of their hearts.
Testing your PRV: To see if your PRV is working, you just need a cheapie (link photo of a pressure gauge) pressure gauge. You need the kind that attaches to the hose bib. PRV’s have a working pressure range of between 25-75 psi. If your pressure is over 75 psi, your PRV is a dead soldier. The rubber inside of them goes bad, usually within 7 years. I have seen them last 10 years. If your PRV is gone, you might get lucky for a while. The city or municipal supply of water may never exceed 100 psi, and that’s not a big deal.
The problems start when the local water utility has to work on the lines. They will have to shut off a supply temporarily, and if any air gets trapped in the repair, the re-pressurization can spike things upwards of 250 psi. This will blow angle stops off your walls, crack water heater tanks, and blast anything within range. This is why every house is required by code to have a PRV.
The PRV keeps the operating pressure within the house down to below 75 PSI. Some people like higher pressure showers etc. When I replace their PRV and tune the water pressure back down to under 75, they get upset because they want a brisk shower.
Trust me, I am trying to save your Assets when I tell you.. It AINT worth it. Don’t turn your water pressure above 75 psi inside the house for any reason. In fact, if you do, I would not expect any manufacturer of fixtures, such as faucets, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, shower valves etc to honor their warranty. Excess pressure voids warranties! I REPEAT, don’t tell a manufacturer that you exposed a plumbing fixture (such as a water heater) to high pressure.
What to do if you have high pressure: You need a new PRV. The best PRVs are all brass. Double Union PRVs are preferable to single union because if the same unit is obtainable you just need fresh gaskets and the labor to swap is fairly cost effective and straight forward. This will save you money! Give me a call if you need a PRV installed, I am happy to be at your service!