How Does a Water Pressure Regulator Work | The Basics

by Team MD


If the water pressure is something that you have problems with, you have probably heard about water pressure regulators. How does a water pressure regulator work, you ask? If you want to get a good understanding of how these devices function, this comprehensive article contains all the answers that you so desperately need!


What is a water pressure regulator?

Before we get to detail how a device of this sort works, it is imperative to understand what a water pressure regulator is. A water pressure regulator is also known as a PRV or a pressure-reducing valve. As this second name suggests, a regulator of this sort is a valve that has the purpose of reducing the water pressure that comes from the main water line. 

Therefore, a device of this kind has the important function of bringing down the pressure of the water to what can be called a safe level, so that the water that enters the plumbing fixtures inside your home does so safely. On average, most home plumbing fixtures can only work as intended at a pressure of around 50 pounds per square inch. Yet, in some cities, the water can enter the home at higher pressures of around 150 to 200 psi. 

As you probably intuit, the  lack of a water pressure-reducing valve can cause serious plumbing issues. According to the specialists, not all homes require a PRV. However, a PRV is essential if the speed at which the municipal water enters your home is high, or if the pressure of the water in your area is irregular.

If the pressure of the water is too high, the joints of your water installation are likely to fail, and the appliances that are connected to the water supply such as your dishwasher or washing machine will most likely break. Yet, it is worth pointing out that, some household appliances do come provided with built-in PRVs. 


Do I need one?

If you are unsure whether or not you need a regulator, one thing that you can do is to test the pressure of the water in your mainline. To do this, you have to purchase a gauge or a pressure meter from the local hardware store or an online specialized vendor.

If the test indicates that the water pressure is constant, that is, between 40 and 60 psi, you will not need a water pressure regulator. During the test, make sure that no water is being used, so that the results are not compromised. 

Another practical thing that you can do to avoid the test entirely, is to contact your local water supplier and to inquire whether or not you need to use a PRV. 


How does a PRV work?

A pressure regulator is a device that includes a diaphragm that can be adjusted so that the pressure on the innerspring is increased. This will guarantee that the pressure of the water that exits the valve is lower. Therefore, when the water is flowing through the regulator, the valve gets constricted by the spring load and, as a result, the water that comes into your home line does so at a safe pressure.

If the adjustment screw on the regulator is loosened, water will flow more freely and the pressure of the water will increase. By using a PRV, you can protect your installation as less stress will be put on the inner valves of your water appliances. This also means that, as a result, the shutoff valves in your home are less likely to leak.  


How to install a water pressure regulator?

If you need to install PRV, the best position that you can choose is just after the main shutoff valve. This will enable the device to protect all the pipes in your home and, on top of that, you will have no issues shutting off the main valve when/if you need to replace the pressure regulator in the following years. 

If you already use a water regulator, replacing it is not difficult, as you will most likely be able to find one of the same size, that is made by the same manufacturer. However, if you have no experience with plumbing work, you should hire a professional for the task. The same is true if you do not have a regulator and you need to install one.  

After the installation is completed, you will have to test the pressure of the water once more to make sure that you now have the desired pressure. 

Once again, if you are not an experienced plumber, it is not a good idea to try to replace or to install a water regulator without professional help. When compared to other plumbing jobs, installing a regulator is more challenging because it requires numerous adjustments to one’s main supply line. 

If the pressure is set to high, you will have to deal with numerous plumbing issues such as your faucet dripping, your toilet running constantly, and many others. However, if the pressure is too low, you will have to deal with low shower pressure and other annoying problems that can make your life somewhat unbearable. As a result, it can be safely said that the installation of a PRV is no task for a DIY enthusiast. 


Maintenance is key

Just like any of the water plumbing fixtures in your home, the new water pressure regulator will not work forever. As the years pass, these devices stop working correctly and they have to be replaced. 

On average, a water pressure regulator will work for 10 to 15 years. Still, it is worth noting that the market is packed with various models made of different materials. This is why you should not expect all of them to last the same. 

To have a good grasp of how the PRV that you have just had installed is working, the specialists recommend that you do a water pressure test once a year, as changes in the water pressure can let you know if you have to buy a new regulator. 

Moreover, you should know that it is likely that, every three years the regulator that you use will malfunction. This does not mean that you have to completely replace these devices. If this happens, it is advisable to have a professional plumber take a look and fix the issue in due time. 

Some of the tell-tale signs that indicate that your regulator is broken are reduced or high water pressure and water hammering. If you fail to install a regulator and your water pressure is too high, in extreme cases, there is a chance that your pipes will burst. As you can imagine, fixing this problem can prove rather costly. 


Benefits of water pressure regulators

Apart from protecting your appliances and water installation, there are a couple of extra benefits of using a good PRV. Firstly, a device of this sort can help you cut back on your water usage. If you want to cut down on your water bills, a water regulator can help you do just that. When the pressure of the water is stabilized, your plumbing won’t fail and, thus, you won’t lose water due to leaks and other similar issues such as pipe bursts. 

Secondly, a PRV can help you save the money and time that you normally waste when you have to replace gaskets, seals, and other such fixtures. Besides, a regulator can help you maximize the life of all the fixtures that you rely on a day to day basis.

Another important benefit that should not go overlooked is the fact that a regulator can help you keep your appliances that need a water supply running as expected. Similar to seals and faucets, these appliances can be affected by high water pressure. As you know, when a dishwasher or a washing machine breaks, the cost of repairing it can be rather high. Also, the time that it takes for the appliance to be repaired can be long and the lack of such an appliance can make your daily life a living nightmare. 



Having good water pressure in your home is important. Many times, we take small things such as water pressure for granted, and we only learn to appreciate them when a problem occurs and we no longer can enjoy them. 

If you do not want to have to end up having to deal with the financial burden of having to repair your water installation due to issues caused by extra pressure, investing in a quality water pressure regulator is the best thing that you can do. There are numerous models that you can select from, and finding a professional that can install the PRV is not that complicated.

On top of that, a device of this sort brings about a couple of equally important benefits that are worth considering, such as the fact that it can help you save money on your water bill. So, if you already know that you have problems with your water pressure, it is recommended that you do the needed research and that you buy a regulator that suits your needs. 



Related Posts