How to find your water pressure regulator (and what to do with it when you do)

Written by Adam Morris
5 Min read
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Table of contents

Water pressure regulators are specialist plumbing devices that are engineered to control the water pressure in your home. If your home is connected to water mains, the chances are you have varying water pressure at different times of the day. This is especially true if you live on or near the top of a multi-story building where the water flow is working against gravity to reach the uppermost areas.

Knowing why you need a water pressure regulator, where to locate it, and what to do when you find it, is an extremely useful skill to have in your DIY arsenal.

Read on to find out more.

What is a water pressure regulator and why do I need one?

Whilst a powerful jet stream of water from your taps or shower every time you switch them on might seem like a good thing, it’s actually pretty bad for several reasons:

  • You’ll be using way too much water which will cost both your pocket and the environment over time
  • You’ll wear out fixtures and fittings much more quickly
  • Your nice morning shower won’t be all that relaxing
  • You’ll be more at risk of having to deal with a pipe blowout caused by hairline cracks and leaks

Water pressure regulators work using an internal diaphragm, a spring, and an adjustable screw that allows you to regulate the flow of water. As high-water pressure enters, the spring and diaphragm make it more difficult for water to pass through.

How do I know if I need a water pressure regulator?

If the water pressure coming into your home exceeds 80 psi, then you need a water pressure regulator. You can save gallons of water (and hundreds of dollars) by reducing the system pressure to between 10 – 20 psi.

How to test water pressure

Water pressure measures how quickly the water flows through the pipes in your home. It is measured in bar and pounds per square inch (psi) just like the air in your car tires.

To easily measure the flow rate at your home, you can do this by timing how long it takes to fill a 1-liter water jug.

Before starting, make sure all other taps, water sources, and appliances such as a washing machine and dishwasher are switched off. Then simply place a 1-liter water jug under the tap you’re going to test and use a stopwatch to time how long the water takes to reach the top – the ideal flow rate will fill this jug in 6-seconds.

Alternatively, you can buy a pressure gauge from a hardware store and test the pressure on any hose bib or washing machine water tap.

Where to locate your water pressure regulator

Your water pressure regulator is most likely to be situated very close to your main shut-off valve. You can usually find your main shut-off valve in one of the following locations:

  • Under or at the top of your water tank
  • In your basement close to the outdoor hose bib
  • Under the crawl space, usually along the front wall of the house
  • Near the water heater
  • Under the kitchen sink

How to adjust your water pressure regulator

Adjusting the water pressure using your regulator is a relatively simple task. After finding the regulator, you’ll need to locate the top screw and lock nut, and then simply loosen or tighten the screw according to whether you need more or less water pressure.

Remember this saying: ‘left loosey/righty tighty’

Tightening the screw (righty tighty) will decrease the water pressure and loosening the screw (lefty loosey) will increase the water pressure.

What if I don’t have a water pressure regulator?

If you don’t already have a water pressure regulator and need one, they can be purchased relatively cheaply from online stores like Amazon, or you could pick one up from your local hardware store. Make sure you check the size you’ll need for your pipes first!

Installing the regulator, yourself isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to be comfortable performing basic plumbing jobs as it involves draining water and cutting out sections of pipe work. If you’re new to plumbing or don’t feel your maintenance skills are up to this task, then you should contact a licensed plumber for assistance.

Maintaining a water pressure regulator

Most water pressure regulators are advertised with a five-year lifespan, but as with any appliance or gadget, this timeframe can increase or decrease according to the amount it is used. Ideally, you should check the regulator once a year for signs of wear and tear.

Common signs that your regulator may need replacing:

  • Your water pressure suddenly starts to fluctuate and is higher or lower than normal when you run the taps or shower
  • You notice vibrating noises in the wall when you use the water
  • The regulator develops a leak

Conclusion

Water pressure regulators help to modulate the water pressure in your home. Too much pressure and your pipes are at risk of leaks and cracks which could lead to a pipe blowout, and if the pressure is too low, you’ll have a miserable time waiting for baths to fill and showers to work consistently.

Finding, adjusting, and even installing a water pressure regulator is easy with just a little know-how, but if you’re in any way unsure then a licensed plumber would be more than happy to help.

FAQs

What does a water regulator look like?

A water pressure regulator is a brass fitting that is shaped like a dome. It is generally found just after the main water shut-off valve, where the main water line enters the house. Water pressure regulators consist of an internal diaphragm, a spring, and an adjustable screw that allows you to regulate the flow of water.

Does my house have a pressure regulator?

If you are unsure whether you have a water pressure regulator, then you need to have a quick search for it! They are usually located just after the main water shut-off valve and look like a dome-shaped brass fitting.

Is 70 psi too high for water pressure?

The ideal water pressure is between 10-20 psi - at this pressure, you are within the sweet spot of having enough pressure to fulfil your daily needs without damaging your pipes and the environment. You’ll also be saving thousands of gallons more water (and therefore dollars) than if your water pressure is at 70 psi.  

If your water pressure exceeds 80 psi, then you most definitely need a water pressure regulator to reduce this.

How do I lower my water pressure?

You can easily lower your water pressure via your water pressure regulator. This regulator is located adjacent to your main water shut-off valve and can be tightened to lower the water pressure in your home.

Appliances made simple. 

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