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Installing a Pressure Reducing Valve

Installing a Pressure Reducing Valve

The first thing you have to realize when installing a pressure reducing valve is that these dudes can and do go bad. Replacing a bad valve can be a nightmare if you do not have valves on either side of the pressure valve. These isolation valves allow you to shut off the water easily AND they prevent the water from the house side of the system from draining out. This minimizes the amount of troublesome air that has to be bled from the lines after you install the valve.

Maintaining High Pressure

There may be certain places in your house where you want high pressure. Hoses are a common location. If you install a pressure reducing valve BEFORE the hose bib branches, you will lose your wonderful high pressure.

Take the time necessary to install the extra piping on the high pressure side of your water service line to allow you to keep high pressure at certain fixtures.

Unions at the Valve

Unions are simple threaded compression type fittings that allow you to quickly remove a valve, meter or other fixture from a piping system. They can be purchased where they sweat onto a piping system or they thread onto the pipe. A draw nut at the center of the union draws the two separate pipes together for a leak free joint. They are inexpensive and very easy to install. You will have no trouble with these!

A Pressure Gauge

How will you know what pressure you have after your new valve is installed? The easy way to tell is to purchase a pressure gauge that is permanently attached to the piping system. In actuality, you should have one that is on the high pressure and the low pressure side of the new valve. These simple gauges just thread into a simple tee fitting that you sweat into the water supply piping. You will need to purchase the necessary reducing fittings as many of these gauges have 1/4 or 3/8 inch male threads. The gauges are the only way you will be able to accurately adjust the water pressure.

The Right Pressure

What is the best inside pressure for your house? Well, you will have to determine that for yourself. I happen to prefer water pressure at or near 70 PSI. The model plumbing codes state that 80 PSI or greater is too high. Stay at or below 70 PSI and you will be just fine.

I would not recommend that you drop below 40 or 50 PSI in any instance. You will notice wimpy showers and extended fill times with baths at these lower pressures. Avoid water pressure that hovers at or near 40 PSI. I consider this pressure to be minimal and it actually borders on the nuisance level.

Adjusting Pressure

Pressure valves have a screw on the top of the valve. These allow you to adjust the pressure either higher or lower. You have to follow the valve instructions to see which way to turn the screw for higher or lower pressures. Remember, call a licensed plumber if you are in doubt or are not permitted to alter or extend your water lines. Some states - such as Massachusetts - are VERY restrictive!

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