It’s a good idea to test water pressure in the home a couple times per year as part of a plumbing maintenance checklist. Testing water pressure is quick and easy and all you need is a simple and inexpensive pressure gauge.
Having too much water pressure can do harm to basically all of the plumbing fixtures, and it can cause blowouts in flex lines or washing machine hoses which in turn can cause flood damage to the house. Some people even have dedicated gauges hooked up somewhere in the water line so they can check the water pressure quickly and easily with just a glance. However, this isn’t necessary since it is so easy to connect a standard pressure gauge.
It’s a good idea to test water pressure even if you have a pressure regulator because it isn’t necessarily obvious when one fails. Testing water pressure occasionally can catch a problem with the pressure regulator before the high pressure can damage any plumbing. If your water comes from a city or municipal water utility, select a faucet or hose bib near or at the water meter. If you get your water from a well, use an outlet that is close to the well's pressure tank.
To test water pressure, you'll need a pressure gauge that measures in psi (pounds per square inch), available at a local hardware or home improvement store. To make it really easy, get one with female hose threads so you will be able to screw this into a hose bib or washing machine bib.
- Remove the hose from an outside hose bib and screw the pressure gauge onto the fixture. There should be a rubber hose gasket inside the pressure gauge which will make it seal easily. You should be able to simply hand tighten the pressure gauge and get a good seal. If it leaks a little then you will have to tighten it a bit more with pliers because a good seal is necessary to accurately read the psi.
- Turn the hose bib on to get a reading of the water pressure. Most common pressure regulators have a maximum adjustment up to 75 psi, so if the reading on the pressure gauge is over 75 psi then you know that the pressure regulator is not working correctly and will have to be repaired or replaced. If you don't currently have a pressure regulator installed and the water pressure reading is this high, you should install a regulator.
- An alternate place to check your water pressure at your house is your washing machine bib. You will have to shut off one of the two valves behind the washing machine and disconnect the washing machine hose. Then simply screw on the pressure gauge and turn the valve on to get a reading.
Note: To get an accurate reading when you test water pressure, make sure water isn’t being used anywhere inside or outside the house. Turn off washing machines, sprinklers, refrigerators with ice makers and dishwashers. When you test the pressure with a gauge, you are measuring the static water pressure; if water is moving anywhere in your plumbing system, that may cause a false low reading.