Water pressure regulators are of absolute necessity to protect the interior fresh water of the RV from taking on damage from high water pressure.
Why and when should you use a water pressure regulator? Most RVs can only take water pressurized to 40-50 psi. The external water supply will vary drastically in pressure from town to town. Some public water supply systems have been recorded as having a stream coming out at ratings as high as 120 psi. This can easily damage pipes and fittings.
Water pressure regulators are by no means expensive types of equipment. They are either pre-set at the desired pressure rating or adjustable. Installation is usually pretty simple, too, as these outdoor models are designed to be screwed onto the external water supply with the hands.
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What Is A Water Pressure Regulator?
A water pressure regulator is exactly what it sounds like. It is a component that is responsible for controlling the pressure of the water that is coming into your RV and is located at the point where the water supply hose connects to the RV.
Here is how the water pressure regulator works:
- There is an adjustable diaphragm within the valve
- The diaphragm is loaded with a spring
- Water flowing through the valve is constricted by the loaded spring
- The result is a lowered water pressure
- A pressure gauge controls to which degree the water pressure is lowered
You can see how these parts work by looking at the manual for the Twinkle Star RV Water Pressure Regulator. The regulator has ¾” threads at the ends, making it compatible with all American water sources. The pressure gauge allows for adjustments from 0-160 psi.
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Installation is also simple and straightforward:
- Connect the fitting of the water regulator to the hose tap of the water source
- The regulator unit is attached to the spigot at the water source, hence the reason why these are typically rated for outdoor use only
- Connect the water hose the other side of the regulator
- Open the water supply of the RV and flush the hose and regulator for one minute
- Connect the hose to the RV’s water intake system
- Open all the fixtures in the RV
- The pressure can be adjusted easily using the regulator screw
The installation process is not overly complex. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions, as your system may come with specific instructions for setting up your unit. Water pressure regulators will come factory pre-set or adjustable.
What Tools Do I Need To Install A Water Pressure Regulator In My RV?
Since water pressure regulators are usually attached directly to the spigot or water source itself, there are not many tools that are needed for installation. You should make sure that your water supply hose is rated for RVs.
You can usually tell when a water supply hose is rated for RV use. They will look less like a garden hose and more like this Camco Freshwater Hose.
You may also want a screwdriver, which you will probably already have on hand, to adjust the pressure of the regulator in models that are adjustable.
Your RV May Already Have A Water Pressure Regulator Factory-Installed
Your RV may already have a water pressure regulator pre-installed at the connection for the water supply line. In-line regulators are recommended by manufacturers when the RV is being connected to any external water supply, even in the case that the regulator had not already come installed in the RV.
Check with your RV owner’s manual to see if a water pressure regulator has already been installed. If you are still unsure, check near the water supply line of the RV.
The regulator would be located close to the hose connection because the whole point is to protect all the interior components of the water supply system.
Your RV Can Become Damaged From Excess Water Pressure
A water pressure regulator is absolutely necessary because excess pressure can cause the RV to become damaged. RVs and travel trailers have a specified water pressure threshold.
For example, Winnebago recommends not setting the water pressure to any more than 50 psi. This is not uncommon, as most RV manufacturers will recommend that you keep your water pressure in the range of 40-50 psi.
Be sure to check with your manufacturer before setting the water pressure in your RV.
Related reading: No Or Low Water Pressure In Travel Trailer? Here’s What To Do
Water Pressure Differs From One Location To Another
The water pressure will not be the same at every RV park. You will need a way to be able to adjust the incoming supply because the water might be coming in at a pressure that exceeds the RV manufacturer recommendations for maximum psi.
It is not worth the risk to simply assume that the water pressure at the parks you visit will be adequate for your travel trailer. Many municipalities will set the water pressure at high values so that an adequate water supply can be sent to all locations on the grid.
This Is How You Extend Equipment Life In Your RV
Equipping your RV with a water pressure regulator will help extend the life of equipment in the water supply line. Not setting the water pressure will result in pipes, fittings, and other components becoming damaged from excess water pressure.
Utility companies are not required to limit the maximum water pressure, although they are required to meet a minimum water pressure. There have been notable cases where excess water pressure has led to thousands of dollars of damage in homes.
Anything beyond 80 psi is considered high water pressure by plumbing code. In one case, a water pressure gauge showed an incoming water pressure of 120 psi.
Anything even remotely close to 80 psi would be considered excessive for an RV, and there is not necessarily anything stopping utility companies from sending water out at this high pressure. Avoid causing damage to your RV by using a water pressure regulator.
What Kind Of Water Pressure Regulator Should I Get For My RV?
You will need to seek out a water pressure regulator that is made of brass to protect your portable water. Any water pressure regulator that you find on the market today will be made of brass and will also probably qualify as being lead-free.
This unit is fitted with a US ¾” NH thread to fit all water sources, as should be the case with any water pressure regulator that you purchase.
The water pressure can be adjusted accordingly via the use of a screwdriver. This regulator allows you to adjust the pressure from 0 to 160 psi.
This model is also fitted with a US ¾” NH thread. Water pressure can be adjusted within a range of 0 to 160 psi. This regulator also has an inlet screened filter designed to keep out large particles such as gravel and other debris.
This unit also has a US ¾” NH thread. This is perhaps one of the more affordable options as far as water pressure regulators go. Part of the reason for this affordability is that this regulator comes with a factory pre-set pressure setting of 40/50 psi.
This model comes with a colored gauge, making it easy to see when the water pressure is too low or too high.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions people often have about Water Pressure Regulators:
What Are The Symptoms of a Bad Water Pressure Regulator?
If you have a bad water pressure regulator in your RV, you will probably know about it pretty quickly. How? Because it will typically cause little to no water pressure straight away when there’s a problem. But don’t worry, replacing it will fix the issue.
However, there are other symptoms to watch out for. This includes:
- Dirty water — it’s likely that it’s just your filter that needs cleaning or replacing.
- No water coming out — you might have to clean the mesh at the inlet or replace the regulator entirely. However, it could be because there is a kink, crack, or clog in the hose. In which case, replace it or simply remove the kink or clog.
If you experience these symptoms, follow our advice to fix them. But, if that doesn’t work, then it’s a problem with the water supply and not your regulator.
In some cases, you can add an aerated showerhead to ensure the pressure is strong enough. Having said that, you want to put this much effort into it if you’re not going to be at the campsite for very long. But, it’s up to you!
Related reading: Why Does My RV Water Smell Like Sulfur? – 4 Ways to Fix It
How Long Does a Water Pressure Regulator Last?
How long does a water pressure regulator last? On average you can expect a water pressure regulator to last between 8 to 10 years. However, this all comes down to the materials your water pressure regulator is constructed from and how often you use it.
The most durable options tend to be made from brass. This is because it’s incredibly strong and can therefore handle higher water pressures.
Not to mention that it protects your entire regulator from damage.
If yours is made from ABS plastic, you should expect it to break down much sooner than others. Why? ABS plastic is extremely fragile.
Plus, it has a set psi that you cannot change, meaning it’s easier to burst your pipes. And who wants that, right?
Our advice? Purchase an expertly crafted one straight off the bat. You will save a load of money in the long run, even if it tarnishes your bank account at the beginning.
Does a Longer Hose Reduce Water Pressure?
Does a longer hose reduce water pressure? If you are wanting a super-short answer then here it is: yes, in theory. Theoretically, the longer your hose is, the less pressure you will experience from the faucet or showerhead. But, this doesn’t always apply.
Your regulator should be designed with attached hose length in mind so whatever you use, you’ll be able to adjust the psi accordingly.
It is likely that whatever hose you use, it is going to be relatively short in the grand scheme of things. This is good! Why? Because the above theory won’t apply.
It is only when you start getting to the really, really long industrial hoses that this comes into play.
What Happens When a Pressure Regulator Valve Fails?
To be honest, nothing catastrophic as usually, they are easy to fix or replace. Plus, it depends on whether it has failed due to high water pressure or low water pressure.
If it’s due to low water pressure, then you will probably find that the water flow will continue to slow down until you’re left with no running water.
Obviously, this is not ideal — especially if you’re living completely off the grid. In this case, it isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a hazard for your health.
On the other hand, high water pressure can cause your RV’s water pressure regulator to fail if it rises above the maximum level. Your pipes, filters, fixtures, and fittings are likely to leak. In extreme cases, your plumbing pipes might burst or at least crack.
Of course, this is quite pricey to fix so you ideally need to prevent this from happening at all costs.
So, while it won’t kill you, it is necessary to do everything in your power to keep your regulator happy and healthy. The easiest way to do this is to invest in a unit that has an adjustable psi.
Can I Run My Water Pump While Connected to City Water?
Can you run your water pump while connected to city water? No, when you are connected to city water, you should not run your RV’s fresh water pump. Your pump is designed specifically to siphon the water out of your freshwater holding tank when you’re not plugged into the city’s supply.
The city’s system will give you the right amount of water pressure for your system — at least, it should.
However, you can implement a few things (that you probably have already) to make sure you can run your freshwater system safely while hooked up to the city. You’ll need the following:
- Water pressure regulator — we know you’ve got this otherwise you wouldn’t be here! But you can use it if the city’s water pressure is too high. If you don’t, your RV’s poor plumbing will suffer greatly. You should ensure it’s around 45 psi for your campervan.
- Heavy Duty Drinking Hose — these are developed with fresh-tasting drinking water in mind. Don’t worry, you won’t get a disgusting, rubbery taste. It’s just like drinking out of a faucet! Remember, you should not use this to clean your RV or your water holding tanks.
- Water filter — this ensures no sediment, tastes, or odors get into your glass. You need to use them even when you’re just filling up your holding tanks.
Do RV Water Pressure Regulators Go Bad?
Do RV water pressure regulators go bad? The short answer is yes. No matter what it is, it will go bad eventually. But that doesn’t mean to say that it will break right now. The durability and longevity of your water pressure regulator are also determined by the materials it is made from.
If you have one that does not have an adjustable psi, then you shouldn’t expect it to last for very long. Sometimes, the campsite’s pressure will be too high for it, causing it to break.
However, if you have invested in one with an adjustable psi gauge, then it will last a lot longer. Generally, these are the way to go since it will save you loads of cash in the long run.
Alongside all of this, you can make a good estimate as to how long your regulator will last by figuring out the capacity of your RV’s plumbing system.
Typically, they can handle at least 60 psi but make sure to check your specific model.
What Is The Difference Between a Pressure Reducing Valve and a Pressure Regulator?
What is the difference between a pressure reducing valve and a pressure regulator? A pressure regulator provides a consistent downstream pressure, even when upstream pressures have constant fluctuations. A pressure reducing valve does just that — reduces the upstream pressure in the valve.
This ensures that you can use your RV’s water system safely, for long periods of time. It’s important to note here that the downstream pressure will be equal to the upstream pressure. Plus, it is not constant.
You are much better off having a pressure regulator since you can accurately control what comes out of your faucets and showerheads.
There is also something called a pressure relief valve which you may or may not have heard of before.
This can be pretty useful if the upstream pressure is too high, it can dump the excess off to ensure your system isn’t compromised. Essentially, it’s a safety tool.
Why Does My Water Pump Keep Running in My RV?
First of all, let’s just make it clear that this should not be happening. There is definitely a problem with your pump if you realize it’s occurring in your RV.
Why does my water pump keep running in my RV? The reason could be a loose connection or a faulty valve, air can enter which causes faucets that sputter — and sometimes gushes of water squirted into your unsuspecting face. Not great!
If you aren’t trying to run water and your pump keeps running, there is likely a leak somewhere. Hopefully, it is just a loose connection but that’s not always the case.
Sometimes, you might have a crack in one of the lines or a damaged pressure gauge.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, always prepare your water system for winter. We’ve seen so many people forget to do this and their water pump freezes over.
You have no choice but to replace the whole system if this happens. So, avoid it as much as possible!
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