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Know Your RV: Water pressure regulators keep geysers out of your RV

As many as 2,000 people are on hand each time Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser pops off. You can bet a lot of them got there in their RVs. Geysers are fascinating—a lot of water under pressure, looking for an out. But one place a geyser isn’t welcome is inside your RV. But water under pressure is always seeking an “out.” If there’s too much pressure, your RV plumbing could be that out. Using a water pressure regulator can hold down the stress, and keep your RV plumbing dry.

Plumbing safety device

A water pressure regulator is a simple device that acts as an RV plumbing safety device. Every time you hook up your RV to a “city water” outlet, you run some risk. Water pressure is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch. While manufacturers of many newer RVs claim their plumbing can handle up to 100 PSI, prevailing thought is for safety: Never exceed 60 PSI. Owners of older rigs should probably keep the pressure down to 45 to 50 PSI.

But pulling into an RV park, you can’t be sure just what kind of water pressure you’ll encounter. Water pressure in a park system doesn’t always stay the same—demands can lower or raise the pressure in moments. That’s why using a pressure regulator can help keep your RV safe.

Choosing the right regulator

pressure regulatorThere are two basic types of RV water pressure regulators. The less expensive, around $10, are non-adjustable regulators. Most claim to hold water pressure down to 40 to 50 PSI. There are basically two different “flavors” of this type: brass or plastic. We’ve used both types, and they seem to work the same. However, if you decide to buy a brass regulator, look for one that is “lead-free.” For a few extra bucks, some of the brass regulators include a dial gauge showing the water pressure. But the advertisements are hard to decipher—it’s not clear whether the gauge shows the “regulated” pressure, or that which is coming from the park supply.

Our experience with non-adjustable pressure regulators seems to tally up with what many others have said. They hold the pressure down, but they also seem to reduce the available flow of water—at times making it impossible to get a good shower. Our last water pressure regulator purchase went to the other type—adjustable.

pressure regulatorAdjustable pressure regulators are just that. Turn on the park water supply, and adjust the pressure delivered to your RV. A gauge shows the delivered PSI, and most allow you to set it anywhere from zero on up as high as the park pressure. These regulators are brass. Again, you can search for lead-free brass. Prices range from around $20 to $30. The unit we bought was a giant step up from our earlier non-adjustable units. The flow-through seems to be much better, and showers are typically, well, like a shower should be.

Hook it up

Using a water pressure regulator is fairly straightforward. There are threads on each end of the regulator. It’s best to put the regulator on the park water outlet, then hook your water hose to the regulator. That way the hose is also protected from high-pressure situations.

If you’re using an adjustable pressure regulator, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on setting the desired pressure. Typically this means turning on the park water, then using a screwdriver to turn a screw to set the pressure. When it’s time to move on, be sure to empty water out of the regulator before storing it.

You’ll find a wide range of water pressure regulators on Amazon.

Tune in next week for more “Know Your RV” tips. And if there’s something about your RV that you’d like to know, drop us a line. Use the form below, and insert “Know Your RV” on the subject line.


You may also enjoy this article:

Know Your RV: 7 tips for a happy RV toilet

For many new to the RV lifestyle, the RV toilet is a mysterious dweller in a tiny closet. But if you plan on spending any time with your RV, you’ll soon need to get intimately acquainted. Here are important tips to get along with what can be a good friend on the road. Read it here.


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Other stories by Russ and Tiña De Maris.

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G. Smith
2 months ago

I stopped using my pressure regulator about ten years ago. Instead, we always use water from our tank. We’re good for four or five days and there is not much chance of overfilling our holding tanks. When we run low on freshwater it’s time to refill and dump.

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago
Reply to  G. Smith

We pretty much do the same thing, G. Our water pump supplies more pressure (great for showers!) than most hookups.

Thom R
2 months ago

I’ve used both types, the nice adjustable ones don’t seem to last much longer than the cheapies, with the high mineral content in AZ water. I replace either type every year just to be safe. I’d rather spend $25 on a new regulator every year than fix a catastrophe somewhere in a wall!

Jay
2 months ago

I measure the pressure with a screw on pressure gauge before hooking anything up. Typically it’s around 50 psi but one campground had 110 psi! The regulator with the gauge is nice and I have one of those. The gauge got Irreversibly damaged during storage in my trailer over the winter though-probably some water was trapped inside and froze. Better to store indoors when freezing outside.

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