Every home is required by code to be equipped with a PRV, otherwise known as a pressure regulating valve or pressure reducing valve. This brass, cone-shaped large valve is located on your inbound main line, most of the time inside the home. You may never have seen this valve if you have a crawlspace or a finished basement, but, it’s there (or should be). The function of a PRV is to regulate the water pressure inside your home between 55 and 70 psi.
The water pressure on your main waterline before it reaches your home, and subsequently your PRV, is around 130-160 psi. This is far too much for your faucets, toilet valves, and other plumbing fixtures to safely handle. This large amount of pressure would cause damage to the components in these items, causing damage and leaks. So in order to keep the water pressure at a safe level, a PRV is installed to reduce and regulate the pressure at a consistent level, extending the life of your plumbing fixtures and piping. They do this by using an internally mounted spring and diaphragm assembly that manages the pressure by moving the water through multiple chambers. Imagine the muffler on your car…only a little more complex.
Like any other valve, PRV’s have a limited lifespan. Their total working time depends on several things, including street pressure, usage, and quality, but the average lifespan of one of these ranges from 7-12 years, with some exceptions. PRV’s can be easily damaged, however, and often you will notice pressure issues in your home after only a few years. Small bits of debris can find their way into waterlines, damaging or clogging the mechanism that controls pressure. The internal diaphragm, being made of a softer material, can be torn if debris enters the valve. This event will often cause a humming or banging sound coming from your water pipes, known as water hammer. High quality valves are less apt, but still vulnerable to these problems. Some brands and models have a longer life expectancy than others, and we only install the highest quality, well known valves in your home. These valves come in sizes from 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ for residential applications, and even larger for commercial properties. We install and service them all.
So when you see a sudden increase or decrease in your water pressure, unknown sounds when you use faucets or flush a toilet, or if it’s simply been several yuears since your last replacement, have your PRV replaced. It will save you costly repairs elsewhere in your home and keep your plumbing system in check.
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