We offer this basic information on pressure issues, every situation is different and it is by no means professional plumbing advice.
A photograph of the typical water main / meter stack installation is shown on the right. Yours may look different, depending on the type of installation. The water meter for your property may also be located in a pit in the front yard.
1. Check the shut-off valves
Check your shut off valves (pictured below) to ensure that they are in the fully open position. You could have one of two types of handles :
Lever-type handles should be parallel with your pipe. If your handle is perpendicular or at an angle to the pipe it indicates the valve is partially or completely closed.
Rounded handle should be opened all the way counter clockwise. If you turn it to the right and it won't move, then it is in the closed position.
2. Check you pressure at an outside hose bib
To check the water pressure, make sure there is no water being used in the house or the irrigation system. A pressure gauge, which you can purchase at a home improvement center for usually less than $15, should be threaded to the hose bib (pictured below) like you would a garden hose. Once you have secured the pressure gauge, turn the faucet on all the way.
This will give you a baseline of the water pressure at your hose bib. Standard pressure should be between 40-80 pounds per square inch (psi). Pressures higher than 80 psi can possibly damage household appliances. A pressure regulating valve (PRV) can be used to reduce if the pressure is higher than 80 psi.
3. Adjusting a pressure regulating valve (PRV)
Once the household pressure has been determined, you may be able to adjust it up or down using your PRV (pictured below.) The PRV is normally located in the basement, where your water shut offs are located. The PRV is a bell shaped fixture with a lock nut and bolt on the end. Using a flat head screwdriver and a wrench, loosen the lock nut by turning it counter clockwise with a wrench. Do this before adjusting the pressure, which will allow you to maneuver the bolt. Turn the screw clockwise to tighten or increase the pressure, or counter clockwise to loosen lower the pressure. After each full turn of the screw, take a new reading at your outside faucet. This will ensure you are not adjusting the pressure too high or too low.
Remember to count the turns, in case you want to reset the PRV to its original position. The pressure should not be adjusted above 80 psi. Once you have reached the desired water pressure, make sure you re-tighten the lock nut on the PRV.
Is your pressure regulating valve failing?
The most common signs that a PRV is failing are:
Sudden loss of water pressure and water flow.
Sudden high water pressure, which can also be a symptom of a failing water heater expansion tank.
Water pressure surges often occur when a PRV is starting to fail. The water will come out strongly when the faucet is first turned on and then taper off. This means the PRV is unable to hold and maintain the pressure in your system.