From washing our dishes and clothing to taking a relaxing bubble bath, we rely on our plumbing system each and every day to help us with most of our domestic duties and to simply relax. But your plumbing has needs of its own – it requires steady water pressure to function correctly.

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To find out how to measure water pressure and, more importantly, why, just keep on reading.

What does it mean to pressure-test your plumbing?

The idea behind a pressure test is to check your plumbing for leaks and blockages, as well as to determine whether the water is passing through your system under normal pressure. As a general guideline, water pressure under 30 psi (pounds per square inches) is considered too low, while the pressure of 80 psi or above – too high.

The three most common methods to test if your plumbing is functioning correctly is by:

  • Attaching a water pressure gauge to either a washing machine or a garden hose bib;
  • Injecting air inside the system (perfect for testing plumbing in sub-zero temperatures);
  • Forcing smoke-filled air through a sewer line to accurately detect plumbing leaks.

Why should you perform a pressure test at all?

Think of the water pressure inside your plumbing as blood pressure. As you know, high blood pressure puts enormous stress on our bodies and can potentially cause a stroke.

The same applies to your plumbing – feed it with water above 80 psi and your washing machine, water heater, faucets, and everything else connected to it are likely to sustain heavy damage.

In more severe cases, water may even escape through flex lines or the hose of your washing machine and flood your entire property! But even if your building has a pressure regulator in place, it’s still recommended to carry out a water pressure test as their typical lifespan is about 5 to 7 years and the test may expose some hidden faults in your regulator.

How to Pressure Test Your Plumbing

There are several ways in which you can measure water pressure. A popular method is to use a pressure gauge that can measure psi units, which you can purchase from any hardware or home improvement store near you. Once you have one, here is what you need to do next:

  • Make sure water isn’t being used anywhere inside or outside of your property as this will lead to false low-pressure readings. This includes sprinklers, refrigerators, washing machines, ice makers, and dishwashers.
  • Disconnect your garden hose from the outside hose bib and connect the pressure gauge in its place.
  • Screw the pressure gauge tightly to ensure a good seal. Even the slightest leak can produce an inaccurate result.
  • Turn the hose bib on and take a look at the readings on your pressure gauge. If you get readings of 75 psi or more, this means that your pressure regulator is faulty or that you need to install one. Low psi (30 or less) might indicate that you have a leaking pipe.

If you don’t have access to an outside bib, you can also connect your gauge to your washing machine by:

  • Shutting off either of its two valves.
  • Unplugging the washing machine hose.
  • Screwing the pressure gauge in its place.
  • Turning the water valve back on to get a reading.

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What are some other ways to perform a plumbing test?

As already mentioned, there are a few extra methods that you or your plumbing specialist can use to get accurate water readings. Below, we will briefly discuss some of these alternatives.

Pressure-testing with air

Increasingly used by both homeowners and professional plumbers, this method is perfect for when you want to test your plumbing at sub-zero temperatures. To perform this, plumbers use air compressors to “inject” air inside the plumbing system, after which constant pressure of 100 psi is maintained over the course of 2 hours to expose potential vulnerabilities. If there are any air leaks, your specialist will inject a special leak detection fluid to promptly find and seal them.

Pressure-testing with smoke

If you smell any sewer gases at home, you need to quickly pinpoint the source since prolonged exposure can compromise your health. But the only way you can know for sure where the smell is coming from is by using smoke.

This method has been used by plumbers for about 40 years now and involves the release of smoke under pressure inside a sewer line. The smoke will then fill the main line and any connections that it may have, and will escape through the same openings that the gases use to enter your property.

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How often should you pressure-test your plumbing?

To ensure that your plumbing system is working well and to prevent leakages, you should pressure-test your system at least twice each year. If you don’t do that, the water pressure may rise unnoticed and damage your plumbing, your appliances, and even result in high water bills.

But if you don’t have the time or the confidence to pressure-test your UK home’s plumbing on your own, Fantastic Handyman is here to help.

We work with qualified, uniformed, and fully equipped plumbing specialists who will take accurate psi readings of your plumbing system and provide efficient solutions to problems caused by high water pressure, such as leaking faucets, running toilets, and more. Get in touch today to receive your price quote free of charge.

Final Words

If your washing machine cannot pump enough water or broke down way before its expiration date, then you likely have a water pressure issue on your hands. Usually, a simple and inexpensive water gauge test, like the one shown above, should be enough to fix the issue, with smoke and air testing becoming necessary only in specific scenarios.

However, if you experience problems even after bringing your water pressure back to normal, make sure to consult a professional as soon as you can!

Click here to check the price list of our professional plumbers team.


Did our readers help you to successfully identify and fix a problem with your plumbing system? Or perhaps you’ve heard of even better ways to pressure-test a plumbing system? Do share your experience in the comment section below and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to be always on top of your home renovation and maintenance game!

Image source: Mikhail Gnatkovskiy/

  • Last update: June 13, 2019

Posted in Plumbing Tips

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