We recently posted an article about how to connect your RV to full hookups to give new RVers a boost of confidence as they set out on the marvelous journey of RV travel, as we did 18 years ago. Among the items we mentioned as necessary to have onboard your RV is a water pressure regulator.
There’s no getting around this one, and there’s no excuse to not carry it. They’re inexpensive, readily available, small, lightweight, and absolutely essential. In today’s post, we’ll tell you why.
What is an RV Water Pressure Regulator?
An RV water pressure regulator is a valve that connects to a water source to control the pressure of the water entering your RV’s plumbing system from the city water connections in campgrounds and RV parks. Here’s a basic version that’s very commonly used:
- Helps protect RV plumbing and hoses from high pressure city water
- Attaches easily with 3/4" garden hose threads
One end of the regulator screws onto the spigot of your water source, and the other end connects to your water hose. Its purpose is to prevent excessive water pressure from damaging your RV’s plumbing system.
How Does an RV Water Pressure Regulator Work?
A water pressure regulator has a spring-loaded diaphragm designed to control the size of the outlet opening. The greater the inlet pressure is hitting that diaphragm, the smaller the outlet opening is, thus controlling the pressure on the outlet side. All of this is designed to regulate the amount of pressure in your RV’s plumbing system, reducing it to safe levels, protecting your RV’s plumbing and your RV itself from potentially costly water damage.
Does My RV Need a Water Pressure Regulator?
In a word, yes.
RV plumbing can’t sustain the kind of water pressure that enters a building, because the plumbing in an RV is less robust and not designed for high-pressure water delivery. Municipal water systems, for example, can deliver water pressure as high as 150-200 psi. By contrast, most RV plumbing specialists recommend that the water pressure supplied to an RV not exceed 60 psi, with a comfortable recommended pressure of around 40-50 psi.
Without a pressure regulator as protection, excessive water pressure may be allowed to run into your RV’s plumbing system, risking damage to seals, fittings, and the plastic “PEX” pipes running throughout your RV.
The bottom line? No matter where you hook up your RV, you can’t be completely certain of the water pressure UNLESS you use a water pressure regulator.
It only takes one bad experience with the consequence of exploded plumbing and a flooded RV to make crystal clear the absolute necessity of this essential item.
Do RV Water Pressure Regulators Go Bad?
It’s possible for your regulator to degrade or stop working after substantial time and use. If you find yourself with low water pressure or none at all, (particularly if you’ve used the same source previously without issues), your regulator may be the culprit.
When faced with low or no water pressure, first check for other common issues such as a kinked hose (unless, of course, you have a kink-free fresh water hose) or plugged water filter. If you don’t find a kink in your hose and you’ve removed or replaced your inline water filter, it may be time to replace your pressure regulator. Many RVers even carry an extra one, a reasonable idea given the affordability of basic regulators at less than $10.
If you’ve identified the regulator as the culprit for your low flow, but don’t have a spare on hand, we’d suggest making sure your fresh water tank is full and run off of that using your onboard water pump. DON’T just disconnect your bad regulator and hook straight up to the city water supply, as you could risk damaging your RV’s plumbing system. By running off the onboard water using your pump until you have a new regulator inline, you’ll avoid that danger.
Adjustable vs. Non-Adjustable Water Pressure Regulators
Depending on the pressure your rig’s plumbing requires, you may find it worth investing in an adjustable water pressure regulator. They cost more but come with a gauge to show you the pressure your RV’s plumbing system is being exposed to and have an adjustment screw that you can tighten or loosen, thereby lowering or raising the allowed water pressure. This is our favorite model.
Adjustable water pressure regulators tend to offer high flow rates for the same outlet pressure. This can be important when more than one faucet/tap is open at a time in the RV. A higher flow rate will allow more water through, so you won’t see reduced flow at one faucet when another is turned on, or at least the reduction in flow will be minimized.
Regardless of which water pressure regulator you buy, be sure that it is a lead-free model since all the water entering your RV will pass through it, including your drinking water. Do NOT use one designed strictly for garden use, as that may contain some level of lead.
New Acuva ArrowMAX 2.0 + Discount!
While we’re on the topic of fresh water, we’ve installed Acuva’s newest water purification system in our RV — the ArrowMAX 2.0. It offers the safety of Acuva’s renowned UV-LED purification, ensuring that our water is safe to drink, even from our fresh water tank.
The ArrowMAX 2.0 is flow-triggered, so it can be used with any countertop drinking water faucet/dispenser. You can also order it with Acuva’s “Smart Faucet” that has the ring of blue LED light to show you that it’s active. The ArrowMAX 2.0 is NSF/ANSI 55 Class ‘B’ and NSF/ANSI 372 certified and delivers up to 2 liters/minute.
Ditch the bottled water! Major cities sanitize their drinking water using ultraviolet light, and now you can, too. Acuva’s UV-LED system makes water safe to drink, using a fraction of the space...Show More
Ditch the bottled water! Major cities sanitize their drinking water using ultraviolet light, and now you can, too. Acuva’s UV-LED system makes water safe to drink, using a fraction of the space and power… perfect for RVs.
Get 10% off any Acuva system when shopping online at Acuva's website and using the discount code listed here.Show Less
Curious about the Acuva system, but want to know more? Check out our videos about it:
We Test Acuva
Conclusion About RV Water Pressure Regulators
We don’t like to use absolutes, so we generally try to avoid them. But in the case of a water pressure regulator, we not only strongly recommend using one, but we’re also comfortable stating that you absolutely need one for connecting your RV to an external water source.
A water leak is the bane of any RVer’s existence. Even a slow leak from a damaged plumbing seal can cause a real headache. But when you consider the amount of damage that could occur as the result of a burst PEX pipe or fitting, perhaps even when you’re away from your RV (you know that’s when it’s going to happen, right?!), it’s easy to understand the value of spending about ten dollars to purchase even the most basic water pressure regulator.
If you don’t already have one and you intend to connect your RV to a water source, buy one today.
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