How Often Should You Replace Pressure Relief Valves?

Your water-pressure relief valve (PRV) is the most important piece of safety equipment in your home. There’s no margin for error.

In residential properties, the pressure regulator is likely a “direct-acting” PRV. Direct-acting PRVs automatically reduce the incoming water pressure from the municipal supply or water main to a level that is less likely to cause operating or safety problems in the home. Water entering the PRV from municipal mains is constricted within the valve body and directed through the inner chamber controlled by an adjustable spring-loaded diaphragm and disc. Even if the supply water pressure fluctuates, the PRV ensures a constant flow of water at a functional pressure, as long as the supply pressure does not drop below the PRV’s preset pressure.

Generally accepted plumbing practices recommend testing the PRV every 12 months and replacing it every three to five years. That’s much less expensive than replacing home appliances, which can be damaged from improper water pressure. Water pressure variances put stress on dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances and can lead to more frequent appliance repairs or permanent damage.

Reducing high water pressure should extend the life of your appliances and fixtures. However, nobody wants to shower under a barely trickling shower-head. The trick is to find the right balance, so that you don’t suffer through a shower that feels like it’s being poured out of a garden watering can.

How do you know if it’s time for a replacement?

Age matters because the unit has springs inside, and the springs can lose tension over time. In addition, the desert environment can be hard on the seals. Usage matters as well. If you are a full-time resident, your usage will be higher.

Is it more cost-effective to repair or replace?

Most often PRV replacement is simply more cost-effective than repair (about $250). The PRVs on our homes are considered small, so replacement usually costs less than preventive maintenance and repair. It will certainly cost less to replace the valve than to pay for any damage you might incur from keeping it in service past its prime!

As always, use a licensed plumber when contracting this work.

Resources:

  • Angie’s List experts
  • Allied Valve Inc.