Most people consider their RV their home or at least their second home. However, that can get confusing as an RV is not built like a traditional home and what works for the latter may not work for the former. This includes providing water pressure to your faucets.
This will depend on if you have a small travel trailer, a large one, or a 5th wheel trailer. The 5th wheel can handle about 100 PSI but the recommended level is 60 PSI for all RVs. Most RV owners go as low as 45 to 50 PSI. They do that to avoid damage to their plumbing.
To learn more about this important topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can get the right parts to protect your RV or trailer. Maintaining proper PSI is proper plumbing maintenance.
This is an interesting question because there are so many different correct answers to it. Most of the answers depend on the type, model, and size of the RV or trailer.
The general answer is 60 psi but some trailers are built to handle higher PSI. You are not losing if you do not go past that 60 PSI benchmark, you are just playing it safe.
Some RV owners leave it between 45 to 50 PSI to make sure they are not putting too much pressure on their pipes. That seems to be the consensus as just because you can does not mean you should go higher than that.
Then there are those who let their water pumps dictate their water pressure. Some pumps start working at 30 PSI and stop at 40 PSI. They do not go above 40. Other water pumps work best at 55 PSI so you have a wide range of options to work with.
Just find what works best for your RV or trailer’s plumbing system and go with that. If you are not getting 60 PSI but still have great water pressure, then you are doing just fine.
The key is to protect your plumbing as those pipes, valves, and connections can be expensive to repair.
Don’t confuse the maximum amount of water pressure a pipe can handle with the maximum amount of water pressure you should have flowing through your system. The pipes get higher ratings for safety and performance reasons as well as to avoid cracks leaks and other problems.
For example, the new PEX pipes that RV makers are moving to in the more modern RVs, etc., can handle 100 PSI at 180 degrees F and 160 PSI at 74 degrees F. (approx.). That rating does not mean you put that much pressure on your water lines.
That is just the safety margin you have. You should stick to about 60 PSI as the maximum and then go a bit lower as everyone else does just to make sure there is not too much pressure in your plumbing system.
Also, those PEX pipes need to be correctly installed to handle such high PSI. Don’t assume yours were correctly installed and opt for the safety of the lower PSI levels that most RV owners use.
Plus, let your water pump guide you as well. If it can’t handle 60 PSI then get a regulator to bring in 40 to 50 PSI instead.
The best way to check your RV’s water pressure is to have and use a water pressure gauge. Just set this tool up right and you should be able to check the incoming PSI at anytime you want.
The best models just crew into your system and monitor your water pressure whenever it is hooked up. This is a great tool to use when you want to check the campground’s water pressure.
You should check it as not all campgrounds provide great PSI to their campers. They may be playing it safe as well. Or their pipes are old and cannot handle a lot of PSI. You never know until you hook up what the water pressure will be so have a gauge on hand to make the test.
These gauges are not that expensive and they are small. Just pack them right so they do not get damaged and put them in a toolbox till you need them. For the most part, you are looking at spending under $20 at Amazon for a good one.
Also, don’t forget to check your hoses to make sure there are no kinks or leaks, and do the same for your valves, taps, and other connections. Leaks will cut your water pressure down. One final place to check will be your plumbing vent. If that is not working right, you may have to replace it.
In almost all cases, 60 PSI is the upper limit that you should not cross. Especially if your travel trailer is on the small side of size. There are limits and 60 seems to have been the one set by experts and RV owners.
But that limit is not universal. If your trailer or RV is built for higher PSI levels then you can go higher. It is not recommended that you do so, it is just an option.
You may find some Class A and 5th wheel trailers that come with top of the line plumbing and can handle up to 100 PSI. However, that does not mean that the plumbing was installed correctly or that there are no leaks somewhere in the system
To go above 60, you would have to have an ideal plumbing system that is working at optimum levels at all times. For almost all other RVs and trailers, you should stick to about 40 to 50 PSI to be safe.
The question to answer is, do you really need to have your PSI above 60? Most people do not need it that high or higher.
In almost all cases, yes it is too high. There is one very solid reason why this is so. It is possible to damage your RV or trailer by setting your water pressure too high.
We cannot be specific as to what parts will be damaged as their damage will depend on how well they were made. It is possible to blow out connections, valves, and ruin taps as well as your water pump when your water pressure is too high.
When you damage your RV or trailer, repairs and replacements can get expensive. Many RV mechanics feel that since you own an RV you can afford the higher price tag and inflate the actual cost to something that benefits them.
Then parts can be expensive if you are not a very good shopper. Running your water pressure continuously at 80 psi is taking a big risk even if your plumbing is rated for higher psi levels.
Why take the risk when you can get great water pressure at 45, 50, or even 55 PSI levels?
These devices are a simple set up and it does not take a degree in plumbing to know how they work. Inside the regulator is a diaphragm which has a spring connected to it.
As the water flows into the regulator it presses against that spring which in turn slows the water flow down. This spring and diaphragm make sure that the water flowing into your RV is at safe levels.
To connect the regulator, you just need to place it at the point where the water enters your RV. You will need to make sure you have the right-sized fittings, connectors, and a little Teflon tape. It just screws into place and starts to work as soon as you turn the water on.
You may be thinking if you really need one or not. Yes, you do. If you want to protect your RV, its plumbing, and stay in control of the amount of water flowing into your trailer, etc., you need one.
It is a safety device that protects your expensive investment and saves you on a lot of repair bills. Your warranty may not cover any damage if the company finds out you were at fault for the damage.
The first thing to do is check your manual to see if the company that made the RV or trailer already installed a regulator or not. If they have, then you have saved yourself some money.
Just because they installed one does not mean you can’t adjust it. If you feel the factory setting is too high or too low, you can adjust it to a level that is right for your use.
Winnebago has said that any water regulator should be set no higher than 50 PSI. You may find that most RV makers agree with that restriction but may also give you a range of settings. For example, they may simply say somewhere between 40 and 50 PSI.
Also, when you go to a campground, you never know what their water pressure will be until you hook up. You may need to make adjustments to the regulator’s setting to make sure the incoming water does not come in too high or too low.
Get the water pressure gauge to help you set your regulator.
The first thing to do is make sure you have or are buying an adjustable water regulator. If it is not then you are stuck with the factory setting and nothing will change that setting.
With an adjustable water regulator, all you need is the right screwdriver. This could be a flat head or it could be a Phillips. Then just turn the adjusting screw to allow more water or to restrict the water flow.
That is all there is to it. The key is not to go too far in either direction or you may lose your water pressure or get too much. There are some other details you should know about.
A water regulator will last about 8 to 10 years, then it will need replacing. Also, this part can go bad on you before its lifespan is over. The non-adjustable water regulators do not last as long as the adjustable models.
There are several things you can check and correct if your water regulator is set right and working. Of course, if the regulator broke, you may lose all your water pressure or get too much. Just replace it to get back to normal.
But that is not the most important place to check to improve your water pressure. Adjusting the regulator to allow more water is the first thing to do but it is not the only thing. You may have leaks and by adjusting the regulator you are losing more water.
Check for leaks throughout your plumbing system. If you find any, fix those leaks in the proper manner. If there are no leaks, check for a bent hose or a leak in that hose. Straighten out the hose or use duct tape to seal the leak.
Next, check your filters to see if they are clogged and in need of cleaning or replacing. Finally, check your plumbing vent and replace any damaged parts.
The first cause to check would be the water regulator. It could have broken on you and this happens a lot with the non-adjustable regulators some companies and people put on their RVs and trailers.
The fix for this problem is to replace the water regulator with an adjustable model. They last longer than their non-adjustable counterparts. Another place to check would be your pipes.
If one or more has developed a crack, then your water pressure will drop due to the leaking. Simply repair the crack or replace the cracked pipe section. The third source could be a clog that has developed somewhere in your system.
This is a difficult problem to solve because you never know where the clog may be and you have to spend time hunting it down. Once you find it, you simply need to clean it out.
The final source to be mentioned is that you may have left a valve open that should have been closed or there is a faulty valve somewhere in the system. Again, you have to search for this valve and then replace it or close it.
Once the problem has been fixed, you should find that your water pressure is back to normal. If it isn’t you didn’t fix all of the sources for the problem or left a valve closed when it should be opened or vice versa.
There are three possibilities in this situation that would cause the pressure relief valve to leak. The first possibility is that the pressure relief valve is doing its job and working normally.
The water heater can only withstand so much pressure and the valve is relieving some of the pressure. If the tank is filled to the right level, then this is the case.
If it is leaking when the tank is hot, then you may need to add more water to get to the right level. Just make sure to leave the proper air gap at the top of the tank.
Now, if the pressure relief valve is leaking when the tank is cold, then you need to replace the valve. It has gone bad. Before you replace the valve, make sure the water inside the tank is cold and not hot.
You do not want to burn yourself fixing this valve. Also, you should be able to find a replacement valve anywhere RV parts are sold. Plumbing stores should have some of these valves as well.
Some people may place it near the inlet spigot of their RV or trailer. While that does work when you are in a campground most people place the regulator between the water source and the hose.
If your RV or trailer already has a water regulator installed by the factory, look for it at the inlet valve or somewhere else in the incoming line. The installation is not difficult to do either.
All you will need is a nice adjustable wrench or channel locks to do the work. Make sure to put Teflon tape on both thread sides to stop any leaks. To connect the regulator, just spin it on the spigot first. This is the easiest option.
After it is on the spigot and is tight, spin your hose onto the other end of the regulator. Use the adjustable wrench or channel locks to tighten the connection just right.
Don’t tighten it too far though. You do not want to ruin the threads on the regulator, spigot, or hose. Just make sure it is tight plus a 1/4 turn and there should be no leaks.
Once in place, turn the water on and test it to make sure there are no leaks and that you are getting the right level of water pressure. If not and there is a leak, redo your work till both are right.
Yes, they can but do not worry. Unless you got a really cheaply made part, it should not go bad for some time. When it goes bad depends on the quality of the materials used to construct the regulator. Or the type of materials used.
The water regulators you have to worry about are the non-adjustable models. They will go bad quicker than the adjustable options. If you keep the water pressure to the right levels, then you can extend the life of the regulator somewhat.
How long that life is extended depends on those same factors. Also, parts break and the interior parts of the water regulator won’t last forever either. They may break on you at the wrong time.
No matter what caused it to go bad, replacement is just about your only option. So you may want to get a spare at some point in time before your regulator goes bad. This is a good time to wait till they go on sale and save a few bucks.
If it is made of top-quality material, then you can expect the part to last between 8 and 10 years. But that is the ideal lifespan as there are always factors that may shorten that longevity.
If the regulator was made from brass, then you can expect to get that amount of time out of the part. Other construction materials will shorten that lifespan down.
Since plastic parts have been all the rage for a few decades, do not expect them to last for very long. You may save some money initially but in the long run, you will be replacing that part more often. When that happens, you are spending more money.
ABS plastic is not very strong and can crack or break in a variety of situations. This is the style that is usually non-adjustable. That should tell you everything you need to know about its lifespan.
Play it safe when it comes to your water pressure. There is really no reason you should go above 60 PSI even though your system is rated for higher than that level.
Stick to between 40 and 60 PSI to protect your pipes, valves, connections, and RV or trailer. Then buy the right parts made from the best materials to keep the water pressure at those levels.
That way you will save more money in the long run.