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Plumbing systems need maintenance every once in a while, and a pressure test plumbing is an easy way to detect any problems they may have.

Pressure tests often involve pumping pressurised air into your plumbing to check for leaks. This is especially important in new fixtures and drain-waste-vent (DWV) systems, which have to be tested before it’s too late to swap them out.

But, if the need to pressure-test your plumbing arises well after installation, you may have to approach the process differently. Following is a compilation of all the information you need to perform pressure tests on your drain systems.

What You’ll Need

Pressure testing is a straightforward process that involves the use of several tools, including:

  • Air compressor
  • Pressure-test gauge
  • Pliers
  • Plumber’s tape
  • DWV test plug
  • ½-inch and ¾-inch caps for copper, PEX or brass
  • Pipe nipples: ¾-inch and ½-inch
  • Pipe coupling
  • Reducer

Pressure Testing Your Home’s Plumbing System

A pressure test requires some elbow grease but is generally simple. The process involves filing your plumbing with pressurised air. It confirms if you have any leaks and helps you know if the pipes have any structural damage.

However, for DWV systems, you must follow a procedure different from what you’d do with ordinary plumbing. Let’s explore each type of plumbing.

Person Pressure Testing Plumbing

1. Testing Pressure of Your Water Supply Plumbing

Here are the steps to properly pressure-test your plumbing.

A. Close All Water Supply Valves

Every single valve in your home must be closed before you proceed, including the main water supply to your home. Water can interfere with your pressure test plumbing, making it essential to cut off its supply.

B. Place Caps On Supply Lines

Except for shower faucets, you should place caps on every supply line in your house. If you have threaded fittings, use plumbers’ tape to seal them.

C. Ready The Pressure Gauge Assembly

Assemble the pressure gauge, ¾-inch nipple, reducer and ½-inch nipple with the help of plumber tape and ready the gauge assembly.

D. Using The Pressure Gauge Assembly

Tighten the water pressure gauge assembly around the shower faucet to let you view the gauge and turn the compressor on. You can use the shower control valve to increase the pressure in your system by two to three times the usual, ranging from 80 to 120 PSI.

E. Wait For The Pressure To Build Up

You may leave the assembly to perform its task for up to an hour to keep the pressure constant. If there are fluctuations in the pressure reading, you may face a plumbing leak so you may contact a professional for help.

2. Pressure Testing Drain-Waste-Vent Plumbing

If your plumbing system is new, you can perform this pressure test to check if your plumbing can withstand long years of function. Here are the steps to completing the pressure test for DWV plumbing.

Rusty Gauge Check Plumbing

A. Place A Cap On Stub-Outs

Use plastic pipe cement to stick a cap to each stub-out connected to your plumbing system. Not to worry; once the test is done, you can remove them.

B. Connect A Pressure Gauge And An Air Compressor Hose

Install a tee and screw an adapter onto a cleanout fitting. This will allow you to connect the compressor hose to your pipe system.

C. Start The Compressor

Turn the compressor on and allow the pipes to fill with air until the pressure reaches around 5 PSI. Let the system run for a few minutes to check for pressure differences.

D. Stop The Compressor

After turning the compressor off, you should let the system be for about 15 minutes to check for water pressure drops. If the pressure reduces, you may be facing a plumbing leak.

When Should You Pressure-Test Your Plumbing

A pressure test is rare and only performed once in a blue moon. But you should know when to perform it to discover any undetected leaks in your plumbing. These are a few occurrences when you can perform a plumbing pressure test.

Exterior Plumbing Pipes Brick Wall

1. Newly-Finished Construction

A builder assures that every portion of the home they build is free of issues, leading them to have pressure tests performed. If you’re buying a new house, you can rest easy knowing that the plumbing has been checked for leaks and issues.

2. Renovations

Renovations are often the perfect time to pressure test your plumbing, as renovating kitchens and bathrooms generally involve plumbing work.

DWV plumbing systems are only checked during newly completed construction or renovations, as they require a pressure test before being fitted.

3. Pressure Changes, Leaks Or Foul Smells

The primary purpose of a pressure test is to check for any pressure drops, bad smells or leaks. If caught during an inspection, these can be stopped from causing catastrophic losses to the plumbing system of your building.

Plumbing faults have even led to structural damage in extreme cases, making detecting these problems paramount.

Pressure Testing Your Plumbing

Pressure tests will be instrumental in the renovation process with the right gear and the knowledge to perform the test immediately. It gives you information on the issues with your plumbing so that you can repair them quickly.

While some of the issues revealed by these tests are simple enough to DIY, with systems like DWV, you’re better off contacting a plumber instead. They may use smoke to test plumbing systems to detect faults and provide you with solutions to any complex problems you may have.

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