How to Pressure Test Pipes Safely

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When you have good plumbing, you’ll be able to run your water efficiently and effectively. However, when the pipes’ pressure is too high or low, you’ll run into problems. High water pressure will stress the entire system while low pressure will challenge good water flow.

The key to keeping your plumbing system in good shape is to test the pressure. Using air to assess the condition of a plumbing system is a good option. Knowing how to pressure test pipes safely isn’t always easy though. This system uses compressed gas which can cause pipes to explode if not done properly. It should also not be done with plumbing systems that have plastic piping installed.


Testing the System

If you’re testing a system that already has water, the plumbing pressure testing of pipes first involves turning off the main shutoff valve. Allow any water to drain from the pipes and then shut off faucets.

If the system is new without any water present, put a cap on stub-outs connected to the system. You’ll want to either solder or glue caps on water systems. If it’s a drain vent waste system, you can simply glue caps to stub-outs and then cut them off after completing the testing.


Install the Fittings

If it’s a new system, you may have to install the proper fittings to connect a pressure gauge and air compressor hose. For water systems, just leave the cap off of one stub-out. Then you can install a tee and adaptor for the hose and gauge on the stub-out. If it’s a waste system, attach the adaptor to a clean-out fitting and install a tee.

Now that you have the system ready, you can attach a water gauge. It’s best to do this in a laundry room faucet or you can also use an outdoor faucet with a threaded spout.


Connect the Hose

Connect the compressor hose to the system. Start by attaching an adaptor to a different faucet where you can connect this hose. Then attach the compressor to the faucet.


Change the System

Now that you’re ready to go, turn on the compressor. Let the pipes fill with air until your pressure gauge indicates that you’ve reached the optimal test pressure reading. Not all systems have the same pressure reading. You’ll have to review plumbing codes to get the correct reading for the system that you’re testing. It’s going to be different for water or drain systems.


Turn off the Compressor

Once you’ve reached the pressure desired, shut down the compressor. Allow the system to pressurize for 15 minutes. After you’ve waited, remove the hose but leave the pressure gauge in place. You can expect to hear some air escaping the pipes if there are any leaks in the system and may want to note them.

If you notice that the gauge’s pressure remains unchanged, you can be sure that the system is leak-free. However, if the pressure starts to go down, you’ll know that you have a leak present.


Repair Leaks

If you’ve noticed that there are leaks present, then you’ll be able to contact a professional plumber to have the system repaired. If you are yourself a plumber, you can consider repairing them yourself. The most common areas to find the leaks will be in the joints or any connections with the pipes. The three types of joints include IPS, compression, and soldered. While the repair for them is fairly straightforward, you may not want to take on these repairs unless you are experienced with plumbing repairs.


Testing the System

“It’s never a bad idea to test your plumbing system, and this process is fairly simple. It involves only seven steps, but it shouldn’t be done unless you are competent as incorrect testing can damage your entire system.”

Around the Bend – Plumbing Frankston

Not all plumbers are willing and able to pressure test pipes with air so you may have to contact a professional to get this testing completed. If you have a new system or an existing one where you suspect the pressure is not correct, testing is your best option.