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#97 - 04/23/12 07:43 AM Water Pressure Gauge
Muniac Administrator Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Installing A Water Pressure Gauge

When I hook up my city water connection I usually include a Y connection to allow a "take off" point for connecting an additional hose. It comes in handy when you need to connect your santi-flush or a garden hose for washing things and avoids disconnecting your city water service. It also allows you to connect a pressure gauge to check water pressure from time to time. It's a good idea to do this and I got quite a disturbing surprise on my last reading in early March of 2012. It led me to make some fundamental changes in how I connect and also to be more diligent about water monitoring. Water can do thousands of dollars of damage when it gets into interior spaces. Worse yet, if water enters those spaces under pressure the results can be horrific!


Bad water regulators. When they fail, full pressure can be passed through.

Water can easily enter your bus under pressure if PEX tubing, fittings or other hoses burst. And there are so many places for this to happen. To reduce the likelihood of a leak or avoid one altogether in buses/coaches, PEX systems are run well below the stated maximum pressure shown in the design specifications for the tubing. The maximum pressures are listed below as a function of temperature:

200F - 79 PSI
180F - 100 PSI
73F - 145 PSI

PEX stands for cross linked polyethylene which is plastic. Increased temperatures weaken (by softening) the plastic and that's why you see reduced maximum pressures at higher temperatures. The chart above is a good general guideline but keep in mind that many factors can influence this data. Bus/coach plumbing systems run at 40-50 PSI with 45 PSI being the most common. It's a very conservative pressure designed to avoid problems.

In RV parks across the country I've seen water pressures anywhere from 60-120 PSI. These pressures can bump and spike depending on usage, sprinkler systems, pumping equipment and during system maintenance/repairs. Water hammer can cause HUGE pressure spikes while air is being purged from a plumbing system. Be attentive to this when bleeding your own plumbing system or the RV park is bleeding theirs.

Most of us use an inline garden hose regulator to bring pressures down to 40-45 PSI. I've been through a dozen or so inline regulators hoping to find that quality product. Most develop leaks and some leak right out of the package. It's frustrating but somehow you manage as long as they reduce the pressure. At $10 there just isn't enough yen there to put in the quality, so keep your expectations low and expect performance problems.

I found this out one day when I decided to take a routine pressure reading only to find I was running 70 PSI into the plumbing system. In short, the regulator wasn't doing anything. Perhaps its spring failed and/or the orifice was clogged with mineral deposits. It suddenly came to me that entrusting the safety of your plumbing system to a cheap $10 device just didn't make any sense. Owing to "extra capacity" designed into the PEX system and a reasonably low city water pressure (60-70 PSI) I didn't do any damage (this time). How long the PEX system sat unattended at 70 PSI I can't say. With trust in Chinese made garden hose regulator products gone, I decided if I was still going to use them I'd need to keep a closer eye on the pressure.

The solution was to install an inside pressure gauge to make it an easy task to verify water pressure.


Panel mount water pressure gauge installed for easy reading.

I did so in a blank instrument panel I set up in the bus before going full time. For my application a 2" 0-100 PSI panel mount gauge would work fine. These gauges are readily available online or from any industrial supply house.


Panel mount gauge reads water pressure and allows you to spot a faulty regulator.

Lots of options exist for mounting a gauge and lots of gauge styles are available. You could select a fancy marine gauge if so inclined and mount it in plain view. Feel free to be creative. The most important thing is to keep an eye on your water pressure.

Behind the scene I used 3/16" soft copper tubing to feed the gauge. A cold water connection can be found in the panty closet for you Allure owners. If you use compression fittings that avoids needing a flaring tool. I didn't use plastic tubing because what was readily available looked too cheap.


Tapping into a PEX cold water line.

I have a supply of PEX fittings, tubing, crimp rings and a crimping tool. It was easy to install a PEX Tee in a cold water line then branch out a 1/4" MPT for the compression fitting. Overall a fairly easy installation for those reasonably handy.

Conclusions

Installing an inside pressure gauge was well worth the effort and expense. Another feature of having this gauge is for leak detection. If you shut off your city water supply, the gauge should maintain pressure over time. If pressure drops then there is a leak somewhere in the system. That might be an innocent dripping faucet or a hose connection that needs repairing. Either way it's important to keep an eye on your plumbing. Finding that drip, drip, drip before it becomes a gusher might just save you thousands of dollars in repair bills.

While I continued to use a cheap regulator, I got into the habit of turning off the city water at the stand pipe overnight and when we are gone for extended periods. This, of course, was inconvenient and only a stop gap measure pending the receipt of a better regulator and solenoid valve. These parts would become part of a remote water control system that allows the "water pump" button to operate in two modes. I'll explain what I did soon in another article. All of this is designed to keep your plumbing safe and make ongoing water management simple and convenient. No one wants a flood. Feel free to contact me about parts or if you have questions.

Complete slide show HERE.
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#98 - 04/23/12 10:18 AM Re: Water Pressure Gauge [Re: Muniac]
Gil B Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/13/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Nevada, USA
Scott:

Isn't there a pressure regulator at the water inlet (just behind the inlet) on your '06 Allure?

Gil B
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'05 Country Coach Inspire DaVinci, Cat C-9, Air Force One, Blue OX Aventa LX
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#99 - 04/24/12 07:32 AM Re: Water Pressure Gauge [Re: Gil B]
Muniac Administrator Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Gil - You may be referring to the city fill connection. My hose connection (city water) goes through just a check valve and right on into the plumping system. Whatever pressure the hose sees controls the pressure in the rest of the plumbing system.

An over pressure situation is less of a concern with the PEX tubing. PEX, however, doesn't make up the entire system as feeder hoses are used throughout for faucets and to plumb the Hydro-Hot. A burst in one of these hoses could be very damaging.

I'm also working on a write up on my pressure regulator and remote shut-off valve system. That should be done in a couple of days.
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Scott Bridgman, Why not join and post your own comments??
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