PSL Pressure Test 101

If you’re a property owner in the East Bay Area, you may need to know about PSL pressure tests. A PSL pressure test affects private sewer laterals in the Bay Area and are essential for current or potential property owners looking to buy, sell, build or remodel their properties.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about PSL Pressure Tests – and why you need to know about them.

What is a PSL Pressure Test?

A PSL pressure test is a test performed on a private sewer line, or PSL, to verify it is water tight. Private sewer lines in the East Bay Area must meet the performance standards and requirements set by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).

Property owners in the Bay Area must ensure the PSL is watertight, free of defects, storm water in flow and infiltration.

Types of PSL Pressure Tests

  1. Low-pressure Air TestLow-pressure air tests are the most common PSL test performed in the East Bay area. Air tests are convenient and eco-friendly especially now that we want to conserve water. This test involves applying pressurized air into the sewer lateral and measuring the subsequent air pressure.Although low-pressure air tests are common in the East Bay, California Plumbing Code does not allow low-pressure air testing for private sewer laterals constructed with rigid plastic pipe.
  2. Hydrostatic Water TestThe hydrostatic water test is another type of PSL pressure test. The water tests are the historical method of pressure testing used in “new construction.” This type of test involves filling a sewer lateral with water to detect pressure tightness, piping strength, and potential leaks.

How is a PSL Pressure Test Completed?

Low-pressure Air Test


Air tests are performed by applying pressurized air to the sewer lateral. Once internal air pressure is stabilized within the sewer lateral, the air pressure is dropped to 2.5 to 3.0 PSI, thus beginning the test.

To receive a passing grade, the air pressure must not drop more than 1 PSI in 5 minutes.

Hydrostatic Water Test

A hydrostatic water test is performed between cleanouts. The test is performed by connecting a standpipe to the building cleanout and filling the standpipe with a pressure head of 5 feet above the highest point of the private sewer line. Once the standpipe is filled to the required level, the test begins.

To receive a passing grade, the lateral must not undergo any observable water loss at the top of the standpipe.

Why Would I Need a PSL Pressure Test?

All residential, commercial and industrial property owners in the East Bay need to recognize the importance of a PSL pressure test.

EBMUD requires private sewer lines to be compliant under the EBMUD Private Sewer Lateral Program, which requires private sewer lines to pass a PSL pressure test. A PSL pressure test is required for property owners in order to obtain a Sewer Lateral Certificate.

The following circumstances require a Sewer Lateral Certificate, and thus, a passing PSL pressure test:

  1. Buying or selling a property
  2. Building or remodeling property (in excess of $100,000)
  3. Changing the size of your water meter

Even if a property does not meet any of these circumstances, or ‘triggers,’ property owners are able to apply for a Voluntary Compliance Certificate via a passing PSL pressure test. Voluntary compliance benefits property owners in many ways, including:

  • Limiting the impact of future ‘triggers’ and possible associated penalty costs
  • Compliance with local EPA mandates
  • Peace-of-mind knowing your property has a structurally-sound private sewer lateral

Once the PSL pressure test has been passed, property owners will receive a Compliance Certificate. A Compliance Certificate is good for either a 7-year or 20-year interval based on whether the PSL has been repaired or fully replaced.

Learn more about EBMUD PSL Compliance

Obtaining a PSL Pressure Test

A PSL pressure test is conducted by a licensed contractor in the Bay Area. EBMUD does not conduct individual tests on private sewer laterals.

To receive a PSL pressure test, property owners must contact a licensed contractor. Pipe Spy is a licensed contractor in the Bay Area and has been performing PSL pressure tests in the area for more than 18 years. To schedule a PSL pressure test, contact us and talk to a member about your PSL pressure test needs.