PSL Pressure Testing Procedure


If you’re a property owner in the San Francisco Bay Area, make sure sure informed about private sewer later (PSL) pressure tests. A PSL pressure test affects private sewer laterals in the East Bay and much of the greater Bay Area. PSL pressure tests are essential for current and potential property owners who wish to buy, sell, build, or remodel their properties.

What is a PSL Pressure Test?

A PSL pressure test is a test performed on a private sewer line, or PSL, to ensure 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 that could allow storm water inflow and infiltration.

What are the Types of PSL Pressure Tests?

  1. Low-pressure Air Test: Low-pressure air tests are the most common PSL test performed in Oakland and the East Bay. Air tests are convenient and eco-friendly, which is particularly important during a time of drought. During the test, pressurized air is forced into the sewer lateral and the resulting air pressure is measured. Although low-pressure air tests are common in the East Bay, California Plumbing Code does not permit low-pressure air testing for private sewer laterals that are constructed with rigid plastic pipe.
  2. Hydrostatic Water Test: The hydrostatic water test is a different type of PSL pressure test that uses the traditional method of pressure testing that is commonly used in new construction. The hydrostatic water test involves pumping water into a sewer lateral to detect pressure tightness, piping strength, and potential leaks.

How is a PSL Pressure Test Conducted?

Low-pressure Air Test

Air tests are conducted by forcing pressurized air into the sewer lateral. When the internal air pressure is stabilized inside the sewer lateral, the air pressure is dropped to between 2.5 and 3.0 PSI to begin the test.

To receive a passing grade, the air pressure must not drop more than 1.0 PSI in 5.0 minutes.

Hydrostatic Water Test

A hydrostatic water test is performed between sewer cleanouts. The test is performed by connecting a standpipe to the building’s 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 exhibit any observable water loss at the top of the standpipe.

Why Do I Need a PSL Pressure Test?

All residential, commercial, and industrial property owners in the East Bay should understand 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, including 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 criteria, property may apply for a Voluntary Compliance Certificate via a passing PSL pressure test. Voluntary compliance benefits property owners in many ways:

  • Limiting the impact of future testing triggers and any associated punitive costs
  • Compliance with local EPA mandates
  • Peace-of-mind knowing your property has a safe and structurally sound private sewer lateral

Property owners receive a Compliance Certificate for their property upon passing the PSL pressure test. A Compliance Certificate is good for either a 7-year or 20-year interval depending on whether the private sewer lateral has been repaired or replaced.

Learn more about EBMUD PSL Compliance

How to Obtain 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. Property owners must hire a licensed contractor to conduct an official PSL pressure test.

Pipe Spy is a licensed contractor in the Bay Area and has been performing PSL pressure tests in the area for over 20 years.

Contact us today to schedule a PSL pressure test.