by Barrett Wall, Engineered Specialty Products, Inc.
December 17, 2011

Pulsation, Pressure Spikes and Pressure Cycling

If pulsation or frequent pressure cycling is present in the application, proper pressure range selection should first be verified. Pressure spikes can be detected by using a gauge with a maximum pressure pointer. This is a pressure gauge with an auxiliary pointer, pulled by the main pointer, which when left on a system over a period of time will provide an indication of the maximum pressure displayed during that time. Alternatively, a digital gauge with a data logging capability may be used.

Many types of dampening devices are available that can help slow the effects of pulsation and cycling. These devices include, but are not limited to, reduced orifices, filter-type pressure snubbers, piston type snubbers and adjustable snubbers. While these devices cannot prevent a pulsation or pressure spikes altogether, they can reduce the effects of these conditions and extend gauge life significantly.


Damage as a result of installation is common. Pressure gauges should always be installed using a wrench on the socket. It is important never to install a pressure gauge by hand or by turning the case. 


The above factors are among some of the first to examine when troubleshooting or installing a new pressure gauge. However, many of these factors are often among the most overlooked. Examining these basic factors is a good place to start for troubleshooting and increasing pressure gauge longevity. However, this is not a comprehensive guide and is for reference only. ASME B40.1 standards should always be consulted before the maintenance or installation of any pressure gauge.