how to calibrate a dead weight tester



Calibrating a dead weight tester is a crucial task for ensuring accurate measurements in various industries. Dead weight testers are widely used in laboratories and manufacturing facilities to calibrate pressure gauges, transmitters, and other pressure-sensing instruments. By understanding the calibration process of a dead weight tester, technicians can ensure precise and reliable measurements. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to calibrate a dead weight tester, covering the important steps, equipment required, and precautions to take.

The Importance of Dead Weight Tester Calibration

Dead weight testers are considered the gold standard for pressure calibration due to their high accuracy and stability. However, over time, factors such as wear and environmental conditions can affect their performance, leading to inaccurate measurements. Regular calibration of dead weight testers is crucial to maintain their precision and ensure that the measurements they provide are reliable.

Preparing for Calibration

Before calibrating a dead weight tester, it is important to gather all the necessary equipment and ensure that it is in good condition. Here are the essential tools and materials required for the calibration process:

1. Dead Weight Tester: The primary equipment used for calibration, consisting of a piston-cylinder assembly and a set of calibrated weights.

2. Pressure Source: A stable and accurate pressure source is needed to generate the reference pressure for calibration. This can be an air-operated pump, a regulated gas supply, or a hydraulic pressure source.

3. Calibration Standards: These are reference pressure gauges or transducers with known accuracy and traceability to a national standard. They will be used to check the accuracy of the dead weight tester.

4. Cleaning Materials: A set of cleaning brushes, lint-free cloths, and appropriate cleaning solvents are required to remove any dirt or debris from the dead weight tester components.

Once all the necessary equipment is ready, the calibration process can be initiated.

Calibration Process

Calibrating a dead weight tester involves several steps to ensure accurate results. Let's explore each step in detail:

1. Prepare the Dead Weight Tester

Start by cleaning the dead weight tester thoroughly to remove any dirt or residue that may affect its performance. Use the appropriate cleaning solvents and lint-free cloths to ensure that all surfaces are clean. Pay particular attention to the piston-cylinder assembly, as any contaminants can lead to friction and inaccurate readings.

Next, inspect the dead weight tester for any signs of damage or wear. Check the piston for scratches or dents and ensure that the cylinder bore is smooth and free from corrosion. If any issues are found, it is advisable to contact the manufacturer or a qualified technician for further assistance.

2. Select the Test Points

Test points are specific pressure values at which the dead weight tester will be calibrated. These points should cover the range of pressures that the dead weight tester is designed to measure. Refer to the instrument's specifications or calibration procedure for guidance on selecting appropriate test points.

It is essential to choose test points that are evenly distributed across the measurement range to ensure an accurate calibration. For example, if the dead weight tester has a range of 0-1000 psi, you may select test points at 200 psi, 500 psi, and 800 psi.

3. Generate Reference Pressure

Connect the pressure source to the dead weight tester and set it to the desired test point pressure. Activate the pressure source and allow the system to stabilize. Use a reference pressure gauge or transducer to verify the accuracy of the attained pressure.

Once the reference pressure is stable and within the desired tolerance, record the value for future comparison with the readings obtained from the dead weight tester.

4. Perform Calibration

Place the appropriate weights on the dead weight tester piston to generate a known force corresponding to the reference pressure. Carefully load the weights, ensuring that they are placed symmetrically and do not cause any lateral forces on the piston.

Slowly apply pressure to the piston, allowing it to reach equilibrium at each test point. It is essential to wait for the piston to stabilize before recording the pressure reading. Using a stopwatch or timer can help ensure accurate timing during the calibration process.

5. Verify Readings and Adjust

After each test point, compare the pressure reading obtained from the dead weight tester with the reference pressure measured by the standard gauge or transducer. If there is a significant deviation, adjustments may be required.

To adjust the dead weight tester, use the adjustment mechanism provided by the manufacturer. Follow the instructions carefully to make precise adjustments without causing any damage to the instrument. Repeat the calibration process for the affected test point and verify the readings again.


In summary, calibrating a dead weight tester is a crucial task to maintain accurate pressure measurements. By following the proper calibration process, preparing the equipment adequately, and paying attention to detail, technicians can ensure the reliability and precision of their dead weight testers. Regular calibration is essential to detect any deviations in performance and make necessary adjustments. Remember to consult the instrument's user manual or contact the manufacturer for specific instructions and guidelines on calibration. By taking these steps, you can trust your dead weight tester to provide accurate and dependable measurements in your industry.


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