how to use a dead weight tester



The dead weight tester is an essential instrument used in calibration laboratories and industries to accurately measure pressure. It is considered the primary standard for pressure calibration due to its high precision and reliability. This article will guide you through the various aspects of how to use a dead weight tester effectively and efficiently.

Understanding the Dead Weight Tester

The dead weight tester operates on the principle of hydrostatic pressure, where the weight of a mass is used to generate a known and precise pressure. The instrument consists of a piston-cylinder assembly, a weight set, and an oil-filled reservoir. When the weight is placed on the piston, it exerts pressure on the fluid, which then creates a balance between the applied pressure and the upward force exerted by the weight.

Checking the Dead Weight Tester

Before performing any pressure calibration, it is crucial to ensure the dead weight tester is in proper working condition. Regular maintenance and calibration checks are necessary to guarantee accurate measurements. Here are the steps to check the dead weight tester:

1. Inspecting the Piston-Cylinder Assembly

The first step is to visually inspect the piston-cylinder assembly for any signs of damage or wear. Look for scratches, dents, or any irregularities that may affect the instrument's performance. If any issues are found, it is recommended to contact a professional for repair or replacement.

Next, check the piston for smooth movement within the cylinder. Ensure there is no sticking or binding that might interfere with the accuracy of the instrument. If any friction is noticed, clean and lubricate the assembly according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

2. Verifying the Weight Set

The weight set is a crucial component of a dead weight tester. It is important to verify the accuracy and integrity of the weights regularly. Follow these steps to ensure the weight set is in good condition:

- Start by inspecting each weight for any signs of damage, such as chips, cracks, or corrosion. Any compromised weights should be replaced immediately.

- Use a calibrated scale or balance to check the accuracy of each weight individually. Compare the measured values with the marked values on the weights. If significant deviations are found, the weight set should be recalibrated.

3. Checking the Oil-Filled Reservoir

The oil-filled reservoir is responsible for transmitting the pressure from the piston to the measurement device. It is essential to ensure the reservoir is clean and free from any contaminants that might affect the calibration process. Follow these steps to check the reservoir:

- Drain the existing oil from the reservoir and clean it thoroughly using a suitable solvent.

- Inspect the reservoir for any signs of corrosion, leakage, or other issues. If any problems are detected, consult the manufacturer for guidance on repairs or replacements.

- Fill the reservoir with the recommended oil, ensuring it reaches the appropriate level as specified by the manufacturer.

4. Calibrating the Dead Weight Tester

Once the dead weight tester is checked and deemed in good working condition, it is time to calibrate the instrument. The calibration process involves comparing the measured pressure generated by the dead weight tester with a known reference pressure. Here are the steps to calibrate the dead weight tester:

- Select a suitable reference pressure gauge or digital pressure calibrator with a known accuracy and range.

- Connect the dead weight tester to the reference device using appropriate adapters and fittings.

- Gradually increase the applied pressure on the dead weight tester by adding weights to the piston. Take note of the readings on both the dead weight tester and the reference device.

- Compare the readings and calculate the percentage error. If the error is within the acceptable range, the dead weight tester can be considered accurate and ready for use. If not, adjustments or recalibration might be required.

Applying the Dead Weight Tester

Now that you have successfully calibrated the dead weight tester, it is time to put it to practical use. The instrument is widely used for calibrating various pressure measuring devices, such as pressure gauges, transmitters, and sensors. Here are some common applications of the dead weight tester:

1. Calibrating Pressure Gauges

Pressure gauges are widely used in industrial processes to monitor and control pressure levels. However, these gauges often experience slight inaccuracies over time. The dead weight tester provides an accurate reference for calibrating pressure gauges and ensuring their readings are reliable.

2. Testing Pressure Transmitters

Pressure transmitters are commonly used in process control systems to transmit pressure signals for monitoring and automation. To ensure the transmitters provide accurate readings, they need to be calibrated against a known reference. The dead weight tester offers the required precision for testing and calibrating pressure transmitters effectively.

3. Validating Pressure Sensors

Pressure sensors are utilized in various applications such as automotive, medical devices, and aerospace. These sensors need periodic calibration to maintain their accuracy and reliability. The dead weight tester enables accurate validation of pressure sensors and ensures their measurements are within the desired specifications.

4. Verifying Safety Relief Valves

Safety relief valves are critical components in systems where pressure control and safety are paramount. It is crucial to verify the valve's function and responsiveness under different pressure settings. The dead weight tester allows for precise testing and verification of safety relief valves, ensuring their proper operation in crucial situations.


In conclusion, the dead weight tester is a highly valuable instrument for accurate pressure calibration. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully use a dead weight tester to check, calibrate, and apply precise pressure measurements. Remember, regular maintenance and calibration checks are essential to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the dead weight tester over time. So, whether you are in a calibration laboratory or an industrial setting, the dead weight tester will be a trusty companion in your pursuit of precise pressure measurements.


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