Water Pressure Boosters and Your Home
When you’re thinking of buying a new home, you’re going to get a home inspection. The water pressure is one of the many things on the inspector’s checklist. Ideally, the home will have water pressure right around 50 psi. They’re checking to ensure the pressure is not above 70 psi, which can cause severe damage to appliances and pipes. Low pressure can indicate other problems within the home, such as potential leaks or clogs. Sometimes homes simply have low pressure due to gravity and may require a water pressure booster. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know.
How do water pressure boosters work?
Mostly, all water pressure boosters have the same core mechanics. When water comes in through the booster’s inlet, an impeller pushes it through the outlet. A motor powers the impeller (think of it as a house fan). Different water pressure boosters vary in how they suck water in and push it out after. Some use oscillating diaphragms, while others use propellers. Oscillating diaphragms use plates that rotate to push together to force water out. Water pressure boosters should have a device to manage and maintain the pressure.
Do water pressure boosters work?
Water pressure boosters really work. You know when you put your thumb over half the hose, and the water goes from a small stream to a far-flying jet? This is essentially the same thing your water pressure booster is doing. Once installed, it builds the pressure to the designated setting and sends it through the pipes. These pressure boosters come in a variety of makes and models, so be sure to take some time and investigate the average life expectancy of each. It’s not just the pressure booster to consider — it’s also the motor that manages it.
If you have a pressure booster and are still experiencing low water pressure, you have a problem with your pipes. The most likely culprit is hidden leaks. Check out your shower faucets, dishwasher, washing machine, toilet, and sinks. If there’s any pooling water near the pipes, discoloration on the walls or ceilings, or your water bill has spiked; these are great indicators of a leak. If you have great water pressure on one side of the house but not the other, you may have a blockage in the pipe — this can be caused over time by debris or minerals.
Why is my water pressure low?
Gravity is the most common reason for low water pressure. The higher up in elevation you are, the more work it takes for water to reach your taps. Water is also quite heavy, which we tend to forget. This means skyscrapers must use large water booster pumps to send that heavy water soaring up the many flights in defiance of gravity.
Distance can also play a big factor in water pressure. The farther you are from a water source, likely the lower your pressure is. If you have small pipes, this could affect it as well. Of course, some basic plumbing issues may be the cause of low water pressure. Ensure your pipes aren’t clogged and that your pressure-reducing valve doesn’t need adjusting.
How to check your water pressure
First, shut off any running water within the house, such as dishwashers or washing machines. If your fridge has an icemaker, shut it down. Moving water within your system can create a false result. Choose the faucet closest to your water source. Whether you have a well or use the city water supply, pick the faucet closest to where the water comes from. This is most likely a hose faucet outside the home. Screw a water gauge directly into that faucet. Don’t screw it into a hose — it needs to be direct. Tighten it, so it doesn’t leak. Crank the faucet all the way on, and check out what the gauge tells you.
If your gauge reads over 75 psi, you have a problem with your water pressure adjuster. They’re usually set so pressure can’t go higher than that (the average is 40 – 50 psi, and it’s recommended you never go over 60 psi).
How to increase water pressure in a house
The first thing you can do is have your pipes tested for clogs. You can remove the clog or replace the clogged pipe entirely. If you’re replacing a pipe, it may be wise to go with a bigger pipe, which will boost your total pressure. If you found a problem with your pressure regulator, replacing it should help. Check this valve, and ensure it’s at the correct setting. Adjusting it may help. As well, be sure to fix any leaks.
Choosing the right water pressure
50 psi is the average pressure to aim for. Some homes can find even as low as 40 acceptable, but this may not be enough for higher elevated homes. You also don’t want your water pressure over 75 psi because the high water pressure is just as big a problem as low water pressure.
High water pressure damages over time and can be difficult to spot. High water pressure is powerful, and your pipes are not designed to handle it. This can create leaks or even cause the pipe to burst. The force of high-water pressure is also brutal on appliances and fixtures, which were also not designed to handle it. Water pressure can really cut into a washing machine’s life expectancy.
If that’s not bad enough, high water pressure means you’re pushing out more water than you need every time you turn the water on. You’re paying for your water usage, and that extra water will add up quickly.
If you have low water pressure, and you’re certain it’s not an issue with the plumbing or the pressure regulator, it may be time to get a pressure booster. If you do, ensure it’s installed correctly so the pressure in your home is not causing damage.