Water Pressure Boosters and Your Home
If your faucets struggle to produce water when you turn them on, this may indicate low water pressure. The water pressure in your home is one of the many things on a home inspector’s checklist. It should be in the ballpark of 50 psi; pressure higher than 70 psi can cause severe damage to appliances and pipes, which weren’t built to withstand that level of force. Low water pressure can indicate other problems — such as potential leaks or clogs. This issue could also result from gravity, requiring a water pressure booster pump to remedy the problem.
How do water pressure boosters work?
There are two water pressure booster pumps: single-stage and multistage pumps. While pumps may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, they all have the same core components. They work similarly to how a house fan pushes air into a room. When water enters the inlet, an impeller inside the booster pump moves it, creating pressure as it travels through the output. Some booster pumps use a spinning propeller, while others use an oscillating diaphragm. Oscillating diaphragms have rotating plates — one with cups and the other with indentations, which compress as the plates collide. This compression forces water out, and more water can rush in as the plates open.
Water pressure boosters have a stainless-steel body designed to protect the pump’s internal components and keep water from splashing outside the pump. The impeller is the rotating force within the booster, which turns the water with centrifugal force. Water enters through an inlet and output, where a volute casing converts the water’s speed into pressure.
Constant speed pumps monitor two settings – the low set-point and the high set-point for pressure. If your water pressure falls below the low set-point, the constant speed pump activates and only turns off when the pressure surpasses the high set-point. Alternatively, variable-speed pumps constantly adjust their speed to keep their pressure within a monitored range.
Do water pressure boosters work?
Water pressure booster pumps work. You know when you put your thumb over half the hose nozzle, and water goes from a small stream to a far-flying jet? By blocking the output size without lowering the amount of water needed to get through, you’ve increased the pressure within the hose. A water pressure booster does the same thing using impellers to force your water to a desired pressure setting, then sending it through the pipes.
If you’re still not convinced, consider how skyscrapers can get water to apartments thirty and forty stories high. These apartments have two options to increase their water pressure. They can place multiple boosters throughout the building, so water continually keeps its pressure — thanks to the boosters working together. The other option is a single booster pushing the water to the safest high pressure, and then that pressure is reduced at each level with a pressure reducer. The latter works if an apartment has a holding tank on the roof with a gravity-fed system.
If you’re considering a water pump for house and home, take some time to investigate your options. Different models and manufacturers may have longer life expectancies than others. It’s not just the pressure booster itself but also the motor that manages the booster you want to be aware of.
If you install a water pressure booster pump and still have problems with low pressure, you have a problem with your pipes. A hidden leak is the most likely culprit, which you should investigate right away. Test your shower faucets, dishwasher, washing machine, toilets, and sinks. Is there any pooling near the pipes, or discoloration on the walls or ceiling? Has your water bill suddenly spiked? If yes, these are significant indicators of a leak. If you have excellent water pressure on only one side of the house, you may have a blockage in the pipe – this can be caused over time by debris or minerals.
Why is my water pressure low?
There are a few major reasons why your water pressure may be low:
Gravity – gravity is the most straightforward reason why some homes have low water pressure. A gallon of water weighs nearly 8 pounds, which requires some real pressure to send to a higher elevation than where it began. Apartments and skyscrapers need to battle gravity with huge pressure boosters to send water to their top floors.
Distance – the farther away the water source is from your home, the less pressure it will have when it arrives. This is also true if you’re the last home in your water supply line or your pipes are too small to handle the flow of water needed.
Add-on systems – running your water through a special purification filter could lower the water pressure.
Plumbing issues – if plumbing issues are causing your low water pressure, a booster won’t help you. A booster can’t compensate for a clogged pipe or push enough water to accommodate a leak in the system without worsening the problem. If your pressure should be fine, consider hiring a plumber to check your entire system.
How to check your water pressure
If you want to check your home’s water pressure, you’ll want to start by shutting off all running water within the house. This process includes dishwashers, washing machines, and even your fridge’s ice maker. Next, locate the faucet closest to your home’s water source – whether that source is a well or a city water supply. The odds are pretty good this faucet is a hose located outside the home.
Screw a water gauge directly into that faucet. Be sure you screwed the gauge into the faucet — and not into the hose — as you want a direct connection. Tighten it, so it doesn’t leak, then crank your faucet on, and see what your gauge tells you.
If your gauge reads over 75 psi, you have a problem with your water pressure adjuster. These make sure the pressure can’t go higher for safety reasons. The average water pressure is between 40 and 50 psi, and most advice recommends you avoid going over 60 psi.
How to increase water pressure in a house
The first thing you should do for your home’s water pressure is test your pipes for clogs. Removing the clog will help, but you can also replace the entire pipe. Some homes’ pipes are too small, and replacing them with bigger ones will significantly increase the home’s water pressure. If any of your pipes are leaking, fixing them will make an immediate difference.
Another way to increase your home’s water pressure is to ensure your pressure regulator is working correctly. Check it out, and make sure it’s at the correct setting. Then either adjust it appropriately or replace the regulator entirely.
Choosing the right water pressure
The average water pressure to strive for is between 40 to 50 psi. Forty may be acceptable for some homes, but others may be too high above the water source, requiring a higher psi. It’s essential to keep the water pressure within this range. If the pressure gets too high, it can cause severe damage.
No home should have over 75 psi water pressure. High-pressure damage is hard to spot because its effects add up over time. Pipes can’t handle that level of force, and the added strain may create leaks or even cause the pipes to burst. The force of high water pressure will also wreak havoc on your appliances. Washing machines and dishwashers will break down much sooner than their life expectancy. Your water bill will also rise with excess water use.
If you have low water pressure, or you’re sure it’s not an issue with the regulator or the plumbing, you need a water pressure booster. Make sure you have it installed correctly so it doesn’t cause any damage to your system.
Water pressure booster pumps are excellent solutions to low water pressure. They work wonders, so long as there’s no problem with your plumbing and will have your pipes outputting water like magic again. There are several pressure boosters to choose from, so research which is correct for your home and is installed correctly. The next time you run your taps, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.