Increase Household Water Pressure: Do Water Pressure Boosters Work

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Low pressure in the water pipes in your home can be a frustrating problem to address. Low water pressure can cause certain appliances not to work correctly, or in some cases, cause them not to work at all. Fortunately, there are ways to sort this problem out and establish a water pressure in your home that will evenly distribute the pressure to all your water outlets.

Water pressure booster pumps do work and can be a useful addition to your home. For example, suppose you have a low water pressure or fluctuating water pressure in your home. In that case, a water pressure booster will increase and stabilize the pressure and give you reliable pressure at all of the water outlets in your home.

Fluctuating and low water pressure can be a very frustrating problem for the homeowner. The cause of the pressure issue is not always immediately apparent and would need some further investigation. However, if the cause of the low pressure or unstable pressure is due to the supply, a water pressure booster will undoubtedly help provide more acceptable and usable water pressure. The type of water booster pump you need will be determined by the water pressure needs and the elevation to which the pump needs to deliver the water.

What Causes Low Water Pressure In Your Home

Low water pressure at the water outlets in the home can be a symptom of several potential causes, and it is worthwhile investigating the problem a little further before going ahead and installing a water pressure booster.

There have been cases where the low water pressure problem was caused by main water supply valves that were not fully open. This will restrict both the flow of the water and the pressure of the water supplied to your home.

This problem sometimes occurs when people buy a new house, move in and discover that the water pressure is less desirable. Unfortunately, they assume that all the inlet valves are open and often don’t consider checking this out.

Simply opening the valves all the way will solve the problem without going to the trouble of purchasing and installing a water pressure booster pump.

Other than valves that are not entirely open, there could be several other scenarios that could result in low water pressure.

  • Your elevation. If your house is in an elevated position on a hill, and your house is higher than the local pump station, then you may be at the limits of how high the mains water can be delivered. This will result in low water pressure or unpredictable water pressure when households at a lower elevation than you use water.
  • Your distance from the local pump station. Your home may be located at the outer limits of the pumping capacity of your local municipal reservoir. The result could be low water pressure in your home.
  • The water pressure reducing valve. Mains water is usually delivered at high pressure so that homes further away can have water at a good pressure. Homes that are close to the source of the water supply need to have a pressure-reducing valve installed to reduce the pressure of the water coming into your home. This valve is normally adjustable, and it could be turned to a setting that is too low. Checking this could do away with the need to install a pressure booster pump. A fault on this pressure regulating valve can also impact the water pressure in the house.
  • Clogged or damaged pipes. Clogged pipes will effectively reduce the pressure that is delivered to your home, and broken or damaged pipes could not only reduce pressure but also cost you money in wasted water. If you suspect this is your problem, for example, if your neighbors have no water pressure problems and you have checked the other possibilities, it would be best to get a professional out to check the issue.
  • Water storage tanks. If you have water storage tanks that supply your home with water, the location of the tanks, particularly the elevation of the tanks, can have an effect on the pressure of the water delivered from the tanks. In most modern homes, gravity-fed water pressure is not sufficient to run many of the appliances we use. In this scenario, it is pretty much a certainty that you will need a pressure booster pump installed to supply the needed water pressure.

How To Check The Water Pressure In Your Home

If you have water pressure difficulties in your home and would like to get a definitive answer to confirm your suspicions, then the best route is to pressure test the water supply.

You can purchase water pressure test gauges that you can connect to a faucet in your home that accepts a hosepipe connection. These gauges are available at most local hardware stores that stock plumbing supplies.

Your water mains’ pressure typically delivers to your inlet pipe is between 50 and 70psi, with 60psi being the acceptable average.

Pressure above 60psi is considered good water pressure. Pressure between 50 and 60psi is considered good water pressure, but anything under 50psi is considered insufficient water pressure.

High water pressure can be as much of a problem as low water pressure. For example, water pressure above 70psi and closer to 80psi can damage water pipes and fixtures in your home. This can result in burst pipes and damage to valves and fixtures, and the resultant damage to your home and furniture from a burst pipe can be extensive. 

If you measure your water pressure and it is in the low 50s of under 50psi, or if you have periods in the day where the pressure drops below acceptable levels, then you can benefit from a pressure booster.

Do Water Pressure Boosters Work?

Water pressure booster pumps undoubtedly do work and help increase and stabilize the water pressure throughout the house.

The most common reason for people complaining that a booster pump does not solve their water pressure problem is because the installed pump was not rated to supply the pressure and flow rate that they need for the house.

One of the factors that will impact the type and size of the water pressure booster pump that you select will be whether your house is single-story or multi-story. As soon as a pump needs to pump water to an increased height, you will need a larger capacity pump to deliver water at sufficient pressure to this elevation.

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This makes it essential to choose a correctly rated water pressure booster pump to provide enough pressure and flow rate throughout the house.

How Do Water Pressure Boosters Work?

All water pressure pumps will have the same basic components that make up the pump irrespective of make. Essentially, a pressure booster pump will have five main components.

  • Inlet. This will be the opening where the water from the mains or the water supply will enter the booster pump.
  • Impeller. This can be likened to a propeller, but instead of pushing air, it pushes fluid.
  • Motor. All pumps will have a motor. The capacity of the motor will determine the effectiveness of the pump, the pressure it can deliver, and the flow rate of the water that it can provide to the water system in your home. The motor will spin the impeller, which forces the water from the inlet through the outlet, increasing the pressure and flow rate.
  • Pressure sensor. This is an important component that allows the pump to adjust to the demand for pressure. For example, if you decide to take a shower while your washing machine is running, the pump will have to deliver more pressure to make sure there is sufficient pressure to meet the demand of multiple outlets being opened at the same time. Otherwise, one or the other will experience low pressure as the other outlet is opened.
  • Outlet. This will be the opening through which the pump will drive the water under pressure to deliver the pressurized water to the water outlets in your home.

The motor of the majority of household pressure booster pumps will be electricity-driven motors. This is an important consideration to bear n mind since if your power goes out, it will affect the pressure of the water coming through the pipes in your home. This could result in low pressure, or the water flow may stop if there is no power.

For this reason, if you are making plans to have a backup power source incorporated into your house, you should also hook up the water booster pump to ensure that you have good water flow during power blackouts.

If your incoming water pressure is inferior, you may need to select a pump that uses an expansion tank. This makes the pump more efficient and prevents the hesitation experienced in a pump that is flow-switch-activated.

An expansion tank will also prevent the pump from being turned on every time a faucet is opened in your home, which will help to reduce electricity use for the booster pump.

In some cases, such as in large buildings, or tall buildings where the pumps work very hard and are frequently turned on and off because of the constant demand, dual pump systems are used.

In a dual pump system, two pressure booster pumps are installed side by side, and they are switched on by the controlling system alternately as the demand requires. This reduces the wear and tear on any one individual pump and serves to make the pumps last longer, and offers a level of redundancy should a pump fail.

In some instances, large domestic homes may have up to 4 water pressure booster pumps fitted to distribute the load demand and supply enough pressure to the home.

How To Size A Water Pressure Booster Pump For Your Home

Sizing the water pressure pump for your home needs to consider some crucial information about your current water pressure and the design and size of your home.

Sizing a pump for an installation is not as simple as buying a pump from your local plumbing supplies store and fitting it. First, you need to know the current flow rate and pressure that your incoming water supply is delivering and analyze what the needs are in the home.

The booster pump is sized according to the discrepancy between incoming pressure and the output water pressure and the height the water needs to rise.

In some cases, such as apartments, where you may be on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th floor or higher, a few large booster pumps may be needed, with smaller booster pumps in the system to get the desired result.

To determine the pump size needed, you need to take the following aspects of the water flow and your needs.

  • Establish your required flow rates. This calculation needs to establish your service slow rate and your peak flow rate. The service flow rate is for fixtures that have a run time of longer than 10-minutes, such as washing machines and dishwashers. The peak flow rate is the maximum number of fixtures that you might run at the same time.
  • What is the current water pressure coming into your home? Establish the current water pressure being supplied you’re your water inlet.
  • How much water pressure do you need. This would be the amount of pressure you want at your water outlets and taking into account the height that the water needs to go if you have a multi-story house.

The numbers are used to calculate the capacity of the pressure booster pump that is required.

As a guideline to calculate your service and flow rates, you can use the following as the average gallons per minute or GPM that various outlets in the home use.

  • Faucets. 2.5 to 3-GPM
  • Toilets. 2.2 to 5-GPM
  • Bathtubs. 4 to 8-GPM
  • Shower. 2.5 to 5-GPM
  • Dishwasher. 2 to 3-GPM
  • Washing machine. 4 to 5-GPM

Once you have your flow rates established and the heigh to which you need to take the water, you can approach a pump supplier and get their recommendation for the capacity pump you need and whether you need a single pump or a multi-pump system.

Conclusion

Water pressure booster pumps do work, and in some locations, many households would not be able to function correctly without these devices.

Pressure booster pumps work well to increase water pressure where the incoming pressure is insufficient and stabilize the water pressure where the pressure fluctuates at different times of the day.

Sizing the pump correctly for your demand needs is an integral part of the equation to get right with installing a booster pump. Install a pump that has insufficient capacity, and you will not solve your water pressure problems; install a pump that is too large, and you will be spending money unnecessarily.

To accurately size a pump, it is best to get a professional to analyze your current water flow and pressure and your needs and recommend the correct size pump or multiple pumps.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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