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How To Increase Water Pressure

Dreaming of a Powerful Shower? Is your bath taking eons to fill up? - Then you need to think about increasing your water pressure with a booster pump set-up.

The flow rate at which water is delivered depends on two factors:

1. Water Pressure - Which is governed by how high your water reservoir, tower or pump station is compared to your property. Other factors like pressure regulators upstream of your property will have a pressure reducing effect. In simple terms, pressure is measure by the head(height) of water. In a Gravity Fed System, 1 Bar of pressure will be felt if your water tank is 10m above your tap, 2 Bar is 20m, 3 Bar is 30m etc...

2. Pipe Diameter - The Diameter of the supply pipe between the reservoir and your property will affect flow rate and water quantity available at your tap. The water main feeds other properties and users, so in peak times you many have a drop in your flow of water just when you want it most.  Older properties may have a 1/2" pipe, newer housing will have a 1" water main which will help. Cities with lots of development may not have the water system infrastructure upgrades that can supply all the new dwellings, apartments and new demand.

For more information, OFWAT has good information

There are lots of reasons you may want to increase your water pressure, but ultimately you want to improve your quality of life and with a small investment in the correct hardware, it’s simple to achieve.

Can I install a booster pump directly in the main water pipe?  No!...but....

You might think a simple solution would be to install a pump in the main water pipe and boost your water pressure like that, but for several reasons, this is not a viable solutions.  Pumps are great at pushing water, but not designed to pull it. So pumping directly from the water main will only make the pump pull from the water main (which may already be limited), this will drag down the pump capability and wear it out faster, without much improvement in flow rate. Also due to water company and local bye-law regulations, pumps capable of delivering above 12 liters/minute are not to be installed in the water main.

The Solution

It's not difficult to achieve a good flow rate for the whole house, you need two key components:

1. A water break tank with a float valve

2. A water booster pump with automatic control system.

Break Tank.

The water break tank is supplied from the cold water supply and fills up with a float valve, the storage tank should be sized to allow for peak demand. Otherwise when you want to use the water there won’t be enough capacity to fill your needs. As the water is pumped out to the house the water main will refill the break tank and turn off when full ready for the next demand. Since the same amount of water will be used thanks to the tank your Water Meter shouldn’t change too much.

Typical sizes of break tank will depend on the property size and number of occupants.

A typical 1 or 2 bedroom flat with one bathroom - 125L to 150L tank

3 to 4 bedroom house - 200 to 250L tank will work well.

If you have multiple bathrooms like a guest house or bed and breakfast, then a bigger tank will be required depending on the expected peak demand.

The break tank is best installed at ground level where the mains water flow will be at it's best.  these are usually installed in the kitchen, utility room and as near to the incoming water main as possible.

Booster Pump.

The water booster pump should be installed next to the break tank, so it's pushing water to the rest of the dwellings water main pipe. A good quality pump that is quiet in operation is a must.

The pump is controlled by a system of pressure and/or flow sensors, combined into a compact unit, plumbed in to the pump outlet port. This unit will automatically control the pump. Switching the pump on when the pressure drops and switching the pump off when there is no demand. There are two main types of pump controller for booster water pressure.

Pressure switch: Simply works by switching on and off at preset pressures. As an example the switch could be set to turn on at a low of 1.5bar and turn off at 2.8 Bar ("Off" pressure setting needs to be below the maximum pump pressure).  This type of pressure switch is usually used with an expansion vessel to help smooth out pressure spikes and hammering when a tap is closed quickly or a valve of a washing machine is shut.

Flow Controller: Work in a similar way to the pressure switch, but have the advantage of not being limited to the pressure switch setting and can use the full pressure of the pump as the "off" switching is achieved by a flow sensor allow the full performance of the pump. This style of controller has the advantage of 'run dry protection' because if the controller detects no flow the pump will switch off, which protect the pump. Most flow controllers have an automatic restart feature so if the pump runs dry and switches off, it will restart after a set period of time.

Non Domestic, Hotels or larger home water boosting.

Hotels, guest house and larger properties may have the same low flow rate issues compounded by higher demands at peak times. Typically a hotel where multiple guests would like showers at 7.30am or 6pm. The solution is similar only the equipment is slightly different. The break tank will need to be much larger, possibly installed outside the main building and the pump system will require a high levels of control with the use of variable speed pump controllers and pumps, to keep up with the varying flow rates and demand cycles. This is where a consultant will assess the requirements and measure the mains water flow to design a system to maintain the desired flow rate and pressure at all times of the demand cycle.

Showers and how they work

We tend to suffer most from low Water Pressure when our Shower Head produces a sprinkle rather than the wash we were looking for. Shower Pumps can alleviate this issue specifically and are cheaper than you might think. Combi Boilers after all can be disappointing in a larger house so getting that little extra boost might be what you need. Otherwise a good quality Electric Shower might be the answer as that takes the generally higher pressure cold water and heats it actively.

Existing Plumbing?

There are few things you need to be aware of if you intend to boost your water pressure.

If the property has an unvented hot water cylinder, hot water tank and heating system with mains water plumbing, i.e. no water tank in the loft. Then by boosting your water pressure as described above will increase water pressure and flow to both the cold and hot water supply equally - Happy days!

If you have a cold water tank in the loft, a header tank, then the above system will not boost the flow as this is determined by the height of your existing header tank. You can pump from your cold water tank in the loft, but you will need to make sure you know how the heating system works.

I would always recommend any installation of a booster system is carried out by a qualified plumber or heating engineer and all installation must comply with water bye-laws and regulation.

I hope this brief overview helps. Please contact us, using the form below, or call on 01722 714514 for further information.



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