Advice on Water pressure improvements

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by adellicson, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. adellicson

    adellicson New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Looking for advice on low water pressure. Here is the problem, pretty sure the pipe runs are too long. So the water pressure coming into the house(well) is set to 45/65. I jumped it up to get better pressure from 40/60. The house is a 2000 sq ft ranch so it kind of long. The water comes about 40 ft from the well head in the yard into the center of the house in a crawl where the pressure tank and pump switch are. Runs from there to the west end(house runs east and west) of the house into a closet where the water softener, water heater, right near the kitchen and 1st full bath. Then runs back into the crawl to the east end all the way to the other end of the house where a 2nd water heater, washer, 2nd bath with shower and jacuzzi tub which shares a water closet with the 3rd full bath. I know, 3 beds and 3 full baths. This was done with an addition by PO. So water pressure in the kitchen is good enough, but the 2 other baths are not so good. The jacuzzi tub is decent, sinks are decent, but the shower pressures are not so good. Don't get me wrong, they aren't terrible, but try telling that to a wife with longer hair. I've replaced the shower heads and nothing changed. What are my options with improving the showers? Would another pressure tank located closer to the 2nd and 3rd baths help? Is a booster pump an option? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
  2. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    ct
    First thing I would do is remove the water restrictors in the faucets and drill out the restrictors in the shower heads.
  3. adellicson

    adellicson New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Thanks for the response. Already tried that. I was thinking about doing something with the valves in the showers. I'm pretty sure there are some restrictions in place in newer shower valves to control gpm. Actually the faucets have good enough pressure so I didn't touch those. I did drill out the shower heads already. I have been a bit reluctant to get into the valves because I'm not sure what I would have to do if a valve was unusuable after I modified it. They are Moen's.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Maybe jacking up the pressure to 50/70 might do it.
  5. adellicson

    adellicson New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Bumping up the pressure did help. My concern is going anymore will blow the media out of my water softener.
  6. Murphy625

    Murphy625 Member

    Messages:
    155
    Location:
    Michigan
    I'm lost.. The shower and jacuzzi tub are next to each other and one has good pressure while the other doesn't?

    The simplest fix for pressure drops due to long distances is to install larger piping or run a second pipe parallel to the first and tie them together at the ends.. This assumes its the friction losses in the pipes and elbows causing the problems.

    Another fix is to install a booster pump.

    But before you do anything, you need to get a stop watch, a bucket, and measure your actual water delivery rates to see where the real problem is. You would be surprised at how deceptive different flows can be depending on the type of discharge being used.

    One last thing. The way you wrote your post, it sounds like the water enters the home in the middle, then runs to the east and then doubles back and runs all the way to the west??? That would be your problem if that is the case. The water should enter the middle, tee off there and one leg goes east and the other leg goes west. Or am I mistaken on what you said?
  7. adellicson

    adellicson New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago area
    Thanks for the response Murphy625. You make all valid points and good observations. The setup doesn't make sense. I'm not a plumber, but I am an engineer so I have some basic understanding of fluid dynamics. How the house was additioned is why this setup has the pipe runs it has. The logical option would be to T it off in the middle, but then I would have to have a 2nd water softener which I don't want. OK, to explain more. West end of the house which is on a slab is the original part, this is where the water runs to first. Where the water enters the house is the crawl that was added. At one time there was no house here. The other end of the house(east end) was a 2 car garage. The PO joined the original house to the garage and converted the garage to the master bed and bath(3rd bath). Above the crawl is the 2nd bed and bath. So east to west is slab, crawl, slab. So the plumbing options are limited. Hence this is the reason there are 2 water heaters. I also have 2 furnaces and 2 A/C's. Adding a T and an extra water softener would fix the problem and I have thought of this. The problem with that is I'm sure the cold water enters the water closet and feeds the cold water supply to the bathrooms without going to the area where the 2nd water heater is which is the only option for the 2nd water softener. The water closet I'm talking about is closed off with the only access I'm guessing from the attic. I'm wondering would it help to put in a 2nd pressure tank just before the cold water supply leaves the crawl to the east end of the house? Would this not make a difference without a booster pump? I thought about a booster pump but everything I have seen video-wise is right where the water comes into the house. Nothing I have seen discusses my situation where the water pressure is good where it enters, but due to long pipe runs the pressure drops. To add to your comments, I can only imagine that the water closet is very interesting in regards to plumbing design. This closet feeds 2 toilets, 2 showers cold only and then the hots come from the water heater. The jacuzzi tub is the first outlet off the water heater. I can say, the jacuzzi tub pressure is similar to the showers. I know this because sometimes I take a shower head with a lead hose and hook it here to wash things down for cleaning. Having good pressure isn't noticeable here because your filling a tub and not taking a shower so I probably shouldn't have explained it that way. This house is 45 years old and in a lakefront community so additions are common here. My guess is the renovation is less then 20 years old. All the plumbing is copper. And yes I'm sure there is some scale buildup. I've seen it come out of the pipes so I'm sure that doesn't help. To top all this off, the flooring is all Oak hardwood so ripping up things isn't an option, but that's not saying it would have to be done to replace pipe. I'm not interested in that option.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
  8. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You probably still have restrictions in the house plumbing, but who doesn’t? After jacking the pressure switch up to 45/65 you have an average of 55 PSI. This means as the pump is cycling on/off, part of the time you have 65 PSI and part of the time you only have 45 PSI. Dipping down to the low side of 45 PSI is when the shower pressure really seems low. Then it doesn’t stay at the high side of 65 PSI but for a second before the pressure starts down again.

    Using a CSV to hold the pressure at a constant 55 PSI, instead of having an average 55 PSI, makes for a much stronger shower without increasing the pressure switch setting. If you have a large enough tank, as I assume you do, you could even set the CSV for a constant 60 PSI with that 45/65 pressure switch setting.

    Pressure is always much stronger when being “pushed” by the pump, instead of when being “drawn” from the tank. So having the pump running and the CSV holding a steady 60 PSI for as long as you are using the shower, will produce much stronger pressure in the shower without actually increasing the pressure switch setting.
  9. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,312
    Location:
    Maine
    Get a 40/60 pressure switch. 60psi wont effect your softener in the least. Most of your issues probably have more to do with improper sizing of the piping in the first place.
  10. adellicson

    adellicson New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Chicago area
    I'm running closer to 48/68 right now. My switch is a 40/60 from the factory. I turned it up a bit more from the 45/65 I already raised it to. I did adjust the air pressure to 2 psi unloaded as well. This is helping, but as valveman says there are lulls in the pressure when the pressure is getting closer to the bottom end before the pump is turning on. There is an amount of time when the pressure is better which is on the high end of when the pump shuts off. It's not surging just slowly dropping as it goes to the low end of the cycle. Could I do 50/70 with the CSV without harming my water softener? I had my pressure tank replaced about a week ago and the well guy said if I go much over 60-65 shut-off it will starting washing out the media in the softener. I like the CSV idea valveman. I heard that term in other forums, but didn't know what it was. Can you tell me more about how I would install it. Where would it go? I understand your explanation of concept, but how does it actually work? How does it hold a contant pressure without having a variable speed pump?
  11. Murphy625

    Murphy625 Member

    Messages:
    155
    Location:
    Michigan
    Would it be possible to move the water softener so that it takes care of the whole house from the middle? The water softener is its own pressure reducer.. I think it will probably drop 10psi at max flow.. but that's just a guess..

    Adding an extra pressure tank will give you a temporary boost in pressure. That boost will disappear as soon as the tank is part empty. The bigger the tank, the longer the pressure boost will last.. But once its gone, it won't come back until you turn the water off and it gets a chance to recharge.

    Here are some more ideas:
    Pressure tank idea: Install a huge tank that is big enough to hold enough water for whatever you do. If you're just worried about the shower, you could have someone take a nice long shower, time it, and calculate how much water was used. Get a tank big enough to handle that.. (that sounds expensive)

    Install second underground feed line:
    You could run a second underground feeder line from your pump. Unless there is some code violation I'm not aware of, I see no reason a single well pump couldn't push water to two different pressure tanks located on two different ends of the house.

    Install water holding tank:
    Or, you could get a poly tank to hold a hundred or so gallons of water and install a separate pressure tank and pressure pump. You'd have to create a system like mine however that was responsible for filling the tank and for preventing the pump from running dry if it ever emptied out.

    Either way, you're screwed! Its all going to require modifications... Every home has a personality eh?
  12. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    One of the best ways to see how a CSV works is to go to this link http://www.cyclestopvalves.com/simple/home.php . Scroll down if you need to so you can see both pump systems at the same time. Click on an appliance in the house like “kitchen sink”. Watch how the pressure tanks empty and both pumps start like normal. Then notice how the pump with the CSV just stays on at a constant 50 PSI, while the system with only a pressure tank continues to cycle on and off as the pressure increases and decreases between 40 to 60. You can turn on as many appliances as you want, and watch the difference between the two systems as long as you want. If you take your time you will see there are amp meters to show the electrical current draw. There are pressure gauges to explain backpressure and system pressure. A flow meter also shows the rate increase or decrease as you turn on or off appliances.

    The CSV is installed before the pressure tank and any lines where water tees off to a point of use. The CSV works like any valve, ball valve, gate valve, etc. Except that the opening and closing of the CSV is controlled by a spring with a diaphragm. When the spring is adjusted to 50 PSI tension with the adjustment bolt, the valve stays pushed open as long as there is less than 50 PSI water pressure in the system. When you are using less water than the pump can produce, the system pressure starts to increase. When the system pressure reaches 51 PSI, the water pressure is stronger than the spring in the valve, and the diaphragm pushes the valve closed. But when the valve closes the system is getting less water and the system pressure drops. So the system pressure drops to 49 PSI, the spring is again stronger than the water pressure, and the spring pushes the valve open. This dance between the spring and the diaphragm makes the CSV modulate a steady 50 PSI to the system.

    If the pressure increases to 51 PSI, the CSV knows you are using less water, and closes to deliver less water. If the pressure decreases to 49 PSI, the CSV knows you are using more water, and opens to deliver more water. The CSV is completely mechanical, using only a spring and a diaphragm to modulate the flow from the pump by maintaining a constant pressure on the system.

    When there is no more water being used, at 51 PSI the diaphragm pushes the CSV closed. However, since most pumps of this size need 1 GPM to stay running cool, the CSV can only close down to 1 GPM. Since no more water is being used, the 1 GPM passing through the CSV has no place to go except the pressure tank. Therefore the tank is filled at a rate of 1 GPM from 50 PSI to 60 PSI, and the pressure switch shuts the pump off.

    Everything in a water system causes restriction. Filters, softeners, elbows, and long lengths of too small of pipe just to name a few. You need to turn the pressure switch up to a point where it can overcome these restrictions and still supply sufficient pressure in the shower. Then a CSV can keep the pressure at the higher end of the pressure range for as long as you are in the shower. This way you will have strong pressure without the highs and lows you are experiencing now.
  13. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Pressure comes from the pump, not from the pressure tank. The pump just sees the pressure tank as another demand it must satisfy. So the larger the tank, the longer the system will be at low pressure.

    Water comes out of a pressure tank anytime a faucet is opened. However, not until the pressure has dropped from 60 to 40 PSI and the pressure tank is completely empty will the pressure switch start the pump. So you have no way of knowing if the tank is full to 60 PSI, or if most of the water in the tank has been used, and the pressure is sitting at 41 PSI when you turn on the shower. If the pressure happened to be at 60 PSI, then the shower pressure starts out high and decreases all the way to 40 PSI. Then the pump is started. The smaller the pump, larger the tank, and the more water you are using, the slower the tank fills as the pressure slowly climbs to 60 PSI before the pump is shut off.

    The CSV will work with any size tank, and will still hold the pressure constant once the pump comes on and the pressure tank refills to the set point of the CSV. However, we still have to wait for the pressure tank to drain and refill before the CSV can go to work. So the larger the pressure tank, the more time it takes before the CSV can deliver strong constant pressure. With a small tank, like the 4.5 gallon size that only holds 1 gallon of water, the CSV is working and already holding constant pressure before you get the shower temperature adjusted.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Most modern softeners have a DLFC that regulates the backwash flow so you will not wash media out. I think your well guy is old school.

    From another thread:
  15. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,312
    Location:
    Maine
    If your pressure problems are volume problems caused my undersized piping, restrictive valves and the restriction through your softener a CSV will do next to nothing. The cure is to recipe the house properly.
  16. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    That is not true. Pipe friction loss, filters, and other restrictions can be overcome by increasing the pressure. Re-plumbing the house is rarely a feasible option.

    If the losses to the house add up to 20 PSI, then with a 45/65 pressure switch you are getting as little as 25 PSI in the house at the low end of the cycle. Using a Cycle Stop Valve to maintain 60 PSI constant means that you have a minimum of 40 PSI in the house. 40 PSI constant is almost double the 25 PSI from the old 45/65 pressure switch system. That will make a big difference in the shower pressure.

    I have done systems with as much as 100 PSI friction loss. If you need 40 PSI at the end of the pipe, you just supply 140 PSI constant from the pump system. If you have enough pump, you can overcome any friction and pressure losses.

    And again “pushing” the pressure from the pump and holding it constant using a CSV is always stronger than when “drawing” water from a pressure tank.

    You can always figure out a way to make it work without the benefits of a CSV. But that is kind of like doing all your work on an old fashioned typewriter because you just don’t like the idea of those new fangled computers.

    You are NOT “screwed” and you do not need to “re-plumb the house”. I will give you a money back guarantee that constant pressure from a CSV will solve your low-pressure problem. The CSV solves most pump system problems, which unfortunately is WHY many people in the business try to talk you out of it.
  17. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,312
    Location:
    Maine
    You are not "drawing" water from the pressure tank. Its pressurized. It's "Pushing" water through the pipes.
  18. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    If you had an air compressor pumping air in the pressure tank it would be pushing water out. Since the air/water pressure decreases when you open a tap, you are “drawing” water from the tank.

    Either way water pressure in the house is much stronger when being “pushed” out by the pump at a constant or increasing pressure as compared to being “drawn” from the tank as the pressure decreases. This is why people say the pressure gets much stronger after the pump starts. Even though the pressure maybe the same, you can tell the shower is stronger when being pushed by the pump as compared to when being drawn from the tank.

    Water is not compressible. So water from the pump pushing on other water in the pipe is much stronger than when water is being “pushed” by air from a tank, which is compressible. It is like the difference between pushing a car with a 10’ long 2X4 as compared to pushing a car with a 10’ long piece of foam rubber. You can still push the car with the same amount of force, but the 2X4 won’t compress and be spongy when you need it to push hard.
  19. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    3,312
    Location:
    Maine
    Ahhhhhhhh.....no. Physics is physics. The tank is pressurized. Pressure pushes water through the pipes. There is no such thing as drawing water. Its an archaic term that is often misused. At any rate though, I guarantee that any difference in his pressure using a CSV is only because he will have spent the money and wants to believe. If his tank is large enough and the tank air pressure is properly set and the pressure switch is set and operating properly a CSV will do nothing other than lighten his wallet. The problem is his piping and no amount of dicking around with add on stuff is going to alleviate that condition.

    And here's the big issue though. He said only his two showers are an issue. In the zeal to sell equipment nobody bothered to ask him what the shower valves were and how they were piped. So I guess when in doubt, slap a CSV on and hope for the best LOL

    The OP said most of the house pressure is fine, its the two showers that are the issue. Did anyone bother to find out anything about the shower valves or the piping too them?
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  20. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Ahhhhhh…..yes, physics is physics. Do you know anything about transient pressure waves? These waves are the cause of water hammer when they hit a closed valve or a dead end line. Transient pressure waves are started when the pump abruptly starts “pushing” water, or when valves are closed too rapidly. They travel down pipelines at 3,000 to 8,000 feet per second, which is several times the speed of a rifle bullet. The stronger and thicker the pipe wall, the faster these waves travel. Think Tsunami caged in a closed tube. Most people have heard this water hammer “thump” when the solenoid valve on the washing machine closes.

    This Tsunami pulse wave cannot be created by “pushing” water with air. It takes positive displacement as when being pushed by water instead of air to cause this pulse. Think about hydraulic pressure being stronger than pneumatic pressure. So when the system is drawing from the tank it is “sort of” being fed by pneumatic pressure. When the pump comes on the system is being fed by hydraulic pressure, which is why it feels much stronger.

    The only way air can “push” water out of the tank is after you open a faucet and draw water out of the pipe system. Opening a tap causes a cascading effect of water molecules that flows from the tap to the water source. This is kind of like pulling the slack out of a chain. The water in the tank is the car being towed. When the tap opens the “slack” is being pulled out of the waterline. Only when all the “slack” has been pulled out of the water line and the pressure lessens at the tank discharge will water start flowing from the tank. This is similar to pulling all the slack out of a chain before the car will start being towed forward. You can’t stretch water molecules much easier than you can compress them, so this cascading effect happens very quickly. But you are still drawing water from the tank. The air is only expanding with decreasing pressure to take up the space after the water leaves the tank.

    In this case the problem is with the piping. But you can compensate for pressure loss in the pipe by increasing the pressure you put into it. Using a CSV to hold the pressure constantly high is going to compensate for losses much better than when the pressure is continually bobbing up and down by 20 PSI. And there is no way to use a pressure tank only type system without the pressure bobbing up and down constantly.

    The best CSV for the job will “lighten his wallet” by about $63. This is way less expensive than any other “dicking around” you could do. The CSV is only an “add on” if the original installer wasn’t educated enough to know it is the most important part of any pump system. Stronger pressure in the house isn’t something you can just “believe in” strongly enough to make it happen. Either the shower is strong enough to sting your skin or it isn’t. I guarantee that with strong enough constant pressure, the shower will sting your skin, even if the pipe is undersized.

    There is always an upstairs shower or one place in particular where you notice low pressure in the house. I guarantee after you get the strong constant pressure from a CSV to solve the low-pressure problem in that one shower, everything else in the house will also start working like you never knew it should. Toilets and washing machines will be filling faster. Sprinklers in the yard will be shooting further. Showers in other parts of the house you thought were fine will now be amazing.

    I don’t mean to hit every post with “a Cycle Stop Valve will solve that problem”, but it usually will. Cycling is the cause of most pump system failures. Everything from the wire chaffing in the well, to check valves failing, bladders in tanks breaking, or stirring up sediment in the well can all be caused by cycling. I haven’t even mentioned the things most people already know are caused by cycling like short lived capacitors, relays, switches, shafts, couplings, motors, etc, etc.

    Man has been looking for a cure to the problems caused by pump cycling for as long as pressure switches have been in existence. Many people in the pump business know the CSV is the answer, know how much solving these problems could decrease their business, so they do everything in their power to discredit Cycle Stop Valves. Others in the pump business just can’t believe solving all these problems could be as easy as a simple Cycle Stop Valve. Still others think it is a sign of failure that they did not get the math right if they have to use a CSV, even though they know the math never works in real life.

    Sorry for the long posts. But after 20 years of using CSV’s to solve problems, I see it as a disservice when someone tries to talk others out of such an obvious, easy, and inexpensive answer.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
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