Low Water Pressure Woes! Pumping city water up a hill

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by ren451, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. ren451

    ren451 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    WV
    I've recently determined that I need to basically replace my entire water system due to a busted bladder tank and worn out leaky jet pump. I've replaced these components before but I just basically replaced them with exactly what was there when I bought my house. Before I replace the same system again, I would like to explore other options that may be better.

    I have city water but I live on a hill almost at the same height as the main water tank. To make a bad issue worse, I am also near the end of the water line system. My water meter is at the bottom of my hill. I estimate that I have about 800 ln ft of 1" water line with a vertical elevation of about 100-150 ft. My current system consists of a 1/2 hp WaterAce RTS5 jet pump that is connected to 115V line (I can supply a 230V line); 30-60 pressure switch w/ low pressure cut off; 86gallon Well-Xtrol WW86 bladder pressure tank. I also have a 15min timer switch that bypasses the pressure switch. Pump is located under the house in crawlspace and the tank and pressure switch/timer are located in a utility closet in a bathroom. My house has two full bathrooms, Kitchen sink, Water line to fridge, Dishwasher, Clothes washer, two outdoor spigots, and I have a pool. I don't normally use a sprinkler system but I might if I had a water system that could keep up.

    Last week I had a plumbing company out to take a look at my system. They gave me an estimate of almost $2400 to basically replace my system with the same system except to upgrade the pump to a 3/4 hp 230V. I'm not convinced that is the direction that I want to go.

    My problems start with the extremely low pressure and volume at the pump. The last time I replaced the pump (apx 5 years ago) I didn't even need to turn off the water at the meter. I was able to stop the water flow (trickle) with my finger over the water line. Thus the need for the well system. The low pressure cut off was installed after the last pump that burned up due to a break in the city main. The timer was installed to override the pressure switch (when I was sure that there was water in the line) to get the system up over the 20lb cut off of the pressure switch. This was very often because the pressure coming through the line was so low that supply couldn't keep up with demand (pretty much anytime the washer was run).

    A friend of mine suggested that I bury a 1000gal poly storage tank near my house so that my pump wouldn't have to work so hard and the tank could fill during off-peak hours with a separate pump with float valve. What are some opinions of this setup and how would I need to set it up. I've also read quite a bit about the CSV systems on this forum. I'm interested in learning more about this option but I have concerns about the low volume and pressure coming through my line. Would the CSV be able to keep up with demand? I'd like to get some opinions. I'm not an expert so please use small words. lol!
  2. VAWellDriller

    VAWellDriller New Member

    Messages:
    170
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    If the city flow is that bad at the house, I would set up a system at the bottom of the hill, with a csv, small tank and pump....you will need a much larger pump, designed for high head, but this would be a solid solution. A large tank at the house is also an option that will work.
  3. ren451

    ren451 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    WV
    Unfortunately a pump at the bottom of the hill is not an option. The meter is not on my property. The water line actually passes through two other neighbors property before it gets to my property at the top of the hill. There is also no electrical available there. I've contacted the PSD that I get my water from and they said that they will not move the meter to my property due to my elevation.

    How big of a pump would I need for the csv to work correctly without over stressing my water line (1" plastic pipe)? What happens if the available volume drops too low for the pump to maintain the 50psi that the system needs? Would the csv work at a lower pressure such as 40psi with a 30/50 pressure switch with low pressure cut off?
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2013
  4. VAWellDriller

    VAWellDriller New Member

    Messages:
    170
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    You would size a pump the same way whether you use a CSV or not....you can set them to run at any pressure and it would work as you described with 40 psi csv and 30/50 switch. The main problem is you are starving the pump because of the low available city supply, and this problem won't go away. You should either drill your own well or install some sort of storage tank or cistern at your house that fills at the slow rate to supply a booster pump. The storage tank/cistern is probably your best and cheapest option.
  5. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,369
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You can push a lot of water through 1” pipe, but you can’t suck very much through that small pipe from that distance. So a CSV can help here. With a regular bladder tank and no CSV the pump is trying to draw about 10 GPM any time the pump is running. If you are only using a 3 GPM shower, then the other 7 GPM go into the pressure tank until it reaches shut off pressure and the motor turns off. But the pump is always drawing about 10 GPM when running. Drawing 10 GPM through small pipe and a long distance will make the pump work more like it is drawing from a shallow well than a pressurized line.

    This has a few effects. It adds extra head to the work of the pump, so you need a larger pump. I would size the pump as if I were lifting from about 20’ out of a well. However, with too large of a pump you could collapse the incoming pipe flat as a pancake. Pipe can take a lot of pressure but not a lot of vacuum.

    The leaking pump could be from cavitations in the water because of low NPSH. Basically little air bubbles implode and cut the pump in half. The bladder in the tank is busted from cycling on and off while the pump is drawing 10 GPM and you are only using 3 GPM. Like bending a wire until it breaks.

    Here is where the CSV can help. The CSV will allow you to use a larger pump, say a 1 HP jet pump that can build higher pressure than a ¾ HP. When used with the small 4.5 gallon tank the CSV will make sure the pump will always be drawing exactly the same amount as you are using. So when you are only using a 3 GPM shower the pump is only drawing 3 GPM from the 800’ of 1” pipe. This will greatly help with the NPSH on the pump and allow you to run and stay at higher pressures. I would run the pressure switch at 50/70, (with the right pump), and set the CSV at 60 PSI. This will give you constant pressure while using water that is the same as the highest pressure you see now just as the pump shuts off.

    Stopping the pump from cycling will solve a lot of your problems, and make everything last longer as well.
  6. ren451

    ren451 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    WV
    I'm liking the idea of the csv, but what would the "right" pump be? I'm not sure how to pick the right pump. I know that I don't want the same Home Improvement Store junk that I currently have. Who makes a 50/70 switch with a low cut off? The cut off is important because my public service district is extremely unreliable and I don't want to burn up any more impellers or pump motors.
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Square-D makes the same switch with different presets purely for convenience. You can take any one and adjust it to 50/70. That said, the low cutoff feature is not adjustable and follows about 10 PSI below cut-in which can cause a lot of nuisance trips.

    A low pressure cutoff cannot and will not protect a pump in all circumstances. If you stop using water but the pump cannot reach the shut-off pressure of 70 PSI, the low-cutoff will never trip but the pump can melt down. More sophisticated pump guard systems monitor pump current draw instead of pressure.
  8. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,369
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    The right pump to operate with a 50/70 switch would be one that has a "max pressure" of about 80 PSI. A low amperage Dry Well protection device like the Cycle Sensor will work if the incoming city line has a break and the pump draws in air. But if the supply is just blocked or starving the pump, tha amps won't drop until the pump has gotten hot and the water has aerated. So it might be best to have both the Cycle Sensor and a low presure cut-off switch.
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
  10. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,369
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I use those kind alot when I need more head or pressure. The problem is they won't lift from more than about 8'. I think more "lift" is important in this case.
  11. ren451

    ren451 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    WV
    First of all, Thank you VAWellDriller, valveman and LLigetfa for the advice. I think I'm sold on the CSV system. Here's my shopping list so far:

    -Pump: Goulds J10S Shallow well pump for $425 including shipping.
    -Switch: SQUARE D Pressure Switch with Low Pressure Cut-Off 30/50 for $25 free shipping.
    -CSV: I like the CSV PK1A pside-kick because it comes with just about everything I need as far as fittings go. The best price I found was $428. I can save about a $100 if I get the individual components. Any opinions on this? I also saw the PK1AEPS with what looks like an electronic switch for $495. I couldn't find much info on this. Any opinions?

    If I decide to get the individual items for the CSV, I found the CSV1A for $170. I found a WaterWorker 4gal tank at HomeDepot for about $60 or an 8gal for $100. The rest of the fittings and the guage shouldn't be more than about $50.

    All in all, I should be way less than half the price of what the plumbing company quoted me. I just hate the idea of working in my crawlspace. lol
  12. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    It sounds like the EPS15/99. I could no longer find it on the CycleStopValves website so wondered if it is discontinued. I have one and am very happy with it. Rather than a low cut-off following 10 PSI below cut-in, it uses a fixed setpoint. It also has a built-in timer and remote reset. Power cycling the circuit breaker will reset the cut-off and the timer gives it a delay to get the pressure back above the trip point.
  13. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,369
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    We have discontinued the EPS15/99 pressure switch. Although I still have them on all my wells and love them. We were having about 15% failures. Most of these were installer errors as the push buttons are getting broken off when installing the cover. We also found that the housing was not good enough to set outside in the rain. Then there were a few where the water quality clogged up the pressure sensor, (transducer).

    Although 15% failure is probably even low for other electronic devices such as VFD’s, we have almost no failures with our CSV’s. We dislike having even one unhappy customer, so 15% is unacceptable, and therefore we have discontinued the EPS.

    I still have a warehouse full of them and would be happy to sell them to anybody for $65 each. This will be with no warranty and no replacements available. I am putting a few on my shelf at the house for spares. I haven’t really decided how to get rid of these yet. But I had rather throw $100,000 in the dumpster before I have anymore unhappy customers. 85% of the people, including me, love them. But a product with 15% failures is not something we want to continue selling. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to some of you. We can still replace any warranties you have or will refund the money for any still within the two year warranty period.

    We hope that you will appreciate us taking these off the market instead of not being honest and continuing to sell a faulty product, as many other companies do.
  14. ren451

    ren451 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    WV
    Valveman,

    I'm curious, why would my local plumber recommend a 3/4 hp pump rather than the 1 hp that you recommended? What are the benefits and drawbacks from using a larger pump? Sorry to hound you with all these rookie questions but I want to make sure I do it right the first time. Thanks!
  15. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,369
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    A CSV will allow you to install as large a pump as you want, and still be able to use it like a small pump without hurting anything. Before the CSV, we tried very hard to not oversize a pump as that just caused more cycling. A 3/4 will work as long as it can build the max pressure that you need.
  16. ren451

    ren451 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    WV
    Does this mean that if I purchased the PK1AEPS from the supplier that I found, that it would not be covered under warranty?
  17. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,369
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    No Way! We will still take care of any warranties. Just means when we run out of replacement EPS switches, you will get a regular pressure switch and a little credit for the difference.
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,826
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Sorry to hear that. All it takes is a few installers with fat fingers to up the return rate. I work in IT and see what some folk do to the ports and shake my head. Idiot-proofing is a war of escalation.

    [​IMG]
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