What do I need to pressurize city water?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by 38ppBBia, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    Oct 31, 2018
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    I live in a condo that's connected to several other units. The water main (steel) runs through many units, and by the time it gets to our unit, the inner diameter is almost completely clogged with rust. I've been through it with the board, and they won't do anything until the line fails.

    Until then, I would like to pressurize the lines inside my unit so I get decent pressure. All the guides I find online have to do with wells. All I need to do pressurize the lines after it comes in. I've replaces all the lines in our unit with copper and pex, so I'm not worried about any failures inside the unit.

    Can someone point me in the right direction for a complete list of parts I need to do this, and the right way to do it? Thanks.
     
  2. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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  4. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    What I'm seeing in that system is a pump and tank. I assume it also has a one-way valve and pressure gauge. Could I just make this?
     
  5. James Henry

    James Henry In the Trades

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    I would be careful if I was you, if the pipes are in that bad of shape you may cause damage to the pipes.
     
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  6. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    How would this damage the pipes before the pressurizing system?
     
  7. James Henry

    James Henry In the Trades

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    When you increase the pressure inside the pipe you risk causing a leak at a joint that may be barely holding together with rust then you'll get a big surprise.
     
  8. fitter30

    fitter30 Well-Known Member

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    Record gpm flow both hot and cold from bathtub spout with 5 gallon bucket. Check all faucet aerators and flush water heater. Hot should be less than cold. Need to know the flows to even see if a pump would help could suck the line dry.
     
  9. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    I've replaced all the pipes inside my unit with new copper and pex.
     
  10. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    The issue is when the washer kicks on, our upstairs faucets basically don't work at all.
     
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    You have a volume problem. There is too much friction loss from the constricted supply pipe.
     
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  12. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    How do I fix this?
     
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    YOu won't make any friends, but you may be able to force the condo association to fix the problem if you bring it up with the local housing authority. There's often an issue about minimum pressure and volume required, and they could condemn the place if it doesn't meet the codes...I'm not sure how to best investigate this.

    As was mentioned, you have a volume problem. Attaching a pump, you may be exceeding the capacity of the line to provide the requested volume, essentially causing it to run dry, which would damage the pump. Plus, there's not much volume in the tank of a typical one, so when there's a demand for water, they tend to run constantly until you shut your water off. They only work if there's good volume, but the pressure is low. If you were to put a pressure gauge on a test point with NO water flowing, that would show your static pressure which could be fine...friction in the lines drops that way down when there are restrictions from all of the rust, and you won't get much of any volume.

    It wouldn't be all that convenient, but if you had the room, you could put a big tank with a float valve, let that fill, then treat the outlet as if it was a big well, and pull it from there, setting your pressure switch to whatever you wanted...but, if the lines IN your condo are also all galvanized, nothing but a total repipe is going to fix this.

    You might need to sue the board, especially if the building inspector ends up condemning the place, for living expenses, and then the fix. It could get ugly. See what your options are first. It might take talking to a lawyer to force them to fix this...it will end up costing you, but it will be shared expense with the other condo owners as well.

    You can't suck much through a soda straw, so a pump, without a bunch of stored water, won't do much except raise your expectations until you see it doesn't work.
     
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  14. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    Thanks, this makes sense. I'm not ready to go the route of dealing with the board yet, maybe a few years down the road.

    As to the volume problem, if I get a giant tank and put it in the line with a one way valve, would this fix the problem? Or would I have to add a pressurizing pump after the holding tank?

    Or are you saying to just buy the well kit and put it in after the tank? If so, can you recommend a kit? Thanks for your help.

    Edit: I've already replaced all the lines inside my unit with copper and pex.
     
  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Yes.
     
  16. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    There are much better systems than that "pressurizer". Those will just cycle on and off continually while using water. Having the pump run continuously while you are using water is much better. Simply adding a Cycle Stop Valve to one of those "pressurizer" systems would solve the cycling problem. However, that company refused to use the CSV more than 20 years ago for that very reason. If the pump doesn't cycle on and off, their pump and tanks will last forever, and they don't like that idea. But making the pump and tank last forever is a good thing for the homeowner, even if the pump/tank company doesn't like it.

    With a CSV you don't need any larger than a 4.5 gallon size pressure tank. You can hook up a pump and a PK1A kit to control it and try to draw directly from the city supply line. If they can supply the volume the pump needs, the pump system will greatly improve the pressure. If they city cannot supply enough volume and the pump is starving for water, you can add a cistern/storage tank and move the pump to draw from the storage tank. The storage tank could be filled with a float valve like is in a toilet and won't tax the city water system for volume.

    Jet pump and PK1A.jpeg

    LOW YIELD WELL_ CENTRIFUGAL_PK1A.jpg
     
  17. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Pump Controls Technician
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    Lubbock, Texas
    Here is a picture from our reviews where someone used an unusual cistern made to fit through a door with a submersible pump controlled by a PK1A control kit from Cycle Stop Valves. The submersible in the tank runs much more quite than a jet pump if that matters.

    cistern and sub pump booster.jpeg

    LOW YIELD WELL_SUB_PK1A.jpg
     
  18. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

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    Berkeley, CA
    To the OP, in case it's not clear, you are basically limited by the following characteristic of your supply: suppose you cut the pipe right where it enters your property and just let it flow (or rather had an in line full port valve with an open end). That flow rate is the most you'll reasonably get from your supply (you could get a bit more with a pump that would apply suction to the pipe to drop the absolute pressure below atmospheric pressure, not sure if that could be problematic).

    But at that flow rate, there's no pressure left to actually move the flow through your own piping and out of the fixtures, all of the available system pressure is being dissipated by the frictional losses in the water supply piping before your unit. If that flow rate is enough, then a booster pump type solution to repressurize the water should give you adequate flow and pressure at your fixtures, assuming you sized your interior replacement piping reasonably.

    If that flow rate is too low, however, the only way to get more flow to your fixtures is to add storage, i.e. a big cistern. And that storage might as well be unpressurized, i.e. open to atmosphere, rather than a pressure tank. [You could imagine a pressure tank with a mechanism to accommodate the changing volume, to take advantage of the supply pressure for low flow rates, but whenever your draw from the tank exceeded the supply flow rate, the tank would end up unpressurized as the tank volume drops, so it's alot simpler to just keep it unpressurized all the time.] Then you put a pump on/in the storage, and the pump provides all the pressure to your fixtures.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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  19. Jeff H Young

    Jeff H Young In the Trades

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    38ppbbia, it needs repiped . just wait a few years. hope you don't decide to sell the place as it might be an issue if you tell buyer about it or if you conceal the truth could get ugly as well. unless your exaggerating the situation I'd fight em!
     
  20. 38ppBBia

    38ppBBia New Member

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    Location:
    WI
    What I'm getting is that I need to measure for volume and pressure to pinpoint the issue better. If I install a booster pump like this (https://www.amazon.com/KOLERFLO-Pre...e+booster+pump+for+home&qid=1617943709&sr=8-3), and the city is not supplying enough volume to to pump, what will happen? Especially since these pipes are in bad shape, I assume this could be bad?
     
  21. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    Many pumps utilize the liquid for both cooling and lubrication, so if the pump can't get enough volume, it would potentially run dry, and could eat itself up fairly quickly...plus, if it can't get enough water, it can't build pressure.

    Most all of the booster pumps are designed where you have a low pressure supply, but it's not restricted for volume.

    To gain volume, you need to store it up, then you can pump from that supply, and as long as the storage volume is big enough so it can refill in between uses, everything will be fine except you'll be out money to buy it, install it, maintain it, and the power needed to run it, which shouldn't need to happen.

    Pumping water through the condo's pipes to build pressure will also mean the velocity will go up, which will accelerate the pipes rusting out. Higher velocity could also dislodge more rust from the inside, that could plug up aerators and foul up valve washers and or seats or cartridges. To keep the pressure down, the general path is to use larger pipes so the velocity doesn't get excessive. Excessive velocity can not only erode the pipes from the insides, but also create water flow noises, which may be annoying.

    I don't envy your situation. Plus, you'd have to read the condo bylaws carefully to ensure you don't induce any liability should the others then complain you made their pipes then spring a leak. Where I live, local ordinances and the bylaws prohibit me from doing any plumbing or electrical work in my condo (but strangely, I can run a gas line!). So, anything you do may need to be done by a licensed plumber and with a permit. The inspector may then ask why you're doing this, and that could open up another whole can of worms!
     
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