Fighting Gravity: What Booster Pumps Are And How They Send Water Up Several Stories

Construction & Contractors Blog

If you are building a high-rise apartment building or just having the plumbing updated in a multi-story complex, you may be wondering how the water flow works. Because of gravity, water fights to flow downward, not upward. That is where commercial plumbing services introduce booster pumps. Booster pumps serve a very particular purpose.

Booster Pumps Defined and Explained

Booster pumps are water pumps that increase pressure in the plumbing lines and keep it moving upwards. Several booster pumps may be installed inside a high-rise apartment building in order to provide adequate fresh water to every apartment. The pumps are fully equipped with horsepower motors that need no cranking. The water pressure created by the booster pumps remains the same, whether it is on the ground floor or the twentieth floor.

Variable vs. Constant Pressure

Many booster pump manufacturers now offer variable pressure pumps. This is a good option for homeowners who only need increased water pressure on demand (e.g., in the shower, in the washer, in a dishwasher, etc.). However, in a building that is several stories tall, a variable pressure pump provides little benefit beyond energy efficiency and a slight decrease in water consumption (think of the "Seinfeld" epsiode with the low pressure shower heads and you get the idea). In order for water to move at a constant rate of pressure and remain consistent throughout the building, you need constant pressure booster pumps.

Figuring out How Many Booster Pumps Your Building Will Need

Commercial plumbers can look at the height of your building and automatically calculate the PSI at which water needs to move to escalate all the way to the top floor. Once they have the rate of pressure at which water must flow, then they can calculate the number of booster pumps it will take to create that pressure. It is a very complicated equation that involves the conversion of horsepower to PSI (pound-force per square inch). If your building is receiving a plumbing upgrade, a water pressure meter in the basement will already provide some of the information needed in the equation.

Installing the Pumps and Checking the Pressure

The commercial plumber will install the pumps by connecting them to the main water lines in the basement of your building. Some electrical wiring is necessary to power the motors, so your plumber will do this as well. The commercial booster pumps, which are quite large, will need several feet of clearance for installation. Once the pumps are finally installed, each pump has its own personal pressure gauge to let you know if a pump is failing or the pressure is not what it should be. If the initial pressure readings are lacking, your plumber will look for pressure leaks or faulty motors, fix them, and check again. To learn more about commercial plumbing, contact a company like DiRosato Plumbing and Heating.


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