A water booster pump helps increase the pressure and volume of water that flows from your faucet or shower head. Life with low water pressure is a nuisance. If you’ve ever tried to shower under a trickle of water and had to turn in circles just to get wet, then you're well aware. Low water pressure can make simple tasks like bathing or brushing your teeth a hassle, but a booster pump may be the perfect solution.
What is a water booster pump?
A booster pump increases low water pressure and flow. It provides the extra boost needed to bring your water pressure to the desired level. A water booster pump provides pressure to move water from a storage tank or throughout a whole house or commercial facility.
What causes low water pressure?
Gravity either drives or slows water flow. The higher the elevation where water must be delivered, the lower the water pressure. Not to mention, one gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds. If water travels uphill or up several floors, gravity wants to send it right back down. Buildings lower than their water source may not experience the same problem. Skyscrapers, apartment buildings, and homes and businesses with multiple stories require a large booster pump to move water up many stories.
2. Distance from the water source
Distance from the water source and the size of water pipes affects water pressure. If your home or business sits at the end of the water supply line, the flow of water might be low by the time it reaches you. And, if your water pipes are too small, a smaller amount of water will run through your fixtures.
3. Low city water pressure
Your house may be below the water supply line, your plumbing pipes may be clear, and you still have low water pressure. Sometimes low water flow results from low-pressure water from your local water plant.
4. Additional water systems
Additional water treatment systems or other water fixtures to your home brings you fresh water but may decrease your water pressure. Adding a booster pump can restore your water pressure.
5. Plumbing problems
If low water pressure is the result of gravity, transportation, or additional systems, a water pressure booster may fix the issue. Other times, however, plumbing problems may be the cause. Before buying a water pressure booster, check your plumbing. The pipes may be clogged, or the pressure reducing valve may need adjusting.
How does a booster pump work?
A booster pump boosts water pressure and, in many cases, improves the flow rate. A booster pump works just like a fan. A fan has blades that spin around to increase air movement, and a booster pump has an impeller inside that increases water flow and pressure in the same fashion.
What are the components of a booster pump?
Most water booster pump, no matter who the manufacturer contain the same core components:
- Inlet and outlet
- Pressure or flow sensing device
Booster pumps have an impeller that moves water that comes in through the inlet and exits through the outlet. A motor makes the impellers spin. Booster pumps differ according to how they suck water in and push it out. Some water booster pumps use a spinning propeller, while others use an oscillating diaphragm. Pumps with oscillating diaphragms propel water using two oscillating or rotating plates— one with cups and one with indentations. As the plates roll together, they compress the cups and force the water out. As the plates roll open, more water is sucked in.
The Davey pump pictured below has a sensing device that helps manage and maintain a level of pressure.
Will a water booster pump enhance pressure and flow rate?
A water booster pump increases water pressure, forcing the water to flow at a faster rate through plumbing pipes. But there's a pump curve to keep in mind: As the pressure required to move water increases, the flow rate decreases.
Think about putting your thumb over a garden hose. As you do, water comes out at a higher pressure, but the flow rate is restricted because of your thumb. A booster pump works in that same fashion. It provides the most water at the greatest flow rate under low pressure. If water moves out of the pump without any kind of restriction, it moves at a greater flow rate. But when a pump is installed into the plumbing of a house where the water must travel uphill around bends in pipes through a kitchen faucet, then the flow rate is slower and the pressure from the pump is higher.
How are booster pumps used?
Booster pumps increase low water flow in water systems or industrial equipment and transport water from a lake, pond, or storage tank for use in a home or commercial building. A household that doesn't receive enough pressure from the city water supply would need a pump to increase low water pressure. A hotel needs a large commercial booster pump to send water all the way to the top story.
A booster pump is also used to re-pressurize water from a storage tank and send it to a faucet or throughout a home. In a rain harvesting system, for example, water collects in a storage tank. In order to use it to flush toilets or wash laundry, the water must be pumped out of the tank and into the house. You would use a booster pump to move the water.
A home booster pump
A single water booster pump can boost water pressure throughout an entire house. Sometimes, well water users want to increase the flow from a low-recovery well to their home. Low-recovery wells don’t produce enough water to keep up with household demand. A water pressure booster pulls water from the well water storage tank to pressurize the water in the house.
A private well that does not produce enough water to keep up with demand requires a storage tank for the well to fill over time and a home booster pump from the tank to keep up with daily demand.
Booster pump with an expansion tank
An expansion or hydropneumatic storage tank can enhance a boosted system. The tank gives water extra room to go when it expands and prevents the booster pump from cycling on and off each time you turn the faucet on. Flow switch actuated pumps may hesitate on start-up. A small expansion tank prevents this hesitation. A larger tank holds a volume of water referred to as drawdown. This amount of water draws out of the tank before the pump turns back on. A larger tank can provide drawdown volumes in a private well system to significantly reduce pump cycles.
Do I need a booster pump?
If you have low water pressure not caused by a leak or you need to increase water pressure for a certain application, then a booster pump is the best option.
Questions to ask when shopping for a booster pump:
- What is my water flow rate? Calculate how many gallons of water you get per minute, taking all fixtures into consideration. Learn how to calculate flow rate.
- How much water do I need? Consider how much water your household or business uses.
- Is the water source above or below the pump? Think about whether or not your water must travel uphill or up several stories.
- How much pressure do I need? Many people prefer high water pressure when taking a shower, but pressure that's too high can destroy plumbing, fittings, and appliances. Most homes have a pressure reducing valve where the water line enters the house to maintain the water pressure. Pressure over 60 psi wears the household plumbing system.
Which booster pump you need depends on how much water you use, the desired pressure, and the location of your water source. If you have a large house, for example, you may need a booster pump capable of supplying pressure to the second or third floor. Applications, like reverse osmosis systems with low feed pressure or water with a high TDS (total dissolved solids), require a lot more pressure.
How do you size a booster pump?
To find the right size booster pump for your specific, ask these questions:
- Do you have a two-story, four-bedroom, one-bathroom house?
- Are you moving water a significant distance?
- How far away is your water source?
Pumps with a single impeller are not good at drawing water from a distance. If you want to use water from a pond for irrigation, then you need something with more horsepower to pump the water a long way. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. If water has to travel up a one-inch pipe that climbs several feet, then the pump has to push a significant amount of weight.
Tips for installing a booster pump
Where to install a booster pump
A booster pump installs right where you need to move water from. For example, in a household with low water pressure, you should install the pump on the main line where water enters the house. Plug the inlet in and then the outlet goes to the back to the plumbing supply.
- Always have a bypass in case the pump malfunctions. A bypass allows you to isolate the pump if it fails and you need to troubleshoot it. You can bypass the pump and still get water into the house.
- Test the pump before connecting it to the house. Sometimes, a leak may cause the pump to cycle due to low flow rate. Cycling causes the pump to start and stop in rapid succession.
- Water booster pumps are activated by flow rate or by pressure or by both. If you find a leak, then isolate the pump and test it to make sure the pump's not the problem. Then, you can find the cause and fix the leak.
How to keep your booster pump quiet
Think about pump vibration during installation. The way you install a booster pump can enhance the noise it makes if you’re not careful. Don’t install the pump directly to copper lines because the vibration of the pump will transfer to the copper and sound like an airplane coming through your house. Use a flex connector for the inlet and the outlet instead to minimize the sound from vibration.
Shop reliable water booster pumps from these brands: