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Booster Pump System - Residential FAQ's

Q: What is a residential booster pump system and why do I need one?

A: Residential booster pumps are specifically designed systems to boost water pressure in a residential
home. The Washington State Department of Health requires a public water system supplies a minimum of
30 psi to the location of distribution (water meter). It is the City's experience that most residences tend to
notice significant impacts to daily uses when the pressure is below 40 psi and some newer appliances may
not operate properly with pressures less than 40 psi. A residential booster pump will increase and maintain
a constant water pressure to the home resolving impacts from low pressure.

Q: Do I need a plumbing permit to install a residential booster pump?

A: Yes. A plumbing permit is required to install a residential booster pump as part of a renovation project,
however, if installed at the time a home is being newly constructed, the booster pump installation will be
covered under the existing building permit. Building inspectors will need to verify all plumbing and
electrical are in conformance with current governing plumbing and electrical codes. Additionally, the City
Cross Connection Specialist will need to inspect the backflow prevention devices of your system for proper
installation and function.

Q: Can I install a residential booster pump system myself?

A: Yes. A homeowner may install a residential booster pump system as long as it is installed in
conformance with current governing plumbing and electrical codes. The City recommends that only
professionals who are licensed and bonded and familiar with these codes perform the installation, however
it is not mandatory that you hire someone to perform the installation.

Q: Do I need a water storage pressure tank with my residential booster system?

A: Yes. Storage pressure tanks perform three main functions: protects and prolongs the life of the pump
by preventing rapid cycling of the pump motor (frequent start and stops), provides water under pressure for
delivery between pump cycles and provides additional water storage if the water supply is incapable of
supplying the required volume during peak demands. Pumps generally fail due to rapid cycling, so without
a pressure tank many daily water uses such as washing your hands, or flushing a toilet could trigger the
pump to cycle. This type of frequent cycling is problematic to the pumping mechanism and electric motor.
There may be systems available that do not require the use of a pressure tank. A homeowner may submit
the system to the building department for review and possible approval.

Q: How do I determine the size of residential booster pump and pressure tank I need?

A: To determine the size of residential booster pump and pressure tank needed, first identify your
households peak water demand and water supply capacity, this is generally in gallons per minute (GPM).
A general rule of thumb assumes 1GPM for each fixture using water (sinks, toilets, showers, washing
machine, dishwasher, hose bibs, etc.). This becomes your peak water demand. A typical household ranges
between 10-15 GPM. Next select a pump that will supply your peak water demand, or match the water
supply capacity, if less than your peak water demand. You can then calculate the minimum pressure tank
"drawdown" by multiplying the capacity of the pump (in GPM) by the minimum amount of time the pump
must run (in minutes) according to the manufacturers specifications. The drawdown is the amount of water
the tank can supply to the household which will be less than the total volume of the tank. If the booster
pump will also be used to pressurize a residential irrigation system, this water demand must also be
considered when sizing the booster pump and pressure tank.

Q: Do I need check valves and/or PRV's (pressure reducing valves) on a booster pump system.

A: Yes, the City requires at a minimum a double check valve to be installed before the booster pump
system. These devices become the responsibility of the home owner to maintain. The City requires all
backflow assemblies to be inspected by a certified backflow tester on an annual basis with the results
submitted to the City Cross Connection Control Specialist. PRV's are required when system pressures
become excessive during operation causing damage to the pipes, or system itself. Installing a PRV would
allow for the excessive pressure to be reduced in a controlled manner. However, a properly designed
booster pump system should not need a PRV.

Q: Can I use multiple tanks together to get the storage capacity required?

A: Yes, multiple tanks can be used to increase storage capacity and meet your household demands.
However, it is very important that multi-tank systems be plumbed properly. There are two common
mistakes made on these systems - locating the pressure switch in the wrong place and the under-sizing of
the interconnecting piping. The two basic rules to follow are 1) make sure all the tanks see the same
pressure while the pump is running, and 2) make sure the pressure switch sees the same pressure as the
tanks. To comply with rule 1, use a large enough manifold pipe to assure the flow velocity does not exceed
6 feet per second. This will keep the pressure drop to a minimum from one end to the other and help assure
uniform pressure in the entire tank system. To comply with rule 2, place the pressure switch as close as
possible to the center of the tanks. When properly designed and installed, the use of multiple smaller
pressure tanks offer a viable alternative to a single larger pressure tank.

Q: Can I install my residential booster pump, or pressure tank outside?

A: Most residential booster pumps are "drip proof", but not weather-proof. Pumps need to be protected
from the rain and other water, but still need to allow for air to circulate around the motor. Pressure tanks
are typically not designed to be exposed to an outside weather environment. To maximize the life of your
booster pump system, we recommend protecting these components by installing then within enclosed areas,
not exposed, or susceptible to heat, freezing temperatures, or moisture.

Q: What is the best operating pressure for my booster pump and storage tank?

A: Normal household water pressure ranges is from 30psi to 80psi. Ideally, the pressure should be set
between 45psi to 65psi. If your pressure is in excess of 80psi, plumbing fixtures and appliances could be
damaged, and pressure reducing valves are required. The minimum allowable water pressure for public
water systems under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) states that existing water systems must be
provided a minimum water pressure of 20psi at the service meter, while new water systems must be
designed to provide 30psi at the service meter. Though these are allowable minimums, water pressures at
or below 30psi do not generally sustain ideal pressures for appliances, or fixtures especially during
simultaneous use.

Q: Can I change the systems pressure settings after it is installed?

A: Yes, but most residential booster pumps come pre-set to match your system requirements while others
are factory set to a certain pressure (i.e. 65psi). The system pressure, or cut-in and cut-out pressures can
generally be adjusted, however, unless you are familiar with pressure switches, the City highly
recommends that you leave this type of adjustment to professionals.

Q: Why is the pressure lower on my second floor?

A: Hydraulics. For every 10 feet of elevation gain, water will lose 4.3 pounds of hydrostatic pressure. If
the elevation difference between the pump in the basement and the second floor shower is 20ft, you'll
experience an 8.6psi of pressure loss, or drop. The reverse is also true. For every 10 feet of elevation
dropped, water will gain 4.3 pounds of pressure.

Q: Will my residential booster pump system operate with my water softener?

A: Yes, residential booster pumps will operate with water softeners. Water softeners can cause a 5psi to
10psi pressure loss due to the water conditioning process, so be sure to follow the manufacturers
recommendations when installing a booster pump system in conjunction with a water softening device.

Q: How do I maintain my booster pump system?

A: Maintenance should be performed following the manufacturers recommendations.

Q: Do booster systems require vibration isolators?

A: No, vibration isolators are not required, but may be useful if vibration and or noise need to be
minimized. Typically the base is bolted to the floor and grouted with non-shrinking grout. The total
foundation weight should weigh at least 2.5 times the weight of the pump, or one can mount the base with
vibration isolators specifically sized for the installation. You should also include flexible pipe connectors
to prevent stressing of the piping or pump flanges.

Q: What happens to my booster pump system settings if there is a power failure?

A: Depending on the type of pump you purchased the settings may be preserved. Many systems are set up
to store system settings for a short period of time in the event of a power failure. If the power is off longer
than the specified period, the system may reset to the factory settings. If the setting had been adjusted from
the factory settings, they would have to be re-entered upon power up.

Q: Will my residential booster pump system pressurize the household and outside irrigation water systems?

A: Yes. Residential booster pump systems may be installed to pressurize just the household water, the
outside irrigation water, or both. The City only requires that when irrigation systems use potable water to
irrigate that particular cross connection control devices be used to prevent any possibility of drinking water
from becoming contaminated due to a backflow condition. State and local laws require the backflow
prevention assemblies to be installed with these type of systems.

Q: Can I install a residential fire sprinkler system with my booster pump system?

A: Yes. A fire suppression system can be installed with a booster pump system, but it is necessary to
protect your drinking water from cross contamination through the use of backflow prevention devices and
ensure you still have enough pressure to run the fire system in the case of a power failure.

Q: The backflow assembly will create a closed loop water system in my house. Do I need an expansion chamber,
or will the pressure tank provide that function?

A: As part of the closed loop system, the pressure tank will act as an expansion chamber.