Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Common Signs of Water Booster Pump Failures

If you own or manage a taller building in New York City, it’s likely you have a water booster pump as part of your water distribution system. As with all pumps, there are times they malfunction or stop working altogether, which can create huge headaches for you when tenants don’t have adequate water pressure or potentially any water at all. Here are some common signs of water booster pump failures all property owners and managers should be aware of. When you know what to look for, you can react quickly and get the issue fixed right away.

Water Booster Pumps: The Basics

Equalizing pressure

Water booster pumps are installed in many New York City properties to equalize pressure between floors. The taller the building, the greater the pressure differential would be between stories without this type of pump to even out water distribution.

Water pumped from the ground level may not have sufficient pressure to reach the uppermost levels of the building. It might seem like installing a rooftop water storage system would remedy this, but the force of gravity means that, again, lower stories wind up receiving greater pressure. Therefore, even buildings with rooftop water tanks may need a water booster pump.

Smaller buildings may also require a water booster pump depending on their unique plumbing anatomy and construction. If you have checked for clogs, undersized pipes, and erroneously closed valves and still pressure is inadequate, you need the assistance of a booster pump.

NYC Plumbing Code

Chapter 6 of the New York City Plumbing Code determines minimum flow rates and pressure values for each type of fixture found in city properties. If the water pressure is not sufficient to meet these values, a pressure booster pump must be utilized. Booster pumps may not be shared between buildings, other than in projects with multiple buildings that share a common owner.

Signs of Water Booster Pump Failures

Pump won’t start

A water booster pump that won’t start is obviously malfunctioning. You may see various lights on the pump light up, depending on the model and what is happening with the system. Reasons for the pump failing to start include:

  • No power (check for a tripped breaker, wiring/connection problems, or outlet issues such as a tripped GFI)
  • Starting pressure is set too high or lower than incoming pressure
  • Needs to be reprimed
  • Filters need cleaning
  • Interrupted water supply
  • Defective motor
  • Broken or improperly adjusted pressure switches
  • Bound pump

You may be able to address some of these reasons on your own. If you’ve checked the power and wiring, reset pressure switches, reprimed as needed, cleaned filters, ascertained adequate water supply, and rotated the pump to unbind it without success, we’re happy to come out and take a look at it for you. We can replace or repair parts as needed, including the pump motor.

Pump not delivering water or delivering at reduced capacity

This is another clear sign of failure. There are multiple reasons for this as well. In addition to a lead-lag multi-pump system that’s not set up properly, it’s often due to a worn or dirty pump, which is why we advocate routine maintenance for all your water pumps at least once per year. Other causes include wiring or power issues as described above, foreign materials creating clogs, and discharge piping leaks.

Pump won’t stop

Most water booster pumps are not designed to work continuously, as they are often only needed during peak water demand times of the day. Therefore, your water booster pump should cycle on and off as needed. If the pump comes on but won’t stop, this is usually due to:

  • Problems with a lead-lag system setup
  • Leaks in end fixtures like toilets or water softeners
  • Pipe leaks
  • Jammed pump part, such as a piston
  • Leak in the pump housing
  • Bypass valve left open
  • Pressure settings need readjustment

Suction problems

Suction problems are some of the most common reasons why we are called in for service on water booster pumps. This can be related to the pump not working at capacity or there being no water produced at all. Here are some things you can check and possibly resolve yourself that may lead to water booster pump failures:

  • Clogged strainers (impede water flow and also harbor bacteria)
  • Trapped air in piping
  • Water softeners (pressure too low, softener too small, or installed before the water booster pump instead of after)
  • Filters not cleaned regularly
  • Shut-off valves fully closed or not opened enough, especially during high-demand periods

Pressure relief valve not working properly

Problems with a pressure relief valve may require professional service, but there are some instances where you may be able to resolve the issue yourself. It could be a problem with the mechanics of the valve itself, sometimes requiring replacement. However, if it’s merely air in the valve components, you may be able to bleed the air out and reset. Problems with pressure relief valves also sometimes point to issues with the pilot control valve or pressure relief check valve, which may require additional attention.

Outlet pressure too high or too low

Having pressure that’s too high or too low on the outlet (discharge) side of the pump can be undesirable, even if you are getting water. Check these things to see if you can adjust the pressure to the level you want:

  • Adjust the pressure relief valve in the direction you need.
  • Make sure the pressure relief valve can close (if the outlet pressure is too high).
  • Make sure the pressure relief valve can open (if the outlet pressure is too low).

The last two steps may involve disassembling the valve, clearing it of debris or scale, and making sure it functions properly. Otherwise, it needs replacement.

Pump making an excessive or unusual noise

A noisy pump may need better stability, especially if you can see it moving or vibrating too much. Make sure the mounting is sufficient, and if possible, reinforce the attachment. Noise may also be due to an insufficient water supply (possibly caused by suction issues, as described above), or it could be internal parts causing the problem, or the motor needs maintenance, such as lubrication, new bearings, or cleaning.

If you are having problems with a water booster pump in your building, the experts at Antler Pumps are here to help. We’re pros when it comes to dealing with the signs of water booster pump failures, and we are also familiar with complex pump systems, such as lead-lag pump setups. Call us at 212-534-2500 with your questions, or use our online form to schedule an appointment. Don’t wait until tenants in your building are left without water. Reach out today.


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