Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Solving Low Water Pressure Problems: Water Booster Pumps for High-Rise Buildings

If you own or manage a high-rise building in New York City, water pressure may become a problem, especially if you don’t take proactive steps to address it. Here, Antler Pumps reviews the basics of booster pumps for high-rise buildings. These pumps can solve pressure problems and reduce tenant complaints. Water booster pumps have come a long way in the last few decades; there is new technology making them easier to use and much more efficient.

Water Booster Pumps: The Basics

Sufficient and consistent water pressure

As you may have already experienced, water pressure on upper stories tends to diminish the taller a building is. This is because there isn’t enough force in basic plumbing components to deliver water at levels far above the ground. Even rooftop tanks don’t always solve this issue, as the force of gravity results in lower levels still receiving greater water pressure than upper floors.

Water booster pumps are designed to solve this conundrum by improving the pressure throughout the building, even in a high rise. They provide sufficient pressure at reliably consistent levels, so even the uppermost stories meet building code requirements for minimum pressure. Pumps for fire suppression systems accomplish the same task for sprinklers.

Concerns When Installing and Upgrading Booster Pumps in High-Rise Buildings

Causes of low water pressure

When we work with high-rise building managers and owners who complain of water pressure problems, before installing or adjusting booster pumps, we first want to rule out any other causes of low water pressure that won’t be solved by booster pumps. Sometimes, municipal water pressure at the street level is insufficient. In other cases, clogged, mineral scale-encrusted, or narrow pipes cause or contribute to water pressure issues, as can water heater and hot water return problems.

Type of water storage and distribution

If booster pumps need to be installed, upgraded, or serviced, we next look at the building’s unique water storage and distribution system. For example, if elevated water tanks are in use, which is common in New York City, a different pump strategy is necessary than if the entire water supply is coming from the street level.

Booster pumps may require pressure relief valves (PRVs) so the pressure does not exceed New York City’s plumbing code maximum pressure limits. Also, cut-off valves may be necessary if there is a chance the pressure could drop too low in the system, thereby causing cavitation (creation of air bubbles at low pressure), which damages pumps and nearby components.

Flow rate calculations

To help determine what types of booster pumps are needed in a high-rise property, we need to calculate a flow rate for the building. The flow rate is expressed in gallons per minute (gpm). A value is assigned for each type of fixture normally used in the building, such as kitchen spigots, public washrooms, dishwashers, and showers. The total number of fixtures likely to be in use at the same time is used to calculate the flow rate for peak usage times. The goal is to ensure the water pressure will be sufficient during these hours.

Height of the building

Of course, the height of the building is key in determining how its booster pumps should be configured. Each floor of the building over a certain level means pressure lost, as city water is supplied at a static pressure. There is also pressure lost to friction once the water begins moving through the distribution route within the building.

When we install or upgrade booster pumps, we make sure they overcome both static and friction pressure losses, so all floors receive the proper pressure. This is technically referred to as your total dynamic head (TDH). Sometimes, in extremely tall structures, we need to create several different pressure zones.

Number of pumps needed

Your property’s flow rate and your building’s anatomy will inform us about the number of pumps needed. As well as using multiple pumps for varying pressure zones in super high-rise buildings or to accommodate a large total dynamic head, you may wish to have extra pumps in case one malfunctions. If you need to take one pump out of service for repair, this redundancy means tenants won’t be suffering a loss of pressure in the meantime. It also reduces wear and tear on the individual pumps.

Modern Technology for Booster Pumps

Improved functionality and ease of use

If it has been a long time since your property had water booster pumps installed, you may be surprised at some of the new technology making them operate more smoothly and efficiently. Consider these features if you’re ready for a booster pump upgrade in your property:

  • Variable-speed motors powering pumps to save on water consumption, utility costs, and pump wear and tear (ideal for hotels or other properties that have a wide fluctuation in water volume demand throughout the day)
  • Soft stop and start elements to extend the lifespan of booster pumps
  • Booster pumps requiring a smaller footprint for use in small spaces
  • Touch screen control panels for easy adjustments
  • Self-diagnosing smart pump technology with operator alerts
  • Booster pump systems that integrate with other automated building functions

The relationship between pump speed reduction and energy savings is not one-to-one, by the way. When you reduce your pump speed during low-demand periods by 20 percent, for example, you may experience savings of 50 percent or more on energy costs.

Call Antler Pumps for Installation and Maintenance of Booster Pumps

New York City’s pump experts

If you are experiencing problems with low water pressure in your NYC high-rise property, or if you need an upgrade on old booster pumps, Antler Pumps are the pros to call. We’ve been the city’s pump experts for nearly a century, and we have the experience and resources to fix your pressure concerns. Call us at 212-534-2500 today, or send us a message online to schedule a service call at your convenience.


Our Privacy Policy

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