Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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What’s the Purpose of Pumps in Your Property? An Explanation of Each Pump’s Job

Owning or managing an apartment building in New York City entails keeping track of numerous different pumps, each with a different task. If you’ve ever asked, “What’s the purpose of pumps?” in your property, especially if you’re new to rental property ownership or management, this is the post for you. Here are the essentials about the most common types of pumps we service at Antler Pumps.

Water Distribution Pump

What it does

This pump delivers cold water from the municipal water source, where it enters your building, to taps and appliances everywhere in the property. Municipal water pressure, while often higher than it needs to be, is often not enough to supply water to the upper levels of a building.

Common problems

Like any pump, water distribution pumps can suffer from general problems:

  • Wear and tear
  • Needing lubrication
  • Clogging
  • Electrical issues affecting the motor
  • Loose mounting

With water supply systems, we also see the common problem that the distribution pump simply isn’t big enough for the size or height of the building. In that case, you may need at least one booster pump (see below) to increase water pressure.

When to call the pump experts

It’s time to call in the pros when you see any of the following general pump issues:

  • Pump not starting or stopping properly
  • Pump only running intermittently and not always reliably
  • Excessive or unusual noise or vibration from the pump
  • Leaking water around the pump
  • Buildup of sediment or mineral scale around the pump
  • Pump triggering circuit breaker to shut off power
  • Loose, frayed, or worn electrical components

Additionally, if you are not getting sufficient water pressure, or if you only get water supply in certain areas of the building, call in the experts to assess for a booster pump.

Booster Pump

What it does

Typically found in taller buildings and high rises, water booster pumps supplement regular water distribution pumps to improve pressure and deliver enough water to every unit, particularly on upper stories.

Common problems

Booster pumps are subject to all of the problems listed above that can occur with any pump. However, most often, we see that a booster pump needs some sort of adjustment. The pressure is too high or too low, which we can fix by modifying the pump settings or adding another booster pump.

When to call the pump experts

If your water pressure is not sufficient or is too high after installing a booster pump, give us a call, and we’ll make the adjustments you need. And of course, get in touch if you have any other pump issues that can be experienced with all pumps, as described above.

Boiler Circulator Pump

What it does

This pump delivers hot water from the boiler to taps, showers, dishwashers, and clothes washers. It may also send hot water or steam to radiators for heat.

Common problems

Boiler circulator pumps can have the same problems as other pumps, listed in the first section here. As well, this type of pump can have problems related to the boiler (water pH, sediment in the water, temperature too high or too low, etc.).

When to call the pump experts

Call the pump professionals when:

  • You notice any common pump problems listed under the water distribution pump, above.
  • Your water is too hot or too cold (we partner with boiler experts Calray Boilers).
  • You notice sediment, mineral deposits, or other water quality issues.
  • The hot water pressure is too low (can occur even if cold water pressure is fine).
  • The radiators aren’t heating up as they should.

Boiler Feeder Pump

What it does

When the water level of the main tank in the boiler drops, the boiler feeder pump adds fresh water to be heated for hot water or radiator steam.

Common problems

Boiler feeder pumps are vulnerable to the usual pump issues listed previously. Specific to this type of pump, the most common problem we see is that the feeder either runs continuously or fails to turn on when it should. This is usually due to a stuck sensor that must be cleaned, replaced, repaired, or repositioned so it works properly to tell the boiler feeder to operate.

When to call the pump experts

Call your pump service pros when you have any problems with this pump, especially the tank level not being correct, meaning the pump is running too often or too infrequently.

Steam Condensate Return Pump

What it does

This type of pump helps return condensate (steam that has cooled and returned to the liquid water state) to the boiler. Recycling (aka trapping) steam and sending it back to the boiler is more efficient than heating cold water, and thus improves your boiler’s lifespan by reducing wear and tear. It also helps conserve water.

Common problems

Typical problems we see with condensate pumps include:

  • Acidic pH that contributes to corrosion over time
  • Accumulation of sediment or mineral scale from the water supply
  • Failure of the float assembly (similar to a toilet ballcock) that triggers the electrical on/off switch
  • Clogged vent used to remove air from the system
  • Boiler check valve malfunctioning, causing the pump to run when it’s not needed (e.g., in summer)
  • Steam pressure too hot, meaning there’s nothing for the impeller in the pump to move

When to call the pump experts

There are many things that can go wrong with a steam return system. Call us whenever you observe the following:

  • A steam return pump demonstrates the normal signs of age, wear, excess noise, etc.
  • You notice unwanted particulate matter in your condensate.
  • The pump isn’t turning on or off as it should.
  • The pump runs for a while then shuts off unexpectedly.
  • The boiler feeder is operating more frequently than usual, indicating a drop in returned condensate.
  • The pump tries to turn on during warm weather months when radiators aren’t being used.
  • You hear water hammer (banging) coming from your radiators or the pipes leading from them.

Fire Suppression Pump

What it does

When fire sprinklers are activated, this pump makes sure there is sufficient water pressure for them to do their job properly.

Common problems

This isn’t a pump that’s used routinely, so it’s not usually subject to wear and tear or other pump problems. Typically, lack of adequate pressure is the most common concern, especially in taller buildings. We can often address this by adding one or more booster pumps to increase pressure. Sometimes, these pumps need to be added in a sequence, or fire suppression equipment installed on higher floors as well as lower levels.

When to call the pump experts

Call Antler Pumps if your fire suppression pumps fail your self-inspection or inspection with the city, indicating they won’t work in a real emergency.

Sewage Ejector Pump

What it does

Sewage ejector pumps (also sometimes called sewage grinder pumps) remove waste from low-lying areas of an apartment building, like basement laundry rooms or lower-level apartment kitchens and baths, where gravity isn’t enough to flush it out.

Common problems

As well as typical pump problems (see above), we usually see the following issues with sewage ejector pumps:

  • Running continuously
  • Failure to turn on and waste backs up
  • Pump runs properly but waste isn’t leaving the building (clog in line to sewer main)

In the first two cases, the basin usually needs cleaning and the sensor to trigger the pump to run needs to be checked to make sure it’s not stuck or failing. In the latter instance, the line to the sewer pipe needs to be unclogged, or eventually sewage will back up into the pump basin and interior fixtures.

When to call the pump experts

Get in touch if you experience any of the following in your building:

  • Wastewater or sewage backs up into appliances, sinks, or toilets.
  • The smell of waste is noticeable inside a unit or laundry room.
  • A pump won’t shut off after running.
  • The pump runs, but the grinding mechanism doesn’t seem to be functioning.

Sump Pump

What it does

This pump removes rising water, such as from a rainstorm, from beneath a building and channels it elsewhere to prevent interior flooding.

Common problems

Sump pumps are similar to sewage ejector pumps in that they use a sensor in the basin to detect when the basin is full and the pump should operate. So, sensor problems can cause the pump not to remove water when it should or to keep running even when it should shut off. Also, you may have problems if:

  • The pump is too small for the demand on it.
  • The pump was not installed properly (especially if it’s slightly crooked).
  • The water being removed isn’t channeled far enough away from the building.

When to call the pump experts

Call Antler Pumps any time your sump pump runs too frequently or fails to operate when it should to remove water.

Cooling Tower Pump

What it does

A cooling tower pump distributes water over a rooftop cooling tower as part of your building’s HVAC. The pump’s job is to make sure water is pumped at a sufficient rate over a large enough surface area in order to release heat through the air.

Common problems

Cooling tower pumps have the usual pump problems but are particularly susceptible to wear and tear, as they run nonstop through warm weather (which seems to be a longer period with every year that passes). Cooling pumps can also become easily clogged with sediment, mineral deposits, and debris that accumulates on the rooftop and makes its way into the system.

When to call the pump experts

As well as being vigilant about the common pump problems discussed here earlier, you should reach out to your pump professionals if your cooling system suddenly stops working well, especially if your HVAC contractor can’t find a problem on their end.

Having a problem with one of your pumps? Need maintenance to prevent future problems? Call us at 212-534-2500 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

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This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

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You can browse some areas of Antler.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with Antler.nyc). We may collect and store the following personal information:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number, and (depending on the service used), move-in dates;
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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.