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Well water pressure improvements & repairs:
Here we summarize the key steps you can take to improve the water supply or flow rate at building plumbing fixtures when the water supply is provided from a private well and pump and pressure tank system.
At the article end we provide a series of detailed diagnostic & repair articles used to figure out why well water pressure is poor, has stopped altogether, or varies unacceptably in a building at all or some of its plumbing fixtures.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
How to Boost or Increase Private Pump and Well Water Pressure
Need for Poor Water Pressure (Flow) Diagnosis
Watch out: you could spend a lot of time and money fooling with the pressure control switch (or in a building with city water, with the pressure regulator) only to finally figure out that there is a clogged water pipe (illustration above) or a clogged pipe elbow or partly-closed valve or dirty water filter.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Before adjusting a well pump pressure control switch changing building piping, or considering installing a water pressure booster pump it is essential to understand what the incoming water pressure is and exactly why the building water pressure is not satisfactory.
Definition of Water Pressure vs Water Flow Rate vs Water Quantity available from a well
Watch out: don't confuse water pressure with water flow rate: Sometimes, even when residential water supply equipment is working normally, building occupants want higher water pressure.
Don't confuse water quantity (how much before we run out), water flow (how many gallons per minute we can get at a faucet) and water pressure (what is the delivery pressure or the maximum pressure that the system can provide). Water pressure is measured most accurately with the water turned off, at a hose faucet or washer hookup, using a pressure gauge. Here are articles describing each of these different water system measurements:
WATER PRESSURE MEASUREMENT - how much force is water pressurized in a water system, psi static water pressure and psi dynamic water pressure
WELL FLOW RATE - how much water is in the well, or how much water can we get out of a well
But in common language, people consider the strength of flow at the faucet as their "water pressure". Actually what is being observed is a water flow rate, determined by both the pressure from the water source and the diameter of the building piping, including the effects of any obstructions.
How a larger water tank affects building water pressure
Really? Adding a larger water pressure tank will give a longer draw-down time - you can run a plumbing fixture longer between well pump "on" cycles, which means if your pressure normally ranges between 30 and 50, it will fall from 50 down to 30 more slowly. It won't boost system pressure beyond the pump pressure control setting.
How setting up the pump pressure control switch improves water pressure
You can, within certain limits, improve water flow rate or "pressure" by upping the cut-out pressure on the pump control.
Watch out: If you set the control too high the pump will not reach cutoff temp and will burn up, or if you put in a more powerful pump and boost much over 70 psi you risk plumbing leaks.
How adding a booster pump can improve water pressure
Adding a booster pump can improve building water pressure where the private pump and well system can't get enough pressure or quantity or where the building height impacts water pressure on its upper floors.
Similarly, if the water pressure tank and pump are too distant from the point of water use, or if your well and pump are delivering water to multiple buildings, a booster pump may help improve local water pressure and flow at the more remote buildings.
Install Larger Diameter Water Supply Piping to Improve Well Water Flow Rates
A common repair for poor building water flow rate where the piping is blamed for either scale clogging or too-small diameter to start with, is to install larger diameter water supply piping wherever the piping is readily accessible, such as in a basement or crawl area.
The sketch illustrates that by installing larger diameter water supply piping in just part of the total run will indeed improve "water pressure" or flow rate at the fixtures.
Why is this so? Well as more plumbing fixtures flow, the pressure and flow drops more at each fixture.
That means that (for example) if we replace any ten-foot section of pipe with a larger pipe, the pressure drop across that section will be reduced. Therefore replacing any section of pipe improves pressure (and flow) throughout the system.
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Thanks to reader EK Woodard, Boise State University, Boise ID, for assistance in diagnosing poor water pressure following an electrical power loss. 3/14/2010
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