Surprisingly most people do not give much thought to water pressure. It is one of those things homeowners tend to think of as for granted. However, for many, varying or low water pressure is a problem they have to cope with day in and day out. Low pressure will results in low water flow in one or more water fixtures in your home. The water will not gush out like it is supposed to, which can hinder daily tasks like washing dishes or taking a shower. In such cases, it is best to opt for a water booster pumping system. However, if you are living in Chicago, it is best to keep local codes and regulations in mind as well.

What Do Water Booster Pumps Do?

From the end user’s standpoint, a water booster system basically adjusts the flow rate in water fixtures, when street pressure is inadequate. A domestic water pressure booster system has a two-part construction; an expansion tank and a pump. The tank is lined with a bladder. As water is the pulled into the expansion tank with the help of the pump, it compresses the air inside the bladder, thereby, becoming highly pressurized itself. This allows the water to be at the required pressure level once it leaves the tank.

Domestic water booster systems usually come in two broad categories:

  • Manual (Manually operated boosters are usually activated by manually flipping a switch)
  • Automatic (on-demand boosters self-activate whenever water pressure falls below a certain limit)

You either get manually operated water pressure boosters or automatic. The manual booster is cheaper and offers more control, as compared to automatic water pressure booster systems.

When Should You Get a Water Booster Pump?

The Chicago Municipal Code allows you to install a pressure booster pump if water pressure from the main supply is insufficient for any purpose in a home. This means that if any fixture in the building receives a water pressure below the required 50 psi, a pressure boosting system needs to be installed.

However, most people do not have the expertise to be able to measure pressure in a faucet, on the spot. Most homeowners will tend to decide whether they need a pressure boosting based on sensory evidence. So if you feel that your bathtub is taking a bit too long to fill up or that it is difficult to shower because the streams of water feel limp, you should have probably your plumbing inspected.

Some homeowners may also experience living in an area where water pressure in the main supply tends to fluctuate. In such cases, the Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings, Rules, and Regulations also allows you to install an automatic or variable-frequency pressure boosting systems.


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Piping and Pressure Boosting Systems

Piping and pressure boosting systems may not be installed at the same time, but in terms of local codes, they have an inextricable relationship. This is because both, the sizing of the pipes, too, affect pressure. If you have a standard residential grade plumbing network installed, it will be easier to decide how strong a booster needs to be installed.

While installing a pressure booster system, remember to ensure that output pressure remains within the maximum allowable limits in the Chicago municipal code. To be more specific, water pressure should not exceed 75 to 80 psi, beyond which pipes are at a risk of damage.

Moreover, it is also stated in chapter 18, 29.604.10.1.2 in the regulations that water pressure is mediated by a pump the velocity of water does not exceed 5 feet per second, as opposed to 8 feet per second under normal circumstances.

Pressure Relief Valves

Pressure relief valves play an important role in ensuring safety. Highly pressurized water exiting the expansion tank can be a cause for potential pressure surges, which can damage plumbing and lead to equipment failure. Pressure relief valve plays an important role in preventing such accidents by control and curtailing the pressure of water exiting the expansion tank.

The Municipal codes are very particular about water pressure. Just to be sure that there are no pressure-related mishaps, homeowners are also required by the municipal code, to have pressure relief valves installed along with a pressure booster pump.

The municipal body has also laid down very specific requirements for these valves. The minimum size for any valve that goes with a pressure booster pump, should at least be ¾ inches and limited to 150 psi. Additionally, if the tank in the pressure boosting system has a 24-mesh screen of bronze or steel, then an additional vacuum relief valve needs to be installed as well.

The policy put in place by Chicago engineers, under the municipal code, is to have all homeowners with water booster systems installed on the main water supply to, have a low-pressure cut-off switch. This switch should automatically halt the system if pressure on the suction side drops to or below 5 psi within 5 feet of the pump. For people who see this as a potential hassle, it is perhaps best to install system somewhere within the plumbing of the house.

Professional Involvement

Any project involving the installation of a pressure boosting system is likely to have professional involvement of types; during inspections, and when hiring labor. The municipal codes have clearly stated regulations for both.

All plumbing installations and extensions must be inspected by a representative of the Chicago Water Works System. The point of such inspections is to ensure that everything is up to code and safe for usage. In case the project is disqualified, the regulations call for water supply to be cut off after 10 days of non-compliance.

As far as labor is concerned, the city of Chicago does not allow for home improvement to be undertaken by somebody other than a licensed plumber. Make sure the expertise you hire is qualified to handle the project.

Conclusion

Domestic water booster pumping systems are one of MEP engineering’s great gifts to modern society. Thanks to water pressure boosting systems, inadequate water pressure is nothing more than a minor speed bump for most homeowners. However, a sustainable pressure boosting must be in line with the city’s municipal codes. Having to find your way through such an overwhelming number of regulations might seem tedious, but will definitely prove to be beneficial in the long run.

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