Pump Advice

4 Causes of Low Water Pressure in Commercial Plumbing

Water Booster PumpsAre you a commercial organisation that needs to utilise water on a daily basis? Then you will know the issues low water pressure can cause to your business. Restaurants, gyms and hotels are businesses for which water pressure is a crucial factor; to name but a few. But what can you do if your water pressure just isn’t what it used to be? Here at Anchor Pumps, we are experts in all forms of plumbing and have a few choice tips for helping identify the problems causing low water pressure within your building.

Obstructed valves


If anyone has turned the water valves in your buildings off and on again for whatever reason, there is a chance they were not opened fully. Having a semi-open valve can cause low water pressure so make sure it is opened all the way when you check it. If for whatever reason the valve appears to be broken them call someone to fix it – do not attempt to do this yourself without proper training.

Leaks


If you water pipes are damaged then this can cause leaks, which in turn will cause low water pressure as not all the water will make it to your taps/showerheads. If you think your pipes may be leaking, then an easy way to identify this is to close your main water valve and take a reading of the meter. Check back in two hours and if the figure on the meter has increased, then this is a sign that your pipes have a leak. Again, professional help will be needed in this instance.

Low power pumps

There can be two reasons for low power plumbing: either your pump is malfunctioning or it simply isn’t manufactured to be powerful enough for your needs. Regular maintenance checks are advised here to make sure your pump is working at optimum capacity, after all if it isn’t you’re wasting valuable water which is a drain on your energy costs. Installing the latest in pump technology is advisable and our range of water booster pumps are just the ticket to fix low water pressure in your plumbing.

Clogging


This is probably the most common cause of low water pressure and is found often in iron pipes which are vulnerable to rusting which can cause an obstruction. Other things like dirt, gravel or sand and other naturally occurring substances can enter your pipes if there is a fracture in your water main. You can do something about this yourself by cleaning your fixtures regularly. If it still persists you may want to call in professional help to get to the root cause of the problem.

So there we have it, four of the most common sources of low water pressure in your commercial plumbing systems – be sure to check the pressure on your pipes as soon as you can.

Troubleshooting Negative Head Shower Pumps

Shower pumps are generally reliable pieces of equipment, and problems rarely occur. When they do, it’s important to be able to diagnose them correctly in order to determine whether a new pump is needed or if the fault lies elsewhere.

Whether you’re using Stuart Turner shower pumps or another brand, the basics of troubleshooting are the same. Problems are generally due to either the pipework connections, the electrical supply or the pump itself. We’ll take a look at some of the most common issues and how to fix them.

Types of Pump

There are two main types of domestic shower pumps, and it’s important to understand the difference, as using the wrong type can lead to problems. A negative head pump is used where the shower head is level with or above the cold water storage tank – in other words, gravity alone can’t provide a sufficient flow for the shower. If the shower head is below the tank but water pressure is still low, then you need a positive head pump.

There are also universal pumps available that will work with either a positive or negative head type of system. If you have a combi boiler and no cold water header tank, then you need a pump that will boost mains pressure throughout the entire water system of the house, not just a shower pump.

Problems with Negative Head Pumps

Negative head shower pumps can sometimes suffer from the flow rate being too great at the shower head. You can solve this simply by fitting a larger head to cut the pressure and allow an even flow of water. Alternatively, you can try closing down the isolator valves for both hot and cold water on the output side of the pump slightly. Don’t close them by more than a third, and leave the valves on the input side fully open. You may have to use a bit of trial and error to find the right flow.

Electrical Problems

Often problems aren’t with the pump itself but with the electrical supply feeding it. If your pump isn’t operating at all, the first thing to do is check that the power supply is on. There will usually be a fused spur feeding the pump: if the power is on, locate the spur and check that the fuse hasn’t blown. If there’s a circuit breaker, similarly check that it hasn’t tripped. Should your pump continue to blow fuses after they’ve been replaced, then that indicates a fault with the pump itself – possibly a seized motor.

Some pumps have run-dry protection, which causes them to cut out to prevent damage if the water supply is interrupted. This can look similar to an electrical problem at first glance. If the run-dry cut-out has operated, you can reset it by turning the power off for ten seconds and then turning it on again. Open the shower tap to get any air out of the system.

Pump Noise

Noise from shower pumps is a common complaint. Check that the pump has been properly installed. Most are supplied with anti-vibration feet, so check that these have been properly fitted. Noise can be transmitted through pipework, so make sure all pipes to and from the pump are properly supported. Also check that any flexible hoses have minimal bends. If the pump makes a humming noise, this may indicate that it’s stuck. This could be due to an electrical problem or, in hard water areas, the pump being blocked by limescale.

Leaks

Leaking from around the pump may be caused by a joint that hasn’t been sufficiently tightened or by badly fitted or worn washers. Pumps are usually fitted with isolation valves at either side, so it’s an easy matter to disconnect and re-seat the joints without turning off the whole water supply. If the leak is coming from the pump itself, then it may need to be serviced or replaced.

Common shower pump problems & solutions

Shower pumps are a common feature in many homes, allowing you to get a good water flow at the shower head even if the normal water pressure in the house wouldn’t allow it. However, shower pump problems can often occur too. Here are some of the most common issues and how to deal with them.

Basic Checks

If your pump isn’t working at all, check that the power to it is turned on and check that it hasn’t tripped out – due to running dry, for example. Next check that none of the inlet or outlet pipes are kinked or blocked and stopping water from getting through. Try resetting the pump by switching off the power for a few seconds.

Pump Up the Volume

One of the most complained-about shower pump problems is noise. Often this is due to the way the pump is installed. It’s important to ensure that anti-vibration feet are fitted, where supplied, and that the pump is on a firm platform. Any pipework on either side of the pump needs to be properly supported by clips and bends in flexible hoses kept to a minimum.

Feel the Pulse

If the pump pulses when it’s running, this is usually due to some form of blockage. It could be limescale in the shower head or a collapsed hose causing back pressure at the pump. You can check this by removing the head and then the hose in turn to see if the pump then runs smoothly. It it still doesn’t, then check any filters on the pump itself.

Go with the Flow

You might think that of the shower pump problems to have, too much flow would be one of the better ones, but it can lead to your wasting water and using stored hot water faster. The best way to tackle this is to close the isolator valves on the outlet side of the pump down slightly – don’t restrict the flow on the inlet side of the pump.

Head Scratcher

You’ll often hear shower pumps referred to as positive or negative head, but what does this actually mean? It’s all to do with where the water that enters the pump comes from. If it’s fed from a header tank that’s above the shower, then it will be positive head.

If the shower is above the header tank level, then you’ll need a negative head shower pump, although many modern pumps are capable of working in both sets of conditions.

What a Waste

Mostly, we think of shower pumps as supplying the water feeding the shower. Depending on where it’s located, however, it’s possible you may have a shower waste pump too. Products like the Saniflo shower can be used to permit a shower to be installed in locations – basements, for example – where normal gravity-flow drainage for the waste pipe isn’t possible.

Running on Empty

Most pumps have dry run protection, which cuts in to protect them from damage if the water supply is interrupted. If this protection kicks in, the pump will stop. You need to turn off the mains power to the pump – there will usually be an isolator switch or fused spur – for a few seconds to reset the pump. You then need to open and close the taps to get any air out of the system and allow the pump to return to its normal state.

In a Jam

If your pump makes a constant humming noise, it may well be that it’s jammed. There are a number of possible reasons for this. In hard water areas it could have become clogged with limescale, or the problem could be due to a fault like a broken impeller. In either event, this is probably a sign that you’ll need to replace the pump.

What is a Submersible Pump?

There are many different types of pump on the market for a wide variety of different uses, from permanent installations such as heating pumps to temporary use such as draining pools. A submersible pump, as its name suggests is capable of running underwater. This is one of the most versatile types of pump and is useful for a range of applications, including removing water from basement sumps and getting rid of flood water.

There are different types of submersible to cope with different applications; therefore, it is important to understand the differences between them and the features you need to look out for when you are looking to buy.

Pump features

Pumps such as the Grundfos Unilift range of submersibles have a sealed design with watertight gaskets. This ensures that water can’t enter the internals of the pump and come into contact with the electrical components.

When used in a semi-permanent application, such as a sump to drain water from a basement, you should look for a pump with a float switch. This ensures that the pump comes into operation when the water reaches a certain level, meaning that there is no risk of the sump overflowing and no chance of the pump being harmed by running dry.

Flood clearance

If you need a portable pump to clear flood water, for example, other factors come into play. It needs to have a filter to prevent it being blocked by debris; in addition, you need to take account of the length of hose so that you can safely discharge water away from the property and the length of the power cable to ensure you can safely run the pump from a dry electrical supply. Ensure the supply is protected by an ECB for safety.

Choosing a submersible pump

The most common use for this type of pump is drainage. Manufacturers such as Grundfos and KSB produce this type of pump and they can be used for many different purposes. Most commonly they are used to clear excess water from cellars or basements that are prone to flooding.

In these applications, you can get a ‘lifting station’ from companies such as Calpeda. These have a tank to contain the water and incorporate a pump to remove it. This makes for a neat, unobtrusive solution that is ideal for removing seepage from below-ground spaces such as basement conversions.

Submersible pumps are also handy for draining ponds or swimming pools. They will often be fitted with a float switch to prevent damage caused by the pump running dry and are available with manual or automatic operation. Most types will use a centrifugal pump for smooth, quiet and reliable operation.

Heavy duty pumps

Where waste water and sewage are concerned, you will need a different type of submersible pump. These are suitable for applications where there are particulates in the water, such as when emptying septic tanks or removing waste water from industrial processes. For help choosing the best submersible pumps visit our latest blog post ‘The 5 Best Submersible Pumps on the Market‘.