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We are frequently asked if it is possible to use a pump to boost the pressure of a poor mains water supply.
The simple answer is yes technically it is not difficult and requires only a "Jet" type pump like the JCR models which have an internal arrangement that allows them to operate with the limited flow of water available from the main. Controlled by a FLO-SENSE switch (or BRIO controller if you have a combi-boiler) this would give automatic pressure boosting.
This system increases the pressure at the taps but cannot significantly increase the water flow. It may, however, give a higher flow at the taps by overcoming the losses caused by the pipework within the property and the taps etc themselves.
There is another major problem...
The Water Bye-laws in the UK do not permit the direct connection of a pump to the mains supply. Even a pressure washer bought from the Garden Centre to clean your block paving is technically illegal. The correct way to solve the problem of low water pressure is therefore to install a break tank.
The purpose of a break tank is to catch the water from the mains, and the faster it fills, the smaller the tank can be. The ideal position is close to the incoming main (stoptap) and as low down as possible - the greater the height, the slower it will fill. It should have a low pressure or fast fill ballvalve to minimise restriction to flow and be fitted with the manufacturers lid and vent kit.
To work out the size you must measure the incoming flow rate and compare this with your rate of use. Measure the flow you get from the kitchen tap (or the nearest tap to the main) turned on fully - time the filling of a container of known size to get the flowrate. To work out use it may help to know that a power-shower will use about 10 Litres/min, an electric shower about 5 L/min, and a tap 5 - 10 L/min depending on size. Filling the bath may be the biggest problem if your cold bath tap is connected to the mains. Maximum use in an average house is rarely more than 20 L/min. and then only for short periods. The bigger the tank you can fit, the better.
You may wish to consider taking a drinking supply directly to the kitchen tap so that there is no risk of drinking water becoming contaminated in a large storage tank.
The outlet from the tank to the pump should be 22mm min. diameter and sited on the side near the bottom (to allow any silt or other debris to fall to the bottom of the tank and not enter the pump) and be away from the fill ball valve. The pump should be positioned near to and below the tank, and sharp bends in the pipe should be avoided, especially immediately before the pump. Fit a good quality "full bore" valve (quarter turn lever ball valves are ideal) before the pump for maintenance purposes. The pump will require a spur fused at 5A.
Pump model 3CRm80 was designed for domestic water supplies and normally has the best characteristics for the application (These pumps are ideal for replacing Aquapower pumps or Superpro pumps). It is also possible to use the JCR jet pumps, particularly if the pipework in the building is known to be restricting. Check to see if there are any devices on the system that have a pressure limitation (Combi boilers often have a pressure relief system set at around 3 bar) as this will affect the choice of pump, and may require a pressure reducing valve to be fitted.
The BRIO controller fits on the top of the pump and makes the system fully automatic. It requires no adjustment or service once installed. It also incorporates "dry run protection" and will stop the pump before damage occurs should the tank run dry for any reason.
If you would like to discuss your system or require help in selecting the best pump please call us on 01633 244777 to discuss the options or e-mail us using firstname.lastname@example.org