One of the biggest problems with high-rise buildings is decreasing water pressure as you move higher up the building with the penthouse or top floor having the lowest water pressure. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to increase water pressure throughout the building without putting extra strain on the plumbing pipes on the lower floors.
1. Have Water Pressure System Checked for Leaks
Leaks in your plumbing pipes can contribute to low water pressure in some or all parts of your building, depending on how many leaks are present and where they are located. This is because every leak allows water out of the system, resulting in a reduction in water pressure. When it comes to water leaks, pipes tend to leak more often around joints, seams and fittings rather than the length of the actual plumbing pipe. However, metal plumbing pipes can develop pinhole leaks and cracks. If you suspect your water pressure problem is the result of one or more leaks, you can have a professional plumber come out and pressure test your system.
2. Remove or Line any Galvanized Piping
If your Chicago building was built before 1960, there’s a good chance galvanized steel pipes were used in your plumbing system. While you may have replaced some of the old pipes with another type of pipe, the remaining galvanized pipes could be corroded, leaking and clogged with scale. To correct water pressure problems that are the result of old galvanized pipes, you can either have the remaining galvanized plumbing pipes replaced or have them cleaned and line with an epoxy coating.
3. Inspect Pressure Reducing Valves
One of the ways water pressure is controlled in large high-rise buildings is through the use of pressure reducing valves. These valves are typically installed on the pipes in the lower floors in order to prevent high-pressure situations that could damage the plumbing pipes, causing them to burst. On the upper floors, no pressure reducing valves are used. This technique is used to make sure that every apartment or condo has adequate water pressure, but those pressure reducing valves can fail over time, especially if the city’s water supply is not kept at a constant pressure. To make sure your water pressure problem is not due to one or more failed pressure reducing valves, you can have them inspected and replaced if they have failed. You can also change the way your water system handles water pressure by removing the valves and installing a system that reduces water pressure in stages.
4. Consider Installing a Rooftop Tank
Low-pressure situations on the top floors of your building may simply be due to the gradual loss of pressure as the water rises through the building. To help increase water pressure, you can install a rooftop tank. Water from the municipal system is pumped into the tank then that water is gravity fed into your building’s plumbing system. If you already have a rooftop tank and are still experiencing low water pressure, you may want to have the tank and supply lines feeding the tank inspected. You may also need a bigger tank to handle high-demand times, like in the morning when everyone is getting ready for work and in the evening when everyone is home for the day.
5. Make Sure You Have the Appropriate Plumbing Pipes Installed in the Building
Different types of plumbing pipes have different pressure ratings. If the installed pipes have a low-pressure rating and they come in contact with high water pressure for an extended period of time, they can rupture, which would result in a potential flood and low water pressure throughout the building. This problem typically occurs when pressure reducing valves are used in the plumbing system. High-pressure pipes are used prior to the valve and pipes with lower pressure ratings are used after the valve. This can save money on installing and piping costs, but if the valve fails, the low-pressure pipes may experience water pressures that are beyond their capacity. To stop this scenario, you can install plumbing pipes with higher pressure ratings.
6. Check Your Building’s Water Filter
Your plumbing system may contain a dedicated water filter that catches debris before it enters your building’s water supply. Over time, this filter can get clogged with debris, which will reduce water pressure. In this instance, you should check the water filter and change it if it appears dirty or clogged with sediment. You can also call a qualified plumber in Chicago to check your water filter and change it if you do not have anyone on staff that is comfortable with the project.
7. Problems with the Municipal Water Supply
If your building’s low water pressure problems only occur sporadically, it may be a problem with the pressure in the municipal water supply pipes. This could be due to water leaks, repairs being made on the system or problems with the pipes on the street side. To check this problem, it’s best to call the city to see if they are performing repairs or if they know of any potential problems in your neighborhood or around your building. If it is a municipal water supply problem, you may still be able to increase the pressure in your building by installing booster pumps, especially if the city doesn’t plan to implement repairs in the near future.
8. Problems with the Main Water Supply Pipe
Clogs, cracks and pinhole leaks in the main water supply line can cause a decrease in water pressure in your building. If you suspect you have a water main leak, you can have the pipe inspected and repaired or lined if needed. In some instances, your building’s main water line may have too small of a diameter, which may result in the need to entirely replace it with a larger diameter pipe in order to ensure there is enough water flow to your building.
9. Hot Water Expansion Tank Failure
Some hot water systems include a hot water expansion tank. These tanks are designed to prevent high-pressure situations in the hot water system. If you have tenants or unit owners complaining of variations in the hot water supply, this could be due to a failure of the hot water expansion tank. In this instance, you’d want to call a professional Chicago plumber to inspect your expansion tank and replace it if it has failed.
10. Fluctuations in Occupancy
Fluctuations in occupancy levels can decrease water pressure, especially during peak times. If you’ve recently filled all your available units, your plumbing system may not be able to handle the demand. The increase in demand can also increase wear and tear on your pipes, especially if it has been a long time since your building has been filled to its maximum capacity. In this situation, it’s best to get your plumbing system inspected and tested by a professional plumber in order to ensure it can handle the increase in demand. If numerous leaks are found, you can line your existing pipes with an epoxy coating to seal small leaks and improve water pressure.
Pipe Lining With Nu Flow
When it comes to sealing small leaks and cracks in your water supply lines, the most effective and affordable solution is often to line those pipes with an epoxy coating. Epoxy coatings are approved for use on water supply lines in the city of Chicago. We have the ability to line water mains, risers and supply lines which will seal all the leaks in your system, increase your water pressure and extend the useful lives of your potable water pipes. We can even clean and line galvanized steel water pipes.
To learn more about our pipe lining technology and how they can help you increase water pressure in your Chicago building, give us a call at 815-790-9000.