When you hear or read about plumbing problems, the information most often refers to plumbing leaks from corroded, rusted, cracked and broken plumbing pipes. However, plumbing systems, especially in large buildings have more components than just the actual plumbing pipes. They also have pressure valves, elevated water tanks and booster pumps that can all cause water pressure and flow problems if they are broken or malfunctioning.

3 Plumbing Issues Not Related to Piping

1. Wrong Size Booster Pump

Booster pumps help increase water pressure as the water is pushed higher up the building. They are especially common in large multi-story residential buildings and skyscrapers. When buildings start to loose pressure on the upper floors, it is commonly thought to be due to multiple small water leaks in the plumbing system. While leaks can certainly be a reason for a loss of water pressure, the cause can also be due to a faulty water pump or having the wrong size water pump installed in the system. Unless there are other signs of a water leak, like water damage, puddles or wet spots, hearing water when no water is turned on and/or an excessively high water bill, it’s always best to check the size and operation of the water booster pumps before implementing any inspections or repairs of the plumbing pipes.

2. Broken Pressure Valves

Pressure reducing valves are most often found on the upstream side of the plumbing system where the municipal water supply meets the water supply pipes for the Chicago building. These valves are designed to control the flow or pressure of the water so that it is consistent when it enters the building’s plumbing system, usually at the water meter. Excessively high water pressure can cause water hammer and damage plumbing pipes, joints, seams and even water shutoff valves. When water pressure valves become blocked or corroded, it can lead to either a high water pressure or low water pressure situation in the building.

Like having the wrong size booster pump, low water pressure caused by dirty pressure valves can lead to residents complaining about low water pressure in their showers and appliances not functioning correctly due to the low water flow. Instead of immediately thinking that it’s a water leak, it’s best to check the pressure valves first. Cleaning or replacing the existing water reducing pressure valves can restore the water pressure in a building. If cleaning or replacing the pressure valves doesn’t solve the low pressure problem, then further leak testing should be done in order to determine if the low water pressure is because of a different component or via one or more water leaks.

3. Problems with the Elevated Water Tank

Elevated water tanks are used to help maintain water pressure in high-rise buildings via gravity. When buildings are extremely tall or the municipal water supply doesn’t offer enough pressure, it can be difficult for water to reach the upper floors. This can result in penthouses and the tops floors receiving either very little water flow or no water flow through their taps. An elevated water tank can help remedy this problem. However, if there are problems with the tank or connected components, like the water pump that feeds the tank or the sensor that determines when the pump should activate. If a building has an elevated tank and low water pressure, the tank, its sensors and the water pump feeding the tank should all be inspected for damage and improper operation or sizing prior to performing any leak inspections or repairs, unless obvious signs of a leak are present.

Correcting Low Pressure Situations with Nu Flow, Serving Chicago

When you have a low water situation in your high-rise building, it may be due to other causes that have nothing to do with improperly installed plumbing pipes, leaks or corrosion in the actual supply lines. Instead, it could be due to problems with the pressure reducing valves, elevated water tank and even the booster pumps that help push water to the top floors of your Chicago building. Before you take steps to locate and fix suspected leaks, it’s always best to examine the mechanical components of your system first. In fact, when we encounter low water problems, the most common cause is dirty pressure reducing valves. Once those valves are cleaned, the water pressure in the building is restored. The second most common reason we encounter is due to malfunctioning water pumps or water pumps that are the wrong size for the building. Once these pumps are replaced, water pressure is often restored.

Of course, your low water pressure problem could be due to numerous small leaks in your plumbing system. If you suspect leaks, it’s best to have a water pressure test performed to determine where the leaks are located and to implement the repair process. Here at Nu Flow, we can help you with small leaks in your water supply lines by installing an epoxy coating that seals leaks and cracks and prevents future corrosion.

To inquire about epoxy coatings for water supply lines and to learn more about what may be causing the low water pressure in your building, give us a call at 815-790-9000.