Booster Pumps and Water Pressure

Probably the most challenging problem on a water spray test site is achieving enough water pressure to properly run your equipment. Having access to a water main is the best way to start. That alone often solves this difficult problem. But that type of access is almost never available at a residential home. And it can be one or two hundred feet away at a commercial facility, causing a detrimental loss of pressure through the friction of a long hose.

The use of a booster pump can increase the possibility of having adequate pressure. But the right pump needs to be deployed in the right circumstance. A half-horse-power pump is made for regular municipal water pressure of about 30psi. This is what is found in a backyard spigot at a residential home. If this ½ HP pump is used on a water main - running at 70 or more psi - the pump will be drowned. It won’t keep up with the already high pressure and flow. It may even block the flow and reduce it.

Paradoxically, using a 1 HP pump with a residential water supply will starve the pump. It won’t have enough flow going into it, and it will shut down, or worse, overheat and burn out. A 1 HP pump needs at least 70 psi going into it for it to work properly.

It also must be kept in mind that the pressure from any given water supply will diminish through a long hose. If a booster pump is hooked up near the spray rack  but far from the water source, it will starve and burn out. The pump in any situation needs to be near the water supply. Having a 6, 10, or 15 foot hose with you is a good idea to ensure a short distance from the water source to the booster pump.

In many instances while using a booster pump, the elevated level of water pressure can compromise the hose. If the hose is too weak going into the pump, the pump can suck hard enough to collapse the hose. On the other hand, the pump can push so much pressure out of itself that it can burst the hose. It’s wise to always use high quality, reinforced hoses.

To conclude, I always advise to investigate what the water supply situation will be at any given test site ahead of time. Point out to your client that they are hiring you to run the test properly and it’s in their best interest to provide the water access you need to do that. Taking extra time to consider this before witnesses are gathered to observe the test is important. It will save you a lot of trouble in the end, and possibly a lot of money.

If finding out about the water supply situation is not possible - perhaps because the test site is in another state - at least have the discussion with your client. And if no contact is possible, come equipped with an arsenal of reinforced hoses of different lengths, and two booster pumps - both a ½ HP and a 1 HP .

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