How to increase water pressure in an apartment

Hi,
I recently purchased a coop apartment in NYC and live on the top floor (17th). The water pressure in the apartment is low . I asked the super to look into it and he said that because we are on the 17th floor the water pressure is low and there is nothing that can be done about it.
I would really appreciate if anyone can give any suggestions as to how to increase the water pressure in the apartment or atleast for the showers . I have even removed the blocking from behind the showers but still its low.
Thanks Ron
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Ronnie wrote:

Don't know if you can accomplish this due to codes, property restrictions, etc, but look into a boost pump. Ideally, the building should install a commercial sized unit on an upper floor to serve all the units affected, but you could put a smaller one on the line feeding your apt. - again, technically, its possible. Politically and within the rules and regulations, that's left up to you to research.
An example (yours would have to be sized for your situation, of course) http://www.gongol.net/store/pressurebooster /
Randy
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Ronnie wrote:

Any reason you didn't find out about the water pressure before you bought the place?
There's ways to correct the situation, but as already stated, unless you are willing to pour fairly hefty sums of money on the problem you won't get it solved to your satisfaction.
Unless a lot of your neighbors also feel strongly about the low water pressure, you chances of getting anything done by the coop association are slim and none, and Slim rode out of town at high noon yesterday.
If your apartment has it's own water heater and you have a utility closet large enough (Or are willing to give up part of your living space to create a larger closet) then you could install a booster pump and a storage tank and have plenty of high pressure water all the time.
That's ssuming the coop association and the building inspectors don't decide to be obstreperous about letting you do that.
You may have a bit of a chore keeping the noise and vibration down to acceptable levels, but with enough application of greenback poultices that can be done.
I did eggsackly that in a home we owned over 30 years ago which was at the top of a hill and had lousy (about 20 psi) city water pressure. I was able to install the pump and tank in the basement where the noise wasn't an issue. Worked just fine, but when I did the numbers I was shocked, just shocked, to see that I was paying more for the electricity to spin the pump than I paid for the water itself. <G>
HTH,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
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Removing the blocking may improve volume but will do nothing fro pressure. It can be fixed, but at a cost. At least one, maybe two pumps have to be installed between the water inlet and your floor. If you want to do only your apartment, a tank will probably have to be installed to hold a reservoir of water to be pumped. If everyone on the upper floors is interested, it can cost thousands of dollars for a pumping system. This is done all the time in high buildings.
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The only way you can increase the water pressure is to install a pump and tank. Perhaps put water tank on the roof. :-)
Install a "water saving" shower head and you'll get better perceived pressure. It'll result in a higher velocity stream.
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Ronnie wrote:

I'd check with the Board of Directors at the coop and see if they support the super's comments.
In these buildings the hot and cold run on completely different systems throughout the building. The hot is recirculated continuously from the boilers and storage tanks which are normally in the penthouse mechanical rooms. The hot water pressure should be adequate no matter where you are in the building.
With respect to the cold water I would be surprised if the building wasn't supplied with pumps to pressurize the system. In my neck of the woods you can't rely on the city pressure to supply water to the 17th floor and I don't think that you'd get a building permit without a pumping setup in the drawings. That being said these pumps take a lot of hydro and if the coop thought that they could run without the pumps they may try it to save the money.
There also may be other ways to improve the pressure. I know that my super has access to bleeder valves on the various floors where he is able to remove air from the lines and control the pressure to a large degree.
You could also consider making a complaint to the city about their water pressure. That might spur them to send an inspector out to look at the problem. The Board of Health may also want to get involved.
Good luck with it.
Peter H
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Just to point out to the people who know more about piping than I do (but less about NYC), that like all buildings over six stories in New York, there should be a water tower on the roof in the OP's building. New York City does not pump its water and its naturual level (unpumped) is about 60 feet above seal level. So all houses where water is supplied above that height requires rooftop storage and a pump to bring the water to the storage tank. The apartments are fed from the tank. While I could be wrong on this, I would assume that that in most cases the cold supply should actually be fed directly from the tank (not tank to basement and back up again) and the upper floors should have, if anything, a less obstructed flow.
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Peace,
BobJ

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Marilyn & Bob wrote:

Would someone in the know about rooftop water tanks clue me in about how much water pressure someone on the top floor of the building could expect to get?
I'd presume tanks that large aren't going to be pressurized, so if the water level in the tank is only say 25-50 feet above the faucets on the top floor, the pressure there would only be about 12 to 25 psi if just gravity was employed, hardly "great" pressure.
Do they have to use booster pumps to be able to get decent water pressure on the top couple of floors?
Jeff
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In the vicinity of 1/2 psi of pressure per foot of differential. So if the top of the water level in the storage tank is 8' above the showerhead, you'd get around 4 PSI.
It's not the water pressure that you're used to in US urban installations, but it's no worse than what you get out of a 5 gallon shower bag while camping.
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Goedjn wrote:

I find it hard to believe that all tall buildings in NYC rely soley on gravity water tanks. As has already been pointed out, the upper floors would have little water pressure. This would seem to be a very poor and impractical system. For example, how big of a tank would it take to supply an 80 story building and what is the big advantage? A pump has to get it up there to begin with. The only purpose I can see is that there would be some supply to deal with a fire that would not require electric service, pump, etc, but it would seem from a practical standpoint, that supply isn't gonna be capable of doing much. It would seem a far better approach would be to have a secure and power backed up water pump system.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The City's water is fed from Croton (uphill) by gravity. Almost none of the water is pumped .
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/history.html
http://www.fno.org/exhibits/WT/nd.html
http://people.howstuffworks.com/water.htm Scroll down to bottom pic.
OP may be stuck. Condo owners can't make changes to the building willy nilly. Condo board *might* consider an expensive upgrade to the building, but likely will respond that this is how it is in NYC.
Jim
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Speedy Jim wrote:

Where it comes from has nothing to do with how you then supply it to a 60 story building.

No question there are many water tanks on roofs in NYC. But, I always see them on the older buildings, many looking like they have been there for 75 years. Either they are hidden inside new skyscrapers, or they have newer systems that no longer require tanks. My point is if anyone is really sure that this is still what is being done today with modern 60 or 80 story buildings.

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Yes, they all have roof tanks (explains the tops of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building). And yes, fire protection is the over arching reason for why a tank is needed (this was changed just a few years ago for new construction). See: http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/cns/2002-05-08/syndication/BMcShane-Tanks.txt
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Peace,
BobJ

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Marilyn & Bob wrote:

http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/cns/2002-05-08/syndication/BMcShane-Tanks.txt
According to your own reference, they in fact DO NOT all have them, which is what I suspected all along:
"Though not used in every building six stories or higher,rooftop tanks are still the most efficient means to supply consistent water pressure in the event of a failed water pump,says Sideris.
"The alternative is to have a series of pumps in the basement, usually a duplex or triplex, which cycle on or off when water is called for," he says. " They tend to be collectively bigger, more expensive and less reliable."
I also don't get the idea of the tanks supplying water in the case of a failed pump. The water still has to get up to the tank doesn't it? So, the tank could supply water for a brief period, but it isn't gonna solve a failed pump problem.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

But likely it would solve it long enough to combat an apartment fire if the firefighters get their fast enough. 3500 gallons of water could be quite helpful, as opposed to no water at all.
Jeff
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Yes, but you left out the portion that said that OVER 90% of existing buildings taller than 6 stories have a roof top tank. In addition, a good portion of buildings without them are still fed by gravity as the tank is on the roof of one of the buildings in a multi-building complex.
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Peace,
BobJ

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If you can get to the incoming water pipe in the apartment (for the entire apartment) install a pressurized water tank.
http://www.ro-systems.com.tw/img/pwt-a.jpg
This has an air bladder that puts pressure against the water and therefore pressurizes the water in the home. This is what is used on rural wells to give water pressure. Sears should carry them.
I would shut the water off in the house and install the tank. Keep in mind you can adjust the pressure by pumping air into the tank just like a car tire.
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bnlfan wrote:

All by itself? C'mon guy, if you think that'll solve the problem then you shouldn't be allowed near any tools more complex than a crayon.
That tank by itself won't accomplish fuck all, he'd also need a water pump and a backflow preventing check valve.

So, what are you suggesting? That he installs that tank (and a check valve). Opens the "air change valve" (That's an air "charge" valve BTW.), lets the tank partially fill with water at whatever pressure he's getting now and then uses a bike tire pump to increase the air pressure over the diphragm? That ought to be good for maybe one short shower before he has to repeat the process.

Stick with those things you may actually know something about sir, elementary physics certainly isn't one of them.
Peace,
Jeff
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