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.
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)
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>
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
"Peter H" < email@example.com> wrote in message
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?
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.
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.
The City's water is fed from Croton (uphill) by gravity.
Almost none of the water is pumped .
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
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.
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:
< firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
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
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.
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.
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.
If you can get to the incoming water pipe in the apartment (for the
apartment) install a pressurized water tank.
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
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
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.
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