Fresh water plumbing

The fresh water supply for homes in large communities is generally furnished by a municipal water system that delivers pure water to the home at small cost. The pipe running from the house to the water main is connected to a meter which measures the amount of water consumed. The meter is maintained by the municipality or by a water company.

The pumping system

In rural areas, the water supply, is obtained from a well or a lake. Either of these sources can become contaminated, and it is a good idea to have a sample of the water tested each year to be sure that it is pure. The water is brought into the house and forced through the system by means of a pressure pump and a pressure tank.

Electrically operated pumps are so designed that a pressure switch inside the tank automatically turns on the pump when the air pressure inside the tank falls below a certain level. The pump forces water into the tank until the air pressure has been built up again. As water cannot be compressed, the air inside the tank is compressed instead, and this pressure forces the water through the pipes in the house.

Relief valve

Other than general maintenance of the electric motor, there are few repairs that the home mechanic can make on the pumping system. Occasionally, the pressure switch will stick and keep the pump operating indefinitely. A relief valve should be installed, either in the pump or between the pump and the pressure tank, to ease this condition.

Excessive pressure in the tank will force open the relief valve, and the water will flow out through the valve. When a pump continues to operate after sufficient pressure has been built up in the tank, it should be turned off by hand as quickly as possible to prevent flooding the basement and to stop unnecessary wear of the electric motor and pump.

In most cases, there will be a hand-operated electric switch between the motor and the fuse box. In the event that there is no switch, the pump can be turned off by removing the fuse of the circuit to which the pump motor is wired.

A pump will operate but fail to deliver water to the tank if the water level in the well drops below the pipe leading to the pump. The pump will also fail to deliver water when the foot valve at the end of the pipe in the well is out of order.

In time, the washers in the pump, or in other parts, will become so worn that the pump will fail to deliver water, and this will require extensive overhauling.

Low water pressure

It sometimes happens that the water pressure in a house is so low that no water can be drawn from an upstairs bathroom faucet when a lower faucet, such as one in the kitchen, is open.

This condition is most annoying as it limits the use of the bath or shower to those periods when the kitchen sink is not in use.
In some cases this lack of pressure is caused by the pipes being so lined with minerals and rust that the volume of water passing through is nothing more than a slight trickle.

The best cure for this is to have the old pipes replaced. Sometimes low pressure is caused by the fact that the service pipe running from the house to the city water main is not large enough, or that the pressure of the city water is insufficient.

If the service pipe is too small, it can be replaced with a larger size at the homeowner's expense. Very often by the time the cost of the labour for digging up the pipe, buying a larger size and having it installed is added up, it will be found to be cheaper to install a small electric pump and pressure tank in the house.

The pump will fill the tank with water under enough pressure to maintain a good flow of water at all faucets throughout the house. The same combination of pump and tank can be used when the city pressure is not great enough, a condition that may occur in homes at the outskirts of the city.

Plumbing

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