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Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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So, my brother owns a very weird house in Los Cerillos, New Mexico. It's a geodesic dome. Built by an eccentric in the late 1980s and never quite finished and lots of things done in very mysterious ways. My brother is smart but has had to learn a lot of everything (plumbing, heating, electrical etc.) in order to finish, sort out, correct, repair and otherwise maintain the home's systems. Recently we got on the discussion of his home's water system, and part of that was in another thread.

Here's what his water system is like: Water source is an above ground, 100,000 gallon town-owned tank. Every user in the town (population 229) is downhill from the tank EXCEPT "the dome" as he calls his home. So for his water, there's a small "pump house" located near the tank, which pumps water up to his home. Inside his home, the water goes into two poly tanks in his basement, I want to say the capacity each is 500 gallons. There's a float valve (he has not identified that one to me yet) in the tanks, and when water drops to a certain level in them, the pump in the pump house is turned on (via a contactor/motor starter) and the tanks fill until the float switch turns them off.

Water to the home then, is supplied from these tanks. I think initially when he bought the home, the water supply wasn't working, and a local plumber installed a Goulds MQ pump. Well that has a built in non-adjustable pressure switch, and all of a 14 ounce storage tank. Totally inappropriate to supply basically a two-story home from tanks in the basement. Not surprisingly water pressure and volume, particularly at bathrooms distant on the second floor was abysmal. It wasn't a lot better in the rest of the house either.

@SHEPLMBR suggested a DAB Esybox, but not commonly available. Saw some in the $1,400 price range online; too costly. @Valveman suggested his Cycle Stop Valve along with a pump like a J5SH or J15S. Well those pumps may be solid and robust, and way better than the Goulds MQ, but they carry price tags between $880 and $1,100--not to mention the $500+ for the PK1A kit. I cannot say which of these might be a better or best solution but I was told they were out of his price range at the moment. (apparently "the dome", though purchased at a bank auction cheap, is a money pit as he sorts through the mess others left there)

So, I told him to go with a fairly conventional setup. He got a 44 gallon pressure tank ($350), a 40/60 switch ($30), and a cheap jet pump for $100. He'll have to blow through a LOT of those pumps before he comes close to the cost of the aforementioned Goulds, so this was a good intermediate step to solve a problem NOW. If the pump fails in the year, it's under warranty and he can get a spare quickly.

He had never used PEX, never properly wired these things, didn't initially understand some of the components and why they are there, never used SharkBite push fittings, etc. But he learned very quickly and in a matter of hours (spread out over a week or so with too many trips to too many stores to get little plumbing and wiring parts, etc.) put his system together. Our texts back and forth are in the hundreds. It all came together shortly after this attached photo was taken.

He's extremely pleased. Never before have they enjoyed such water pressure and volume at this home prior. He's a happy camper at the moment (until the pump fails, but that's yet to come and he knows it)
 

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Valveman

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A 44 gallon size pressure tank holds 10 gallons of water. I recommended those Gold pumps because they will build 83 PSI max and work with a 50/70 pressure switch. The cheap pump is fine, but will not build much pressure and so comes with a 30/50 pressure switch. If 30/50 pressure seems fine, then you didn't need the 60-70 PSI pumps we were talking about. However, with a 44 gallon tank and a 30/50 switch the pump will cycle on and off foe every 10 gallon used, and the pressure will be fluctuating from 50 to 30 over and over. After paying 350 for that tank and adding a tank cross, pressure relief valve, gauge, etc, you will spend close to the $500 that a PK1A would have cost, and the PK1A would have been much better. But since you already have a tank, pressure switch, etc., all you need to do to have strong constant 45 PSI pressure is to add the CSV1A Cycle Stop Valve. The CSV1A will hold a strong constant 45 PSI for as long as any shower is on, instead of letting the pump and pressure cycle from 30 to 50 over and over. Not only will the CSV give much better pressure to the house but it will make even a cheap pump last much longer.
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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A 44 gallon size pressure tank holds 10 gallons of water. I recommended those Gold pumps because they will build 83 PSI max and work with a 50/70 pressure switch. The cheap pump is fine, but will not build much pressure and so comes with a 30/50 pressure switch. If 30/50 pressure seems fine, then you didn't need the 60-70 PSI pumps we were talking about. However, with a 44 gallon tank and a 30/50 switch the pump will cycle on and off foe every 10 gallon used, and the pressure will be fluctuating from 50 to 30 over and over. After paying 350 for that tank and adding a tank cross, pressure relief valve, gauge, etc, you will spend close to the $500 that a PK1A would have cost, and the PK1A would have been much better. But since you already have a tank, pressure switch, etc., all you need to do to have strong constant 45 PSI pressure is to add the CSV1A Cycle Stop Valve. The CSV1A will hold a strong constant 45 PSI for as long as any shower is on, instead of letting the pump and pressure cycle from 30 to 50 over and over. Not only will the CSV give much better pressure to the house but it will make even a cheap pump last much longer.
Well, not exactly.

The "el cheapo" Chinese pump--let's call it what it is--can get to 62 PSI. It didn't come with any pressure switch at all, just a pump/motor combination. My brother bought a 40/60 switch. Common as all get out, there's tons of them available (pumps and switches) on eBay and Amazon, they all look the same. Some branded some not. Around $100-$130 or so and free delivery. Switches about $20.

I have no doubt that those pumps you recommend were a much better choice; they were capable of beyond 62 PSI, and probably a lot more robust. But, they are from 6-10x the cost of the cheap one. Your valves would not work with the MQ since it was incapable, when running, of supplying sufficient pressure and volume. Basically it was just the wrong pump. So, it had to go.

Since my brother needed a new pump anyway, regardless of a tank or a CSV1A, since the original MQ has it's own built in pressure switch that you cannot adjust or bypass. You cannot alter that pump's operation basically. No matter what, that pump was simply incapable of delivering sufficient pressure and volume of water throughout the home. It was specified and supplied (at a large fortune might I add) by some local New Mexico plumber who didn't know what he was doing. What the MQ did is basically run constantly when water was in use, once that first 14 ounces in its built in pressure tank was exhausted. What it did not do is maintain pressure in the lines like the new tank does. When he turned on a faucet, there was always a delay for water until the MQ kicked on. So, the MQ offered a delay, and lower volume and pressure than needed throughout the dome-home.

Right now, as you say, the pressure in the home varies between ~40 and ~60 and the pump cycles on and off. I cannot tell you whether this pump will have a longer or shorter life with more on/off cycles or with constant running. I do know from my car wash days where I maintained large pump setups, there were motors and pumps rated for "continuous duty" and those for intermittent use. Those for continuous duty--particularly motors--were always more robust and always quite a bit more costly.

Right now this was a reasonable solution that solved the problem, and moreover (which few can appreciate but me!) is I had to lead my brother through a lot of processes and procedures to have him get it all together, and he's quite proud. When this started he didn't know what PEX was, didn't know how a pressure switch worked or was wired, and didn't even know about SharkBite fittings. Now he's got the experience under his belt and is proud of his work!

He'll always strive for perfection. Last week, the water situation in the home was dreadful. Now, everything is better, but still a far cry from city water (constant 60-70 psi in the home). I'm sure in time what's OK for now will surely not be, and he'll go looking for a better solution. When he has more money!
 

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