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Unread 02-19-2020, 10:15 AM   #1
speed51133
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Plumbing question regarding pressure to shower

I know this is a tile forum, but wondering if any of you have encountered issues relating to inadequate pressure to a shower? The thing is for a normal person, my master shower is fine. I, however, am not normal. I want to re-model it to have 6 to 8 shower heads. I am now in the planning stage for the remodel.

I currently have 6 heads in a spare bathroom, but it is in my basement. I am on a well that is about 90 feet deep and my water heater and all water mechanicals are also in the basement. The pump is at the bottom of the well. This shower works great with no problems at all.

My master shower is two floors above this basement shower and I have 12 foot ceilings in basement and the first floor. I currently "only" have 3 shower heads in my master and when all 3 are on, or even just 2, the flow sucks. It is good with one head on. I was thinking about adding a booster pump of some kind for just the second floor run. I already have a 3/4in valve in the master but it is only a pressure balance valve. It is rated for a Maximum flow rate of 13.0 gpm at 45psi. This feeds a diverter valve that is rated at: Using 1 outlet: 18 gpm flow rate at 45 psi; using 2 outlets: 20.8 gpm at 45 psi.

I plan to switch it to a thermostatic valve which is rated at 17 gpm at 45psi and will use separate volume controls each rated at 28.0 gpm flow rate at 45 psi. All shower heads are 2GPM each.

I am thinking my problem is just that the vertical rise is too much for this system. My pressure tank has good air pressure and my well pump is set to run between 40 and 60psi. It all works fine. Given that the basement setup works great, should I just add a booster pump? Any tips how/where?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

Edit, i just posted this to Terry Love. If this is totally OT, feel free to delete.
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Unread 02-19-2020, 01:15 PM   #2
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You can do a few things, the first would be running a dedicated, larger diameter line to the master shower. A 1 inch line carries 4x the water of a 1/2 inch line.

Raising the pressure would help. I'd add a pressure tank to the system if you don't already have one, or install a larger one. Narrowing the pressure range will make the pump cycle more often, but for less duration each time. A range of 60 to 70 psi would increase flow rate. Most plumbing fixtures are designed to operate at 70 psi or slightly higher.

The water pressure for the Fort Worth system is 70 psi. Many RV's are set to operate at 70 psi.
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Unread 02-19-2020, 02:36 PM   #3
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Thanks. I have a pressure tank that is about 4feet x 1.5 feet. I can adjust the pump switch to go 60 to 70 no problem. Maybe that will help. https://www.rcworst.com/blog/How-To-...ressure-Switch

I think I have a 3/4in line feeding upstairs, but I'll verify.
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Unread 02-19-2020, 05:38 PM   #4
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Discounting friction or dynamic pressure, water pressure changes at approximately 0.43psi/foot of elevation change.
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Unread 02-19-2020, 06:49 PM   #5
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So I am losing 10 psi from the pressure tank to the shower?
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Unread 02-19-2020, 08:10 PM   #6
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PSI is part of it, to get flow rate (GPM) you would have to consider the diameter of the pipe and how many fittings (turns) there are which cause turbulence inside the pipe which reduces flow rate.

I don't know the calculations for turns, but unless you're replacing the supply pipe, that's a mute point.
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Unread 02-19-2020, 09:11 PM   #7
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I'll replace whatever it takes
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Unread 02-19-2020, 10:04 PM   #8
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Assuming that the piping is copper, go to the Copper Institute website and download their free design manual. It will give you the information needed to calculate pressure loss for the flow, distance, pipe diameter, and fittings used.

A similar one is available from the PEX industry. Other than the ID, CPVC probably has their own, too.

They try to put water towers on high ground, and if they can't, they tend to build them taller so that areas can receive decent pressure. Their pumps, often only run at night to refill the towers, but in high volume, might run simultaneously. That's why tall buildings usually have water storage on a high floor otherwise, the pressure would be terrible on the upper floors or the cost to pump it constantly would be excessive.
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Unread 02-19-2020, 10:06 PM   #9
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A new, dedicated run of 1 inch pex would go a very long way to increasing the GPM. Using the expanding type of pex fittings would be optimal as they have the largest diameter which gives the highest GPM which is the Pro Pex at the bottom.
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Unread 02-20-2020, 07:07 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info. I currently have cpvc plumbing...
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Unread 02-20-2020, 09:02 AM   #11
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Would you say the 1in run is only needed for the vertical riser from basement to second floor?
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Unread 02-20-2020, 12:30 PM   #12
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The 1 in supply seems like the way to go to cure your problem once and for all. While you're at it: Maybe this is a good time to consider replacing parts (or perhaps all) of your CPVC plumbing? CPVC would make me afraid, given its potential for cracking. How old is the plumbing?

Copper and/or PEX A would be my choice. If your well water's pH is below 7, then I'd probably choose PEX.
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Unread 02-20-2020, 12:50 PM   #13
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The entire house is 5 years old.....

The plumber told me it was the last house he did using CPVC. Unfortunately, I was not learning about plumbing at the time. I was focusing on insulation, framing, rain screening for the sheathing, and house design.

I remember asking for copper piping for the house and got a bit of sticker shock at the difference due to both materials and labor. I was really only thinking of chemical exposure from the CPVC though. I had no idea inside diameters were different. I only asked for 3/4in run to 2nd floor as upgrade from the standard .5in.

my pressure tank has 1in line to and from it that feeds the softener and iron filter. They both use 3/4in fittings and feed the water heater which also has 3/4in fittings.

I may have to bring plumber back as I don't know if the riser to second floor can simple be pulled out. I suspect it has a T off it for the first floor. Hopefully he remembers....

My water heater also has limited flow, it will restrict flow to ensure temperature. Here is the chart. My ground water supply is a consistent mid 50's(but the pressure tank and house is consistent 70). I want a shower of about 110. That is a temperature delta of 55 which gives me 7GPM. SO my ideal setup upstairs is pushing it. My current setup though is not, seems like the vertical run is my current bottleneck.

Maybe add in a second instant heater just to bring the temp of the water up to 70 before my main heater? Could be an electric heater to avoid venting. Would need to support 10gpm at a delta of 20 degrees. https://www.hotwater.com/Water-Heate...ter-R4MA-320E/ this one is PERFECT....AND only 800 bucks at lowes. UNfortunatley it requires 2 70amp breakers. Not sure if I have the room for that. Currently have 200 amps total service.
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Unread 02-20-2020, 01:46 PM   #14
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You could add an on demand HWH between the (rest of the house) HWH and the master bath, dedicated to the master bath. The on demand would take the pre-heated water from the original HWH and raise the temp to just under scalding or wherever you want it. As the temp of the original tank drops the on demand will pick up the slack.

We have a very similar set up for our RV with an on demand pre-heating the water before it goes into the RV HWH.
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Unread 02-20-2020, 02:16 PM   #15
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the only issue with that is my current tankless heater will reduce the flow rate so it can keep up with the heat demand. If I add a heater downstream, this doesn't help.
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