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How do I increase my Water pressure?

June 13, 2006

Heres my situation.I dont have an irrigation system,I use an over the ground oscillating sprinkler to water my beds and lawn.The sprinkler does good EXCEPT when someone else in the house uses water,then the oscillating sprinkler goes from a 9 foot tall sprinkler to about a 5 foot sprinkler from bottom to top.Im on a hill in a subdivision,is that why?

What can I do to increase my water pressure @ my house?

How much will it cost?

Is it something I can do myself?

Thanks in advance

Comments (20)
  • hookoodooku

    Your water pressure is (basically) dictated by the elevation difference between your house and the local water tower. Being at the top of a hill means you've got less water pressure than others in your neiborhood, but you should still have at least 40psi.

    While there are such things as pressure boasters, I would suspect that they are too costly to bother with just to help you water your lawn.

    Perhaps an irrigation system would be a better alternative. You SHOULD have a minimum of about 40psi, but even if you only have 30psi, an irrigation system can be designed that can adiquately water the lawn with that little pressure.

    But the simplest thing would be to check out the layout of your existing plumbing. The answer COULD be as simple as buying more garden hose and using a different hose bib.

    The typical house has a water line that enters the house with a static water pressuere from 40psi to 120psi+. If the static water pressure is above 60psi, then their is likely a pressure regulator almost immediately after the water line enters the house with the pressure likely set to 50psi. Additionally, the typical house has two hose bibs, one that pulls from the water line before the pressure regulator and one that pulls from the water line after the regulator. Now the one located after the regulator could be sharing water pipes with potentially anything else in the house. If the plumbing in your house is poorly designed (such as a 1/2" pipe that feed both the shower and the hose bib) then you're likely to have a problem similar to what you describe. In which case the answer would be to purchase some extra garden hose and only water your lawn from the other hose bib that pulls off the line before the regulator and the rest of the plumbing in the house. Make sure to get the biggest hose you can (i.e. 5/8" rather than 1/2") because you'll lose a significant amount of water pressure running water through 100' of hose, and the thinner the hose, the more pressure you're going to lose.

    So (just to state the obvious) the very first step would be to see if that 9 foot tall sprinker turns into 10-12 foot tall sprinker when you move the existing hose/sprinkler to the other hose bib.

  • northga

    Thanks Hook,Ill look into all that and check back.Btw what is bib?

  • northga

    Do you think I have a pressure regulator on my water line?Where are they usually located?

  • deeproots

    if you are at the top of the hill, the water pressure may just naturally be pretty low.
    Of course by all means still check into the pressure regulator, but lets assume that isn't the problem.

    this really leaves two options:
    1. booster pump
    2. larger water hookup at the main.

    I wouldn't consider a booster pump, as it seems like a hastle and unneccesary expense.

    I've noticed (at least in south georgia) the average hookup to a city main is with a 3/4 inch line. Typically with high water pressures this isn't a problem as far as water availability... tho it's often easy to exceed safe water speeds.
    Alot of the irrigation jobs I do in the towns here, a seperate hookup to the water main (dubbed an irrigation hookup) often results in the homeowner/business paying less in sewage/water bills.
    You also gain the benefit of being able to run the sprinkler without effecting the house pressure, or vice/verse. Alot of folks have me hookup a faucet for washing the cars etc as well.

    If it was me, and I saw an irrigation system in the near future, I'd definately go larger than a 3/4inch hookup, but obviously they cost more. I'd call your city water people and see what your options are... they obviously know your water situation far better than any of us.


  • northga

    I just read that using a larger diameter hose will increase your water pressure to your sprinkler by 60%.Im using a 5-8 hose right now.If I went and bought a 3/4 would I see a big increase in water pressure @ my sprinkler?

  • deeproots

    yes, it will help, but you are talking about a fairly drastic pressure/flow reduction.
    swapping a 5/8in hose for a 3/4in hose isn't going to fix that.

  • LibbyLiz

    I have the same problem, but there's really no answer for mine since I'm in a rental home (military housing), but I just thought I'd chime in all the same.

    When I confronted a housing maintenance guy about the low water pressure problem when watering the lawn with my impulse sprinklers, which is even worse when water's running elsewhere, he told me it was normal & to look for low-pressure sprinklers.

    After posting here about such I had my suspicions confirmed that the guy was feeding me a load of BS. I decided to ask around some more anyhow & checked out Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, Shopko & the Base Exchange & I think the average was 60 PSI to get impulse & oscillating types to run at maximum output, if it was even listed!

    The problem lies therein, you see, with no water running elsewhere the approximate PSI/burst on the back of the house is 39/200-plus & the approximate PSI/burst on the side of the house is 36/168. Of course this goes down when water runs elsewhere & thus the sprinklers have less output (I lost my PSI/burst notes to remember what such dropped to, though I think the PSI went down 2-4).

    Still needing to replace my Rain Bird that would barely turn/sometimes would just sit & hiss/spit when water was running elsewhere & would just sit & hiss/spit when first turned on, I decided to recheck Wal-Mart today since other times I went they were completely out of sprinklers.

    I found an impulse that's supposed to give an 85-ft diameter circle off 40 PSI. I said what the hey & bought it & though I'm not getting the distance "promised" (I'm getting about half that) at least it still runs & turns when someone flushes a toilet!

    I'd love to get 85-ft, but who am I kidding when I live on top the highest point on the Air Force Base with on-ground water tanks about 25-ft higher & have to compete with other occupants situated lower than I running their sprinklers, etc. It's a lose-lose situation & I don't know if I want to dump perfectly good sprinklers that'd work great in another home & buy replacements just for our current location just to get a few more feet/better poundage.

    However, still thinking the grass is greener elsewhere, I realized I forgot to check K-Mart, Sears & ACE Hardware. But who knows if I'd be able to find anything else that would run off lower PSI with better output.

  • deeproots

    a lil suggestion.

    buy a little sled with a 3/4 inch male threaded and screw in a real sprinkler, like a Hunter PGP.

    they are adjustable, and should come with 12 different nozzles, perfect for managing limited water supplies.

    another idea is a cheap timer... running the water at 1am will do better than 6pm.


  • northga

    I think im going to get a 3/4 or a 1 inch water hose.I need to replace the hose I have anyway because its very old.They sell the adaptors at Home depot to go from a 5/8 to a 3/4 or 1 inch?Cause Ill need 2,One for both ends?

  • Waterit

    There are only two ways to increase pressure (other than removing any pressure regulation) - gravity or installing a booster pump.

    Around here pressure regulators are usually connected directly to the meter, on the outlet side.

    Another thing that affects pressure is the shut-off valve that may be installed between the meter and the house. If the plumber used a globe valve, replace it with a ball or gate valve. Match the valve to the line size.

    You won't need any adapters when switching to a larger hose - garden hose ends are the same no matter what size the actual hose is.

    We have installed booster pumps on city water irrigation systems when low pressure was an issue.

  • LibbyLiz

    Where can you buy these booster pumps?

    Where do you install/attach the booster pump; on the main (wherever that is, maybe next to the hot water heater) inside the house?

  • Waterit

    A booster pump must be selected carefully - recommend finding a local wholesale irrigation supply house and ask them.

    Pump should be connected to water main for irrigation system AFTER backflow preventer.

  • deeproots

    there is a reason I suggested a larger hookup to the main over a booster pump...
    a booster pump will no doubt increase the water flow through a mainline/meter that is already over taxed.

    the water will be moving at a speed which will no doubt be more dangerous to the piping, not to mention as water flow increases through an insufficiently sized pipe the pressure loss increases dramatically.


  • mrpike

    Drew, that is not always true, in fact we find that most times low pressure is not related to low flow. Some places have very poorly designed water mains as far as slope etc.

  • mchristensen

    To northga,
    I found this post purely by accident. I thought I would give my 2 cents worth anyway.
    Do not bother with a larger hose ( if you need a new hose anyway by all means get the 3/4". Don't bother with the expense of a 1" ). The increase in pressure will be negligable ( unless you have a long run of hose ).
    Someone answered your post and part of his information stated that in your area it was common to have a 3/4 inch service line and water meter. If true your water venders' engineers need an education, 3/4 inch is absurd unless you are providing water supply to a camper.
    In any case it sounds like a plumbing problem ( very common ). Many times ( frankly most of the time ) pipe and fitting sizes are just to small ( even if 'up to code' )and create velocities that are to high, thus a more than reasonable pressure drop. I would love to sell you a booster pump, but that will not solve the problem ( considering the information you have provided).
    The first thing to due is to confirm the size of your service line and water meter ( if 3/4" you are out of luck ). Your water vender should be able to provide you this information. Second, locate your water meter. There will be some type of isolation valve(s)( shut-off valve(s) ). Be sure the valves are fully open ( you would be surprised how often they are not ). Next locate your pressure regulating valve ( yes you do have one ), if there are isolation valves here as well be sure they are fully open.
    I'm sure you have the same[pressure]problem inside the home when several demands are made on the supply ( this occurs in most every home due to small pipe sizes ).[ If the plumbing were sized and piped correctly your shower would not be affected by a toilet flushing. ] I am getting long here...
    A booster pump ( or any increase in pressure ) will not by itself provide an increase in flow ( gpm ). Flow is determined by what the plumbing (size) can provide within acceptable losses and by the demand on said plumbing. If you are demanding 20 gpm ( sprinklers, showers, dishwasher, etc ) all at the same time and your plumbing can only provide 12 gpm ( at 5 feet per second velocity ) you will give up the pressure that's available. There are many things you can do, even if your water meter is to small ( including but not limited to installing a booster pump ), however any "fixes" will result in increased flow and pressure for the sprinkler(s) and reduced flow and pressure in the home ( all things being equal ), short of installing a second service line and water meter. If there is a hose bib available upstream ( prior to ) of entering the house then do use this connection ( see "fixes" above ), this alone may provide you with the what [pressure] you are looking for. The bottom line is consider doing your outside watering during a time when houshold water consumption is not an issue.
    Hell, I've got to get back to work hope this has been some help.

    MChristensen, Technical Consultant
    Booster Pump Tech

    Here is a link that might be useful: GardenWeb

  • lorelle

    I recently had a underground lawn sprinkler system installed. My house is 500' from the water meter and on a 50-ft hill. The water line is just a 3/4" all the way from the meter to the house. There was not sufficient pressure to operate the system, so the installer added a booster pump. Now the underground system runs okay, but air gets into the house water line when it runs, even if we do not open any faucets. I strongly suspect that the lawn sprinkler system with pump is pulling so much water so fast that it is back-draining from the house water lines. Also--we have almost no water in the house when the sprinkler system is running. Should we go with another line to the water meter to run the sprinkler system on, in order to solve both the problem of air getting into the water lines and the loss of water pressure when the system runs?

  • ronalawn82

    Grateful thanks, Mr. MChristensen, for an informative and concise introduction to plumbing/hydraulics. Your post is as tightly packed as a walnut.

  • mdduvalls_aol_com

    Which size garden hose (diameter & length) will provide the most pressure? 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", ? Just not sure what size would work best (larger diamter or smaller) (longer or shorter)??? I need to get pool vacuum to work

  • zeuspaul

    Water pressure will drop most in a long hose so the shorter the hose the better.

    Water pressure will drop most in a small diameter hose so the larger the hose the better.

    For the least amount of pressure drop use a short 3/4 hose.


  • HU-461608212

    When I moved out to my property I ran around 700 feet of water line to my house. I ran 1 1/4 " pvc and thought it would big enough and it is for the house use by itself . When I use the hose outside the pressure dropped a lot. A co-worker told me that it wasn't a pressure problem it was a volume problem. What I did was dug up the line going into the house and installed a 6 inch pvc pipe 20 feet long to add more volume. I haven't lost pressure since. Now keep in mind that I live in Louisiana and it is pretty flat here.

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