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Posted 2011-02-14 19:41:43
I have read a number of posts on this site about low water pressure in houses but I haven't been able to find anything on condo's. The pressure in my condo (unmeasured) is what I would describe as low to low medium but as I am renovating top to bottom and enjoy a strong shower I want to take the option to re-look at this.
Some of the posts talk about reliable supply and in a stand alone house that can be impacted by many things. In my situation my main concern is also supply but more particularly the fact that I cant influence availability of water at the source.
So a couple of questions:
1. Can I attach a water pressure system with small tank to the main on the balcony and not impact other unit owners and enjoy and increased volume?
2. If so and recognising water heaters also have pressure valves/ restrictors does anyone have any ideas on compatible heaters for my application that will allow reasonable flow.
The unit is 2BR - kitchen, three toilets, laundry and two showers.
2. If so (and recognising water heaters also have Mitsubishi Water Pump model WP-255Q2
Posted 2011-02-15 10:29:40
Attaching a tank and pump to the condo water main shouldn't affect anyone else, however, you may need to get permission from condo management.
Every water heater I've seen uses 1/2 inch input and output connectors, but if you look inside the heater you will see after the water enters it goes into looped heating pipes that are 1/4" inch in size which effectively restricts the flow. If using a water pump like the Mitsubishi WP-255Q which provides an average pressure of 35 psi (pump cut-on 30psi, pump cut-off 40 psi) you will have a strong shower. I know from personal experience as I have WP-255Q and my Fogor heater has the standard 1/2" input/output connectors but restricts down to the standard 1/4" heating pipes/elements inside.
Also check to make sure you don't have a restricter in the shower head...such restricters are usually on the end of handle where the hose screws into the handle....you'll probably have to pry out any restricter, and possibly destroy the restricter in the process...but you'll end up with a stronger shower. The restricter is only there to satisfy laws in certain countries like the US to minimize water usage (no such laws in Thailand that I know of) and since the manufacturers like to build their products for worldwide sale.
Posted 2011-02-15 10:39:28
Take note that the floor slab of a condo is designed to support a load of only 250 kg/sqm. This equals to 250 litres of water. Make sure you do not overload the floor slab with a high water tank.
Posted 2011-02-15 19:39:48
The only real need for a tank is to ensure your pump has enough water to pump. If the condo utilizes a tank and you have always had adequate water volume but just at low pressure, then you may just want to get a pump. And actually for your water volume needs but to ensure you still get a average water pressure of 35psi, a WP205Q or EP205Q would provide the 35psi and use 50 watts less power. The WP255Q just has more volume capability but the same pressure output as a WP/EP205Q. When dropping below the 205Q model numbers you are getting into the average 23psi pressure area and less water volume capability (i.e., can use less faucets/water outlets at once). You may want to buy yourself a water pressure gauge at a hardware store at around 150 baht and check what your current water pressure it....if it's around 23psi then a WP/EP205 ain't going to help your situation. As mentioned, this assumes your problem is not also low water volume and pressure because too many people in the condo are sharing the water line...in this case, you would need a separate tank to have your own extra water capacity/supply so to speak. Good luck.
Posted 2011-02-15 22:31:13
Thanks Pib and trogers. This is really useful.
Will test the pressure first to understand what I have and if I do put a tank it will be fairly small.
Everybody on this site seems to be mention the Mitsubishi pumps but I couldn't find an english reference site to read up about them. The mitsubishi home page on pumps was very light on.
For the heater do you have any recommendations for my situation? As the Mitsubishi pump mentioned has a specific on/ cut off capacity I am guessing as long as the heater inlet is half inch and can handle a flow of close to 40psi I should be fairly close with those specs also quoting a temp of say 45/50c degrees. But how do I spec this out in actual quoted heater specs? Thxs
Posted 2011-02-16 11:49:38
In selecting a heater you need to first determine how much amperage the circuit powering the heater can safely provide. A 6000 watt heater will draw approx 27 amps at 220 volts....a 7500 water heater will draw approx 34 amps....at 3000 watt heater will draw approx 14 amps. I have two Fogor (German design/made) 6000 watt heaters which currently cost about 7000 baht at HomePro when not on promotion....have had them approx 2.5 years with no real problems...they are on 30 amp dedicated circuits. One heater did pop some internal breakers one time when I got an air bubble in the water line which caused the heater to quickly "overheat" due to no water going through the heating elements for a few seconds...but reseting those internal breakers made everything OK again... other than this one problem, which was not really a heater problem (heaters worked as designed) but a brief water supply/line problem due to the air bubble, have had no other problems with these heaters....good heaters.
Regarding the max pressure a heater can handle and heater inlet/outlet ports, don't worry about that as everyone I've seen has standard 1/2'' inlet/outlet ports and 40psi or higher pressure is fine. But having too little pressure which means low water flow volume "can" cause a problem, because most heaters require a minimum flow of 1 liter per minute though the heating elements to prevent overheating/overload which will cause circuit breaker to pop and/or damage the heating elements. Most heaters have flow sensors to cut themselves off if the flow is inadequate...the Fogor models I have have the flow sensors.
The most important thing is as mentioned in my first sentence. Also be sure your heater circuit/hookup has a grounding wire....and I"m not talking using the neutral wire as a safety ground substitute...I'm talking that third wire used for a safety/case ground. Good luck.
Posted 2011-02-16 20:42:35
Posted 2011-02-16 20:46:51
I dont know on the amperage that is supplied. All I know is there is 220 volts.
Guess I could enquire at the front desk but other than that how do I determine and if its a bit technical is it safe to assume a certain minimum?
Posted 2011-02-17 08:59:59
No, I don't think you can assume, especially in Thailand. Thailand is the land of electrical surprises and non-safety....even through you will see Safety First signs everywhere in Thailand, watch out for those signs as some are probably placed in an unsafe manner. Do you currently have electrical wires coming to the point in the shower wall where you would put the heater? With no heater currently installed, the outlet/box containing the wires many be capped over. If you do have such wires, then that's a good sign...you may already have some circuit breakers in you main circuit breaker box. Got any circuit breakers labeled heater, warm water, etc? If so, what amperage size? Any condo maintenance folks that are hopefully familiar with the condo electrics/provide some guidance?
Posted 2011-02-18 09:54:20
If going ahead with your own pressure boosting system Pib is a great source of info (my Mitsubishi is now purring along perfectly thanks to him). But before going ahead with the work ensure that it is not only your unit suffering from the low to low-medium water pressure issue. I have witnessed a scenario where the condo units are gravity fed from rooftop water tanks and have booster pumps up on the condo roof for each individual units water line. It was found that an owner was feeding 3 pumps from his panel on the same circuit. When his circuits were de-energized for the work to be performed the other units complained of low water pressure.....electrical surprise! Now the other 2 units will have to run their own wiring and start paying there own electrical bill for their pumps. At least the water supply system was set-up properly with each unit having it's own supply line direct from the rooftop tank. So it could be there is a breaker needing to be reset on an existing pump or some other issue.
Ask the maintenance people for a tour of the water supply system so you can see for yourself what is really happening. See if they can point out the pipe feeding your specific unit as well. Hopefully there is a dedicated (1" or bigger) pipe direct from the rooftop tank to your unit. If so, you will not need your own water storage tank and that area of your balcony can be kept for your drinkin' buddy rather than an ugly water tank. Your drinkin' buddy probably weighs alot less as well.
*If there is no pump maybe the condo will let you install your pump up with their water tanks and you don't have to see it or hear it. That's if you can find a path for the wiring from your panel.
Edited by doglover, 2011-02-18 10:00:29.
Posted 2011-02-20 12:17:16
On a semi-side-note: yes, a water pump can influence that of neighbours. The 3 top floors of the 22 floors condo building I live in have insufficient water pressure, presumably due to being to close to the water tanks on the roof, or someone messed up the piping. So like everyone else, I installed a small pump in the bathroom (no, can't have it in the shaft where the vertical main pipes are...). Whenever some neighbour turns the water on or off (don't know which), there's a surge in the water pressure at the input to my pump which triggers the water flow switch and turns on the pump momentarily. My guess is that some neighbor overdid it and put in a pump with too much power, so do yourself and your neighbors a favor and use a moderately powered pump...
Posted 2011-02-20 14:10:54
You may be able to fix your problem with a check valve (a.k.a., one way valve) on your pump's inlet side. Sounds like what may be happening is when the water pressure suddenly drops in the line feeding your pump that there is just a little bit of backward flow of water through your pump which causes a slight pressure drop within the pump, which causes the pump to briefly turn on to rebuild the lost pressure. Many pumps come with a built-in check valve on the input/suction side of the pump...the valve is usually under a screw-on cap...under that cap with be the check valve consisting of a spring and plastic/rubber valve. Seems larger pumps come with check valve's built-in but small one's may not. If there are two caps on your pump's manifold, one cap is probably just a priming point and the other contains the check valve. If you have a built-in check valve, cut off water going to the pump, turn off the pump, drain pressure from the pump, then unscrew the cap to check the valve...makes sure the valve is not dirty to include the valve seating area. Reinstall the valve, put the cap on, turn on the water, and then turn on power to the pump.
If you don't have a built-in check valve you can easily and cheaply add one. The valves cost should cost around 200 baht like at Global, but I've seen HomePro and Lotus sell the exact same valve for 500 baht. I expect you will need either a 1/2" or 3/4" valve...I'm assuming the piping leading into your pump is either 1/2" or 3/4"...if it's a 1" line, just get a 1" check valve. Of course you need a few other tools to insert the valve into the water line. Hopefully this will stop any small backward flow of water that is causing a pressure drop, which is causing your pump to experience a pressure drop on it high pressure side. Good luck.
Posted 2011-02-22 19:19:30
Thanks Guys. There is some very useful information here from people who know a lot more about the subject than me. I am truly grateful.
Pib - I looked at the fuse box and there isn't a separate label for hot water so its difficult for me to tell how many amps the current system has. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be working either so I cant do random isolation to eliminate which one it is. I did notice that there were some 40 amp fuses but I will wait until I get an electrician in for the broader rewiring work and check then.
Doglover - You make a good suggestion re inspection of the current wider system in the building. I will do that to see what I am up against.
Asiacheese - Good point on pump size. I may be better isolating problems with the main supply via a small tank. I have a small spot right above the main and this might be good future insurance.
In terms of electrical surprises I saw first hand what you guys are talking about today. The condo I am going to renovate had the kitchen replaced about 6 years ago but it was obviously a cheap project. Here is what I uncovered today when I pulled it out:
1. patched wiring with electrical tape - no proper connections - maybe this is standard for Thailand renovations.
2. the range hood had no tape on one of the live wires - not the yellow and green wire.
3. the sink waste pipe wasn't connected properly to the main waste in the floor and severe wet rot was starting to set in underneath the cupboards.
4. the range hood ducting wasn't connected to the range hood yet it had been installed to look like it had in that the ducting work had a vent on the balcony. They hadn't even cut a hole in the cupboard inside.
I guess you need to check and double check during installation and make sure you pick good trades (not that easy though) and hold back on payment as much as you can until you get comfortable
Posted 2011-02-23 22:19:13
If there was a yearly price awarded for the most electrical tape used I'm sure Thailand would be the yearly winner by a wide margin. And when it comes to improper electrical connections/wiring, Thailand sets the standard for the 3rd world....Thailand is the Hub!
Posted 2011-02-24 08:06:53
And the list goes on Bosscat! You will have to be around at every moment during your renovations and will find that some of the workers you will have to show to the exit before the job is done.
Anyway, It would be interesting to read how your renovation turns out and what you end up with the rectifiy your low water pressure issue.
Posted 2011-03-02 08:14:02
Thanks for the responses here and I will certainly update once I make a decision on the pump. I spoke with the Mitsubishi rep at the Homeworks show at Biteck last week and he indicated there is a new 500w pump coming on the market which is very quiet. It will be released at the Home Pro show this month at Impact. He had it as a demo and it was noticeably quieter. This could be an option as noise will be an issue in a closed condo environment. Just need to be sure I don't go overkill and pull everyone else's capacity in the condo building but I don't think this should be an issue if the pump is pressure limited on the output side.
quitter. Meanwhile reno has started on the condo with ceilings and tiling almost all out. I will post a separate thread on this one sharing my experience as things go along.
Posted 2011-03-02 19:52:13
He's probably talking the IP-505 which is an invertor controlled, 500W pump. It's already out. Way, way more water volume than you need for a condo. They claim it will reduce electricity usage by up to 40% which means it would use as much power as a normal 300W pump...a 300W pump would be more than enough for your condo. Expect the IP-505 to be pricey.