Water is the Life Blood of commercial buildings, used for consumption, comfort heating & cooling, and patient care & sterilization in Hospitals. Disruptions in the city water supply can cause major issues from building closures to damaged equipment. Here are some ways to protect your building before, during and after losing the city water supply.
Monitor City Pressure
The City of Houston has a unique amendment to the UPC that requires an atmospheric storage tank of water before adding pressure boosting pumps. During an outage, the tank water level will be drawn down by consumption in the building, mainly the cooling tower make-up, and eventually, the tank and your piping will go dry because the tank level is not restored by city water. Getting a low city water pressure alarm from your tank level control panel allows you to take action and reduce water consumption before the tank and piping run dry.
Monitor Storage Tank Levels
Many storage tanks in Houston use Float Style valves to make up the water in the tank. These are mechanical valves that do not require a control panel to operate them, however, a simple Tank Level Alarm Panel can monitor the tank level and provide feedback to the Building Automation system in the event of a High or Low-Level Alarm. The Level Alarm Panel also can be used to protect your Booster Pump System from running dry through a Pump Low-Level Cutoff output. Without monitoring city pressure and/or tank water levels, there is no way to know there is an issue until it’s too late.
Protect Pumps from Running Dry
If pumps run dry (not fully primed with water) it will quickly damage the seals and bearings leading to pump failure. Booster Systems are usually designed to have pressurized suction so a low suction pressure alarm is used to protect the pumps from running dry. When pulling from an atmospheric storage tank this will not work because the pressure from the tank is too low. There are two ways to protect the pumps from running dry.
- Connect the pump control panel to the tank level controls and use the Pump Low-Level Cutoff Alarm output to shut down the pumps on Tank Low Level. This is very effective because it will shut off the pumps before any air is introduced into the suction line.
- Install a sensor on the suction side of the pump system to monitor for the presence of air. This can also be effective, but it does require manually restarting your pump system because air has to be bled from the pumps and the suction piping.
Slowly Fill & Pressurize the Building
If the building riser and piping completely loses water, the system pressure has to be slowly restored to avoid damaging pipes and fixtures with water hammer. The CU352 Controller on the Grundfos BoosterpaQ has an automatic Soft Pressure Build up feature that can be enabled and programmed to safely refill and pressurize your building. If your system does not have this feature enabled, or if you don’t have a Grundfos BoosterpaQ, then the process can be done manually by first slowly filling the building riser and then slowly pressuring the system, as shown in this video.
When city water pressure is restored, there may be boil notices to address any contamination that may have occurred during the outage. There are two ways to protect your building from waterborne bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals using Triple Clear Force Field Filtration that will create a Firewall for your building’s water supply.
- Point of Entry Filtration– A filtration system installed at the point of entry into the building, or just after the booster pump system, that filters all water used in the building. These typically have multiple stages of pre-filtration to extend the life of the Force Field Filter.
- Point of Use Filtration – A smaller Force Field Filter can be added to any point of use in the building, such as a faucet, coffee machine, ice machine, water fountains, and bottle fillers.
If your building has lost water and you would like help getting your building back up and running, please call our Service and Tech Support line at 832-678-3930.
If you would like a free assessment of your building’s water system, please contact us here, or call 832-912-7500.