How to Test the Reliability and Water Efficiency of House Pumps
October 12, 2018
The electricity is on, the float switch or level gauge is signaling for more throughput, and the pump can be heard buzzing away in the background, pumping hot or cold water. But this is a closed system, not a place where you can dip a hand into a fast stream. Because of that obvious test restricting limitation, water efficiency measurements are harder to conduct.
A Steady Thrum of Power
When an expert pump engineer puts a hand on the enclosed system, he feels the thrum of water pumping from an inlet to an outlet. The vibrations propagate further along the pipe before they fade away to a cool gushing sensation. If there's a drop in water efficiency, the pump still rotates and buzzes, but the impeller has maybe stopped spinning. Placing a hand on the pipe, this time the vibrations caused by the impeller-driven forces are clearly missing. The impeller isn't engaging.
Testing Wire-in/water-out Pump Efficiency
Expressed at a given head height, the formulas used here aren't complex, but their results can impact a home's pumping efficiency. For starters, the water efficiency of a home's various pumping systems starts with electricity. As closely as possible, the work carried out by the various pumps should match the consumed electrical energy. Measuring that power, electrical testers are read off at different intervals. All of the pumps are operating, the contact test confirmed impeller integrity, and the flow rates can be seen at numerous discharge points. Next come the pressure transducers and flow sensors, instruments that measure the energetic qualities of the water.
Reliable and Efficient Home Pumps
Whether the water efficiency readings create a curve or a flat line, one that rises then falls slowly, the goal is to spot then eliminate transient system spikes. A less-than-reliable pump is experiencing a blockage, or maybe the impeller is damaged, loose, or slipping. Whatever the cause of the transient, the transducers and flow rate equipment will eventually narrow down the flow defect until the matter can be resolved. In the meantime, the home pumps should be pushing through high volumes of water, consistently and without flagging.
Every technician wishes this testing routine could be conducted in under an hour. Frankly, however, there's a lot of issues to address. There are the outgoing and incoming pressures to measure. With the inlet and outlet flow characteristics recorded, the pumps are put through their paces, perhaps by taking the system power down as low as 25% and then raising the output rate by 25% every hour. Compared to the manufacturer specs, the final figures act as a performance barometer, one that'll keep the pumps functioning and the electrical consumption figures satisfyingly low.
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