All About Pumps!
Pumps – most multi-unit residential buildings have some type of pump system installed but do you know what they do and why maintaining them regularly is so important?
Whilst not the most glamorous of topics, residents living in a strata building should have a basic understanding of the various types of pumps, how they operate and how to identify if there are issues.
The type of pump(s) at each building can vary depending on requirements, however, the goal is always the same: to introduce pressure into a system to move a liquid where it is required to go, against the force of gravity.
To understand this function simply (and to make your life easier) the following overview explains everything you need to know about pumps, as well as some handy questions to ask your OC Manager.
Main Types of Pump Systems
Commonly there are 5 different types of pump that can be found in a multi-unit residential building. These are:
- Variable Speed Water Boosting Pumps – As the saying goes, water will not flow uphill. In multi-level buildings, a booster pump is sometimes required to get water to the upper floors when mains pressure is not strong enough to supply all apartments during peak times.
- Rain Water Harvest Pumps – To meet Council sustainability regulations, many new developments are being built with rainwater re-use (grey water) systems to serve the toilets and garden irrigation. The rainwater pump’s job is to move water from the rainwater tank to where it is supposed to go.
- Storm Water Sump Pump – These pumps are used to shift water out of low lying areas (most commonly a basement) where the infrastructure is below street level drainage. The water is then discharged into the council stormwater drainage system. Without an operational sump pump, many basements would flood!
- Sewer Pumps – Like sump pumps, sewer pumps are often installed in buildings where infrastructure such as toilets and basins are installed below adjacent street level services to ensure that waste can be removed from site quickly and safely.
- Diesel and Electric Hydrant Booster Pumps – These pumps form part of the Fire Protection System of the building and are most often found in large multi-unit residential buildings with full sprinkler and hydrant systems installed. These are high-pressure water pumps designed to increase the fire-fighting capacity of a building by boosting the pressure in the hydrant or sprinkler service when mains is not enough.
How often should maintenance be undertaken?
Recommended service frequency depends on factors such as the type of pump, frequency of use, manufacturer’s specifications and age of the pump. Your OC Manager works closely with the designated pump maintenance contractor to ensure that the optimum service schedule is adhered to as pumps need to be inspected and serviced regularly to ensure proper operation and avoid costly repairs. As a general rule, servicing every 6 months is recommended. When it comes to pumps, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
What is a High-Level Alarm (HLA)?
Most often used in conjunction with a submersible stormwater pump system, these devices detect a high-water level in the pit and automatically alert of problems with the system through an audio-visual alarm (strobe + alarm). A high water level in the pit may indicate that there is a problem with the pump which needs investigation.
What should I be asking my OC Manager?
A rudimentary understanding and appreciation of the pumps in your building is good knowledge to have. Knowing the exact workings of each pump is not necessary (you can leave that up to the experts) however if issues arise or specific maintenance needs to be undertaken it is always best to know what is going on so that prompt action and informed decisions can be made.
If uncertain, you should ask your OC Manager the following questions, specific to your building.
- What type(s) of pumps are installed in the building?
- Where are the pump(s) located?
- How often are the pumps currently being serviced?
- How old are the pumps and when are they expected to be overhauled/replaced?
- If there is a HLA or I suspect one of the pumps is not working, who should I contact in the first instance?
Getting an idea of the scheduled maintenance, where the pump equipment is located, how to access it (if required) and any issues that have arisen in the past will arm you with the relevant knowledge about keeping these important and often overlooked assets operating trouble-free.