How Does A Well Pump And Pressure Tank Work
- well services
If you own a home that has a private well for drinking water, it is to your benefit to learn how a well water system works. While most water well systems will last for many years, knowing what the components do can help you troubleshoot if a problem does arise.
Water Well Pumps
After a well is drilled, a water pump is installed along the well casing to push or lift water from below the ground into your home. It is placed below the water level within the well so that it will not be affected by any water drawdown or periods of drought.
The size of this pump is determined by the size of your home, the number of plumbing fixtures, and peak water demands. A typical water pump for domestic use can usually pump 10 gallons per minute out of the well using a ½ horsepower motor. Some homes that use a significant amount of water for irrigation, a home business or feeding animals may need a larger pump.
Jet pumps, which can be located above ground, are sometimes used in shallow wells that are 4 inches in diameter or less. But submersible pumps are most often used in wells today and is likely the type of pump in your home. Submersible pumps know when to turn on when the pressure within the homes water system drops below a certain level. The pump then lifts water into the home until the default pressure is restored. But what controls the water pressure?
Water Well Pressure Tanks
Possible Pressure Tank Problems
Installing A Constant Pressure System
If the amount of water pressure that is needed for your home is increasing or you are constantly having to readjust your pressure switch, you may want to consider installing a constant pressure system. A plumber installs this on the water line that enters your home, and it prevents the water pressure from dropping, even when multiple fixtures are being used.
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What Is A Well Pressure Tank
For homeowners without city-regulated water services, a well is necessary in order to get running water in the house. A well pump, either submersible or a jet well pump, is used to deliver the water from the well to the plumbing fixtures inside your home. A well pump is connected to a well pressure tank, which acts as a reservoir to store the water that will be distributed throughout a home. As you might have guessed for the name, the well tank is pressurized with compressed air. This not only plays a role in the overall water pressure you get in your home, but also helps signal the pump when the water level gets too low and its time to refill. There are 3 different types of well pressure tanks depending on the type of mechanism they use to control the pressure.
How Do You Ensure That The Bladderless Water Pressure Tank Is Working Properly
The key to a properly functioning hydropneumatic water tank is diligent maintenance. You have to be on top of everything if youre planning to add this kind of tank to your home. Thats why many homeowners prefer the less demanding bladder-type tanks.
If you do decide to push forward with your bladderless tank purchase, you have to start with monitoring the pumps. The Washington State Department of Health notes that both the booster and well pumps are crucial to the system. The pumps maintain the pressure levels while the tank itself prevents the motors from burning out too soon.
You also have to be certain that the air cushion inside the tank is routinely at the right levels. To be more specific, you want there to be an air cushion that takes up about half of the tank. At the very least, the air cushion has to cover a quarter of the tanks capacity.
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Water Bladder Tank Basics
As the water pressure and air pressure get low, the contacts on the pressure switch click together. The pressure switch sends an electrical current to the water pump which causes the water pump to kick on and pipe water back into the water bladder tank. The amount of time it takes for the pressure switch to click on depends upon the size of the water bladder tank. The larger the water bladder tank, the longer it will be before the pressure switch starts to deliver electrical current to the water pump.
Important Parts Of Your Well System
Like we said, wells arent just rope and buckets anymore theyve got a lot more parts now. As they all work together, in order to understand pressure tanks and how they work, you need to know what well pumps and pressure switches do as well.
1. Well Pump. This is placed in the well casing and it pushes the water from below ground into your pressure tank.
2. Pressure Switch. This controls the automatic activation of the pump. When water leaves the pressure tank and the pressure level drops below a certain point, the pressure switch turns on, allowing the pump to pull more water into the tank. Once its full again, the pressure switch turns off.
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How To Find Information On Your Well
Contact the well contractor who installed your well. Or find a water well contractor in your area by looking in your local telephone directory.
Many states maintain lists of licensed or registered well drillers.
Contact your local health department to find out where in your state you can locate a list.
Most states also have state water well associations, state well driller associations, or state groundwater associations. To get a list of these associations, you can contact the National Ground Water Association at 800-551-7379 or www.ngwa.org.
If you still have questions, dont hesitate to e-mail us at , leave us a message on , or use our online contact form for prompt, personalized assistance from our trained professionals. Thanks for reading!
Troubleshooting A Bladder Pressure Tank
A bladder pressure tank contains pressurized air and water separated by a flexible membrane . These tanks are typically precharged with air at the factory.
As water pressure changes, the volume of air in a bladder tank contracts and expands. Periodically, the amount of air in the tank should be measured and the tank recharged if the air is too low.
Although a bladder tank for a typical home or smaller commercial water system will not have a very large storage capacity, it will perform several important functions:
- It maintains a desired range of water pressure in the distribution system.
- It minimizes pump cycling, preventing frequent starts and stops and protecting pumps from motor burnout or other water system components from damage.
- It protects against water hammer.
How Can I Tell If My Tank Pressure Tank Is Water Logged
There are some common, telltale signs that your pressure tank is waterlogged.
1. When using water, you can hear the repeated click, click, click of the pressure switch
Your pressure switch tells your pump when to turn on/off by completing an electrical circuit. There are contacts that are either open or closed . When open, the contacts do not touch one another and no electricity is sent to the pump. When closed, the contacts touch and complete the circuit, sending electricity to the pump and turning it on.
These contacts know when to open/close by sensing a cut in pressure and a cut off pressure, which is regulated by the amount of air and water inside the pressure tank. When the bladder separating the two is ruptured, and the tank becomes waterlogged, the pressure inside the tank is no longer regulated, and the switch will turn on and off rapidly. When these contacts open and close, they make an audible Click. When you hear rapid and repeated clicks, this is a sure indication that pressure switch is quickly turning on and off, which is turning your well pump on and off at the same time.
This is similar to you getting in your car and turning the ignition on and off repeatedly!
2. Your water pressure may fluctuate or seem to pulsate
Because your water pressure is no longer being properly regulated, when you take a shower you may feel the water pressure jumping around. It will come out strong for a few moments, die out, and then come surging back.
How Home Well Water Pump And Pressure Systems Work
Knowing the basics of how your well water system functions are important when selecting a water treatment system because if the wrong type of treatment system is used, it can adversely affect the water pressure and flow rate inside the home.
For example, if the well uses a pressure tank, a water treatment system must be installed after the pressure tank to avoid causing damage to the well pump.
When you open a faucet in your home or turn on the shower or bath you expect water to flow at a certain flow rate and with good water pressure.
Water pressure in your pipes and pressure system causes your water to flow. If your home is on city utilities, water pressure is controlled by your local water company or utility.
If your home is on a well, you need a pump and pressure tank to build that pressure unless you have a storage tank high enough on a hill nearby to get gravity pressure.
The pressure tank in your well system creates water pressure by using compressed air. Because of this pressure, when a valve or faucet is opened in your home the water is pushed out of the tank through the pipes in your home.
When the water in the pressure tank drops below a preset level, a pressure switch is activated which turns on the pump. The pump then refills the pressure tank. A check valve keeps the pressure in your pressure tank from flowing back down the well. The combination of the pressure tank, pressure switch, check valve and pump is what allows water to flow through your home.
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Benefits Of A Pressure Tank
Having a pressure tank as part of your well water system has a myriad of benefits, but there are a couple of huge benefits. The first is that with a pressure tank you have immediate access to well water without having to manually turn on your pump. Nothing like the ease of convenience.
Having a pressure tank helps preserve the life of your pump. Since your pressure tank acts as a reservoir for water, when you turn on a faucet, water is drawn from the tank. Water continues to be drawn from the tank when needed, and its not until the pressure level drops below a set point that the pump starts to draw more water into the tank. With the pump not having to turn on every time you need water, it preserves the lifespan of the pump, making this a wonderful benefit to having a pressure tank.
Pressure tanks also help keep a consistent level of water in the system. With this consistent level of water in the system, theres more consistent water pressure. This is a massive benefit because there isnt much worse than stepping into the shower and finding the water barely dripping out.
Things To Consider For Your Well Tank
Getting an appropriately sized tank is essential to having constant water pressure throughout your entire home. A small tank will likely cause your pump to cycle on and off more frequently, which could result in premature wear or a need for total replacement. A tank that is too large for your home could cause the water to stagnate and develop an odd taste or other adverse effects. Luckily, were here to help you buy and maintain the right well tank for your need.
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If There Are Several Water Heaters Do I Need More Than One
You need a thermal expansion solution suitable for your plumbing system.
For example, a 50-gallon water heater can be supplied by a 2-gallon expansion tank. If you have several heaters in the same system or connected, you can equip each heater with an expansion tank, or you can use a single larger expansion tank.
Water Tank Not Properly Located Can Also Cause Improper Pressure Switch Operation
Iif you place the water pressure tank too far from the pump pressure switch, or at a different elevation from the pressure switch, the pressure switch control may not operate properly. Here is what Amtrol says about tank location:
The Well-X-Trol should be installed as close as possible to the pressure switch. This will reduce the adverse effects of added friction loss and pressure switch bouncing, and the difference in elevation between WELL-X-TROL and switch.
Really most pressure tanks will work if placed almost anywhere. But if you have a problem such as pressure switch bouncing you can relocate the pressure switch to the new larger tank and run a longer wire to the pump or pump control relay.
Other causes of pressure switch bounce and well pump short cycling are explained at WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING CAUSES.
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How Do We Replace Or Repair A Water Tank With A Burst Internal Bladder
Be sure to review
if you are adjusting, tuning, or replacing the air pressure in your bladder-type well tank.
Details about how to repair or replaced a water tank bladder are
Our sketch at left, courtesy of Well-Rite water pressure tanks Illustrates how air in the upper portion of the tank compresses water in the flexible tank bladder, acting as a spring to push water into the building water supply piping system during the draw-down cycle.
You’ll note that at the end of the 40/60 psi draw-down cycle illustrated, the volume of water in the tank is nearly zero.
Fixing or getting rid of a waterlogged collapsed-bladder water tank: as we mentioned above, it’s also possible that the torn bladder will stick to the water outlet opening, blocking water from leaving the water tank. The result will be short cycling of the water pump.
We discuss water pump short cycling at WATER TANK REPAIRS. In any case the drawdown volume will be reduced and it’s likely that this misused water tank will rust through soon.
Water tank bladder replacement: on some water pressure tanks, the water tank can be disassembled and the bladder replaced. You might want to ask your plumber to try this repair before replacing the entire water tank assembly.
Procedure To Be Followed
Finally, after you have tested the above test and your expansion tank has passed, there is a clear way to determine if your expansion tank is in good condition and make the appropriate adjustments. It will require a hydraulic meter and an air pump, as it will use for car tires.
- Open the outside tap with hose connection and let it run for about 15 seconds. This will relieve any potential overpressure generated by thermal expansion, leaving only the pressure set by the PRV.
- Hang the meter on the tap to determine the water pressure in the current system.
- Close the water to your home with the main shut-off valve.
- Turn on the tap, drain all the pressure from the system.
- Go to the expansion tank and connect the pump outlet to the Schrader valve.
- The pump gauge will tell you how much air pressure is in the tank. Most manufacturers prescribe that the preload of their tanks should be set the same pressure as the previous water pressure readings that are in step 2.
- If the tank preload does not match the inlet pressure, you can use the pump to adjust it to the appropriate P.S.I.
- After disconnecting the pump, you can restore the water supply of the house and carefully check for leaks.
If you are noticing that washers in plumbing fixtures are deteriorating rapidly, or water is dripping from the relief valve on the water heater, it may be wise to add an expansion tank. It can be low-cost insurance against more costly damage to your homes plumbing system.
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How To Diagnose A Burst Water Tank Bladder
If you remove the cap from the air valve on the top of your water tank and momentarily depress the pin in the center of the schrader valve, normally air will hiss out.
Watch out: Don’t keep holding this valve pin down or you’ll lose the air charge.
At WellMate Diagnosis we provide separate water tank diagnosis and repair advice for captive-air water tanks in which the air is in the bladder and the water is outside the bladder in the water tank.
Thanks to Jeff Garmel for suggesting text clarification in this discussion of water pressure tank diagnosis.
Low Pressure Vs Low Flow
A pressure drop or consistent low pressure in your home may cause you to believe that something is wrong with your pressure tank. That could be true, but its important to check first that it is not a flow issue. If your pipes are clogged, it can cause less water to be flowing through your pipes. If you check your pressure tank and the pressure levels are where they need to be, you may want to have a plumber come out to check for any clogs in the pipes.
If its a reoccurring problem, see about getting a water softener installed to help breakup some of the hard minerals in the water. Increasing the pressure in your system when it is a low-flow problem could cause water system damage resulting in potentially catastrophic system failure.
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