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Old 03-13-2018, 07:35 PM   #1
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leaking at the pressure tank....


Out in the country here, at our weekend place (though it's been a while since we've been up.)
Just coming out of a frigid winter where I managed to freeze and split (since capped and shut off) the pipes at one point.

I thought I had things water tight. But on arriving this afternoon the water pressure was very very low.

this system has a well pump feeding a pressure tank.

on investigating I see that the tank is empty, is not filling.

on closer inspection I see a leak at one of the joints.
It's just a steady drip.
would that prevent the tank from filling? (I am not sure how the pressure trigger works in terms of filling the tank.)
I would have thought that with a small leak the pump would be running continuously trying to repressurize the tank. But we have nothing in the tank.

I guess I am trying to understand the mechanics before I take all this pipe apart.

for all I know the leak has been there for years, and is unrelated to the tank being empty. is there another possible explanation?

Peter
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:34 PM   #2
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


A very small leak - one that has apparently gone unnoticed or uncared about for a long time, should not, in itself, prevent tank from filling. Since the system has drained down, you will have to pre-charge the tank again to re-establish the static air pressure. Repair the leak anyway.

If it was cold enough to burst a pipe, you could have ice or slush in the pressure tank.

By the sound of things you don't drain down your system when you leave. This is asking for trouble in any area that sees freezing temperatures. I hope at least that you shut the power to the pump off and isolate the lines with the gate valve, so that a pipe or fixture failure doesn't ruin your property.
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Old 03-14-2018, 08:22 AM   #3
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


thanks
we generally were not away for long enough that draining the system made sense (or so we thought). and then we were absent for 4 weeks during which time .... well, all hell almost broke loose.
We were lucky to have caught the exploded pipe in just a nick of time.
Now, 4 weeks later there doesn't appear to have been any obvious damage (mold, etc.) from the blown pipe.

So, we now know.
1) shut off power to the pump.
2) close down the shutoff valve at the foot of the pressure tank (which I guess is redundant if the pump is shut off but....)

can you tell me how I pre-charge/re-charge that tank?

Peter
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Old 03-14-2018, 08:30 AM   #4
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


actually, I found the installation manual for this tank.
I'll just work through the steps one by one. hopefully, that will get it going again.
Peter
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Old 03-14-2018, 10:20 AM   #5
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


Letting the system drain down will not mandate precharging the pressure tank again assuming the tank has not gone bad. But with the system drained down, now is a good time to verify the proper precharge pressure (2 to 3 PSI less than the pump start pressure) and adjust that if needed. Add or release air using the Schrader valve on top (same kind of valve as on a tire) and a tire pump.

After the tank is precharged, turn off all faucets and start the pump. As the pump runs, water will go into the tank. As the air in the tank gets compressed its pressure (and also the pressure of everywhere else in the plumbing system that is not valved off) will rise. When the pressure reaches the pump turn off pressure, the pump will (of course; should) turn off. At this time the pressure tank is typically a third to a half full of water depending on the relationship between the turn on pressure and the turn off pressure.

If you fail to fix the water leak under the pressure tank then the air cushion inside (and everywhere else in the plumbing system) will gradually lose pressure as water from the pressure tank drips out and the air cushion expands. When (typically) about ten gallons have dripped onto the floor there will be very little water remaining in the pressure tank, the system pressure will have dropped below the pump start pressure and the pump will come on.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-14-2018 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 03-14-2018, 11:19 AM   #6
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


thanks
we'll get on that leak.

in the meantime, the pressure switch kicks OUT when the gauge reads about 558psi and when I then drain the tank the pressure switch kicks back IN when the gauge reads 35psi. and drives it back up to 55-58psi (and measuring the tank pressure, it is now at about 48psi)
So, it appears the system is working correctly.

I might just have been fooled because A) the kitchen faucet seems to have very low flow rate (that I attributed to low pressure) and B) the tank, when I tip it, jostle it, it feels empty, or almost empty. (that's why I thought the tank wasn't filling)

Now, this is a very simple plumbing system. the only water points we have are:
A) the kitchen faucet
B) the bathroom sink faucet
C) the toilet and
D) the HW heater.

Why would the pressure tank not fill with more water?
when I drain the tank, the line gauge drops to about 35....
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Old 03-14-2018, 08:48 PM   #7
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


Quote:
Originally Posted by pjstock View Post
thanks
we generally were not away for long enough that draining the system made sense (or so we thought). and then we were absent for 4 weeks during which time .... well, all hell almost broke loose.
We were lucky to have caught the exploded pipe in just a nick of time.
Now, 4 weeks later there doesn't appear to have been any obvious damage (mold, etc.) from the blown pipe.

So, we now know.
1) shut off power to the pump.
2) close down the shutoff valve at the foot of the pressure tank (which I guess is redundant if the pump is shut off but....)

can you tell me how I pre-charge/re-charge that tank?

Peter
This just helps to minimize any damage if you pop another pipe. With the valve open, there would be enough residual pressure in the tank to push enough water and possibly do damage.
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:04 AM   #8
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


Quote:
Why would the pressure tank not fill with more water?
Ayuh,.... It's a bladder tank, it ain't supposed to fill with water,....

Water can't be compressed, the air on the other side of the rubber bladder compresses, to maintain water pressure,.....

If the tank fills with water, it's Junk, 'n needs replacin',....
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Old 03-15-2018, 09:15 AM   #9
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


If you be wondering what's inside your tank that separates the water from the air it will be something similar to this pictured. I recommend to never purchase a new tank on the advertisement premise that the bladder can be replaced rather than purchasing a complete tank.

NOTE: this bladder only had a pin hole leak before removal. The cut condition as seen pictured was to remove the bladder.
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Old 03-15-2018, 02:12 PM   #10
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Re: leaking at the pressure tank....


The laws of physics are such that as the air cushion is compressed, the air pressure increases. This is not linear. If the air cushion is compressed to occupy half the space it had before, the air pressure will double. If the air cushion is compressed to occupy a third of the space it had before, the air pressure will triple. It is usually not practical to have the air pressure get over 60 PSI in a home water system.

You will get the triple pressure differential if you set the pump turn on at 20 PSI (and re-preset the pressure tank to 18 PSI) and set the pump turn off pressure to 60 PSI. In this situation the pressure tank will get to about 2/3 full of water when the pump turns off. But you will probably find the water pressure as it nears 20 PSI (just before the pump would start again) to be noticeably feeble.

Your pump turn on of about 35 and turn off at about 58 is more typical and pressure fluctuations as the pump cycles on and off during your shower will be less obtrusive. Here, the pump will turn off when water occupies about a third of the tank.
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Stick to your lawn watering schedule until it really pours. Otherwise the storm might miss and the part that gets watered last (3 days away?) will dry up.

Last edited by AllanJ; 03-15-2018 at 02:22 PM.
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