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Old 01-17-2017, 08:08 PM   #1
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Low water pressure on well system


Recently bought a house and trying to troubleshoot some water problems. It's a well system, and I've been on a well at other houses so I have a decent understanding about how they work. I feel something is up with this system.

The water pressure on the upstairs floor gets pretty weak. If your taking a shower and someone flushes the toilet, you definitely feel it. If the washer machine is running your shower is going to suck. Stuff like that. You have to be careful about running more than one water appliance or the pressure gets really low. Sometimes down to a trickle. It's a 3500 sq ft house.

The pressure tank is a lot smaller than other systems I've seen, I thought it was odd when I saw it (26 gallons). I thought maybe it was shot, but it's fairly new (less than 2 years old).

In monitoring the cut-in and cut-out, the pump engages at about 40 psi and cuts out at 70 psi. Is it perhaps the cut-in needs to be raised?

I'm not sure about the pump other than the attached picture which maybe leads me to believe it's 3/4hp?

I know there is a lot more to it (flow rate, etc.) but can someone point me in the right direction? A plumber who was over for something else said something to the effect of "get a larger tank and you won't have these water pressure issues upstairs".

Thanks
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Old 01-17-2017, 10:23 PM   #2
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


Do not raise the pressure. Those settings are already quite high. Most faucets for home use have an upper limit of 80PSI.
A larger tank will only cause the run and pause times to be longer. It will take longer before the pump starts and the pump will run longer when it does start.
If the pressure at the tank is actually dropping, then your pump is not pumping enough volume to keep up with water usage.
If the pressure at the tank is not dropping too low, then your supply lines are too small to supply all the fixtures using water at the same time. Instead of one main line branching to all the fixtures, home runs to each fixture might help.
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Old 01-17-2017, 10:33 PM   #3
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


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Originally Posted by joed View Post
If the pressure at the tank is actually dropping, then your pump is not pumping enough volume to keep up with water usage.
If the pressure at the tank is not dropping too low, then your supply lines are too small to supply all the fixtures using water at the same time. Instead of one main line branching to all the fixtures, home runs to each fixture might help.
Thanks for the reply.

A little confused about this part, can you elaborate? You said if the pressure at the tank is actually dropping... what do you mean by that? The pressure at the tank is always going to be dropping if your using water in the house, isn't it? I don't know what you mean by "If the pressure at the tank is not dropping too low". Thanks again for the help!
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Old 01-17-2017, 10:52 PM   #4
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


The pressure at the tank could be good (40-50psi)but you have low pressure at the faucets if you have too many open because the pipes are too small to supply the water needed for all of them. In other words it's flow issue not a pressure issue. Only so much water can flow through a 1/2" pipe. Maybe you need a 3/4 " pipe on the main line to supply enough water to more than one device.

Or the pressure at the tank could be dropping down to 20-10 psi. This would be because the pump can not supply enough water to keep up with the usage.
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Old 01-19-2017, 10:33 AM   #5
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


I bet the air bladder in your tank has failed. If you can feel a change in water pressure when the pump kicks on and off, then that's your confirmation. When the bladder fails it just fills with water.

Also, I'm no expert but a 26 gallon tank is too small for a 3500 SF house. I have a 50 gallon tank for a 1600SF house, and it works awesome. Before I replaced my old tank I could definitely feel the pressure differential from the pump kicking on and off. The air bladder in the tank absorbs those pressure differentials so they are not noticeable.

It's also possible that the submersible pump is failing although I don't have any experience messing with those.

Are your neighbors having any problems with their wells? Has the local water table lowered significantly? Also how far away is the well from your house?
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Old 01-19-2017, 10:42 AM   #6
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


Also there may be a blockage in the main line. That pressure at the house sounds extremely low. If you turn on a faucet is the pressure initially high and then drops pretty quickly? You've got me intrigued.
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Old 01-19-2017, 11:27 AM   #7
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


I've had a well for over 24 yrs at country house and have replaced tanks, air-bladder, pressure relief valves many times and fixed A LOT of galvanized pipes from well to house that popped leaks due to very old pipes. Also replaced all the galvanized piping in house w potable PVC & CPVC and when I added a new bathroom added a septic tank.

There's many diff possible issues going on here, but you have to start trouble-shooting in one area, then move to the next to isolate the possible issue(s).

First, if it's a new house to you and you have no history [like was it always like this or it started happening around X date], you need to speak w previous owner/real estate agent. Was it on the sellers disclosure list? Point being, if this was an issue and not reported, and there's considerable cost to fix, then you may have some recourse, unless noted and sold "as is" and you were fine w it.

Next, start w the well. Put a 10ft hose on the faucet that's right off the tank. Open her up full, and watch both the water [pressure] coming out and the pressure gauge. If you see the same results in the house, it's not the piping to the house and in the house [open only one device in house at a time].

Next, it's not the size of the house in sf that matters to the tank size; it's how many water dispensing units you have, what size of pipe to them and how many are used at the same time. Also, the size and type of pipe to the house and how it's configured matters greatly. Pipe should be biggest from well to house, then T-off w smaller size pipes to all of the various water outlets. I have 1.25" galvanized from well to house, but some of the pipe is restricted to 1/4" or less due to 65+ yrs of mineral deposits. I'm going w 1" potable PVC and my pressure will increase dramatically.

Next, if you are not a well guy, then ask your n-bors who is a reputable well driller and repair person? Have them come out and test your well functionality. Also, watch them and ask plenty of questions so you can do 80% of this in the future. Depending on the distance of the well tank from your house and the performance and HP of the pump, you need to tell the guy all your current problems and what you can't do and what you want to do? Ask him "why" for his explanations. Based on what you have, and what it will and wont do, and what are your requirements, that delta is going to be your plan for either upgrading or fixing or both to achieve your water usage goals. Also, it's always better to "gear-up" 15-20% more than what you need now so if your water needs increase, you don't need to upgrade again. Also, build a relationship w your well-repair person and get to know them...you'll be ordering parts over the years.

Lastly, how old was the install of all the current well equipment, pipes and types of pipes. Unless you're on a city water line that really doesn't have a pure impact on your water pressure for basic functions, note that on well systems, after opening 1-2 faucets or showers, then the 3rd one opened. it's going to impact the water pressure on all of them, unless you have a huge pump & tank w a lot of pressure [expensive and prob overkill and wasteful for you]. Remember, PV=nRT never changes.

Finally, trying to fix something like this over the net, w little to know real background is not proficient per se. Do some homework and post back. good luck, tstex

Last edited by tstex; 01-19-2017 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 01-19-2017, 01:20 PM   #8
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


Eliminate the tank bladder as the culprit first by doing a draw down test. Make certain the tank air pressure is about 2# lower than the well switch cut in pressure then do a draw down test into a container. The draw down is the amount of water drawn from the 70 lbs. cut out pressure to the cut in pressure at 40 lbs. The draw down gallons should be on the tank label information or available from the manufacturer.
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Old 01-19-2017, 01:31 PM   #9
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


You should first check your tank bladder.
Turn the breaker to the pump off.
Depress the valve stem of the schrader valve and let all the air out of the tank. If you get water out the valve your bladder is ruptured and the tank is water logged. Meaning that you are dependent on the pump for pressure and volume.

If you do not get water out the valve stem, re-pressurise the tank. To do that you need to first drain the tank. If you have a drain valve near the tank, pressurize the tank to about 10 lbs, open the drain valve and drain the tank.
Re-pressurise the tank to 38#.

If you do not have a drain valve near the tank, open a faucet and pressurize the tank to about 50 or more lbs. Wait until the water stops flowing out the faucet. Then reduce the air pressure of the tank to 38 lbs. Consider replacing the tank with a larger tank. A 26 gallon tank only holds about 13 gallons of usable water.

If you do get water out of the schrader valve that means you have a ruptured bladder. Replace the tank. Recharge the tank as described above. It will work for a period of time until the water again absorbs the pre-charge air.

Usual pressure settings for residential well pump cut in-cut off pressures are 30-50 or 40-60 .
Pre-charge air pressure is 2 lbs less than the cut-in pressure.

Size of a well pump (assuming a submersible pump) depends on the depth of the well. For a 100 to 150 foot well a 3/4 hp pump should be adequate. Pressure and volume will depend on depth of well and water supply at bottom of the well.

When you use all the water stored in the tank you are dependent on the pump for pressure and volume. If you have a low volume well you need a large tank.

You can measure the volume of the well by simply opening a hose bib and letting it run (pump running). After the tank pressure has dropped to 0, measure the volume out the hose bib.

From what you have related, I suspect you have a ruptured bladder and someone tried to hide it by increasing the well pump cut in and cut off pressures.

I would recommend a 100 gallon tank minimum. The life of the pump depends more on the number of times it starts and stops than it does on the time it runs. Preserve your pump with a large tank.
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:51 AM   #10
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
Do not raise the pressure. Those settings are already quite high. Most faucets for home use have an upper limit of 80PSI.
A larger tank will only cause the run and pause times to be longer. It will take longer before the pump starts and the pump will run longer when it does start.
Why not do 50-70psi? Why not have better water pressure?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_TX View Post
Also there may be a blockage in the main line. That pressure at the house sounds extremely low. If you turn on a faucet is the pressure initially high and then drops pretty quickly? You've got me intrigued.
I know this thread is a few months old but I finally got around to getting back in to the system. I think you might have been right. See main reply below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeniorSitizen View Post
Eliminate the tank bladder as the culprit first by doing a draw down test. Make certain the tank air pressure is about 2# lower than the well switch cut in pressure then do a draw down test into a container. The draw down is the amount of water drawn from the 70 lbs. cut out pressure to the cut in pressure at 40 lbs. The draw down gallons should be on the tank label information or available from the manufacturer.
There was no draw down gallons on the tank. However I did empty the tank and check the pressure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
You should first check your tank bladder.
Turn the breaker to the pump off.
Depress the valve stem of the schrader valve and let all the air out of the tank. If you get water out the valve your bladder is ruptured and the tank is water logged. Meaning that you are dependent on the pump for pressure and volume.
I did everything you said. Drained the tank and the tank checks out OK. The pressure was around 38 which gives with the low end of the pressure range (40psi). However I moved the cut on pressure to 50 psi and adjusted the tank pressure to 48. The tanks is only a couple years old, I think it is good to go.

*** MAIN REPLY ***

After getting side tracked with some other issues, I am back to the water pressure issue. Those of you who said there might be something blocking the flow, I think you are right. My water softener has a bypass valve. When I bypass the softener, water pressure is noticeably improved.

The softener is a Fleck 5600SE valve. I took apart the valve looking for any sediment that might be slowing things down. There was some iron build up, but not much (there is an iron remover system prior to the water softener). However I soaked the valve in iron out to remove all the iron and didn't notice any other debris that impede flow.

Now that I know the valve is essentially good, I am guessing it might be the resin? Also I don't think it was regenerating enough. It was set to 2300 which I think is 2300 gallons before regeneration. The max days was off. I set the max days to 1, I will regenerate it every night to try to improve the resins.

I may just replace the resins... haven't done that before but it doesn't seem overly complicated. If the valve is good and clean, is the only other thing the resins? Or am I overlooking something else?

Thanks again for everyone's replies.
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Old 04-21-2017, 12:46 PM   #11
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


There are filter screens in the resin tank to hold resins in.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:50 PM   #12
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


Quote:
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There are filter screens in the resin tank to hold resins in.
I'm not sure what you mean by these. and a google search didn't help either. You mean the "Basket" at the bottom of the pipe?
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:13 PM   #13
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


I mean the screen or whatever device they use to keep the resin beads from flowing out into the water supply.
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Old 04-21-2017, 04:51 PM   #14
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Re: Low water pressure on well system


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I mean the screen or whatever device they use to keep the resin beads from flowing out into the water supply.
Yes I checked it, it was not impeding flow at all.
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