(from i n s p e c t a p e d i a . c o m)
This article describes questions and answers from and to a homeowner who lost well water pressure. The basics process of diagnosis and the costs of the repair are explained. Consumer advice on saving money on well repair costs includes a review of the parts and labor costs of a typical well pump and pressure tank replacement case. If your water supply is from a city or municipal water system, see BAD MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE or FLOW.
* Bad or No well water pressure? See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR for a step by step detailed guide to diagnosing and correcting bad water pressure or total loss of water pressure. Before changing a water pump or control, we need to know why the water pressure or water flow is poor. Also see our separate WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE in summary table form.
* Intermittent well water pump cycling is discussed at Intermittent Water Pump Cycling When No Water is Running – this means that the water pump comes on for no apparent reason.
* Short cycling of a well water pump means that the water pump turns on and off too rapidly or too frequently when water is being run in the building. See What Causes ‘Water Pump Short Cycling’ and Water Tank Repairs: Diagnose ‘Water Pump Short Cycling’.
* Loss of well water pressure means that the pressure with which water enters a plumbing fixture has become too slow, or is sometimes too slow or weak in water flow rate, or water flow may stop entirely. See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR where we discuss Water Pump Problems? How to Diagnose & Repair Poor or No Water Pressure.
* Details on how to repair the well water pump pressure control switch are discussed at How to Repair the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch The illustration at page top is courtesy of Carson Dunlop, Inc. in Toronto.
* How to boost well water pressure in a building by installing a pressure booster pump and pressure tank is discussed in detail at PUMP, WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER
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If the building water supply stops and takes minutes or hours to recover, you may have a problem with the well flow rate. But the problem of lost water supply and pressure could be more mechanical: a bad well pump. The well pump, in turn, could have been damaged or hastened to the end of its life by a bad water pressure tank which has caused well pump short-cycling. Short cycling of the pump motor can burn up the pump relay control.
Readers should also see Water pipe clog diagnosis and Water pipe thawing repair guide.
The following is an actual case of a correspondent who lost water pressure and called a well and plumbing contractor who made several repairs. At the end of the repair water pressure and supply were restored but the owner had a bit of “sticker shock” when he saw the bill. He wrote to ask our opinion. Our reply, which follows the owner’s note below, reviews the diagnosis, repair, and repair costs for this well pump and water tank replacement project.
We have a private well with the same components shown on your diagram (well pump, pressure tank, pressure switch etc..) We recently experienced loss of water pressure and actually a lack of any water flow at all from our faucets in our house. As we waited 30 min to 1 hr, the water would return and run normal for several hours, only to return to no water again. This went on for about 24 hours.
We contacted the well contractor shown on our well cap. He quickly determine the bladder in the pressure tank was ruptured by just shaking the water tank.
After installing a new $600 dollar tank, the well contractor waited for the water pump to come on. It didn’t. Then the contractor sold us a new well pump.
The total bill: $2000 and some change.
1. Is this a fair price for repair of a water pressure tank or pump or both? Did the contractor make the right repair? Were we overcharged?
2. Can we check his prognosis by inspecting the replaced tank and pump?
— This question is answered in detail at Right Repair to Pump & Tank?
Did the well contractor make the “right” repair to the pump and pressure tank?
IF the tank and pump replacement have completely fixed the symptom you were having, then the contractor seems to have made the correct repair.
However given the sequence that you describe, we understand that you’d suspect that there was nothing wrong with the pressure tank and that the problem, all along, was the well pump.
If the contractor were skilled and diagnosed that a bad tank was hastening the demise of or even causing the demise of the well pump, it would be poor practice to replace only the pump.
While a more sophisticated analysis (perhaps using an ammeter to look at current on the pump circuit, for example), might have detected at the outset that it was the pump that needed replacing, it is very common in all trades for a repair person to first replace, among the possible causes of a problem, the items which are less costly and most accessible – in this case, the water pressure tank. (Presuming your pump is a submersible down in the well.)
How to check on the success and reliability – the “prognosis” of a an expensive well pump and water pressure tank repair job
First of all, there should be no leaks, anywhere, on the equipment which was repaired. If something was left wet, wipe it off and check for leaks. We don’t pay my plumber if s/he leaves her/his work leaking. We call the boss.
Second, everything worked-on should be working normally to your eye and ear.
An expert plumber or well contractor can check the operation of your system by a combination of observation and electrical testing, such as measuring the amperage draw on the well pump circuit during pump operation. If these parameters are in normal range you should be ok insofar as the equipment is concerned. Your repair person should have made these checks. Ask him or her.
If you have been in the home for several years you should have an idea whether or not you’ve had a history of the well running out of water. You can understand more about your well and how the well itself is performing by noting its technical statistics such as well depth, water level, pump depth, static head, and well flow rate – topics we discuss at my website. If it is determined that you have a low-yield well, there are several solutions besides just drilling a new well – itself a shot in the dark.
Question & Answer About Lost Water Pressure following an Electrical Power Loss
Question: After a power loss that lasted half a day [my neighbor] ran out of water. When power I was restored the water pressure was only about that of pouring water and would the volume of water rapidly dropped.
I reached down to her water tank and could easily tell it was empty. I connected a water hose to her outdoor spigot, unplugged the pump and allowed the water to fill her tank. The tank only filled about a quarter full. I opened a faucet to try to allow air to leave the system the tank did not fill any further.
The water pressure was at normal flow after I disconnected the hose. The pressure gauge showed a drop from 60 to 40,
with about a minute for recovery to 60. Even though the tank was only a quarter full I thought the problem was resolved only to get a call a few hours later that there was no pressure again. The tank was empty, with no signs of leaking. Water is filling the tank, it is slow and I am not sure what pressure the system might build as before it only filled to a quarter full.
She has what appears to be a submersible well a hundred feet from the well house. A pipe about 8-10 inches in diameter with a cap bolted on, there is wiring on one side of the pipe. In the well house (below grade) she has a blue tank about 18-24 inches
in diameter and a little over four feet tall. A pipe comes through the side of the concrete that tees with the pipe that comes up from the side of the bottom of the tank. Just above the tee is the pressure gauge and then the pressure control switch. On the top of the tank is a plug( and I do have teflon tape if I need to remove it).
I have a few ideas from looking at your website but don’t want to screw anything up so I decided I should email and see what you think.
Answer: We were puzzled too. Sometimes a power loss leads to total pressure loss that leads to disclosing a pre-existing defect like crud inside of a pump impeller, a failing foot valve (loses prime in the well), or a failing pressure control. Also some power outages include an
electrical surge or even a lightning strike that can damage or destroy a pump. But we recommend that you first look for the simplest solution that does not require multiple odd failures to have by chance occurred at once.
Remember that a water pressure tank is never “full” – as it needs to contain an air charge.
First be sure you have an accurate picture of what was happening before the power outage. Then start by reviewing the normal pump sequence operation and comparing it with what’s happening at this home.