Water Pressure Tanks: How They Work And How To Troubleshoot Two Common Problems

Pressure tanks are a necessity when you depend on well water for your home. Without the pressure tank, you won't get the water pressure you need for the water to flow well or with any force. Annual maintenance is a must to make sure you always have fresh water and proper water pressure in your house. This guide can help you keep it maintained so it continues to work properly.

Tank Basics

Pressure tanks require the proper air to water ratio to work correctly. It's the air in the system that provides the pressure to force the water through the hoses and pipes. Once a tap is open, the air pressure begins decreasing as it pushes the water through. Once it decreases to a certain point, the pump activates and begins pumping more air into the system so that the pressure remains consistent.

Checking the Pressure

The air pressure in the tank is generally checked once annually by the homeowner. Annual checks allow you to catch problems in the tank before they begin to majorly impact your home's water pressure. To check the pressure, locate the air valve on the side of the tank. Remove the cap and use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure inside. The amount should be close to the recommended pressure per square inch (PSI) printed on the side of the tank.

If the pressure is too low, then there may be a leak in the bladder system that provides the pressure inside the tank. In this case, the tank will require replacement by a well contractor if it is to continue providing pressure at the previous level.

Running Pump Problems

Some older style tanks do not have bladders but instead operate on a captive air system that pulls in air from outside of the tank. These sometimes become clogged, which results in the constant running of the pump since the tank can't pull in more air to equalize the pressure.

One way to fix this issue is to turn off the pump and drain all water from it, using the shutoff and drainage valves. This often dislodges the clog so that the pump operates properly once you turn it back on. If this doesn't work, the air volume control, which is where the air is drawn into the tank, may need replaced. If this is the case, it is often worth it to upgrade to a modern tank that contains a bladder, instead of repairing the old tank.

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