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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to diagnose poor well water pressure or total loss of water pressure: this article explains how and why to distinguish among intermittent water pressure loss, total water pressure loss, and poor water pressure or flow in a building. We give diagnostic and repair procedures for both municipal water supply problems and well water supply problems. The process of diagnosis and the costs of the repair are explained. Consumer advice on saving money on water supply repair costs includes a review of the parts and labor costs of a typical well pump and pressure tank replacement case.
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Our discussion of bad water pressure or flow begins at WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR and continues, divided into water pressure loss symptoms and diagnostic steps for MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS and separately, WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS. Separately we also provide a WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE that offers a pump and water pressure problem diagnostic guide in table form. Since bad water pressure or flow can be a piping problem rather than a supply quantity problem, also see PIPING IN BUILDINGS, Clogs Leaks Types.
The following articles pertain if you have a private well, pump, and tank system for your building or if your incoming community water supply pressure and flow are just too low to start with:
Check first for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. A lightning strike can also damage electrical wiring supplying a submersible pump, or it may damage the pump itself. And less common, a total power failure can sometimes expose a latent problem in the system such as a failing pressure tank bladder or well foot valve. But always look for the most direct explanation first rather than the more complicated one. So if water pressure fails after electrical power has been lost but then returned, start by looking for an electrical problem.
Watch out: a power surge or lightning strike can on rare occasions trip just half of an un-linked 240-Volt circuit breaker or blow just one of the pair of fuses powering a 240-volt electrical circuit, leaving a pump that runs, but barely, developing only minimal water pressure, or a pump that runs not at all. An electrician or an experienced well and pump installer can diagnose these conditions by testing the well pump circuit itself, but before calling an expert, just check the fuses and circuit breakers. Thanks to reader EK Woodard for these details.
Before assuming that there is no water in the well, check to see if the water pump is working properly, including loss of pump prime (WATER PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE) and a bad or leaky well piping foot valve (WELL PIPING FOOT VALVES). AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES can also indicate a failing well. Also see Define Safe Yield for a Well.
Before adjusting a well pump pressure control switch (WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH), changing building piping, or considering installing a water pressure booster pump (WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP), it is essential to understand what the incoming water pressure is and exactly why the building water pressure is not satisfactory. Start at the beginning of this article: WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR.
Water pump pressure regulator switch diagnosis and repair steps include these:
Our sketch (left) courtesy of Carson Dunlop, shows how rust can clog steel water supply piping.
If incoming water pressure is high - say over 40 psi, but water pressure falls off almost immediately when you open a faucet and remains poor, there may be a clog somewhere in your piping system, or worse, in most of it. This condition usually develops over a long time - years - and does not change suddenly on its own.
Readers should also see Water pipe clog diagnosis and Water pipe clog repair guide. Also see WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR in a building and see MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS or WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSISwhere we describe the effects of clogged piping on water flow and offer remedies for this problem. If only hot water pressure and flow are poor, also see CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPES, HOT WATER.
A common "fix" for poor building water "pressure" (really flow) where the piping is blamed, is to install larger diameter water supply piping wherever the piping is readily accessible, such as in a basement or crawl area.
As the sketch at left, courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates shows, installing larger diameter water supply piping helps regardless of where in the piping sequence it is installed - so you don't have to rip out all of the building water piping to make this water flow rate improvement.
See HOT WATER IMPROVEMENT especially if the building cold water pressure is acceptable but hot water pressure and flow are poor. Accumulated debris in a water heater, and debris from a corroded or disintegrating hot water tank dip tube or hot water tank sacrificial anode can also block the hot water outlet opening, resulting in low hot water pressure in a building.
The sketch at left, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, shows five factors that affect the water pressure and flow in a building. Check the following first:
Also, a water treatment system that uses air injection to remove odors or gases can cause AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES
Here is an example of a drop in water pressure that may be due to water filter clogging:
Question: We have a well in our home. Can you tell me what to do if we have a lot of black debris that is in our water filter system? We think this could be why we have poor water pressure. Is there such a thing as a build up of soot or debris that we need to do something to clean the lines?
Answer: Try changing the water filter cartridge. If the problem is eliminated, the filter was clogged. If a lot of debris has been getting past the water filter, or if the water filter was a late addition to a home that has had a long history of using debris-laden water, pipes, fittings, faucet strainers, and shower heads may be clogged and may need to be cleaned or replaced.
See WATER FILTERS for details about clogged filters, and see WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES for our complete list of types of water treatment equipment.
Before adjusting a well pump pressure control switch (WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH), changing building piping, or considering installing a water pressure booster pump (WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP), it is essential to understand what the incoming water pressure is and exactly why the building water pressure is not satisfactory. Start at the beginning of this article: WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
Sometimes, even when residential water supply equipment is working normally, building occupants want higher water pressure. Don't confuse water quantity (how much before we run out), water flow (how many gallons per minute we can get at a faucet) and water pressure (what is the delivery pressure or the maximum pressure that the system can provide). Water pressure is measured most accurately with the water turned off, at a hose faucet or washer hookup, using a pressure gauge.
But in common language, people consider the strength of flow at the faucet as their "water pressure". Actually what is being observed is a water flow rate, determined by both the pressure from the water source and the diameter of the building piping, including the effects of any obstructions.
Adding a larger water pressure tank will give a longer draw-down time - you can run a plumbing fixture longer between well pump "on" cycles, which means if your pressure normally ranges between 30 and 50, it will fall from 50 down to 30 more slowly. It won't boost system pressure beyond the pump pressure control setting.
If you set the control too high the pump will not reach cutoff temp and will burn up, or if you put in a more powerful pump and boost much over 70 psi you risk plumbing leaks.
Adding a booster pump can improve building water pressure where the private pump and well system can't get enough pressure or quantity (WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS) or where the building height impacts water pressure on its upper floors. See WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP for details. Separately we provide a WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE
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