Brown stained water at bath tub (C) Daniel FriedmanWater Supply, Wells, Pumps & Tests
Home Page

  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about installing, diagnosing, repairing, or replacing all of the components and controls for private well water systems.

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Water supply systems installation, diagnosis, repair of wells, well pumps, water tanks:

These water, well, and water supply equipment articles answer inspection, diagnosis, and repair questions about the building water supply sources and equipment including water testing, water piping, water pumps, water wells, & water tanks.

Here we describe installing or repairing systems for delivering water to buildings, such as well pumps, pump controls, water filters, water heaters, water pressure problems, water supply piping, water softeners, water tank types, leaks, problems, repairs, water quality, water quantity, water contaminants, water testing, water treatment equipment, all types of wells, well piping, well controls.

This water supply home page lists key articles on all building water supply topics including wells, water supply pumps, water tanks, water testing and water treatment equipment. New York State License # 16000005303 (inception to 2008).

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Water Information Topics Organised Here

Photograph of  a modern steel well casing and cap extending properly above grade level and properly capped. You can see from
the gray plastic conduit that electrical wires enter the well, informing you that this well is served by an in-well submersible well pump.

The article series outlined below starts by organizing problems into categories. Each of the water supply system categories listed below is a link that will provide a list of helpful troubleshooting & repair articles.

To find what you need quickly, if you don't want to scroll through this index you are welcome to use the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX to search InspectApedia for specific articles and information.

Article Series Contents

Best bet for getting help with water related topics: use the search box found near the top or bottom of any InspectApedia article.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Water Tests, Water Contamination Limits, Drinking Water Testing Procedures

Photograph of  a modern steel well casing and cap extending properly above grade level and properly capped. You can see from
the gray plastic conduit that electrical wires enter the well, informing you that this well is served by an in-well submersible well pump.This page lists InspectApedia articles helpful in the diagnosis & testing of all types of drinking water contaminants, & in diagnosing & fixing water supply quantity & quality problems: wells, pumps, pipes, water tanks, water pressure, water flow.

NewReader Question: rusty water at the bath tub

4/29/2014 john popa said:

Rusty water is coming from hot water in bathtub that is never used. Also it's coming from another sink. All of this was found during a home inspection. We have found nothing.

Inspector suggested could be a issue with the hot water heating coil. We think it is from non-use. Should we clean out the pipes using an acid wash? Can you make some suggestions? [This Q&A originally appeared at CLOGGED PIPES / TANKLESS COIL DE-SCALE]


John, Don't do anything yet. If the home has galvanized iron pipes and water sat in piping without flowing for some time, rusty water would be no surprise and should flush out with use. An acid wash has other risks including toxicity - not something to undertake lightly. And tankless coil tubing is copper, not likely to be a source of red rusty water.

I took the photo of reddish brown water running into a bath tub shown at the top of this page under just the same conditions as you describe. The home had galvanized iron pipes and had been unoccupied for many months. The ugly water flushed out and that was the end of the discoloration complaint.

As long as you are not seeing the same discoloration elsewhere, the unused pipe theory holds water.

Watch out: though, there may be other implications: galvanized pipes in an older home mean new piping is in your future. Galvanized iron pipes are often nearing end of life and may be partly clogged by rust and scale in both the water supply piping and water drain piping - leading to a costly but ultimately necessary expense.

Water Supply Piping, & Drain Piping

Photograph of  this interesting double s-trap.

Reader Question: well water contamination issues, questions, answers

(Sept 2, 2011) Frances Franconi said:

Our well came back with coliform and ecoli and disinfecting did not clear it up. We have had a lot of rain lately. We have had this well for some time. What could cause this issue?

[delete] (Nov 5, 2012) SANDRA SANDERS said:


Reply: persistent bacteria problems are different from persistent bleach problems: here's dealing with each:

Persistent coliform and e coli in a well may be from
- surface runoff leaking into the well
- nearby septic system failure leaking in to the aquifer
or sometimes inadequate well and plumbing cleaning/shocking

I'd look closely at the numbers on the bacteria test results as that can help diagnose the problem. If the starting count is high, shocking doesn't usually fix anything and we look for either a source of contaminants leaking into the well or we decide the aquifer is contaminated.

In any case a well water disinfection treatment system will be needed to assure potable water.

Watch out: where surface water leakage into a well brings bacteria it might bring chemicals or other contaminants along too.

Sandra: indeed improper well shocking procedure using solid bleach tablets or pool tablets, or improper installation of cholorine into the well can make it hard to flush out later. If you poured straight clorox down into the well you may have coated rusty well casing sides, piping, etc. with a too-strong bleach solution. Perhaps connecting a garden hose to an outside faucet and recycling water a bit to flush down the well casing sides and well piping followed by a flush-out will help.

Also, if you introduced bleach-disinfected water into a well water pressure tank or water heater tank you may need to drain those completely to speed the bleach flushout procedure.

Reader Question: water odor complaints - smells like oil

(Jan 15, 2012) Neater Poole said:

I had a well put dowm in Dec. and when my home was put in the water was truned on and it had a bad smell and you cann't drink it. It smelled like oil.


Neater Poole, the oil contaminants in your well might be left from the drilling process and if so can be flushed out;

It is normal to TEST the water delivered by a new well, both a flow rate test and a rather broad spectrum of contamination tests to be sure the water is potable and the source is not contaminated.

Check to see if those tests were done when your well was drilled.

Watch out: hydrofracking and oil and gas well drilling operations in some areas have been related to oil and even gas odors in water wells nearby, though more often contamination issues seem to track to the disposal of drilling wastewater.


Water Tanks: installation, adjustment, troubleshooting, repair of water storage tanks & water pressure tanks

Photograph of a 1-line jet pump (shallow well) and water softener

Water Treatment Equipment: water disinfection, water filters, water purifiers, water softeners, water odor removal

Water Pumps, Pump Controls, Water Pressure, troubleshooting, repairs

Reader Question: The well pump runs, but we get air, not water

Two months ago I started having problems with our water well. The first thing to happen was the pressure switch caught fire, it was 25+ years old, I replaced it. Then I had the problem of the well pump kicking on and off every few seconds so I had to adjust the air in the air tank.

Everything was fine for a month, then last week we started getting air in the lines, at first it was just a little air but as time went on there was more and more air until there was more air than water coming out of the faucets.

Two days ago I turned on the faucet and just a trickle of water was coming out, I went outside, looked at the pressure gauge and it was at 20 pounds and the pump was still running.

I turned off the pump, checked for leaks in the house as well as all around the well housing to the home, no leaks. I left the pump off for a hour or so because I thought the water level maybe low, 20 inches of rain this month, didnt really think it would be low but I thought it maybe a possibility.

A hour later when I turned on the pump it still would only go up to 15-20lbs of pressure and the pump was still running.

When I turn off the pump I don't lose any pressure, it stays at 15-20lbs until I use water in the home. I looked again for leaks, didnt find any so I replaced the pressure switch, the pressure gauge, the wires from the breaker box to the pressure switch and the wires from the pressure switch to the other bigger switch.

I thought maybe the wires were bad and not allowing enough current to run the pump properly.

I filed all the points on the bigger switch box and cleaned all the connectors. I tried the pump again, still it will only go up to 15-20lbs of pressure and the pump will keep running.

The well is around 400 feet deep, I opened the top of the well housing and put my ear to it, I don't hear any water leaking back into the well and I can hear the pump running.

We replaced the pump and air tank 5-6 years ago. We have lived here for 20 years and have had only a problem one time with low water levels and that was in the middle of summer with very little rain for months, its always had water.

I also checked the air tank, the rubber thing inside of it is busted or something, I'm getting water out of the air valve on top of the tank. I don't think the air tank has anything to do with the amount of pressure the pump pumps up to the home but it will have to be fixed.

There is no one close that has a pump puller in service, the closest is almost 100 miles away, and its going to take them almost two weeks to get here to check out the problem.

So if anyone has any ideas, suggestions, or anything that maybe able to help please post! It will be greatly appreciated! We have 5 children with no water, its getting kind of crazy!!! Thank you! - Woody

Reply: Some Water Loss Diagnostic Suggestions for This Case

Usually we start diagnosing a well pump and water problem by focusing first on the obvious, known problem, assuming that the chances of multiple problems happening at once are less likely.

But in fact multiple well pump, water tank, piping, and pump control switch problems can occur in a given interval and might even be related to a single root cause.

If you want to click right over to a diagnostic article

But based on what you've said so far, it sounds as if:

1. You need to replace the water pressure tank. A burst bladder in the tank can briefly send air out through faucets and will end up leaving the well pump short cycling on and off as the water tank air charge becomes lost.

A burst bladder in the water tank can also interfere with water entering the tank and it might even interfere with proper operation of the pressure control switch.

2. A short cycling well pump for any cause can burn-up the pump pressure control switch.

On occasion it can also damage the pump itself - which in your case is a submersible down in the well, costly and a lot of trouble to replace. So we ought to be as thorough as we can with the above-ground tests and fixes before pulling the pump out of the well.

3. Some causes of a well pump running on without shutting off include loss of water in the well, a damaged pump, a well piping leak, and a pressure control switch set to a cut-off value higher than the pump can reach.

First swap out that bad water pressure tank and give us a comment back here on what happened.

you will find a catalog of things to check, and in particular, take a look

See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR for our complete diagnostic series.

Or choose one of the water pressure diagnosis and repair starting points listed just below.

Reader Question: my pump switch was broken, how do I get it going again? Loss of electrical power to the well pump?

Concrete blocks from the well pit wall fell onto my pump and pressure control switch, smashing everything. I'm trying to get it working again. How do I fix-up and get the pump switch going?

(Apr 2, 2012) charity said:

Please the power supply for my pump isnt on. so i ran a cord from my meter box to the pump. it got wet when it stromed and shorted out and melting the breaker on the pump. i replaced it and hooked back up my cord. nothing. i have tested the cord its give the electrity. what is wrong and what do i need to do help.

Reply: your pump pressure control switch may need replacement

Amy, take a look at WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH to see details on how these switches work, are wired, and are repaired or replaced. If the blocks broke off the switch from its mount, you'll probably find it easier and more reliable to just replace the switch and its mounting tubing or hardware.

Charity, considering that you have already risked death by electrocution once by your pump wiring, I hope you'll leave it off and hire a licensed electrician. It's no joke that you could kill yourself or someone else.

Reader Question: water pressure loss diagnosis: the water pressure dropped throughout the whole house and the pipes are humming

What would cause a water pressure drop throughout whole house and after runs a little bit a loud humming sounds is produced through the pipes - anon

(Nov 30, 2011) mikebarber said:

I just replaced my old water tank with a new "pressurized" tank. Now, when I take a shower and the pump hits the low/pump on pressure of 40 psi, I loose pressure (almost to a trickle) in the shower and the water temperature fluctuates. I did not have this problem with the old tank. What could be causing this?

Reply: look for a well or pump problem; humming may be transmitted from an aboveground pump.

About a water pressure drop throughout the whole house and humming pipes: the observation that it's the whole house that's affected argues that the problem is with your well or pump. But with no other information a diagnostic guess would be just too speculative.


or WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE to see our diagnostic guide for loss of water pressure in a home.

Mike we saw this question on another InspectApedia page just recently. If I recall, the reply could only be a speculation that offered some things to check:

If you replaced the pressure tank but kept the old pressure control switch, debris stirred during the plumbing work may have clogged the pressure sensing switch mounting nipple (that small diameter pipe) or the bottom of the switch itself, causing it to fail to respond to the pressure drop.

Try tapping on the switch, and also watch the pressure gauge at the pressure tank. Or replace the switch and its mounting nipple.

The fluctuating water temperature might be related to changes in the water flow rate through your water heater, especially if you're using a tankless coil to make hot water.

Reader follow-up:

(Dec 1, 2011) mikebarber said:

Thanks Daniel: Yes I did ask the question on another page and couldn't figure out how to get back to it (I bookmarked this page).

The pressure control switch is mounted on the Sears Shallow Well Jet Pump (3/4 hp - 40 to 60 psi). There is no fitting on the tank since it is a pressure/bladder tank. There is a small black tube going from the pump body to the bottom of the pressure control switch/box. I did remove it from the pump at one point.

I have since drained the pump, tank and water lines via what looks like a car radiator drain cock on the bottom of the pump (hopefully clearing any debris or air from the PCS line). The pressure gauge is on the pump in the opening designated as the "priming port" in the pump manual.

This pressure gauge has always been there.

Recently I noticed that as the water runs and the pressure drops the gauge gets to 49 psi and stops, then suddenly drops to 40 psi and the pump turns on. It takes on average 4 mins and 15 secs for the pressure to return to 60 psi.

The tank manufacturer tells me that this is a 19 gal/ 45 gal equivalent with a 5.9 gal "draw down" which should be the same as my old steel 45 gal tank.

I have a gas fired "normal" water heater and I suspect the temperature change is as you suggest, just exacerbated because of the extremely low water pressure.

I will take the pressure switch hose and fittings off to make sure they aren't clogged (do you think the sudden pressure drop is a symptom of this?)

Water Wells, Cisterns, Springs: installation, troubleshooting, repairs & maintenance

Schematic of a drilled well (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Home Page for Wells, Cisterns, Springs:

Diagnostic Guides for Wells

Reader Question: water filter plugs up after shocking the well; sand and debris in the water supply

After shocking my well, i had to replace my whole house water filter about 6 to 8 times, because it would plug up with black sediment. Is this normal? - Tom

(Oct 23, 2012) Sheila said:

we are having issues with our well. Earlier in the season, we kept getting sand in our water.

Everyone kept saying "its the water table" because we were in a draught. But, we've been getting rains for the past month or so fairly regular and now we are getting mud in our water. A filter that should last about 6 months is barely making it for 2 weeks. Any ideas.


Tom, no it's not normal for shocking the well itself to cause the water filter to clog up.

If by shocking the well you simply poured a bleach solution into the well casing, that alone wouldn't explain the debris clogging at your water filter, but if you followed our recommended procedure of washing down the casing sides with recycled chlorinated water then indeed you may have stirred up debris in the well.

After replacing the filter a couple of times this problem should stop.

If the clogging of your water filter continues then I suspect that something has happened either to the well casing (a crack or opening admitting dirt), the aquifer (changed, perhaps due to nearby drilling or blasting), or the well piping (a leak).

If the problem persists you'll need to install a higher capacity sediment filter system on your water supply.


Watch out: the conditions you describe would lead me to also have a bacteria test for well contamination.


Shut off water, drain your pressure tank and hot water tank, run eater to an outside faucet to clear the well, then refill tanks and flush piping.

Water Pressure Diagnosis & Repair

Well Water Quantity - how much water can we get? There's not enough water

Photograph of an open well casing

Well Water Quality - what's in the water: some water is not so good to drink


Continue reading at WATER TESTS for CONTAMINANTS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.





Suggested citation for this web page

WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman