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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
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 FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article describes how to adjust building water pressure by setting the water pump cut-in and cut-out pressure on the well water pump pressure control switch. We also point to our article on how to adjust building municipal or community water pressure at a building. Contact Us by email if you are having trouble finding the information you need.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Water Well Pump Pressure Control Switch Adjustment: how to set the water pump cut-in and cut-out pressures
We discuss diagnosing and repairing a water pressure control switch that sticks "on" or "off" or simply won't operate, at water pump Pressure Switch Repairs. At WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD we discuss adding the right amount of air to a non-bladder steel or glass-lined well tank. At WATER TANK BLADDER PRESSURE ADJUSTMENT we discuss fine tuning the pump pressure control switch to work perfectly with the exact air pressure pre-charge in a bladder type well tank.
How to Adjust the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch If the length of time that you can run water between pump turning on and off is short, say just a minute or less, the pump is short cycling - or your water pressure tank is a small one that doesn't give a big draw down cycle.
Here we are discussing setting the water pressures at which a water pump will turn on (to get more water) and off (to stop pumping water from the water source into the water tank). Water pumps use a pressure control that specifies the pump cut-in (turn on) and cut-out (turn off) water pressures. Don't confuse the water pressures we discuss here with the air pressures we discuss at WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD.
Watch out: SAFETY WARNING OF FATAL SHOCK HAZARD: if you remove the cover of the pump pressure control switch you can get access to the two nuts that adjust the operating pressures of the water pump. But watch out! There are also live electrical contacts exposed in this area. If you touch them, especially being near water piping, there is a serious risk of death by electrocution. Watch what you touch, or have a professional plumber or electrician do this job for you. More pump and tank safety warnings are below.
If the water pump apparent "short cycle" is say 1-3 minutes this may be all your system can provide. If however something has changed, and the pump used to run longer, say 2-5 minutes, I suspect loss of air in the pressure tank or an internal problem in the tank (like a hole in the bladder if it's a "captive air" pressure tank). The problem of lost air in the water pressure tank along with how to correct that condition are discussed beginning at SIGNS OF AIR LOSS.
If the "short cycle" is very short, clicking on and off, there could be a different problem with the pump control pressure switch or with a dirty, clogged water filter if one is installed on the system. Dirty water filters as a source of rapid pump on-off cycling are discussed at CAUSES OF SHORT CYCLING.
If you want to set up the cut-out pressure on your pump control, while leaving the "cut-in" down where it is, you'll also get a longer "off" cycle, but if you set the cut-out pressure too high, the pump will just run forever since it can't reach that high pressure. This is easy to figure out since if you set it too high the pump will just keep running. (Then turn it off electrically and set the cutout pressure a bit lower.)
In sum, it might be possible to improve this condition by adjusting the pump control which sets the cut-in water pressure (to start the water pump) and the cut-out water pressure (to stop the pump).
Usually this isn't going to help with pump short cycling but adjusting the water pump can give a longer on-cycle for the pump and it can increase the water system pressure up to a point.
If you ask the pump for more pressure than it can deliver it will simply keep running without ever reaching the cut-out pressure you've specified. If your pump short-cycling behavior has recently gotten worse, don't try to fix it by adjusting the pump pressures, go on to look at other problems like loss of the air charge in the water tank or a defective or clogged pump control or water filter.
The larger nut on the larger spring in the pump pressure switch: changes cut-in AND cut-out simultaneously moving them both up (higher pressure) or down (lower pressure). It has the practical effect of raising or lowering the operating pressure range of the switch.
Usually the larger nut in the pump pressure control switch (green arrow in our photo at left) adjusts the pump cut-on ("cut-in") AND pump cut-off pressures simultaneously. This is the left-hand spring (and nut) in our photo and is pointed-to by the green arrow.
That means that whatever the gap is between the cut-on pressure and the cut-off pressure, that gap is maintained, but the entire operating range of the pump is raised or lowered. Turning the large nut clockwise RAISES BOTH the cut-on and cut-off pressures. So turning the large nut clockwise shifts the whole operating pressure range of the pump UP to HIGHER pressures.
Conversely, turning the large nut counter-clockwise will lower the whole pump operating range. This is the simplest adjustment to make.
Photo (left) courtesy of a reader.
The smaller nut atop the smaller spring in the pump pressure switch: changes the differential between cut-in and cut-out pressure. It has the practical effect of raising or lowering the cut OFF pressure only.
This nut is used to narrow or widen the gap between the pump cut-on and pump cut-off
pressures. This is the right-hand spring (and nut) in our photo - pointed to by the red arrow.
Which nut to turn in the pump pressure switch control, and which direction to turn it, are usually visible on a label inside the pressure switch cover. Above we show photos of a common Square D water pump pressure control switch (Schneider Electric) and the label with pump control adjustment details. [Click to enlarge].
Here are Example Pump Pressure Switch Adjustment Instructions from Square-D Pressure Control
On a Square-D Pumptrol® 9013FSF-2 pump pressure switch, for example, Square D tells us that we
Watch out: After adjusting nut#2 you may need to check the actual operating water pressures in your system and adjust nut#1 to be sure that you are not pushing the cut-out (upper pressure) so high that the water pump never turns off (dangerous).
Especially if the well pump is a submersible (hidden and silent down inside the actual well) you may not realize that the pump motor is not shutting off. This can burst a pipe, burst a water tank, cause in-building leaks (especially at pressures over 70 psi), or burn up the well pump. You may be best to leave this adjustment screw alone.
In sum, the "Range" nut shifts the whole operating range of the pressure control up or down, but keeps the gap between cut-in and cut-out the same. The "Differential" nut widens or narrows the gap between the cut-in and cut-out pressures. But messing with the gap also shifts the operating pressure of the control so you may have to re-visit the range - or leave this nut alone.
Square D also has these safety warnings printed on a label attached to new switches. We have expanded the text a bit for clarity:
Watch out: But we add that this kind of pressure could certainly explode some water tanks so be sure not to set the pump to a pressure that is higher than what your water tank or piping are intended to withstand.We know of a fatality that happened from just that problem. Absent any other guidance I would not set the water pressure in a building over 70 psi. And we would be sure that a pressure relief valve has been installed on the water tank.
Watch out: more subtle than the dangers than the overpressure dangers we describe above, if you increase the pump-out rate on a water well that has a marginal flow rate (the rate that water flows into the well), you may pump the well dry, losing pump prime, losing all water pressure, or in the case of running the pump "dry", damaging the pump.
For these reasons it's best to not over-do the cut-out pressure. From a cut out of 40 to even an experimental cut out of 50 psi is ok if you monitor for signs of trouble. But setting the cut-out from 40 psi all the way up to 70 psi is asking for trouble.
Most residential water systems using a water pressure tank and water pump use one of these two pressure operating ranges:
Low-pressure operating range pumps like low horsepower pumps and many jet pumps
Higher-pressure water pumps, like submersible pumps, and higher horsepower 2-line jet pumps
You can't just set the pump pressure as high as you want to. Here's what can go wrong with excessive pump pressure control settings:
WATER PUMP & WATER TANK SAFETY - Water pump and water pressure tank or water storage tank safety advice
While you're on the topic of water pumps, tanks, and controls, here are some safety tips about water pressure tank relief valves and electrical safety around this equipment. Be sure to see our full article on water pump and water tank safety, located at WATER PUMP SAFETY .
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Setting the Water Pump Pressure Switch and Improving Water Pressure
Question: How can I increase the well pump cut-in pressure without setting the cut-out pressure too high?
Reply: Here is how to change the cut-in pressure without pushing the cut-out pressure too high
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a water pressure or pump problem.
And your cause of inadequate water pressure might be due to more than just the static pressure capability of the pump. For example, the pump's maximum flow rate in gpm could be inadequate, or you could have a partly closed water valve or clogged water pipe. Put another way, many homes that operate between 30 and 50 psi have very good water pressure and flow rate at the fixtures. So if you don't there may be another problem besides the pressure switch settings.
That said, here are some things to consider:
Most pump pressure controls are tricky to adjust in the way you mentioned, but you should be able to set the cut-in to a higher number and then adjust the cut-in - cut-out pressure differential to keep the cut-out pressure from being too high. That will cause your well pump to turn sooner when you start running water (and will cycle it more often, a factor in pump wear).
Above at PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT we explain that the smaller nut on the pump control switch adjusts the differential or gap between cut in and cut out and the larger nut raises the cut-in pressure (as well as cut off).
In other words you can set the cut in pressure higher and then narrow the differential so that the cut-off pressure is not dangerously high or above what the pump can reach.
Watch out: don't run the water pressure control with too narrow a differential between the cut-in and cut-out or the pump may just sit there short-cycling until you burn up the motor. If your pump is staying on for less than 30 seconds (I prefer longer), you may be heading for trouble.
Watch out: setting the cut-out water pressure too high can cause the pump to never turn off or at high pressures you may find leaks at fixtures. And high water pressure that exceeds the rated water tank pressure can burst the tank - a very dangerous event. Also make sure your pressure tank has a relief valve installed.
Don't Forget to Check For Other Causes of Bad Water Pressure
The fact that your low water pressure is intermittent might in fact point to a problem with the well flow rate itself. (Well Yield: Well Flow Rate)
Once the well pump turns on and presuming you are running water continuously, especially if more than one fixture is running, you may see that your pump runs continuously until you turn the water off. If this is the case, it's not the starting water pressure setting that is at fault, it's the pump or piping or well that is limiting the water flow rate.
If I'm right that means that the water flow rate through the system, from well through pump and pipes, elbows, valves, etc. is just not enough, and further diagnosis is in order.
Our photo of copper supply piping (above left) was sent by reader Tom.C. who was tracking down a clog in the supply piping that meant poor water pressure from the point of the fitting you see above onwards through the plumbing fixtures served by that pipe.
Follow-up and Water Pressure Problem Solved:
Looks like I will call a plumber. I adjusted the mainspring to raise the cut-in/cut-out range but there was no change.
The water pump switch was faulty and had to be replaced. Also the line going into the water tank was clogged and had to be rodded out. Working fine now.
The homeowner attempted to adjust the pressure control switch for the water pump. When he turned the adjusting nut the water pump behavior and water pressure did not change. That observation led to calling a plumber who replaced the pressure control switch - which solved the water pressure problem.
Question: My water pump makes horrible noise when pressure drops - what's wrong?
My pump pressure starts at 55 psi. I turn my irrigation on and the pressure starts to drop till about 30 psi. Then the well pump kicks in and the pressure starts to go up and a few minutes later it starts to go down until 10 psi. The pump is still running. When the pump kicks in, it sounds nice and smooth and when the pressure start to drop to 10 psi, it sounds pretty bad. But when I turn the irrigation off the pump sound goes from bad to good until pressure start to build up. Is the pump cavitating or one of my valve is going bad? - Phil.
The horrible noise you describe is often caused by air cavitation in a water pump that has either lost its prime or is attempting to pull water from a well whose water supply has been exhausted.
Question: Should I be using a 30-50 psi switch when running 38-64 psi cut-in/cut-out? Should I change the air pre-charge pressure in the water tank?
I have a 20 gal wellxtrol with a 30-50 psi squareD pumptrol switch with pressure reading that are unusual. The pressure switch needed replacing because contacts were sticking. I put in a new pressure gauge and measured before I replaced the switch: tank pressure 18 psi, cut in 42 psi, cut out 67 psi. The system seems to work fine. It's 25 years old.
I replaced the switch with the same, and adjusted it to 38 psi cut in, 64 psi cut out. Do I need to increase the tank pressure to 36 psi? Should I be using a 30-50 psi switch when running 38-64 psi cutin-cutout? - D. Hurry
Reply: The 30-50 psi pressure control switch is acceptable. Set the water pressure tank air pre-charge to 2 psi below the cut-in pressure
First, if your present pressure control switch is handling your (somewhat high) setting of 38/64 psi cut-in/cut-out you don't need to change the switch itself. Square D's pressure control switches typically can handle pressures up to 220 psi - much higher than a typical residential water pressure tank setting will ever be.
In the article above we list the factory air pre-charge settings for models of Well-x-Trol water pressure tanks.
Please read the WARNINGS about messing with tank air pre-charge in the article above. Then you can set your pre-charge pressure (with all water drained out of the tank) to 2 psi below the cut-in pressure on your pressure switch, or as you suggested, for a 38 psi cut-in, you'd set the air charge to 36 psi.
That 4 psi difference, however, is not very significant. Leaving the tank at factory pressure and setting the pressure control switch to a higher cut-in/cut-out pressure means that the volume of water you can draw from the tank before the pump turns on is a bit reduced.
Details about how to adjust the water pressure control switch are at PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH ADJUSTMENT.
Question: my water pressure is too low, pump gets hot, trips breaker. Can I increase the pressure setting?
I have very low water pressure, so a neighbor turned it up for me. I couldn't even get Dawn to suds up in my sink! But now the pump runs until it gets hot & throws the breaker switch. Sometimes it keeps clicking on & off.
Watch out: do not try setting up the pressure on the pump pressure control switch in this case. Since your pump is tripping the circuit breaker there is a problem to find and fix first: such as a failing pump motor, wiring error, or other unsafe condition.
The pressure control switch sets the water pressure at which your pump turns on and off. Typically these switches are set to turn on at 20 and off at 40 psi or on at 30 and off at 50 psi.
Question: My pressure control switch melted
my pump runs 30 to 55 psi and when irragation kicks on drops and to 30 then runs up to 40 and pump runs continious and I had to replace pressure switch old one melted - Joe Faino 5/19/11
Joe Faino: regarding "I had to replace pressure switch old one melted" - it sounds as if when your irrigation system is running the pump runs continuously because you are drawing out water at a rate that keeps the pump running all the time that the irrigation system is running. But it's common for a pump to run continuously under those conditions. If the pressure control switch melted, most likely there is a different problem, perhaps burned contacts or a voltage or even an installation or wiring issue.
Question: How to increase the water pump pressure control cut-in and cut-out pressure
I have a square d control. It cuts off at 40 psi and goes down to 20 psi before it comes back on which is to low when I am using one sprinkler. I want it to come on at 30 psi. I can't understand how to do that looking your directions. Pls help - John 5/19/11
How to increase the water pump pressure control cut-in and cut-out pressure:
Question: I want to control water supply to different areas of our factory through Inverter drives
I want to control water supply to different areas of our factory through Inverter drives , pressure feedback in order to simultanously achieve energy saving,equal pump running hours(There are 3 pumps with common header). There shall be bumpless transfer of pumps so that there is min. pressure surge. Can anyone give me solution - Mehboob Akber 5/21/11
just moved into an old farm house I was watering my garden when I lost water, I had run it for some time. did I use up all the water? I went to the pump imediatly and turn off the water spicket. did I burn up the pump, I don't get great pressure in the house since i moved in. later I got a little water but then it was gone again. what can i do to find out what happened - Sandra 6/5/11
Question: my pump cannot reach the cut-out pressure setting - my pump runs all the time
I have replaced the Pressure swtch and I can not acheive cutout, pump continues to run. Switch is adjusted very low for cutout. The units cuts in about 26-28 psi. but exceeds the desired 50 -60 psi cutout. - BK 6/6/11
I had to put a new pressure switch on, the pump was running all the time and it burn the points up. The new one is letting the pump run all the time too, when the pump is running the water pressure keeps going up and down, until there is a small amount of water coming out. I'll turn the pump off and back on then the pressure will come back up and if it runs about a couple of minutes it will do the same thing again. I have no leaks, could this be the water tank?
My pump does not exceed 32psi and constantly runs then fails to cut back on even though pressure drops below 20psi. Only way to start it is to manually connect the flow switch to engage the pump. - Jack Nelson 7/7/12
BK: Well pump won't stop running: try setting your pressure control to turn on at 20 psi and off at 40 psi. That should be achievable by most well pumps unless the pump itself is damaged. Once you have the pump operating normally in that pressure range you can try increasing the cut out, or both cut-in and cut-out gradually. Don't operate the pump too close to the highest cut-out pressure that it can attain, since there is the risk that when you're not watching the system may through wear or other factors leave the pump running until it burns up.
Jack, if the pump does not start at pressures below the cut- in point of 20 psi, the switch may be bad. But the pump running continuously and never delivering cutoff pressure is something else _ such as lost well water flow rate or a well piping leak or someone has lest a faucet open in the home.
Question: I have water but no pressure
Bladder tank set at 30 psi switch set at 40 psi cut off. I have water but no pressure. help - Charlie C 6/7/11
Charlie: if you have no water pressure at all I think you may best take a look at the diagnostic guide in the article linked-to at Related Topics and titled WATER PUMP PROBLEM DIAGNOSTIC TABLE
Question: pump won't stop running and got very hot - my well pump won't turn off
Pump has worked fine until today for some reason it kept running after the 'timer' stopped. I didn't notice for a while and by the time I got to the pump, it was really hot. I killed the power and water/steam shot out of a PVC pipe on the bottom. If I plug it in, it won't stop running. I turned the timer on and tried to send water to a sprinkler zone to no avail. Please help! - pumpwontstop 6/17/11
I have been having a problem with my well for a couple years now with it staying running.
If your well pump won't stop running and it is delivering water then I suspect that the pump is unable to reach the cut-off pressure.
That can happen for a variety of reasons like loss of water in the well, a well piping leak, water running somewhere that you didn't realize, a pressure switch set too high, or a damaged pressure sensor component of the pressure control switch.
See WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING for a thorough diagnostic procedure
Hi Mike. It sounds as if perhaps you are losing well prime back down into the well - could be a bad foot valve - or a leak in the well piping.
Followup from Mike:
the pump is in the well about 600 ft down how do i find a leak that far down or where is the foot valve in the pump? thank you for answering me fast
Mike, first establish that there is a leak, and in what segment of the whole system it exists - say in the building vs between the water pressure tank and the bottom of the well. If it appears that the leak is in the well piping and if the leak is in the well piping that's in the well itself (as opposed to between well and building) you're in luck because you can pull the whole well piping and pump (use a professional to do this) to find and repair the leak as well as replace the foot valve. If the leak is between house and well then unfortunately excavation is in order.
Question: water pressure is low but the water pump won't come on
Pump won't come on: I just changed the pressure control switch and it will not turn on by itself. the water pressure is very low but the pump never comes on. - BigEd 7/16/11
The pump will not come on. There is no water pressure. I have a Square D Pump Pressure Control Switch. The contacts will not stay down/connnected. When forced to on postion they bounce right back into off ppostion. Any advice would be helpful. - Wilson 7/31/11
My water pressure is very low after one or two loads of laundry. The pressure gets down to less than 15 and the pump still has not pumped. I am not sure how low it gets before it pumps. Whan I get up the next morning it is back up to 45. What might be the cause of this problem? Is it the pump pressure switch or something else. I hear it running all the time. Any advice would be helpful - Mark 8/31/11
We are losing water pressure at any/all faucets/toilets/etc randomly- water will be running fine, and then it will slack off to nothing, then within 30sec to 1 minute, water will come back one and be fine. This happens at least once a day. This also just started happening once we replaced the entire reserve tank and pressure gauge and switch (we had a drip from our old tank, and a plumber came in a replaced the whole thing). Now he tells me he thinks this new problem is the well pump....seems very convenient to have 2 major things go bad at exactly the same time. What do you think? - Meg 9/2/11
if the pump pressure control switch has electrical power and won't stay in the "on" position, that suggests that the pressure diaphraghm of the switch is indicating pressure at or above the cutoff point. If in fact there is no or low water pressure in the system then perhaps the pressure sensing end of the switch or its mounting tube is debris clogged. R&R the switch and mounting tube.
what you describe sounds like your well recovery rate is poor, perhaps seasonally during hot dry weather. Under WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS (links at Related Topics ), see the article titled "How Much Water is In the Well?" for help in investigating that question.
I too tend to look first at work that was just recently done, or what was just changed, when debugging a building problem that has just shown up.
Question: Genesis pressure control switch pressure adjustment
I've got a switch that seems to have been made by Genesis (but no maker data, no part number, etc.; that's just the name on the cover box) of my Panamanian pressurized residential system. Turn-on was around 19psi by the gauge, off at 45 (which drifts down to 41.5 during the first minute after the pump shuts off, then stays stable). I tried both adjustment nuts, separately, and while a half-turn clockwise will get the left-hand nut (the big Range one) took the cutoff to 49psi, nothing seems to move the turn-on pressure up. I'd like to be able to bring that up to about 25psi, because much below this the boiler (pass-thru, 7 liter tank inside) won't kick on and stay on. Was a half to a full turn just not enough to get that switch's attention? It's only a two year old switch. - notonyourtintype - 7/19/11
Noton... I'd like to see some sharp photos of y our switch - you can send pix to the CONTACT link found at the left or bottom of our website pages.
Question: Goulds jet pump 3/4 hp, pump always comes on right away when water runs
i have a jrs7 goulds jet pump 3/4 hp, recently i have been encountering a problem which i cant seem to rectify. my pump is set that immediately when any tap is opened it will come on and cut off when closed. it will run for the period while the water is being used but, the pressure however drops sometimes while in use to 0 psi on the guage resulting in the pump cutting off immediately and no water is being delivered. i have changed the pressure switch and am still experiencing the problem. the thing no matter what i try while it is off it will not come back on until it feels like it then the guage will build back up to 45 psi and it will run for a while and then do the same again. please help - Shawn White 7/23/11
Shawn, if a pump always comes on immediately when you open a faucet and shuts off when you close the faucet, your water pressure tank is water logged - it's lost its air charge. See the article titled WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD (links above at Related Topics )
Question: how do I add air to the pressure tank?
I need to add water to my water tank. I know you have to drain the tank before adding air, but the manual doesn't say if you add the air with the water valve open or closed. Any help would be appreciated. - Greg Weber 8/3/11
Opps, sorry. I need to add air to my tank, not water. Sorry.
John M: replies to Greg W:
I'm no expert but I usually leave my water valve open, this lets the portion of the tank which holds water equalize with surrounding atmospheric pressure. If you close the water valve then pressure will build in that sealed space.
Question: increased pressure switch settings - now I think the pump is bad
Last week I increased the cut-in cut-out pressure switch setting on my well. The system was running at 20-40 and after making the pressure switch adjustment it has been running at 40-60 just as I planned. I checked the cut-in and cut-out over several days after the change and it was working fine. Today we found that we had zero water pressure. I looked over our system and found there is no water flowing into our pressure tank so no water is being pumped. I tested for power at the pressure switch and it is getting power but I did not check the voltage. The well pump was here when we bought the house about 10 years ago so the pump is at least 10 years old. I don't know the specifics of the pump but the control box for the pump states 1 hp, 230 volt, single phase and includes a capacitor and some other blue device. I assume my increasing the pressure switch seating has lead to a pump failure. Anything else I should test before running out to buy a new pump? - John M 8/34/11
Changing a pump pressure control switch from 20/40 all the way up to 40/60 has an understandable appeal: much higher water pressure, faster flow rate. But the risk is that you set a cut-off pressure that the pump simply cannot maintain. If that happens the pump might just keep on running - never reaching that 60 psi. If your pump was a submersible you might not know that the pump is spinning itself to death down in the well. Until it stops working or until the pump overheats and shuts down on thermal overload.
Thanks for the reply Dan,
Thanks John M - I will add "replace the thermal protection device" to our list of diagnostic suggestions when a pump motor won't run. Can you send along photos of the parts and pump? Use the CONTACT link found at page top, left, bottom.
Question: pump runs out of water, recovers in 5-10 minutes, gauge and switch kicks on/off at pressures different than our switch settings
My well is not quite a year old, we have always had plenty of water and pressure. we have been watering trees in yard, now for some reson our pup runs out of water. It recovers with in 5 to 10 min . The guage kicks on at 40 ps and should kick off at 60 or so. It kicks on fine but kicks out at 50 , is it the pressure switch? If I hold the switch down manually it pups and kicks out at 60 or 65 - Shaun Aden 8/4/11
Shaun the pump might still be actually going off at 60 if the gauge is clogged with debris and reading inaccurately. Else if no one "adjusted" the switch and it's cutting off early it's time to replace it.
Question: how to turn off the well pump if the tank has no water?
how to switch off a motor pump if the cistern tank has no more water ? - Roselle 8/11/11
Roselle every pump circuit should have a manual service switch installed for manual cutoff. If someone wired the pump directly with no local on-off switch that would be unusual but in that case you'd have to find and turn off the breaker or remove the fuse controlling the electrical circuit for the pump. If there is no electrical switch to turn off the pump, ask your electrician to install one at next electrical work.
If you are asking how to prevent the pump from running when there is no water available, ask your well or plumbing supplier about a tailpiece that prevents the pump from running or running dry when the water level falls too low in the well or cistern.
Question: Reverse Osmose system installed, need more house pressure - RO works at 39 PSI
Great site! I installed an RO system to replace an old RO that failed because of pressure (new permeate pump booster). After I did this I wanted to increase house pressure, thought I'll boost the air tank from 30 psi to 50 psi, then I pulled the pressure line on the jet pump to clean. What a nightmare! water everywhere, crud from the sensor, got it all back together, turned it on a start-stop cylcling! Turned out the tank pressure was to high without adjusting the pressure switch. After all the helpful info here I just started dropping the tank pressure down to 39 and the problem was solved! Thanks guys, next I might try raising the cut in cut off. - Alan McKee 8/17/11
Alan, glad our water pressure articles were helpful. Indeed the pressure tank air charge is not what determines house water pressure - that's controlled by the pressure control switch, as you observed.
Question: changed water filter, various confusing symptoms
After changing a water filter for the first time, my tank emtied out b/c I had turned off the wrong valve and never turned back on. After a week the tank empties out and the pump started over pumping. This was noticeable but I was having another problem with a hole in another line so did not associate the second problem. Eventually are was lost and I had to turn off the pump. The pump lost pressure prior to my turning off. The only water lost was from the pressure change, but, after steam had started to escape. Now, I need to restore the pressure Flotec 4022-10. I was told to tighten the bolt more but want to know if anything else and what to expect. - Sera D 8/18/11
Sera D, I'm sorry but I don't understand your question.
Question: no water and no pump working following a power failure
I had a power failure today and now that the power has returned I still don't have water. I reset the breakers just in case with no effect. The pressure gauge next to the switch still says 50psi but no water is coming out of the taps. Never had a problem with this system before.
Following a power failure or a lightning strike there are a number of possible sources of well and pump trouble. Starting with the clues in your question.
Question: pressure goes up higher than pressure control switch setting
After turning off the power to my well pump and pressure switch and bleed the water pressure down to 25 psi; I returned about 10 minutes later and the pressure had gone back to 80 PSI. This is a 30/50 psi switch. Why would the pressure go back without the power to the pump and switch being on? Thanks - Steve Holloway 8/19/11
It's embarrassing to keep guessing at the same cause for so many problems, but if the pressure gauge is accurate and working properly I suspect the pressure switch is not getting a good indication of system water pressure - check for debris clogging.
Question: pump used for lawn irrigation shuts down after a minute but I can force it to run.
I use my pump for irrigation for my lawn. Lately, The pump engages and provides enough pressure for the sprinkler heads to start. After about 1 minute, the pressure switch cuts out and turns the pump off. If I go to the switch and hold up the lever on the left side, the pump engages again and holds pressure 30-40 psi for the remainder of the cycle. Bad switch? Any help is appreciated, thanks. - Dean G 8/20/11
Additionally, no adjustments have been made since the system was installed 4 years ago. It has been working fine until recently.
Check for an overheating water pump and check for a clogged pressure sensor
Question: Square D pressure switch set 30-50, can I eliminate the low pressure cut-in?
I Have suare D switch 30-50 lb. with low pressure shut off. It causes me a lot of trouble when I fill large livestock tanks,can I modify the switch to eliminate the low pressure shut off feature or must i replace the switch. thanks - Mike Jones 8/22/11
First of all, my apologies if this question has already been asked and answered, I'm new to the site. I believe I have a short cycling problem. This is a cottage application. The pump cuts in at 28 psi and charges to about 42 psi and then cuts out. When the pump cuts out the pressure on the gauge drops immediately to 30 psi. Then of course after a short water usage the pump cuts in and repeats the above. The cycle used to be charge up to 42 psi, cut out and settle at 40 psi, draw down to 30 psi and then the pump would cut in. This problem started after I needed to replace a foot valve in the cistern. Do you think it's a pressure problem in my bladder tank? If so, how can I return it the original cycle described above. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. - Dan Lowry 8/27/11
Dan that sounds like short cycling to me. I've often seen that a pressure gauge reads higher when the pump is running and drops at pump shutoff. But when you add that running just a few gallons of water turns the pump back on, that suggests that the tank has lost its air charge. If your tank really has an internal bladder, that's not supposed to happen. So if you have indeed lost the air charge, the bladder may be torn or damaged.
Question: I'm having trouble getting the right settings on the pressure control switch
I have just replaced all parts between the well pump and the pipe going into the house, reason was I had a leak and a broken check valve so the system was sucking in air and letting the water reside back down into the well.
Here is a little info I gathered, from what I have read mine system seems like it has some poor adjustments:
Thomas I wonder if you carried the adjustment too far. Typically residential switches run 20/40 or 30/50 psi.
Question: water leak at the pressure control switch
think I have all that adjusted correctly but I have a small water leak at the pressure switch.... I'm assuming there is a gasket in there that needs to be changed? am I right? - Kerry 9.14/11
water is leaking up through the base of the pressure switch. what did I do wrong? - Jerry Jandreau 7/2/12
Check the bottom of the switch for plumbing leaks. If there are no leaks at pipe connections I suspect the switch diaphragm is ruptured - replace the switch.
Question: should the pressure sensing tube to the switch contain water?
I am replacing the control switch on my pump. My question is does the small line (1/4") running from the pump to the switch have to be filled with water? will an air gap cause pressure reading problems? - John O 9/25/11
John O I wondered the same thing - does the small diameter copper or plastic tubing connecting the pressure sensor base of the pressure control switch to the water pump (or pressure tank) need to be filled with water or not? It should not make any difference. The pressure switch senses pressure by water or air pressing in on a diaphraghm located on the switch bottom. The diaphraghm doesn't know if it's being pressed-on by air or water. If the water pressure in the tank is, say 30 psi, the air in the line will also be compressed to 30 psi.
Question: how much water should be in the pressure tank? Any?
Should there be water in my water pressure tank? - Paul 10/3/11
Question: Pump pressure goes up to 70 psi then immediately falls to 40 psi, many times a minute
when I flush the toilet my well pump cycles on to 70 lbs then right off and drops to 40 lbs and back on to 70 lbs then drops down to 40lbs and back on to 70 lbs it does this 21 or 22 times in a matter of just a couple of minutes then it stays at 40 or 39 lbs. I think it's doing this the whole time the toilet is filling back up? What would cause this?? - Jim Gale 10/17/11
what can be wrong with my well i put a new pressurer swithch the blader tank is good not lossing air but pump cut on and off ever two min what do i have to do to fix the problem - Anon 3/1/12
The pump is new and the pressure tank is old and the pressure switch is new. I run the water the pump clicks on and off every 10 seconds. I can see condensation line above the half way line on the tank. Whats the problem? - Rep 6/5/12
My switch cycles constantly and finally (sticks and holds contact. Is this an air pressure problem in my water tank? - Martin 7/19/12
My well is for outdoor irrigation only and has a very small (maybe 3-5 gallon?) bladder tank and pressure switch set-up. When I turn on a hose the pump clicks on and then off immediately, just a few seconds then the water pressure from the hose dwindles down and then the pump kicks back on just for a second and right back off so I get a burst of water then the dwindling again & it just keeps going like that. Isn't the point of the pressure switch & bladder tank to make the pump stay on while water is running, keeping the pressure constant? What adjustment to the pressure switch should I make....increase or decrease the cut-on or cut-off point? - Jen 7/20/12
Everyone above and Martin, I'm not 100% sure of course, but I don't think it's an air problem.
Jen when the pump turns on and then immediately off it's as if there is no air in the pressure tank - so as water is not very compressible, the system reaches cutoff pressure immediately. If the irrigation system draws water fast enough, or if the pressure tank has an air charge, the symptom you describe should not occur.
Take a look at WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING. I think your water tank may be waterlogged.
Question: lost water pressure, came back on its own, plumber replaced presure switch.
I had a Plummer come to my house on the week-end since I had lost pressure for my water. When the plumber arrived the pressure was restored but since the system was 21 years old, I decided to have him replace the switch. If I remember I had a 20-40 pressure switch that was adjusted to 40-55 so that when taking a shower we would not notice the low pressure. When the plumber installed the new pressure switch 30-50 I asked him to adjust the pressure and that is what he did. He adjusted the pressure with the bigger nut as explained in the WEB site, so now the cut-in pressure is about 32 and the cut out is about 58-60. The problem is that when someone is taking a shower the cut-in rating is to low so the pressure is down. What steps can be done to increase the cut-in pressure but keeping to cut-out pressure to about 60…. So I could have something like 42-60 or so if possible. Thank you - Andre 10/25/11
Question: Pump Turns Off Randomly; pressure switch clicks clicks then finally turns on
We have a relatively new well at our hunting camp/farm, about the same time the pressure switch went bad and needed replaced, ever since it was replaced (almost 2 years now) the water will go off for no apparent reason, then someone has to go to the basement and flip the switch off (water can be heard flowing at this point) then flip it back on and the pump begins to run again. It is fine for several hours and again the same thing happens. Is the low pressure cut-on set too low? - Anon 12/6/11
It is a new switch doing this and the old switch had been suffering from the same problem. "click,click,click,click, then it finally sticks or maintains contact and the pump fills up the tank and stops. My tank is in my house (pier and beam) and about 40-50' from the well so meaning my water tank is probably 3' above the level of my well if that has anything that could be a problem. I think the switch is sensing pressure surges and shutting on and off sporadically. I know this will eventually wear on the contacts much less possibly do damage to the submersible motor. Anon 7/20/12
Check for a clogged pressure sensor or tube feeding pressure to the switch
Question: new well and pressure switch 2 years ago, now water turns off for no reason;
We have a relatively new well at our hunting camp/farm, about the same time the pressure switch went bad and needed replaced, ever since it was replaced (almost 2 years now) the water will go off for no apparent reason, then someone has to go to the basement and flip the switch off (water can be heard flowing at this point) then flip it back on and the pump begins to run again. It is fine for several hours and again the same thing happens. Is the low pressure cut-on set too low? - Gene Doverspike 12/6/11
Check for a debris clogged pressure sensor; check for a thermal overload problem with the pump motor.
Question: new pump and tank, but no water is being delivered and the gauge says pressure is not changing.
I have just fitted a new borehole pum and a new pressure vessel. The pump runs then cuts off at 3 bar on the pressure guage. There dosn't appear to be any water in the bladder at all.
The pressure vessel is at just over 2 bar. When I released pressure form the vessel the pressure at the switch dropped as well. Water does flow but there is no water in the tank. How do I set the system so the tank fills. - Nick 3/14/12
Check for a debris-clogged stuck pressure gauge. The same problem may be plaguing the pressure control switch.
Question: I'd like to get the cut-on at 60 and cut-off at 70.
I just rebuilt a Sta-Rite water pump (JBMG-41S)(2hp). It had never been serviced and had alot of iron build-up. The shaft had seized. After cleaning it out and putting new seals, it was still able to run ok so I reinstalled it. Then it seemed there was a problem with the pressure switch. I cleaned out the pipes connecting to it and cleaned the switch itself but I wasn't able to get to a setting that wasn't cycling too quickly. I then looked at the air pressure in the pressure tank.
This system is installed in an old 6 floor apartment building. The city supply is about 45psi I wanted to get a cut-on pressure of about 55psi and a cut-off at about 75. The pressure tank (Challenger pc266r - 85 gallon) turned out to be over-charged. I'm not sure what the pressure was at but it was over 60psi. I let out the air until it got to around 51. Now, cut-on pressure was around 55 and the pump was staying on for around 10 minutes before it reached 70psi but even with the differential nut unscrewed all the way I couldn't get the pump to turn off at 75psi. I finally unscrewed the main nut and the pump went off but now the cut-on pressure was slightly lower.
Ben, please take another look at the details in the article above about adjusting the pump pressure control switch. You'll see that the two adjustments (on switches that have two) do not operate independently, so changing one can require fine tuning the other. The larger nut shifts the whole cut-in/cut-out pressure range up or down, while the smaller nut changes the width of that range - the differential between cut in and cut out.
I do see the cut in big spring and nut, but i couldnt find the differential cut off nut, is this indicating that my pump is a very old one? - Old Pump 5/9/12
Old Pump: sounds more as if you are describing a different type of pressure control switch that does not give all of the adjustments we describe - the switch may or may not be the same age as the pump itself.
Question: pressure seems to cut out entirely, usually right in the middle of a shower, then takes 1 to 2 mins to cut back in
My pressure seems to cut out entirely, usually right in the middle of a shower, then takes 1 to 2 mins to cut back in. I tried making the cut-in pressure higher, but it did nothing. My pressure also seems to go too high, around 70 psi. But nothing I do seems to help. Do I just need a new switch? - Jeran 5/20/12
Jeran I'd start by checking for a pump switch that has a clogged sensor port or pipe - clogging can slow the pump switch's response to an actual pressure drop in the system.
Question: Will the pressure pump damage the washing machine, water heater etc? in a one story house?
Is it true that Preasure pumps fitted in a house with one floor only spoils the washing machine,water heater etc and presure pumps should not be used for such one floored house. - K Sriram
Question: my pump would not stop running - the tech says I need a new drilled well
My pump began running non stop and when the well person came out they said they were able to set psi to 38 and the pump would shut off correctly however most likely the jet is plugged or a hole in casing for it to change suddenly and It will eventually just quit. Does this sound correct. It is now functioning fine at 38 psi but I am concerned since winter is coming and I shoul get a well drilled now. I am not planning in investing in repair if it needs repair because it's an old 2" - Amanda 8/26/12
Amanda I don't understand the question you are asking. A hole in a well casing may admit dirt and contaminants and might speed up clogging of the well screen on a foot valve or pump pickup; But some more accurate diagnosis is needed before drilling a new well.
How can l tell which pressure tank l have - with Bladder or without. I have CBAKX on the tank. 42 gallon upright A drain plug at the bottom an inpipe an out pipe and a pipe for pressure gauge. - Oliver 9/10/12
Oliver, see WATER TANK CAPTIVE AIR vs TRADITIONAL WellMate for a comparison of these two types of water pressure tanks.
Bladderless (no internal bladder) water pressure tanks look like this
Internal bladder type water pressure tanks have these properties
Question: pump runs forever if the cut-out pressure is raised above 38
I have a Goulds 1/2 hp J5 deep well pump with a 20 gal pressure tank. I am operating with a differential of 14 psi (20/34 cut-in/out). Due to well limitations, the maximum pressure generated by the pump is 38 psi (pump runs forever if the cut-out pressure is raised above 38).
Question: is the pressure switch setting causing short cycling of the pump?
my airbladder tank pressure came pre set at 38psi but the pressure switch is 20/40 is this causing the switch to cycle on off on off? second question, there does not seem to be water in the tank,why? i get water from the spigot with pressure and the guage jumps right from 20 to 40 and back again. why? - Patty 9/17/12
Reply: pressure tank [starting pressure at installation] should be 2 psi below the cut in pressure of the pump
Question: we don't have the money to hire someone - how do we do pump switch adjustment ourselves
thank for the information. we dont have the money to hire some one to do this it is the well itself so how do i do it ourselves - Mike 7/29/12
Watch out: messing with a pump pressure control switch exposes live electrical connections - you can be killed if you touch live wires. Another catastrophe to avoid is setting the pressure too high, causing leaks or worse, a burst water tank that could injure anyone nearby.
Question: Xtrol pressure tank and everything set to 28 psi, multiple pressure tanks, pump won't shut off
The reading at the second tank is 30 psi. pump never stopped until automatic shut-off kicked in due to heat (ran straight more than 5 mins.) When it stopped, its gauge read 40 psi, the gauge on the last tank read 30 psi. I have water at the toilet. It filled the toilet tanks about 5-6 flushes and then the pressure at the second tank read 20 psi and then the pump kicks in.
Antoine, without a sketch I don't have a clear understanding of your installation. It sounds as if you may be installing pressure tanks in series, or in parallel, maybe feeding different building areas - I just don't know.
But in general, if a pressure control switch is set higher than a pump can achieve, the pump will never shut off. We offer diagnostics for this problem at WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING.
Also take a close look at exactly where your pressure control switch is located - it needs to be near the tank whose pressure it is to sense.
Finally, check that the pressure control switch sensor port has not become debris clogged - that will prevent proper pressure sensing. The fix is to replace the switch.
Question: low water pressure after replacing a pressure control switch
Replaced the pressure control switch on a 30/50 unit as well as pressure gauge. Water pressure has been very low since. Turns on at 30 and shuts off at 50 so its working. Had no water pressure problem before replacing. Replaced once we found a leak that tied back to the pressure switch. Do I need to adjust pressure on/off or is it the pump? - Eric Det 10/9/12
Eric, if the pump turns on at 30 and off at 50 psi, then your pump, control, and water pressure are normal. I suspect that we're mixing up water pressure - something you measure with a guage when no water is running - and water flow rate - how fast and hard does water come out of the tap.
Bad water flow rate (that people may indeed loosely call call "water pressure") can be caused by lots of different problems ranging from a poor well flow rate or clogged building piping to simply clogged strainers and shower heads.
Take a look at WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
Question: installed new pressure tank, no water seems to enter it
I installed a new 35 gallon bladder tank and seems I have no water going into the tank, 40/60 switch, tank pressure is set at 38 psi. water pressure drops and a blast of cool water comes ouy before pump kicks on ? - James Miller 11/9/12
I'm baffled by this interesting question. Blast of cool water comes out of where? It sounds as if you have a piping or installation problem or a tank with a bladder that is stuck in the collapsed position.
Question: after replacing pump and pressure tank the pump switch keeps clicking
relay switch on water pressure device clicking when water is being used why and what is the fix please. - Anon 9/30/12
i replace my pump and pressure tank. but when i turn on my water. i here the pressure switch go click click click non stop when i turn on water - Jerry 11/16/12
It is normal for the relay switch to "click" on and off when you are running water continuously. It's a sound that folks don't notice if the swithc is right next to a (noisy) well pump, but when the well pump is submersible (located in the well) the pressure control switch click may be about all you hear. If the clicking is rapid - see my warning just above. If the click occurs say once every 30 seconds, that's normal. It's the pump switching on and off as pressure falls and rises.
Question: humming water pressure pump control switch
My water Pump Pressure Switch seems to be emitting a low hum all of the time It sounds sort of like you hear around electrical transformers. This is a new thing for the unit. My electric bill has also been high and my water pressure is intermittently low. I can make the hum stop by pressing on the plate that's connected to the springs. It sparks when I do this. Yikes! I suspect that the switch is stuck in the on position. What do you all think? Thanks! - James 11/27/12
James, the pressure control switch might click on and off, but humming?
First - make sure that the sound is coming from the switch itself and not from nearby water piping or from a nearby pump. Well pumps are not silent, and pump noise can be transmitted via water piping.
Second - if you are convinced it's the switch, if tightening the electrical connections at the switch doesn't fix it (do this with power OFF) I would replace it promptly. The pump relay is an electromagnetic switch. If it is humming and vibrating it is probably failing and you're about to have
Watch out: I wouldn't keep pressing on the relay. There's live 120V or 240V in that switch - touching exposed wires or connectors is asking for a potentially fatal shock. Keep me posted, what we learn will help other readers.
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