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Diagnose Water Tank Problems

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Water pressure tank or water storage tank troubleshooting guide:

This article describes how and why to diagnose problems right at the water tank in order to help distinguish among intermittent water pressure loss, total water pressure loss, and poor water pressure or flow in a building.

How does the water tank affect building water pressure & how does the water tank affect building water quantity? How does the water tank affect well pump life & how to decide if water pressure tank replacement is necessary & Typical cost of various well, pump, and water tank repairs.

How a Bad Water Pressure Tank Can Cause Water Pressure Loss or Complete Water Supply Loss. Shaking the Water Pressure Tank to Diagnose its Condition.

The process of water tank troubleshooting starting with simple visual clues is explained.



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How to Diagnose & Fix Water Pressure Tank Problems

Water pressure tank, submersible pump (C) InspectApedia

After explaining the relationship between the water tank and water flow or pressure in buildings, this artilce series provides easy steps to troubleshoot and repair water pressure & water pressure tank problems.

This article explains how a problem with the water pressure tank can cause a variety of problems in a building such as

[Click to enlarge any image]

The process of diagnosis and the costs of the repair for water tanks 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.

How a Bad Water Pressure Tank Can Cause Water Pressure Loss or Complete Water Supply Loss

If the building water supply stops and takes minutes to hours to recover, you may have 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.

  1. Water tank short cycling: A bad or defective water pressure tank which has lost its air charge or which cannot keep its air charge will cause well pump short cycling - rapid turning on and off of the water pump. This frequent pump switching on and off is hard on the pump (damages the pump) and also on the pump switches and controls (switch contacts can become burned).

    Short cycling is especially risky with an older water pump, and might push it over the edge of failure. When the water pump fails the building will simply lose water pressure (and water supply) completely (unless it by luck the building is served by an artesian well).

    Our photo (above left) illustrates a conventional internal bladder water pressure tank. As no water pump is in view we infer that this system may support a well using a submersible well pump.

  2. Old water pumps may stop when hot: A water pump might be at end of its life and about to burn up but still work after a cool-down cycle.

    In other words when the pump has been working hard and the motor is hot the pump may stop running. Since the water pump may have been overheated due to short cycling, the actual root cause of its stopping may be the water tank (loss of air or a bad pump control) not the pump itself.

    After the pump has been off for a while it may magically start working again: some water pumps have an internal thermal overload switch that shuts them off combined with an automatic thermal switch reset.

    This is most likely to be found on water pumps that are inaccessible such as a submersible water pump. In this case water pressure and supply will stop completely but will return after the pump cools down. But this failure is likely to be recurrent.

  3. More on short cycling, water tank air, and how to fix the problem:: To review loss of air charge, water pump short cycling, water pump pressure control settings, and other water tank repairs be sure to
    see WATER PUMP & WATER TANK REPAIRS

  4. Water tank air bladder problems such as a burst bladder or one which has become collapsed and stuck to itself can also cause water pump short cycling and the loss of water pressure or flow shown above. Less common in our experience but possible is water tank inlet clogging due to a high level of sediment in the water supply, leading to similar symptoms.

    More often water sediment clogs the sensor of a water pressure regulator or it may clog a water filter, both of which lead to reduced water pressure and ultimately complete loss of water supply.

Shaking the Water Pressure Tank to Diagnose its Condition

Testing a home water tank: Some plumbers or homeowners check to see if their water tank contains any water by simply "shaking" the water pressure tank. Be careful: moving an empty water tank around can cause plumbing leaks or even a burst pipe. There may be a trick to this but shaking the water pressure tank alone is not going to reliably diagnoses a ruptured bladder in a captive air water tank). Shaking the tank can tell you that the water tank is empty but not why the water tank is empty.

Why is there no water in the tank?: The water tank could be empty simply because you ran all of its water out into the home and the water pump never came on to replenish the water supply. The possible causes of an empty water tank and no water in the home include causes we list in detail just below:

What are the Causes of Low or Poor Water Pressure or Loss of Water Pressure in a Building?

Photograph of a water pump pressure control switch

Bad water pressure control switch (pump does not run, pump does not respond to changes in water pressure, pump won't shut off) a failing pressure control switch on the water pump - perhaps the switch is not turning on the pump.

This can be checked by manually closing the pump relay - DON'T TRY THIS YOURSELF - SHOCK HAZARD - unless you are qualified and trained. Pressure Control Switch problems are discussed further
at CAUSES OF SHORT CYCLING.

Also be sure to
review WELL PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT for instructions on how to adjust the water pump pressure control switch. Our photo shows a new switch we installed on a one line jet pump in 2005.


Photograph of a water pressure regulator on municipal water supply

Bad water pressure regulator: (poor municipal water pressure) if the building is connected to a municipal water supply there may be a water pressure regulator installed, usually close to the water meter or where the water supply pipe enters the building.

A detailed guide to water pressure regulators and diagnosis and adjustment advice for these devices are
at WATER PRESSURE REDUCER / REGULATOR.

Photograph of the prime opening on a jet pump Bad water tank: (pump cycling on and off or "short cycling water pump") where buildings use a private pump and well and on some buildings with poor municipal water supply quantity or pressure, a water pressure tank is installed.
See WATER TANKS HOW THEY WORK

Photograph of the prime opening on a jet pump Loss of water pump or well pump prime (pump runs but no water is delivered) in an in-building pump, or an internal pump failure such as broken vanes - the pump motor runs but no water is delivered. An in-building pump could also run and no water be delivered if the well has run dry.

Here are The Key Water Tank Diagnostic Articles

If you have no water pressure at all, see NO WATER PRESSURE

If your water pressure is intermittent, starts and stops, or varies in pressure, see WATER PRESSURE INTERMITTENT LOSS

Is there some water pressure but the pressure and/or flow are poor?

  1. Water supply piping problem? 
    See Bad water pressure Clogged Pipes
    and
    WATER PIPE CLOG REPAIR

    The following articles pertain if you have a private well, pump, and tank system for your building
  2. Water Tank Problems? 
    See WATER PRESSURE TANK REPAIRS
  3. Water pump problems? 
    See
    1. WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT
    2. WATER PUMPS & TANKS & WELLS
    3. WATER PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES
  4. Bad water pressure regulator? 
    See WATER PRESSURE REDUCER / REGULATOR (not usually installed on private well and pump systems, often present on municipal water supply systems that use an in-building local water pump and pressure tank to boost pressure)

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Continue reading at WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

See WATER TANK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR FAQs for questions & answers posted originally at this article

Or see WATER TANK DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - for all types of water tanks

Or see WATER TANK BLADDER DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - for tanks that use an internal bladder

Or see WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE

Or see WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING

Or see WATER PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES - home

Or see WATER TANK AIR VOLUME CONTROLS - home

Or see WATER TANK vs WATER PRESSURE

Suggested citation for this web page

WATER TANK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to WATER SUPPLY, PUMPS TANKS WELLS

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