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Well pump pressure control switch adjustment: This article describes How to Find & Adjust or Repair or Replace the Water Pump Pressure Control, what it looks like, where it is usually connected.
If you need to adjust water pressure at a building served by a private pump and well system, or if your well pump is acting badly, this pressure control switch may need adjustment or repair/replacement.
This is a typical Water Pump Pressure Control Switch, normally found mounted on piping at the water pressure tank such as in this Square D Pumptrol® Switch photo where you see a small gray-covered box with electrical wires coming in (power) and out (to pump) of it.
The pump pressure control switch, by being connected
to the actual water piping in the building, senses the water pressure and when necessary, turns the water pump on.
The water pump pressure control switch either turns on the water pump directly, or (particularly when a submersible water pump is in use), this switch may operate a physically separate (usually wall-mounted) heavier-duty pump relay which turns on the water pump itself.
The well pump pressure control switch type shown here can be used to control well pumps wired either for 120V or 240V power supply, up to 15-amps. This switch serves both above ground jet pumps and smaller horsepower submersible well pumps.
For larger horsepower submersible well pumps that draw greater than 15A current, as we mentioned above, a separate heavy duty (higher ampacity capacity) pump relay switch is used to turn on and off the pump motor.
The pump pressure control switch senses changes in water pressure in the system and according to its cut-in/cut-out setting, that device in turn operates
the WATER PUMP RELAY SWITCH which in turn operates the well pump.
If the water pump "short cycle" is very short, clicking on and off, there could be a shortage of air in the water tank,
or there could be a problem with the pump control pressure switch itself, or even a dirty and
clogged water filter [photo] if one is installed on the system. Dirty water filters
and other causes of rapid water pump on-off cycling
at CAUSES OF SHORT CYCLING.
These water pump short cycling problems happen with both in-building jet pumps and with in-well submersible pumps. It's trickier to notice a short cycling submersible pump since you won't hear the pump motor, but you will hear the pump relay clicking on and off, or you can see the water pressure gauge cycling up and down rapidly.
This photo shows a green-painted pressure control switch, mounted on the left side of the one line jet pump. You can see a copper tube that runs from the bottom of the pump pressure control switch bottom over to a fitting at the top center of the face of the jet pump.
[Click to enlarge this or any photo]
This tube is sensing system water pressure inside of the pump housing. The bottom of the pump (or water) pressure switch contains a rubber diaphragm that is pushed on by water pressure conducted to it through this tube. The diaphragm in turn operates the pump relay that turns the water pump on and off.
If the water supply is high in sediment often sediment will clog the pressure sensing opening at the bottom of the pressure control. We've tried cleaning out this orifice but it's never proven to be a lasting repair. If your pump pressure switch stops responding to changes in water pressure it probably needs to be replaced.
A defective water pressure control switch. Switch contacts can burn-up, or the opening into the switch
which senses the water pressure in the system can become clogged with sediment or debris.
This usually shows up as failure of the pump switch to turn on or off at all, rather than short cycling. But the switch could be damaged or improperly adjusted, causing "short water pump cycling." Details about this switch are
at WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH
Technical note: Clogging of the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch if your water has a high level of silt, debris, or minerals, it's possible that the tubing or piping connecting the pump pressure switch to the pump or water piping (red arrow in photo at left), or the pump switch bottom orifice through which the pressure switch senses the water pressure in the system has become clogged.
The small diameter of this tubing and still smaller diameter of the pump switch orifice makes clogging easy if your well water is high in sediment or minerals.
A clogged water pump pressure control switch (green arrow in photo at left) will often fail to turn on the well pump at all, even though the pressure in the system has dropped below the water pump "cut in" pressure. Reader Jeff Crosby reported an example of this pressure switch clog problem:
[When our well pump kept short cycling and I was unable to get the well pump pressure control switch to work properly, ...] I ended up calling the pump service company to come over. There was an extreme amount of mineral buildup inside the pump where the copper tubing initially comes out to travel to the pressure switch.
I thought about checking that out but did not know how funny. There has always been an awl sitting on the pump base for the longest time.
One of their maintenance guys left it there long ago. Now I know why - ever since that date when they come do their yearly check up they knock out this sediment [using the awl to open the tubing so that the pressure switch can accurately sense the water pressure in the system]. -- Jeff Crosby
On rare occasions we can tap on the well pump control switch and it will begin working again, but not for long, and not reliably. Another water pressure control switch failure is the rupture of a rubber disk or "bladder" inside the switch itself. If you detect or suspect a defective pressure control switch, try replacing it with a new one.
We see a similar problem affecting water pressure gauges on private water systems: debris or mineral deposits can clog the pressure sensing orifice on the water pressure gauge, causing it to fail to respond at all, or to respond inaccurately to changes in water pressure.
When we find a clogged water pump pressure switch or the tubing connected to it, or a clogged water pressure gauge, we replace those items. A well pump pressure gauge that does not respond to pressure changes is potentially unsafe as it could lead to excessive pressurization of the water tank and building piping.
Watch out: some pump pressure control switches may mount directly to a water pressure tank without an obvious 1/8" or 1/4" ID mounting tube. In our pressure switch photo at left the red arrow points to the mounting base for the pressure control switch and you'll see that this control was screwed right into the water tank at a threaded tapping.
But the pressure sensing membrane found on the bottom (or in this case on the left side in our photo) of the pressure control switch can still become damaged or the orifice that admits water (and pressure) is easily clogged. The effect of debris clogging at a water pump pressure control switch is the same regardless of whether or not a longer mounting tube is used to mount the switch to the water system.
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
Try reviewing the article above where the details of the water pump pressure control switch adjustment are described; if your switch does not match the one described then you just need to know the switch brand and model in order to go to the manufacturer to obtain the exact adjustment instructions.
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.
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:
Take a look again at the instructions above that indicate which nut to turn in which direction to increase the well pump cut-in pressure (that's your 20 psi number) and cut-out pressure (that's your 40 psi number). You should be able to raise the cut-in pressure to 30 psi and you will probably want to raise the cut out pressure to 50 psi, provided that your pump can actually reach that number.
If the pump keeps running forever even AFTER you have turned off the water, then it is not capable of reaching 50 psi and you'll have to lower that setting to avoid burning up the water pump.
If the instructions are still too complicated to follow then you would be best off asking a plumber to change the settings for you. Just be sure the person you hire is familiar with well pump pressure control switches.
Your site has been so (extremely) helpful. Thank you for the information.
I am wondering if you, being familiar with water pump systems, know the manufacturer of this Pressure Control Switch? Only a few letters are readable (at the bottom), but I am hoping it is enough. - J.X.
Perhaps we can identify this pump pressure control switch from several things that are legible on the switch tag:
From the yellow wire in the photo bottom, most likely this is a 120V switch; so even though we know it's serving a mobile home it's not a 12V device. (Some mobile homes and motor homes use 12V pumps for managing their water supply.)
Second, the layout of the data tag and the remaining letters at the bottom of that tag look a lot like "SQUARE D COMPANY. You can just make out the letters ".... QUAR ..." that's a compelling argument for Square D.
[Click any of our images to see an enlarged, detailed version. ]
Finally, if you look at the switch cover you might see a "D" with a rectangle embossed around it, or best yet, you might see the company name and details on a label stuck to the interior of the switch cover.
In any event from the data tag on the switch, a standard 120V/240V pressure control switch made by Square D or similar manufacturers should be just fine if you need a replacement.
You might turn off electrical power, remove the control switch, and take it to your local plumbing supplier for a match. To remove the switch you may need to plug the piping where the switch senses water pressure or drain water pressure from the system.
In the sketch above the pump pressure control switch is item #4 - we show this switch in more details in photographs provided in this article series.
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