Signs of Air Loss from a Home Water Tank
How do I know if my water tank has lost its air charge?
WATER TANK AIR LOSS SIGNS - CONTENTS: Signs that a water tank has lost its air charge - guide to diagnosing & correcting a waterlogged water pressure tank. A waterlogged water pressure tank causes short cycling "on-off" of the building water pump
InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.
This article describes how to diagnose the loss of and need for air in a water tank, how to add air to a building water pressure tank,
and how to detect and correct air and water leaks in a building water supply system where a private well is the water source.
We also discuss how to adjust the building water pressure by setting the cut-in and cut-out pressure on the pump pressure control switch.
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.
SIGNS OF AIR LOSS - What are the signs of loss of air in the water tank
Several alternative procedures for adding air to a water pressure tank are described below along with advice about what to do when things go wrong, such as finding air and water leaks.
Readers of this document should also
see WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.
The illustration at left is used with permission of Carson DunlopAssociates, Inc. in Toronto. [Click to enlarge any image]
Short Cycling of the Water Pump: If you hear the pump cycling on and off every few seconds, or if you see the water pressure squirting
in short bursts at the water tap, the pressure tank needs air.
Condensate marks or line on the water tank: If on the outside of a water pressure tank the line of condensation is in upper 70% of tank (or higher than the normal condensate
stains if such marks are visible on the tank) then there is not a large remaining air reserve. The water pressure tank probably needs
or will soon need air.
Technical notes: This article explains two basic cases of water pressure tank problems that can result in water pump short cycling:
1. Too little air in the water pressure tank:
Unless you live in a climate where there is never condensation on the exterior of the water tank, normally the (lower) portion of the tank that contains water will be cooler
than the upper tank, causing the condensation of water onto the tank surface.
If the condensate line is high on the water tank this means it's filling up with water and there is not enough air charge. (Air resides at the top of the pressure tank and water in the tank bottom.) (Water Tanks in Dry Climates: if you live in an arid climate like Arizona in the U.S. or San Miguel de Allende in Mexico you may not ever see condensation on the water tank regardless of other factors.)
Conventional steel water pressure tanks that do not use an internal bladder to separate their air charge from the water in the tank will normally lose air by absorption into the water over time. The rate of air loss, if no leaks are present, depends on the amount of water used and on how well any automatic air volume control is working.
A water pressure tank that has lost its air charge is called a waterlogged tank or water-logged pressure tank. We can add air back to the tank pretty easily (described below
at WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD) but we'll also want to know why the tank lost its air charge.
Bladder type or "captive air" water tanks do not normally need to have makeup air added. If you are experiencing water pump short cycling problems with bladder-type water tanks and the problem is not in the pump control or water piping, the problem may be traced to a failure of the bladder itself - a component that may be replaceable.
See WATER TANK BLADDERS & CAPTIVE AIR for details.
2. Not enough water in the pressure tank: If your water pressure tank never shows any condensation, perhaps that's because no water or not enough water is entering
the water pressure tank.
This is the opposite problem from a water tank that has lost its air charge. We've found this uncommon case (of no water in the water tank) when the tank was defective,
the pipe into the tank was clogged, or the tank was overcharged with too much air pressure. If there is too much air in the water pressure tank, this problem is usually self-correcting - the excess air leaves the tank through the supply piping to the building.
But if the entry to the tank is blocked, or if the water-containing rubber bladder in a "captive air" water tank is defective (it can become stuck to itself and remain collapsed), the result can be a rapid on-off short cycling of the water pump. We test water pressure tanks to see if they're empty or nearly empty
of water by seeing if we can rock or move the tank. If the tank is heavy with water it does not move easily. Be careful not to jiggle and break a pipe!
Water pressure surging at the sink or tub faucets: If you see the water pressure spurting or changing between good pressure and weak pressure every 5-20 seconds, the water pump is turning on and off to rapidly, and something's amiss in the system. Even if the total draw down cycle (from time the pump cut off until it cuts back on) is a minute, your system may be short cycling or close to it.
Pump relay clicking rapidly: If the actual water pump or well pump is located in the well or outside in a well pit rather than inside the building, you won't hear the pump turning on and off. However at the pressure tank is a pressure switch which senses the water pressure and turns the pump on (at low pressure, typically 20 psi
or 30 psi) and off at the end of the pump cycle (at high pressure, typically 40 psi or 50 psi). If the relay is clicking on and off every few seconds the pump is short cycling and something's amiss in the system.
Effects of ambient air temperature on water tank and pump control operation are not normally any concern whatsoever, but in the off chance that your water tank is installed in an unusually hot or cold location, you'll want to review
The mathematics to calculate exactly how much difference a given air pressure or air volume change makes inside a water tank is presented in our companion article
Water Tank Pressure Calculations.
If your water supply problem is not described by the symptoms above the issue may with the building piping, fixtures, or the well's ability to deliver water over a sustained time - the well yield. In this case see the diagnostic guide starting at WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Continue reading at WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES. or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Questions & answers on how to determine that a water pressure tank has become water-logged or has lost its air charge
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, 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.
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Access Water Energy, PO Box 2061, Moorabbin, VIC 3189, Australia, Tel: 1300 797 758, email: email@example.com Moorabbin Office: Kingston Trade Centre, 100 Cochranes Rd, Moorabbin, VIC 3189
Australian supplier of: Greywater systems, Solar power to grid packages, Edwards solar systems, Vulcan compact solar systems, water & solar system pumps & controls, and a wide rage of above ground & under ground water storage tanks: concrete, steel, plastic, modular, and bladder storage tanks.
Smart Tank, Installation Instructions [ copy on file as /water/Smart_Tank_Flexcon.pdf ] - , Flexcon Industries, 300 Pond St., Randolph MA 02368, www.flexconind.com, Tel: 800-527-0030 - web search 07/24/2010, original source: http://www.flexconind.com/pdf/st_install.pdf
Typical Shallow Well One Line Jet Pump Installation [ copy on file as /water/Jet_Pump_Grove_Elect_Jet_Pumps.pdf ] - , Grove Electric, G&G Electric & Plumbing, 1900 NE 78th St., Suite 101, Vancouver WA 98665 www.grovelectric.com - web search -7/15/2010 original source: http://www.groverelectric.com/howto/38_Typical%20Jet%20Pump%20Installation.pdf
Typical Deep Well Two Line Jet Pump Installation [ copy on file as /water/Jet_Pump_Grove_Elect.pdf ] - , Grove Electric, G&G Electric & Plumbing, 1900 NE 78th St., Suite 101, Vancouver WA 98665 www.grovelectric.com - web search -7/15/2010 original source: http://www.groverelectric.com/howto/38_Typical%20Jet%20Pump%20Installation.pdf
Water Fact Sheet #3, Using Low-Yielding Wells [ copy on file as /water/Low_Yield_Wells_Penn_State.pdf ] - , Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension, School of Forest Resources, web search 07/24/2010, original source: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/XH0002.pdf
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones