Internal bladder type water pressure tank diagnostic questions & answers:
These questions & answers help diagnos & fix problems traced to the internal bladder used in water pressure tanks.
This article series describes the diagnosis and repair of internal bladder type water pressure tanks: how they work, what goes wrong, how to fix it.
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These questions and replies were posted originally at WATER TANK BLADDER PRESSURE ADJUSTMENT - be sure to review that topic page.
(July 20, 2015) (mod) said:
Correy Smith said:
A couple of water filters seem to have a hole, how would I be able to fix that? Just now my wife made me aware of the filters and it looks like it's too late to fix them since the whole has been leaking way too much water. My guess is that there has to be a way to fix it and run a water treatment test on it.
Correy, if the hole or leak is in the canister for your water filter, that part needs to be replaced.
(July 30, 2015) Linda Crawford said:
We have an ultimate water heater with an expansion tank connection. We have noticed that the pressure release valve on top is leaking quite a bit of water. (around 3/4 of a quart). We had the tank replaced in 2013. It did not use to leak like this. Help! What do we need to do?
Help for your problem is at RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
Watch out: a leaky relief valve is dangerous and could lead to a serious BLEVE EXPLOSION - search Inspectapedia.com for that phrase to read details.
(Oct 8, 2015) Seth said:
Hi, I was plumbing water to another out building and was wondering if I plumb the water line in between the water pump (well) and the pressure tank, will my water be pressurized? Or is it bad for the system?
It depends, Seth. If your water system uses a check valve between the pressure tank or house water inlet and the well piping then pressure on the house side won't be delivered to an outbuilding teed off of the well line.
It may be possible to add a second pressure control and tank at the outbuilding. I'd discuss that option with your plumber.
Or you could feed the outbuilding from the pressurised side of the house water piping.
Also if the piping is long, small diameter, with many bends, the flow rate could be poor.
(Oct 11, 2015) dave said:
My holding tank broke free from the pipes, How do I drain the tank to make it able to move??
Dave, if your pressure tank broke free from its piping it should drain completely out of the broken pipe. If it doesn't I worry that there's a burst, waterlogged bladder in the tank.
See WATER TANK DRAIN VALVE for instructions on how to drain a water tank.
(Oct 28, 2015) Brian said:
My jet pump takes 15 minutes to pressurize and refill my 20 gal. pressure tank from "cut in" to "cut off" (30-50 lbs). Air is also visible in the clear hose connection from the pump outlet to the pressure tank (bleeding the line doesn't correct this).
When taking a shower water pressure drops to 40 lbs. in 1st. 15 seconds then slows to 37 lbs. in 30 seconds, 35 lbs. in 55 seconds and then to 30 lbs. at 2 minutes, before pump comes on for another 15 minute cycle. Also, if you continue using water when pump cycles on you will eventually run out of water. What could the problem and solution be?
I would be looking for
- low water or poor flow rate in the well - this is the most likely problem - as I elaborate below
- pump set higher than needed above well bottom in a well with a small static head and poor flow rate
- a leak in well piping
It's normal for water pressure to fall during the period of water use when water pressure is being delivered by the air charge in the pressure tank.
Once the pump kicks in the relationship of that to water pressure depends on the pump delivery rate (gpm), lift, piping diameter, and of course the usage rate or flow rate possible at the fixture. In a modest-capacty home system and if the usage rate is fast enough that the pump can't "get ahead" of the fixtrure flow, then the water flow rate may be steady as long as the pump keeps running.
The fact that you run out of water suggests that the root problem is that your well has a poor recovery rate.
(Oct 28, 2015) Brian said:
Thanks Dan, your response makes a lot of sense.
(Mar 22, 2016) Bernie said:
I recently replaced my bladder tank. Now the pump cycles rapidly off and on. My switch is set at 30CI/50CO. When I dampen the gauge action with a ball valve, the pump operates until the cut-out is reached. Once the pump shuts off the gauge reading fluctuates until it settles out at approx. 37psig. I have a 7 gal draw down but the tank is actually doing about 2 gal before the pump turns back on. What could be going on with the system?
Rapid pump cycling usually means a water-logged pressure tank or a new tank with a bladder stuck to itself or a similar condition that's not letting water into the tank.
See WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING - home
(Mar 25, 2016) Bernie said:
That's what I was leaning toward. I just didn't understand the gauge action fluctuating between 35 and 45 psig eventually settling out at 37 when the pump shuts off.
(Apr 21, 2016) TRACY said:
LOW WATER PRESSURE AFTER NEW PUMP? About a month ago my submersible well pump went out. The pressure switch, pressure gauge and pump were replaced. The filter housing is about 2 years old. The pressure tank "appears" to be ok, so it was not replaced. The tank has 26 psi empty. The pump cuts in at about 31 psi and off at about 50 psi. The old pump was a Water Ace 1/2hp, never found the gpm. The new pump is a Countyline 1/2hp 10gpm.
What am I missing? Before the pump went out I had good pressure, now it is seriously less. The dishes don't get clean in the dishwasher and a shower is pathetic.
Tracy, there could be various problems: pipe clogs, faucet strainer and shower head clogging, mineral deposits, well pipe leaks, low voltage to the pump; the GPM does not tell us the maximum pressure that your new pump can reach.
Search InspectApedia.com for DIAGNOSE LOW WATER PRESSURE to read a detailed diagnostic approach.
(May 3, 2016) Jake jackson said:
Hi,I have a well that is 46 years old . last year I had to replace the pump for the first time . and now the water surges . I'm thinking it's the bladder tank ? But it's buryed in the ground what can I do ?
I'd start at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE
(May 3, 2016) Sid Johnson said:
Do you let the air out of the bladder when you winterize your home.
No but you would want to let water out if you're leaving heat off.
(May 7, 2016) Randy said:
Ppurchased a home recently, previous owner was using current set-up with no issues. When i turn on any zone in my sprinkler system, pressure in my tank drops down and pump kicks in. but never fills tank and doesn't keep up with sprinklers, pressure gauge shows about 15 PSI.
I have excellent pressure at the heads for about a minute, then they drop down to nothing. (4 heads on a zone). When I shut down sprinkler system, tank fills back up and everything works fine as far as house plumbing. Pump is a 1/2Hp about 50' deep. Is this a pump issue, well issue or tank issue. Neighbor has same set-up, they installed together and he has no issues. Sprinklers run fine.
Randy, I suspect that the water flow rate into your well (its recovery rate) is slower than the pump's output rate. Some pumps or pump controls include a protection circuit or device that prevents the pump from continuing to run or limit its outflow rate when the water level drops in the well - otherwise the pump is likely to be destroyed by running dry.
Start by asking your well company to check the well's recovery rate. Search InspectApedia.com for WELL FLOW RATE TEST to read details.
(June 22, 2016) PATRICIA said:
Will my bladder tank prevent my shallow well pump from priming. Been working on it for 3 weeks and unable to prime it. Replaced everything including pump and still unable to prime. Any information would help. Thanks.
Doesn't seem likely. If the pump turns on in response to a drop in water pressure then the tank and pressure switch are not the problem.
Search InspectAPedia for HOW TO PRIME THE PUMP and try those methods. Follow the water, find the leak.
Check the pump impeller for damage
(July 11, 2016) brenda said:
my pump is kicking on and off. I have replaced the pressure switch and we took out the tank and drained it. How do I know if I need to replace my take? How do I know if the blatter is bad?
If your tank uses an internal bladder AND the pressure tank is waterlogged OR if the pump cannot push water into the tank interior (or bladder -as can happen if the bladder has become stuck to itself) then you'll need to repair or replace the tank.
Very rapid pump cycling on and off typically is caused by a water-logged pressure tank or a new tank with a bladder stuck to itself or a similar condition that's not letting water into the tank.
See WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING - to diagnose this problem.
(Aug 17, 2016) Chris said:
New Utilitech 20 Gallon Water Tank (Lowe's). Bringing up and "stress-testing" a completely new system. At one point I completely discharged all water from the tank, removed power from the pump, and opened faucets to release any remaining system pressure.
Then, to isolate the tank completely, I closed a shutoff valve between the tank tee and the system.
Here's the weird part. The pressure gauge at the tank tee naturally read zero upon draining it completely. HOWEVER, after a few minutes, the pressure begins to creep up and eventually equals the tank precharge pressure (currently at 38 PSI). Is this a natural phenomenon (perhaps due to temperature change), or is there a pinhole leak in my new tank allowing precharge air to transfer across the diaphram to the "water side"? The pressure at the top of the tank continues to read 38 PSI, but since the difference in volume on either side of the diaphragm is so great, I assume it would take a long time for pressure loss from a pinhole leak to be readable on a typical tire pressure gage.
An empty water tank that uses an internal bladder will have an air charge above the bladder equal to the tank pre-charge pressure (38 psi by your note). Perhaps air in the water-containing area of the tank is thus being pressurized by the pre-charge?
If there's a leak in the bladder I expect air discahrge to show up at faucets but perhaps the air leak is so slow that the air discharge isn't noticed.
But if the bladder leaks then ultimately I expect to see the pump start to short-cycle and I expect to see the draw-down water quantity reduced (before the pump turns on).
A second reason for a gauge to respond only slowly to pressure changes is debris-clogging of the gauge's sensor port; if you replaced the tank but are using an old gauge on the system that could be the case. Watch the gauge when you pressurize and de-pressurize the tank. Does it sometimes stick or is it slow to respond?
Finaly re "closing the valve between the tank and the system" - I'm unclear on this. Is the tank isolated from the pump and controls but still connected to the house water supply piping?
I'd try to separately isolate the tank from 1. the pump side, 2. the house side, 3. both sides. That'd be diagnostic.
(Aug 17, 2016) Chris said:
Thank you Dan.
"I'd try to separately isolate the tank from 1. the pump side, 2. the house side, 3. both sides. That'd be diagnostic."
I may have described the sytsem state unclearly, but yes, the tank is completely isolated from any and all plumbing systems. It is basically stand alone and capped off at the tee by a shutoff valve. In this state, the empty "water side" of the tank (as measured at the tank tee pressure gage)slowly creeps up in pressure until it equals the "air side" pressure. Currently set at 38 PSI. The entire system is weeks old, so no sediment here.
Unless there is a known phenomenon wherein the pressure on the water side of the tank would increase due to temperature changes, I can only otherwise attribute it to pressure bleeding across the diaphragm. UNLESS I am missing something that an experienced plumber would find obvious. :) And I am prone to missing the obvious!
(Aug 17, 2016) Chris said:
Dan. Regarding the water-side tank pressure increasing, while isolated from all plumbing: It was indeed the temperature differential causing the pressure to creep up. As the well-water-chilled bottom of the tank climbed up towards ambient temperature, it was also increasing in pressure.
Once the whole tank was equalized at the same temperature, I released any remaining air pressure from the bottom and re-isolated the tank from all systems. At this point, the pressure at the tank tee remains at zero as it should, and no longer creeps up towards pre-charge pressure.
It was the temperature difference. Case closed. In case you ever get a similar question, you can now say, "yeah, that's a thing." :)
At the start of this article and in more detail at WATER TANK BLADDER CONSTRUCTION where we show a cutaway of one version of a bladder-type pressure tank you'll see a small VENT hole in a metal dome that separates the water-holding area of the tank (in the tank bottom) from the air reservoir area of the tank (in the tank top).
When you empty the tank of water the bladder collapses downwards and the water pressure falls to zero or near-zero; there may be a tiny bit of water left in the system or if the water side was drained air could have entered the water side of the pressure tank.
Here's an image inspectapedia.com/water/Water_Tank_Bladder_416_DJFs.jpg
When you totally isolate the water tank, the air at the pre-charge pressure passes through that vent opening and slowly pressurizes the bottom or water area of the tank. That might be pushing enough on the bladder that if there is air or water remaining in the isolated bladder space you'd see the water-side pressure go up to the pre-charge pressure. That sounds OK to me.
When the tank is re-pressurized using this approach, and you see pressure on the water side, open the Tank Tee valve and see if some water or air comes out; a small shot should emerge, then nothing further. If air keeps coming out then yeah the bladder has a leak.
(Aug 28, 2016) David said:
I have a 2 year old Varem bladder pressure tank with the pump and pressure switch mounted on top, the pump draws water from an outside tank.
The system works well at first then over a period of about a month it starts to short cycle.I then drain the pressure tank re connect and again all is well but it will gradualy start to short cycle after some weeks to the point where I need to drain the tank to "reset" the system. I considered blocking of the pump/pressure switch pipes by sediment however simply disconnecting them to flush water through did not have the desired effect,only completely draining the tank and re pressurising with water will temporarily solve the problem.
Usually if the pressure control switch is debris blocked you'll find that it simply doesn't turn the pump on or off when it should.
Conversely, short cycling is usually due to a waterlogged pressure tank. I'd take a look at the pressure tank's air volume control, or if it's an internal bladder tank, the bladder may be damaged; Replace the bladder or the tank in that case.
(Oct 12, 2016) Ron said:
Just replaced 35/82equivent tank with 36 gal. Pressure was set at 28. Cycling at 30-57 . Old system cycled 30-52 . Is this OK?
(Oct 24, 2016) Lynn said:
When filling a brand new tank (pump is 30/50 tank psi set to 28), what about the air already in the water portion of the tank during filling. Is there a way to bleed that out when filling? Note: I'm not talking about the air in the bladder portion. Is there supposed to be air in the bladder (28psi) and air in the water portion both?
Air already in the tank, without water, won't hurt you a bit. The bladder will be pretty much empty, and closed down upon itself - picture a collapsed balloon.
Set the air pre-charge pressure with no water in the tank - to 2 psi below the pressure switch cut-in pressure. 28 PSI would be just right for a CUT-IN pressure of 30 psi.
If there is un-wanted or excess air in the water-portion of the pressure tank it'll either absorb into the water or be discharged out through plumbing fixtures.
(Oct 25, 2016) Ray said:
I'm having an issue with my above ground well pump not building more than 25psi. I changed the pressure switch, have plenty of water. When I shut the pump off it holds pressure, no problem. Do you,think it's the impeller on the pump or possibly the well tank.
If the pump can't get above 25 psi there can be any of seveal problems like a well piping leak, bad pump impeller, or low water in the well. See these diagnostic and repair articles:
Continue reading at WATER TANK BLADDER PRESSURE ADJUSTMENT or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see WATER TANK BLADDER FAQs - questions about water tank bladders: use, function, installation, repair
Or see WATER TANK BLADDER DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - Set 1 of Q&A on water pressure tank bladder diagnosis & repair
Or see WATER TANK BLADDERS & CAPTIVE AIR - home
Or see WATER TANK DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - for all types of water tanks
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Please see the diagnostic questions & answers in the article above.
Or see WATER TANK BLADDER DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - set #1 of diagnosis & repair questions for water pressure tank bladders
Also see WATER TANK DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for questions besides the tank bladder itself and for water tanks that do not use an internal bladder.
Please also see WATER TANK BLADDERS & CAPTIVE AIR - home
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