Maintaining your pressure tanks – know the signs of failure and under performance issues

Pressure tank Maintenance

If you live on an acreage or farm you will likely have a well and pressure system in your home. This little component is often overlooked and receives very little maintenance. This week I was having some issues with my Reverse Osmosis system so I began to trouble shoot what the problem might be. I concluded that the pressure tank was only at 6 lbs. I added air to the bladder to achieve about 30 lbs and the problem disappeared. While I have the compressor handy I decided to check the well pressure tank as well. I found that this tank also was low on pressure at 13 pounds. I added air to this tank as well to achieve around 28 pounds.

The procedure for checking the air pressure in a bladder tank is often misunderstood so I will go over it here. First of all you should turn off the breaker for the pump. Next turn on as many of the cold water fixtures as you can to drain the water pressure from the system. You should be able to watch the pressure drop on the gauge and physically see the volume of water drop in the fixtures. Once the water stops coming out of the fixtures you can assume the pressure is at zero. If your gauge is reading something else gently tap it to see if the needle drops, if not I recommend changing the gauge at this time.

Now that the pressure in the lines is at zero you can check the pressure in the bladder with a tire pressure gauge. If the pressure is below 28 pounds you should add more. Never go above 45 lbs as most bladders are only rated to 50 pounds and 28 – 38 should be adequate. If you cannot get the tank to build pressure or if it appears to leak out once you remove the pump, you likely need a new tank. If the pressure tank is not holding air you are over working your pump and may need to replace it prematurely if you don’t address the pressure pump issue.

Finally, if you notice the pump is cutting in and out (cycling) more than once every few minutes or so than you likely have a bad pressure tank or the tank is low on air. The cut in and out pressures on the pressure switch should be set close to 35 and 55 pounds pressure. If you go higher or lower than that you may shorten the life of the pump and risk other issues such as leaks. If you are hauling water you want low pressure to conserve water. If you live in a two story home with 6 bathrooms you may need more pressure (65 PSI) to adequately supply the house. As always if you have questions about your particular situation don’t hesitate to contact me for free over the phone or text advice.

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