When you're connected to a municipal water supply, you can call up the local water department when you notice a drop-off in water pressure. But with a well, it's your responsibility to find the cause of your water pressure problems and fix it instead.
Read on to understand how good water pressure is maintained as water travels through the well system to help you find the cause of your water pressure issues.
1. Pressure Tank Problems
If your water pressure has been low since the system was installed or since you had it repaired, the problem could be an undersized pressure tank. Pressure tanks are fiberglass tanks installed between the pump and the rest of the plumbing system. The tank contains an air bladder inside that depresses as water enters so that a constant level of pressure is maintained in the pipes.
The tank drains of water before the pump turns on to refill it, preventing the pump from turning on every single time you need water. When the air bladder inside the pressure tank ruptures, the tank just fills with water normally and can't build up any pressure. This results in the pump turning on for every demand for water, and it can also reduce the amount of water pressure you get at the tap.
Go down to the pump and tank assembly and see if there's a permanent gauge attached. If there is one and the gauge shows a reading of 0 pounds of pressure in the tank, you need a new tank.
2. Pressure Switch Settings
The tank itself doesn't tell the pump when to switch on in order to refill it and maintain the same water pressure. This is handled by an electronic part known as the pressure switch, which is a box attached to the top or side of the pump. If it is set incorrectly or is wearing out, it won't switch on early enough, and you'll experience a noticeable drop in pressure for a few seconds before the water starts flowing normally again.
You can't test or fix the pressure switch yourself unless you're experienced in well repair. Since this problem causes a cyclical lack in water pressure that follows a steady pattern, that pattern of pressure changes is the best indicator that you need the switch repaired or replaced.
3. Undersized Pump
Each well pump is rated by its flow capacity, and that's the top limit of how much water it can pump per minute. If your demand inside the home is higher than that rate at any time, you'll experience lower pressure at every faucet or appliance you're using at the same time.
You can test if this is the problem by using a single faucet and seeing what pressure it offers, then turning on a second faucet and seeing if the pressure drops. A pump providing five gallons per minute will only pump at a low pressure when you're demanding seven gallons a minute instead. If you can't change your water use habits to get the pressure you want, consider upgrading to a faster pump.
4. Scale Buildup
Finally, a sudden and steady drop in water pressure that doesn't seem to correlate with your pump turning on and off is likely due to a problem in the pipes between the well and your home. Scale buildup is the primary cause of pressure loss in well systems because groundwater tends to have higher dissolved mineral content than water going through the sanitation processes used by municipal water suppliers.
You can't test or inspect your pipes for scale, but you can look for signs of mineral content in the water. If soap is hard to lather up, you have red or blue deposits in your toilet and tub, or freshly washed dishes dry with a white or milky residue, a well specialist will likely need to clean out or replace at least some of the pipes to restore your water pressure.
Regardless of the cause, Camp’s Well & Pump Co., Inc. is ready to help restore your lost water pressure. Contact us for help before going through another low pressure shower.