You’re a responsible driver, right? A responsible driver knows on some level how to use, maintain, and service their automobile. Similarly, as the owner of a well, it’s in your best interests to understand how your water system operates. Unfortunately, much of the equipment is out of sight and requires professional assistance. As a result, homeowners adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to owning a well. However, this complicates any potential issues when they arise.  If you understand what components do, you can learn how to troubleshoot issues that arise at home. Read on to learn how well pumps and pressure tanks work.

Well Pumps

As you are no doubt aware, wells are built by first drilling a hole and casing the hole. Then, after the experts finish drilling the well and install the casing, they install a well pump. The pump brings water from the water table to your home. As it is placed below the water level, it won’t be affected by drought or drawdown of the water table. Your pump’s size is determined by the needs of your home, including the number of fixtures and peak water demands. Most pumps can output ten gallons per minute with a motor running half a horsepower. However, homes that use irrigation systems, business, or have animal care needs may require a larger pump.

There are also jet pumps which are sometimes located above ground and are usually used with smaller and more shallow wells with a borehole less than four inches in diameter. These are less common, however. Instead, most homes use a submersible pump, which can determine the pressure and knows when to turn itself on and off. How does it do this?

Pressure Tanks

Pressure tanks are vital to the successful operation of any water well system. These keep the air and water separate and ensures a constant pressure for the whole water system. If this system were to fail or otherwise be absent, the pump could turn on and off rapidly – Called power cycling – Which quickly burns out your pump’s motor and causes it to fail.

As your pump brings water into the pressure tank, the air in the tank is compressed until it reaches a set point – Usually between 40 and 60 PSI – At which point the pump is told to stop until the pressure lowers to a second set point. Whenever somebody uses the water, the air pressure forces the water out of the tank at a steady level until pressure reaches a lower limit and the pump turns back on.

Most pressure tanks in residential homes are around 44 gallons, but some can hold as little as ten gallons or up to over two hundred gallons. The size of your pressure tank will depend again on the needs of your home, as well as the specifics of your well. For example, a well with low yield will typically have a larger pressure tank.

Potential Issues

As mentioned before, a problem with your pressure tank will cause your pump to power cycle rapidly. You’ll be able to hear this happening – Listen for the electric click of your pump’s relay switch turning on and off, examine your tank for any obvious leaks, and if you think there’s a problem with your pump, relay switch, or pressure tank, call a professional like us to determine the problem and find the best way to fix it so your water system and the equipment that’s gone into it can last as long as possible, providing you the best service possible.