well pump and pessure tanks

Old 07-15-01, 11:45 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Ever since we got record rains in may
our water has been cloudy. The pump quit once when
a lightning strike fried the underground
wires to the pump. While replacing them
the person doing t he job said the one or
both of our pressure tanks could be going
My wife said last year she could hear the
pump coming on and shutting off but now
she hears it come on but not go off or it
takes a long time in between.
So is there an opinion as to if it sounds
like the pressure tanks are going out
or could the well possibly be running dry?
We're in minnesota and we have a deep deep
We did have the lines freeze between the well
and the house during the winter but they
thawed out with a space heater in the well overnight
and the cloudy water problem which seems to be sand
didn't start till mid to late may after
the rains we had.

thanks for any advice
Old 07-15-01, 02:34 PM
Mike Swearingen's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Northeastern NC On The Albemarle Sound
Posts: 10,948
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts

If you have air bladder type pressure tanks, you can check the pressure with a tire pressure gauge.
With the pump running, the air pressure should be two psi below the cut-on pressure. With the pump off after building up to cut-off, it should be about 22 lbs above that. Residential pumps are usually set 20 psi apart for cut-on/cut-off.
If the cut-on pressure is too high, bleed off the pressure just like you would a tire. If it is too low, air it up with a bicycle pump or portable air tank or compressor to the two psi below cut-on.
IF it won't hold the minimum pressure, the air bladder is leaking, and the only solution then is to replace the pressure tank. You may only need to air them up.
I doubt that a deep well in Minnesota is going dry. The heavy rains may have stirred up a lot of sand/silt in the underground acquifer somehow, and that is probably the reason for the cloudy water. You can get a filter to filter it out.
Good Luck!
Old 07-18-01, 06:53 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I would like to add a few comments about your problems.

Dry Well: the simplest way to tell if you are having problems with your well flow is to run this simple test to monitor well/pump output.

1. Pick a time when the well is not being used for any other purpose, and insure the pump is off.
2. From an outside faucet, using a hose, begin to fill a five gallon bucket. Determine the rate at which you are filling the bucket, in gallons per minute, by using the time it takes to fill the bucket (in seconds) divided into 300 (The size of the bucket (5 gallons) times 60 seconds).
3. Try for a rate of around five gallons per minute and plan to conduct this flow test for several hours.
4. Once your flow rate is established, note the time it takes the pump to go through a complete cycle, from the time it shuts off, pressure goes down, turns on, pressure goes up, pump shuts off.
5. As the pump runs, and the water level in the well lowers, this cycle will lenghten. However, as long as there is sufficient water in the well, the pump will continual to cycle.
6. If your well has insufficient flow to supply the pump over time, the flow from your hose will, generally, stop fairly suddenly. If this happens before the end of your test, immediately turn off the hose and the electricity to your well pump. Allow the system to sit idle for about half an hour to allow the well to recover. You should be able to turn the pump back on and the pressure should rebuild.
7. If you were able to run your well for more than several hours at a rate of five gallons per minute or more, you have ample water for your needs. Less than that may indicate you need to investigate some ways to increase the yield.

Keep in mind that you are measuring the water production for a short period of time and in a "demand" situation. Imagine the amount of water a well that was capabnle of doing only two gallons per minute continuously could produce in 24 hours. If you had a way to capture that production, you could easily supply several houses, couldn't you?

Now to the tanks.

Bladder tanks, as pointed out, are now the most common in use today. The operate by maintaining a "captured" amount of air under pressure behind a diaphram or in a bladder. However, the checking procedure described in the other post is not quite correct.

These tanks are checked by turning off the well pump and draining the system pressure to zero by running the water until the flow stops. At this point, even though there is no pressure in the system, the tanks should each have a captured pressure, as mentioned, of approximately 2-3 pounds less than your pump's turn on pressure. If your system pressure range is set to turn on at 30 pounds and to turn off at 50 pounds, for example, the tanks should have about 28 pounds of pressure when the system is at zero.

The tank pressure is checked, as mentioned, by locating the air fitting on the tank, which looks the same as on your car tires, and then using a pressure gauge. Generally, this air fitting is locate near on the side of the tank near the top.

Adjustments to the level of air are made as indicated in the earlier posting. There is no danger to the tank if you put in too much air, but you will experience a sudden change in water pressure each time the pump nears the point when it turn on the recharge the system. This is corrected by removing additional air from the tanks.

Many bladder tanks, as mentioned, are non-repairable. The biggest selling brand, Well-X-Trol, is one of these. However, some brand such as Sears and Well-Mate, have replaceable bladders.

If you have non-bladder type tanks, the procedures are different. Let me know if you need information on this.

The purpose of the pressure tanks is to prevent your pump from rapid cycling each time there is a demand for water. Generally, the longer the span of time between each pump start and the longer the pump runs each time it does start, the longer will be the life of the pump. In theory, the larger the capacity of the presuure tanks, the longer the life of your well pump. This cycle is shortened if the tanks lose their head of air.

Unless you are using the pump on a continuous basis, as in watering your garden, you do not want the pump to start more than five times an hour, and then it should run at least several minutes each time it does.

Whenever you do use your well pump for a long period, again as in watering your garden, try to use as much water per minute as you can in an attempt to make the pump stay on each cycle as long as possible. Your pump was designed to run continuously, and its life is shortened the more often you start and stop the motor.

Sorry for the long and involved answer


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: