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2 Common Pressure Tank Issues

High pressure steam tanks
The pressure tank is one of the most important components of a residential well system. As its name implies, this tank works to boost the pressure of your well's water, ensuring that it flows out of your fixtures with an adequate degree of force. Without a pressure tank, your well water would likely come out of your showers and taps as a mere dribble.

Unfortunately, pressure tanks have a tendency to develop problems as time goes on. While regular maintenance will help minimize such problems, they may still occur. When that time comes, it helps to know as much as possible about the sorts of problems you may be facing. This article will improve your knowledge of pressure tank mechanics by discussing two commonly experienced issues.

1. Ruptured Bladder

A pressure tank consists of a steel frame, inside of which a flexible membrane, often referred to as the bladder, can be found. Constructed of heavy duty rubber, the bladder holds the water. Pressurized air occupies the rest of the space inside the tank. This air compresses the water in the bladder, which in turn, ensures that it flows out of the tank at the desired pressure.

The separation of water and air is the key to a bladder-style pressure tank's ability to deliver the results you want. As time goes on, the rubber bladder often begins to weaken. After many years of service, it may eventually develop leaks. Weakened seams may end up giving out entirely.

No matter what issue the rubber bladder is having, water will escape into the part of the tank reserved for air. As water fills up this portion of the tank instead, there will be room for less and less air. This leads to the phenomenon known as short-cycling, which involves the pressure tank's motor having to come on again and again after excessively short periods of time.

Professionals test for a ruptured bladder by performing what is known as a psi cycle test. This involves draining the tank until it reaches its lower psi threshold. At that point, the technician starts a timer and measures the amount of time it takes for the pressure to reach its upper threshold. Ideally, this process should take over a minute.

If, the tank's pressure gauge takes less than a minute to register the maximum pressure, a ruptured bladder may be the cause. The technician may choose to verify this possibility by opening up the tank's pressure relief valve. Under normal circumstances, opening the pressure relief valve will allow air to hiss out of the tank. If your bladder has ruptured, however, water will squirt out of the relief valve instead. 

2. Faulty Pressure Switch

Water flows into your pressure tank thanks to the action of a well pump. This well pump is activated by a pressure switch inside of the pressure tank. Once the pressure in the tank reaches a pre-set minimum threshold, the pressure switch will cause the pump to turn on, thus supplying the pressure tank with additional water.

Unfortunately, pressure switches can fall prey to numerous problems. They can become waterlogged or blocked by debris. They can also simply burn out. If any of these problems strike, the pressure switch will fail to turn on the pump, no matter how low your tank's pressure gets.

As a result, the fixtures in your home will soon cease to receive any water at all. Luckily, an experienced well technician knows how to troubleshoot and identify a faulty pressure switch. They can often resolve the problem by simply installing a new switch.

If your home's well system requires attention, contact the industry experts at Clyde Sawyers & Son Well Drilling & Pump Service.