Discover why pre-charged pressure tanks are an important part of your water well
As a homeowner, there are many subjects you must learn about that were not included in your high school studies. For instance, take getting water from your well into your home. Unlike geometry, that process is not actually a straight line from point A to point B, though to be fair, physics plays a role in water pressure.
Give Thanks For Pressure Tanks
Water well systems need a tank to hold water so your well pump doesn’t turn on and off every time someone in your house uses a faucet. These tanks are either basic containers known as air-over-water-tanks, or the second option is pressure tanks. The main advantage of pressure tanks vs an air-over-water tank is that they can hold the same amount of water in a smaller unit.
Pressure tanks are often referred to as pre-charged tanks or bladder tanks because they have a vinyl bladder holding the water with pressurized air around it. A one-way check valve holds the water in the bladder until a faucet or shower is opened in the house and the pressurized air forces the water out through the pipes. Ta da – you now have pressurized water in the house!
Pressure tanks have one pipe connecting to the tank, even though water goes both in and out. Actually, you should be able to locate an apparatus called a tee either in the tank or in the pump which separates the piping into three avenues: one for going into the tank, one for going into the pump and one going directly into the home’s water pipe system.
Pressure Tanks Come in a Variety of Styles and Sizes
When buying a pressure tank, there are several considerations to look at. A water well professional can help you with the following:
- What size tank you need
- What the various numbers on the tank mean
- Whether you will need more than one tank
Size and numbers: Since the pressure tank is designed to protect the life of your water pump, it is essential that you have a big enough tank to hold enough water that the well pump is not turning on and off each time water is needed in the house. This on and off motion is what shortens the life of a well pump.
So, if you live with several teenagers who take long showers, you may need a bigger tank than you would need if you live alone with a couple of cats. Make sure you evaluate your lifestyle and water usage before you talk to a pressure tank professional.
Pressure tanks are sold displaying several numbers including ‘Equivalency Rated Size,’ ‘Actual Capacity,’ and ‘Drawdown.”
Equivalency Rated Size tells you what size your new pressure tank is in comparison to an air-over-water tank. The Actual Capacity shows how much water your tank could hold without the bladder and the Drawdown is the amount of water you can have come out of the tank between pump cycles.
These numbers become important while you are buying your pressure tank. You will need to get a tank that has the same gallon per minute rating as your pump. That way it matches the most effective run time of the pump.
You will also want to pay attention to the equivalency rated size if you are replacing an old tank with the new one.
More than one pressure tank?
A question frequently asked is whether you can use multiple pressure tanks to gain additional storage. You certainly can do this and your water professional can help you get this set up correctly.
You also can use a pressure tank if you get water from your local municipality rather than a well. Some homeowners find their pressure drops when they use a lot of water at once, so having a bladder tank will allow extra water to be stored for large-use times. You will want to make sure your pre-charge is set to 70 percent of the municipality’s water pressure.
Best Use Practices for Pressure Tanks
Once you have waded through your buying choices and you are ready to have your pressure tank at home, there are some best use practices that you should pay attention to.
For instance, pressure tanks should be mounted inside for a couple of reasons. Having it sit where the sun bears down on it will cause the pressure inside to fluctuate. Your water professional can help you get it set up correctly.
You will need to check the pressure regularly, preferably every other month. You can use a good tire pressure gauge to do this. Like with tires, air can leak out of the bladder. When this happens the bladder can over expand and burst. You will have to replace the bladder at the most, and possibly the whole tank.
If the pressure is not correct, you can add air use a portable air compressor to add air to the tank.
Water Pressure Problems
Don’t always blame the pressure tank if your teenager complains about low water pressure. Your water pump is actually what is putting the pressure in your tank, so make sure the pump is running correctly before turning to the bladder tank. It is important that you read your instructions and set your pre-charge air pressure correctly in the tank. It should be 2 psi less than the turn-on pressure.
If you notice water coming from the valve, that means your bladder has failed. You will have to replace the bladder, which if done in a timely manner, should be no problem. Don’t wait too long to replace your pressure tank bladder because the walls on the inside of the tank could rust and then it is no longer usable.
Overall, the most important thing is to make sure the pressure is properly installed and maintained. If you spent high school focused on American Literature rather than Industrial Arts you may not have the skills you need to get the job done. Call a professional at Skillings & Sons, let them do the work and be ready not have to worry about water so much.