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water well system issues

leonz Member Posts: 1,126
I am trying to isolate the problem we have with our pressure switch and bladder tank-I think its the pressure switch. I need to refresh my memory on how to trouble shoot a bad pressure switch too.

At times when we are using well water the water pressure in the system will simply drop off and the pressure switch will not start the well pump.

When the pressure switch is reactivated manually the water pressure will surge to forty pounds and drop off and then rise again and then eventually rise to forty PSIG and then cut out (I know its normal the issue is the pressure dropping off to zero completely and restarting it with the manual switch).

The bladder tank does not seem to be water logged as I can do the tap test and the upper chamber is not water logged.

Its been a long time(over a decade) since we had the bladder tank/tee and pressure switch replaced and this problem only started a few days ago.

The "new" 220 volt deep well pump is only two years old and I installed centralizer discs, a new pull rope and a new torque arrestor in 2018. We made sure the sanitary seal was not leaking before we reinstalled the well cap and bolted it into place again.

I am beginning to think the pressure switch is going bad as it acts like it did well over a decade ago where the diaphragm in the square D switch went bad.

Thanks much,



  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,276
    If the system takes some time to come up to 40 psi from zero, then it is very likely the pressure switch -- or the pipe leading to it. Or both. However, if by "surge" to 40 psi you mean it comes up very quickly -- less than a minute or two -- it is also likely that the pressure tank has either lost its charge or has simply failed. Your description of its surging to 40 psi, dropping off and rising again and eventually getting up there and stopping is not normal -- and is very hard on the pump.

    Check this, please: turn all the water in the building off. No draw on the water system at all. The pressure should stay steady, or very nearly steady (perhaps it will drop, but very slowly). If it drops moderately quickly, again either the pressure tank is bad or the check valve at the pump is leaking back (and, if so, should be replaced -- but check the tank first, it's easier)(or you have a leak somewhere else in the system... which has been known to happen).

    If the pressure tank is correctly sized to match the pump, the pump should never run less than two to five minutes from pressure switch on to pressure switch off. If there is any draw on the system, obviously the run time will be longer -- up to a draw which equals the pump capacity, at which point the pump will run continuously. If the on run time is shorter, the pressure tank is too small for the pump -- regardless of whether it is working properly or not.

    While you are playing, make sure that the connection between the pressure switch and the pressure tank is as short as possible -- no more than a couple of feet -- and that that pipe is clear; if there is an isolation valve on either or both (which is a very good idea, by the way), they must be fully open.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,569
    Those little grey switches are fairly low quality and are usually the root of the problem, As Jamie noted, the tube to the switch is a common issue as well. I would start out replacing those 2 and troubleshoot as needed from there.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,126
    Thanks Jamie and Zman,

    I have both a sediment and carbon filter after the bladder tank and a Master water softener after that which counts gallons before recharging and ion exchange.

    The piping to the pressure tank has a standard bronze Tee that almost everyone uses and the Square D pressure switch is in one of the tapping's in the Tee.
    I should probably remove the freeze plug to see if there is any buildup of rust or lime in the Tee as well as long as I am delving in to it. I will also check the tanks air pressure after draining it and see what it registers at and go from there.

    It may be the Tee has become partially plugged from iron and lime buildup as well.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,632
    taking the cover off of the pressure switch and looking at what the linkage and contacts are doing might give you some insight as well.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    The 1/4" riser for the control and gauge can become plugged just like a steam boiler pigtail and have the same consequences of bad behavior.

    Water gauges for wells are also notorious for failure and sticking.

    The simple go/no go test I use for the tank failure is that just as the pressure drops down to cut in point the tank should feel empty, being able to wiggle it around.......if heavy, then water is on the wrong side of the bladder.

    If any water comes out of the air schrader valve it is a no go.
    I would check the tank air pressure with the system off and empty. Set the air at the cut in pressure of the system.

    The bigger the tank the longer it lasts....less flex of bladder.
    More storage also gives less starts on pump and components.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,945
    @leonz, I agree with what @JUGHNE says.And, Check the pipe serving the pressure switch. From what you have described, the switch is not getting a good water pressure signal. That small quarter inch pipe is probably plugged. Clear any debris from there and you should be good to go.