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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER FILTERS, HOME USE
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Troubleshooting building water pressure problems: How to fix bad water pressure or loss of water pressure in buildings: this article describes how and why to distinguish among intermittent water pressure loss, total water pressure loss, and poor water pressure or flow in a building.
We give diagnostic and repair procedures for both municipal water supply problems and well water supply problems. If you don't see information you want, ask us for it using the comments box at the end of this article.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
How do we diagnose poor water pressure or loss of water pressure in a building, and what are the common causes and repairs for this problem?
Consumer advice on saving money on water supply repair costs includes a review of the parts and labor costs of a typical well pump and pressure tank replacement case.
The page top sketch, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, shows five factors that affect the water pressure and flow in a building. What the sketch has not included are water pressure, quantity, or flow problems that originate at the well, well pump, or water pressure tank. We discuss all of these here.
Below is our comprehensive guide to diagnosing bad water pressure. Our complete list of water pressure problem diagnosis & repair articles is at the end of this page.
If you have no water pressure at all, see No Water Pressure and see the other water pressure diagnostic articles listed just below.
If your water pressure is intermittent, starts and stops, or varies in pressure,
If there is some water pressure but the pressure and/or flow or water quantity are poor see these diagnostic articles:
Keep in mind that if water is running elsewhere in the building (another shower, sink, dishwasher, clothes washer, garden hose, etc) then the water pressure you will observe at your location will usually be reduced.
If you have good cold water pressure but not enough hot water pressure see HOT WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENT.
If you have good water pressure at some fixtures but not at others, you probably have a clog in building piping (such as due to mineral deposits, rust, or even excessive solder in new work), or mineral and debris clogged strainers at faucets and shower heads (check these first).
For our full article on diagnosing poor municipal water pressure see MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS. A summary giving excerpts of some bad city water pressure or flow diagnostic steps is just below.
Take These Extra Steps to Boost City Water Pressure & Flow at a Building: after first diagnosing the problem and ruling out the leaks, crimps, or repairs needed by the steps we have described above, you can adjust the water pressure regulator, install a water pressure booster pump in the building, or install larger diameter water service or in building water supply piping.
Our full diagnostic article for private well water pressure and flow problem diagnosis is
Separately we also provide
If you don't care about diagnosing the well water pressure and flow problem and think it's time to move on to a simple solution
The following articles pertain if you have a private well, pump, and tank system for your building or if your incoming community water supply pressure and flow are just too low to start with:
A lightning strike can also damage electrical wiring supplying a submersible pump, or it may damage the pump itself.
A leak in the well line piping itself (WELL PIPING LEAK DIAGNOSIS) can also lead to loss of prime.
Well problem diagnosis starts at WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS. Other indications of a well that is running dry include reduced water flow rather than complete stoppage of water flow, or the water may be dirty.
Before assuming that there is no water in the well, check to see if the water pump is working properly, including loss of pump prime (WATER PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE) and a bad or leaky well piping foot valve (WELL PIPING FOOT VALVES).
See WATER PRESSURE REDUCER / REGULATOR (not usually installed on private well and pump systems, often present on municipal water supply systems that use an in-building local water pump and pressure tank to boost pressure).
Before adjusting a well pump pressure control switch (WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH), changing building piping, or considering installing a water pressure booster pump (WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP), it is essential to understand what the incoming water pressure is and exactly why the building water pressure is not satisfactory.
Start at the beginning of this article: WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR. Water pump pressure regulator switch diagnosis and repair steps include these:
Accumulated debris in a water heater, and debris from a corroded or disintegrating hot water tank dip tube or hot water tank sacrificial anode can also block the hot water outlet opening, resulting in low hot water pressure in a building.
First check for differences in water pressure at different fixtures; remove fixture strainers, washing machine strainer, to see if water flow improves.
See See Bad water pressure Clogged Pipes and see WATER PIPE CLOG REPAIR for details.
See SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING.
Continue reading at WATER FILTERS, HOME USE or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: we can't figure out what's wrong with our well
Can't find the problem with my well. I have had professionals out and replaced the pump but to no avail it is still slow and does not produce like it once did. I need help and do not know what to do. San Lorenzo Ca.
If you are now confident that the well pump and pump controls are functioning correctly you need to determine if the problem is the well itself or a clog or valve problem or leak in the water piping. Take a look at the diagnostic questions above, or start at the WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
Or see this more succinct water pressure diagnostic guide: WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE
Question: water pressure is OK at some places and terrible at others
cold water pressure ok in kitchen but very little from bath and bathroom sink - Tommy
Reply: bad water pressure at just some fixtures points to a closed valve or clogged faucet strainer, shower head, toilet fill valve, or water supply piping at those devices
Question: watering the horses is leaving us with no water pressure in the house
Approximately 1 year ago, I let a friend bring his horses up to graze my ten acres. He and his wife come over almost daily to "water" them. I have a hose that runs directly from the pump house in which they use to water their horses. Thing is, when they are watering outside, no water runs inside. For instance like this morning, I went to brush my teeth before leaving for work and there was no sink water! I looked outside and there was my friend's wife with the pump house cover open, watering her horses. Situations like this occur frequently.
I do not recall this ever happening in the past before they brought up their horses. I would water the front lawn through the hose in the pump house and the water would not shut off in the house, maybe a little pressure was lost however.
What is causing this? Any help would greatly be appreciated as it is no fun standing in the shower with shampoo in hair and having the water shut off until they are done watering their horses!
Thank you so much for your time and attention. - P.L.
Reply: Are the horses drinking the well dry?
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem and can help sort out whether a water supply problem is due to the pump, piping, pressure tank, controls, or due to a problem in the well itself.
That said, here are some things to consider:
Question: The well pump never shut off, now we have no more water at all. Could it be due to drought?
I have a private well, I noticed low water pressure in the indoor faucets. However the faucet (water hose connection) closes to the well had more pressure. I changed the connections (pvc) from the well to the pump and bladder tank; changed the pump switch. I had slightly better pressure for about ten minutes. The pump never did shut off. Now there is no more water being pumped. Could this be because of the area drought (well dry?) or did I break something? Please help! Big problems. - Tom
Help! Our pressure tank will lose all pressure, and the pressure switch and pump will come on only momentarily. It comes on, then off, then on again 2 to 3 minutes later. If we use no water, then it will gradually rebuild pressure and be fine for 8 - 10 hours, then we run out of water again. We had this problem about 5 months ago and I replaced the pressure switch and double-checked the wiring in the well lid (loose) and it seemed to be fixed. The problem has resurfaced now and so far I've double-checked the wiring and replaced the filter. Any advice? - Randy
Reply: Diagnosing loss of water in the well - running out of well water
Tom, It sounds like a low yield well and drought problem could explain your loss of water pressure; you can perhaps confirm that if you can open the well casing top and use a string and float or float + weight to sound the top and bottom of the water column versus the bottom of the well.
Randy: regarding a water tank losing pressure ,if you are not running water you may have a bad check valve, foot valve, or piping leak; Try shutting off the water valve feeding the house and then watch the pressure gauge; if it drops, there's a leak. But your observation that if you let the well "rest" for 8-10 hours you then have water is a very strong suggestion that the root problem is loss of yield in your well - your well is simply running out of water.
What to do if you suspect your well is running dry?
Question: why did we lose all water pressure after we left town for a few days, having left the pump switch or pressure switch turned OFF?
My husband and I went out of town for 2 days and when we returned, all water pressure in our home had reduced at least by half or more when it use to be great. Both with hot and cold water the pressure has reduced with no real difference between the two. I checked the well and the pressure on the gauge is around 23 to 25 psi (No water was on when checked). I turned the pressure control switch off (there is a little metal switch where turned down is ‘auto’ and turned up is ‘off’) and the pressure stayed the same on the gauge.
I turned the switch back on. There is a spigot on the well and when I turn it on, the water coming out has nice pressure and the pressure gauge still shows around 23 to 25 psi with no drop, but I only ran the water for a few minutes. I tapped on just about everything on the well and then went back into the house. I ran some water in the bath tub and other faucets and noticed sand and rust like materials coming out with the water which was still with low pressure.
Another thing I'd like to note is the water pressure seems to stay constant with no increase or decrease when it's on anywhere in the house. The only time debris came out was after I went down and tapped on the pipes around the pressure control box. We just moved into the home 6 months ago and all faucets and the well had been de-winterized for at least a year or more. Does anything think I might need to clean all the pipes around the well since tapping them seemed to have released some debris? I don’t think I have a leak anywhere, but I could be wrong as I am fairly new to being a well user. What other suggestions does anyone have to increase my water pressure? The doublewide we moved into was built in 2001 and I believe the home and well were built the same year so everything is no older than 10 years. - Kellie B from Gastonia, NC
Reply: power off can lead to lost well prime; also check for debris clogging
A second common cause of lost water pressure after power has been off to the pump is that there is a bad foot valve in the well or bad check valve anywhere in the well piping system.
When power is on and the check valve lets water drain back into the well, the pressure drops and the pump comes on and recovers before it has lost prime. But when electricity remains off for some time all prime is lost and when you turn power back on, an above-ground pump can't recover its prime. (A submersible pump may do so but you'll also note excess air in the water piping for a time.)
Question: how do we diagnose and fix poor water pressure in our building?
We have low or no water pressure coming from submersible pump already replaced the line from the well to the house still same issue - John 7/4/12
(June 19, 2014) Darrell Hobbs said:
When I use outside facets,will lose water,have put new pressure switch in,still does it.Sometimes does it when washer is on to. Have bladder tank with 35# air when water is off. Pump seems to work fine when pressure is up. Any sugestions?
John, I'd start by taking a look at the diagnostic suggestions at either WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR or for a look at a table of common water pressure and flow problems and solutions see WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE.
Question: problem with low water pressure
im having low pressure in my home i have everything underground because im in a double wide mobile home with just a crawl space i have been losing water pressure more and more over time im glad i read this article i went outside and turned on my water from a hydrant attached next to well casing and had strong pressure did not measure pressure no gauage then turned on water in house and lost pressure outside and also not strong pressure inside please need help to fix my set up was installed new in 1993 thank you - Armko 09/10/11
I'm a bit confused, Armko, but I think you are saying you have high and good functional water pressure but that it doesn't register on your pressure gauge; if that's the case, I expect that the gauge is broken or clogged. In general, if you see good pressure at one faucet but it drops significantly when you open a second faucet, I suspect that piping is clogged, restricting the volume of water than can run through the system.
Question: can nearby explosive blasting cause us to lose water pressure or water quantity in our well?
We have had some Companies Strip Mining near enough to us that when they use explosives to blast, it shakes our entire house and rattles the windows. Gradually, after this started, our well started taking longer and longer to recover and we noticed that we didn't have as much water available for our use. Also, our septic system doesn't seem to be working as well as it did before the blasting. We can only flush the commode about 3 times per day and really have the commode flush. Can all of this be caused by the blasting at the strip mine? - Beth Lawrence 09/16/11
Question: lost water pressure from our artesian well
We have an artisan well, since 1993, 325 ft deep. It has always runned well. Note that we use this house only on weekends. This week end we had no water...we veified all the electrical connections and pipes ..everything is fine...when I went to the well itself ...the water is very very low...Note that is has been raining.. What could of caused this and what do you suggest we can do to fix this problem.. Thank you - Armand 10/15/11
Sometimes artesian wells suffer a decline in the rate of water flowing into the well, leading owners to have to install a well pump. The fact that you see that the water level in your well is very low makes me suspect this is what happened. Such changes can occur even in periods of heavy rainfall for other reasons. For example if someone nearby has drilled a new well that taps into the same aquifer, or if nearby blasting (for road-work or site construction, for example) has opened new rock fissures, the water that used to flow so nicely into your well may have begun flowing elsewhere.
Question: brief loss of water pressure - for seconds - when the water pump system cycles on and off
I'm experiencing a loss of pressure that lasts a matter of seconds every time the system cycles. This is my set up.
Air entering the system you describe may be traced to a faulty snifter valve (a type of air volume control system on wells using a submersible well pump) - search InspectApedia for that term to read the diagnosis & cure.
Question: sudden loss of water pressure after installing a new pressure control switch
I just replaced the pressure switch and recieved reliable water for a couple of weeks. All of a sudden the water stopped in our house and I went down and manually started the pump. We had water for a short while and then it went off again. I keep manually starting the pump and it will work for a minutes and then no water again. I assume the pump is working fine due to the transfer of water from well to faucet when started manually. What could be keeping the pump and tank from delivering a steady supply? - Ryan 5/29/12
Ryan, be sure you've looked through the diagnostic suggestions in the article above, as there are more possible problem causes than I should try listing again in a comment.
Question: well pump seems to be taking longer to re-pressurize the water tank, and there is a small leak
Hopefully you can help. I have noticed my well pump takes longer to recharge (or fill back up). There has always been a small leak 10 years (recharges every 2-4 hours) and it used to take only 5-8 seconds to fill back up. Now it is taking 25 seconds to cycle. I also noticed in the last couple of months when the 1st zone on my irrigation system turns on, the water sputters out and stops, then the pump comes on and then eveyrthing is perfect. Before the pump came on immediately and the pressure on the heads were normal. Any help is greatly appreciated. - Jim 6/8/12
Question: low water pressure after installing a new water pressure tank
We installed a new steel pressure tank and now we have very, very low water pressure. We can not run a faucet and flush a toilet at the same time. What can we do? - Christine 6/10/12
Christine, a water tank itself won't cause low water pressure - rather a tank problem typically causes pump short cycling; Look for a problem with the pressure control switch, well piping, well pump itself.
Question: water pressure lost, then returns
after running water outside for about 10 minutes, the water stops. let it sit for few minutes it comes back. - John B 7/4/12
Intermittent loss of water pressure typically is traced to a poor well flow rate (the well recovers when it rests for a time) or possibly a sticking pressure control switch.
Recently, we had a power surge and we believe that killed the submersible pump, (horrible humming noise when we threw the switch) so we replaced the pump (went from 1/2hp to a 3/4 hp). Every since then, when we turn our outside hose on, after about a minute we lose water pressure and it trickles out. We then replaced the water bladder, (a larger tank) still the same problem, and then we replaced the pressure control switch. ....still the same issue. I don't want to have to pull the pump back out if I don't have to. (that and i have no idea what i can check on the pump).
Chris in addition to the diagnostics above for poor water pressure, see the article titled WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE found near the end of this article in the links section for a table summarizing things to check.
the water pressure is fine for about 5 -10 gals of water, if that. (so Im assuming that isn't putting a dent in that 280gals) I went down later and checked the timing on the pump and pressure control switch, and when it goes. The control switch kicks on right at 40psi, it holds for about 5/10 seconds at 40psi, (this is all within 30 seconds to a minute)and then it quickly plummets to 10-15 psi on the gauge, and it stays there till I turn off the hose. At that point it will slowly fill back up to 60 psi in about 5-10 mins. After reading that Chart I'm leaning towards maybe I need to change the breaker? could the pump not be getting enough power (due to one of the breakers being bad) and that's why the psi is so low even when the pump is on? - Chris
Question: confused about relationship between water pressure and pump cycling
Running my hose to water lawn,the water pressure drops about 75% and my pump kicks on. It takes about two and a half minutes before the pump shuts off, then I half good pressure again. I thought it would be the other way around - Jon Bohl 8/6/12
Jon, when the pump kicks in, if it is able to deliver water faster than you are running out of the system, then water pressure will increase from the moment that the pump turns on until it cycles off; then pressure will drop until the pump kicks in again;
If your pump can't send water into the system faster than you are using it, the pump will run continuously, and water pressure will drop to the maximum capacity of the pump, piping, etc. If the water pressure you're seeing has deteriorated, check the suggestions in the article above.
Question: mobile home on well has poor water pressure in some rooms, not others
I OWN A MOBILE HOME ON A WATER WELL SYSTEM. IN THE MASTER BATHROOM FAUCET I HAVE LOW COLD WATER PRESSURE, KITCHEN SINK,WASHER ALSO HAVE LOW PRESSURE. GUEST BATHROOM HAS GOOD COLD PRESSURE. HOT WATER PRESSURE IS GOOD AT ALL OUTLETS. I HAVE CLEANED STRAINERS ON ALL FAUCETS TO REMOVE SEDIMENT. I HAVE BEEN TOLD TO POUR VINEGAR INTO WELL SYSTEM & LET SIT FOR A WHILE TO HELP REMOVE DEPOSITS. IS THIS CORRECT? John 8/6/12
Reply: skip the suggestion of pouring vinegar into the well
Typing in caps is shouting so we had to shrink your text. Check the advice in the article above and you'll see that if you have good water pressure at some fixtures and bad at others, some of your piping, or faucets or strainers are probably clogged, or a valve is partly shut; If the problem has always been present, you may also have a solder blob or some other error that is partly blocking piping in the building.
Don't bother pouring vinegar into the well; it is unlikely you could get enough concentration to do anything, and if you could you'd have to leave water off for 24 hours, then you'd have to do plenty of flushing to get the vinegar out - and as soon as you've done-so, hard water flows into the well again from your water source.
Question: mom's house's municipal water main broke, I hear water running - who is responsible for the repair
Good morning. My elderly widow mom's municipal water main broke between the 150 year old house and the cut off valve at the street. From her basement, I can hear the water constantly running out of the break. So far, the water has not found its way through the lawn surface, into the basement, or out to the street. We had a contractor estimate that the replacement of 40 feet of pipe at a depth of 6 feet will cost ~$4500.00. The city says it is her responsibity and has no provision for financial assistance. She's living on a fixed social security income and very little savings. In your experience, are there any programs for assisting her with this financial burden? I've called around and there is nothing I can find. Something like a no cost/low cost loan or reduced cost program would help. She simply cannot afford it on her own. Thank you so very much for your help and an excellant web site. - Steve 8/22/12
In most communities the property owner is responsible for the water line between the building and the public water main in the street.
Question: new water softener, new water tank, now water pressure is terrible
I just installed a new softner and bladder. Before we did this we had good pressure. Now since the new has been installed we have terrible water pressure - Louie 9/19/12
Question: how do I install a switch to turn our well pump OFF if water is detected in our basement?
In the event of a water leak, I would like to install a low voltage detection device into my well electrical circuit to cut of power to my well pump so that it will cutoff automatically shut down when water is detected on the floor of my basement. I have found an electronic sensor but need assistance with installation. - Clyde 9/29/12
My earlier post indicated I needed help with installation. What I really need is advice if anyone else has installed such a device and possibly locating an electronically controlled 220 relay that could be installed in the power circuit.
Question: poor water pressure - well pump is not kicking in when we open the faucet; water pressure drops past the pump cut-in setting
Got a new water pump installed yesterday. The pump does not kick in when the taps are open inside the house but does so when the switch is manually turned off and then turned on. It turns off after a few seconds and does not kick in even when the tap is left running. Thanks in advance for any help. - Nag 10/8/12
I just replaced the pump pressure switch and adjusted the air tank to 2psi below the cut-on pressure, but the problem remains. My pressure will drop normally to 40 which is the cut-on pressure for my pressure switch. But, instead of dropping gradually below 40psi, the pressure suddenly drops to 18psi and then almost instantly to zero. It stays at zero. The switch does not seem to engage. The pump certainly does not pressurize the system. After about 3-5 minutes, the pump suddenly comes on and pumps the system back up to 40psi almost instantly and then continues to pump until the guage says 80psi, although the switch cut-off is at 60psi. This switch is brand new and I've not adjusted the cut-off pressure. Of course the problem is having no water pressure for 3-5 minutes. I have put my ear to the pressure switch and it does not click until after 3-5 mins at zero psi. And once it clicks, the pump comes on and the system pressureizes instantly. Could it be that I have a new pressure switch that does the exact same malfunction as the old one -- which is to go to zero for 3-5 mins before "realizing" that it's below 40 psi? Help you pump and well experts. - Water Pressure Problem 11/1/12
Naq: see our note to "Water Pressure Problem" just below.
Water Pressure problem:
Question: poor water flow rate and pressure despite messing around with the water pressure tank's air pre-charge pressure
My home was built in 1990 and I believe has the original well tank - an Amtrol well-x-trol WX-203. I felt as if the water pressure in the house was fairly weak, so I figured I would check the tank pressure and see where it is. My water flow was approximately 4.4gpm as measured by the water softener.
I followed the Amtrol instructions, turned off the pump, drained the water from the tank and then checked the pressure. It was at 19.5 psi. Amtrol said it should be set to 2 psi below the cut-on point. My cut-on is approximately 40psi, so I filled the tank to roughly 36 psi (the tank was factory preset to 38psi).
When I turned the pump back on, filled the tank with water and ran water through the house, I noticed the water pressure was extremely low (now less than 1 gpm as measured by my water softener). I then reversed my work, drained the tank and released the air pressure back down to 19.5psi before turning the pump on and refilling the tank. Same low water pressure (less than 1gpm). I have read everything on your website but cant seem to figure out if it is a sudden clog or a bladder failureor how to test for either.
My pressure regulator on the Well tank does what it is supposed to and cuts on at 40 and off at 60...when I run water, the pressure will ever-so-slowly creep down and eventually cut on again. It's all just slow.
The more I think about it the more it sounds like I induced a clog. Because of age, I suspect I pushed my old tank to the limits and expedited its failure but don't know what else to check to confirm this is indeed the problem. Do you have any suggestions you would recommend? - G.C. 12/29/12
Take a look through the water pressure diagnosis procedures beginning at the top of this page, and keep in mind that the water pressure tank has almost nothing to do with how strong water pressure will be in the building; the pressure tank has the job of smoothing the flow of delivery of water between the pump cut-in and cut-out pressures, and avoids burning up the pump and switch by too-rapid on-off cycling of the well pump.
Water pressure (and flow rate) that you experience in a building are determined by the capability of the pump itself, and water flow rate (that people commonly speak of as "pressure" may be further affected by clogged pipes, strainers, faucets, etc.
You can check the actual water pressure delivered by your pump by noticing the water pressure gauge reading when the pump turns OFF. If your pump is actually reaching that cut-off pressure then the problem is probably not the pump and more likely a clog somewhere, or depending on water piping arrangement, if your pump sends water into the pressure tank from a tapping different from the feed from water tank into the building, the tank itself could have a collapsed bladder or other problem clogging the water supply into the building.