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Understanding Water Pressure for Wells:
Optimal Settings for a Smooth Flow

Water wells are an excellent source of clean and reliable water for countless households and agricultural operations. However, to ensure a smooth and efficient water supply, it’s crucial to maintain the right water pressure. In this blog, we will delve into what constitutes normal water pressure for a well and explore the key components that influence it, such as constant pressure systems, pressure tank settings, pressure switch settings, the air fill valve, and the role of an air compressor.

The ideal water pressure for a well system can vary depending on factors such as the size of the well, the pump capacity, and the specific needs of the household or property. In general, the recommended well water pressure is typically set between 40 to 60 pounds per square inch (psi).

Here’s a breakdown of the pressure range and its implications:

  • 40-50 PSI: This is the lower end of the recommended range and is suitable for most residential properties. It provides adequate water flow for daily activities like showering, washing dishes, and doing laundry. It’s also less likely to cause damage to plumbing fixtures and appliances.
  • 50-60 PSI: This is the higher end of the recommended range and can provide slightly more water pressure for larger properties or houses with multiple bathrooms and higher water demands. However, you should be cautious about exceeding 60 psi, as higher pressures can lead to plumbing leaks and increased stress on fixtures and pipes.

For the best advice specific to your well-system and property, it’s recommended to consult a professional well contractor or plumber. They can assess your well’s capacity, inspect the plumbing, and make appropriate recommendations for your specific needs.

What is the Difference Between Water Pressure and Flow Rate?

Water pressure and flow rate are two distinct but interconnected aspects of a water supply system.

  • Water Pressure refers to the force exerted on the water by the plumbing system, typically measured in pounds per square inch (psi). It determines how forcefully water is delivered through the pipes and fixtures. 
  • Flow Rate, on the other hand, represents the volume of water that passes through a specific point in the plumbing system per unit of time, commonly measured in gallons per minute (GPM).

While water pressure determines the strength of the water stream, flow rate determines how much water is available for use at any given moment. High water pressure may result in a strong, forceful flow, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a higher flow rate if the plumbing or fixtures restrict the water flow. Conversely, a system with low pressure may have a low flow rate, leading to weak water flow from faucets and showers. Achieving an optimal balance between water pressure and flow rate is essential for an efficient and satisfactory water supply system in residential and commercial applications.

How Do Well Pressure Tanks Work?

Well-pressure tanks, also known as well-water pressure tanks or well-water tanks, are essential components of a well-water system. They work to maintain stable and consistent water pressure throughout the plumbing system by utilizing the principles of compressed air and water.

Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how well pressure tanks work:

       1. Water Inflow

When the well pump is activated (either by a pressure switch or a well tank pressure control), it draws water from the underground well and pumps it into the pressure tank.

        2. Water Accumulation

As water enters the pressure tank, it displaces the air that was initially present inside the tank. The tank is designed with a rubber diaphragm or bladder that separates the air from the water. This diaphragm keeps the water and air separated, preventing them from mixing.

        3. Compression of Air

As water fills the tank, the air in the upper part of the tank becomes compressed, increasing the air pressure inside the tank. This compressed air acts as a cushion, exerting pressure on the water, allowing it to be delivered to the plumbing system even when the well pump is not actively running.

       4. System Pressure Regulation

When a faucet or fixture in the house is opened, the pressure in the plumbing system drops. The pressure tank responds to this drop by releasing the pressurized water from the tank, maintaining a steady flow rate to meet the demand.

         5. Well Pump Control

As water is used and the pressure in the tank drops below a certain threshold, it triggers the well pump to turn on and refill the pressure tank. The pump will continue to run until the pressure reaches a set “cut-off” point, typically around 60 psi.

          6. Expansion and Recharge

When the well pump turns off, the pressure in the tank remains constant until water is used again. As the water is used, the compressed air in the tank forces the water out until the pressure drops to the “cut-in” point, typically around 40 psi. At this point, the pump will start again to recharge the tank and maintain the desired pressure range.

By using a well-pressure tank, the well pump doesn’t need to run constantly every time water is needed. The pressure tank stores water under pressure, ensuring a steady and reliable water supply while reducing the frequency of pump cycles, which can extend the life of the pump and save energy.

How to Check Your Well Tank’s Pressure

Checking your well tank’s pressure is a straightforward process. Follow these steps to do so safely:

  • Safety First: Before you begin, turn off the power to the well pump to avoid any accidents or injuries. You can do this by switching off the circuit breaker that controls the pump.
  • Locate the Pressure Gauge: Find the pressure gauge on the well tank. It’s usually located on the top or the side of the tank. The gauge looks like a round dial with numbers indicating the pressure in psi.
  • Release Pressure: To get an accurate reading, you need to release the pressure from the system. You can do this by opening a faucet connected to the well water supply. Allow the water to run until the pump turns on and off. This indicates that the pressure in the tank has dropped to its cut-in (on) pressure and then reached its cut-out (off) pressure.
  • Check the Pressure: Once the pump turns off, close the faucet, and observe the pressure gauge. The needle on the gauge should stop moving and settle at a certain pressure value. This value is the cut-out pressure, which is the maximum pressure the tank should reach before the pump turns off.
  • Adjusting Pressure: If you find that the pressure is outside the recommended range (typically 40-60 psi), you may need to adjust it. To increase or decrease the pressure, you can use the pressure switch. It’s essential to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific well system, as the process may vary.
  • Turn Power Back On After checking or adjusting the pressure, turn the power to the well-pump back on by flipping the circuit breaker.

Regularly checking your well tank’s pressure is essential to ensure its proper functioning and longevity. If you encounter any issues or are unsure about the process, it’s best to seek assistance from a qualified well technician or plumber.

Possible plumbing infrastructure problems that may lead to low water pressure

Plumbing issues can cause low water pressure. Some common problems include:

  • Clogged or corroded pipes
  • Faulty pressure regulators
  • Water leaks
  • Municipal supply issues
  • Malfunctioning valves or water heaters
  • Improperly sized pipes
  • Water softener problems
  • Airlocks

To fix low water pressure, it’s best to consult a licensed plumber for proper diagnosis and solutions.

Get Your Well Inspected by the Experts - All Star Plumbing

Ensuring the optimal performance of your well water system is essential for a consistent and reliable water supply. To avoid the risks associated with too much pressure and to benefit from the advantages of a constant pressure system, it is crucial to have your well inspected by experts. At All Star Plumbing, our team of skilled professionals specializes in well-system maintenance and troubleshooting. We can help you set the appropriate cut-off pressure, optimize your constant pressure system, and ensure that your well operates smoothly and efficiently. Don’t wait for problems to arise; schedule your well inspection with All Star Plumbing today and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your water supply is in expert hands. Your well deserves the best care, and All-Star Plumbing is here to deliver it!