If you live in the country, chances are your home operates on a well water system. And if you use well water, there’s a high likelihood you’ve got some low-pressure blues to deal with. The sweet spot for water pressure is right around 50 psi. This will give you enough pressure to have a satisfying shower without putting too much wear and tear on your fixtures and appliances.
There are two major culprits behind most low water pressure problems in homes that use well water. The first is buildup in the plumbing network due to hard water. The other cause is a pressure tank that is either faulty or improperly adjusted. In this article, we’ll go over both causes of low pressure and give you some action steps to get your water flowing the way you want.
Check For Signs of Hard Water
When minerals and other sediments make their way into our water supply, we end up with “hard water.” Over time, that hard water can lead to some serious buildup in your pipes and fixtures and cause water pressure problems all over your house. If you live in the Midwest or Southwest United States, you’re right in the middle of a hard water hotspot.
Here are some hard water red flags:
Clogged shower head
One of the telltale signs of hard water is a clogged shower head. If you’ve ever noticed that some of the individual nozzles in your shower head are only letting out a trickle of water or spraying water at sharp angles, you probably have hard water causing a buildup in your plumbing system. You can remove this buildup by disconnecting your shower heads and letting them soak overnight in distilled vinegar.
Residues in the kitchen and bathroom
Hard water leaves its mark on just about everything it touches. Your glassware will never get completely clean, and your shower curtains and doors will have soap scum.
Clogged pipes and drains
If your sinks are taking forever to drain, it could be another sign of hard water. And if you have minerals and sediment clogging up your drains, there’s a high chance it’s clogging up the rest of your pipes too.
If you have a hard water problem, it could very well be the cause of your home’s low water pressure. If the signs are there, your next step should be getting your pipes inspected by a plumbing professional before you attempt to increase your water pressure by adjusting your pressure tank. If you have sediment blocking your pipes, cranking up the pressure could end up damaging your plumbing network.
After an inspection, you can arrange to have your pipes professionally cleaned. To prevent build up in the future, consider getting a water softening system installed. Adjust Your Pressure Tank
If your low water pressure isn’t being caused by hard water, your next step is to adjust your water well’s pressure tank.
The pressure tank is what controls the water pressure going into your home. It works by using a pressure switch to determine when it will start and stop increasing your water pressure. You can use a tire pressure gauge to measure the water pressure in your tank by attaching it to the air fill valve to get a reading.
The simplest way to increase your well water pressure is to adjust the pressure switch on your pressure tank.
Pressure tanks have both “cut-on” and “cut-off” pressure settings. When the water pressure in your tank drops below the cut-on level, the pressure switch activates and increases the pressure in the tank. Once the pressure hits the cut-off level, the switch turns itself off. Your pressure tank is most likely labeled with both of these values.
When you take the cover off the pressure switch, you’ll see two spring-loaded nuts. The larger, center nut controls the switch’s pressure range. If you tighten the center nut, you’ll increase the range. If, for example, the pressure switch was calibrated with a 30-psi cut-on and a 50-psi cut-off, tightening the nut could increase the range to 35 and 55.
The smaller nut located beside the larger nut adjusts the differential between the cut-on and cut-off pressure settings. If you tighten the small nut, you’ll increase the cut-off level while keeping the cut-on level at its original setting.
Safety Tip: Before you remove the cover and start adjusting your pressure switch, make sure you locate the proper circuit and cut off power to the pressure switch.
Upgrade to a Constant Pressure System
Sometimes with well water systems, running multiple fixtures at the same time will cause a sudden drop in pressure. Add to that the back-and-forth between the cut-on and cut-off pressures of a standard well water pump, and you end up with some wild variations in water pressure.
With a constant pressure system, an extra component is installed on your water line leading from your well. The component has a sensor that allows it to control the pressure of your water, keeping it at a constant level. The great thing about constant water pressure systems is that they can be installed right on top of your current system. Another benefit in going the constant pressure route is you can get away with having a much smaller pressure tank.
Owning a home with a well water system has its challenges, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for weak water pressure. Your first step to fixing your water pressure is to determine if it’s being caused by hard water or if you need to adjust your pressure switch. In the future, if you want a more consistent level of water pressure, you can always install a constant pressure system."