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#432237 - 02/01/08 09:11 AM Flushing a well pressure tank
New_Climber Offline
Super Handyman

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 2226
Loc: Kalama, Washington
I am on a shared well with my neighbor. I was talking with them today and we both mentioned how the well pressure was acting kind of weird in the past couple of weeks...Meaning, the pressure seems to go very low before the pump kicks on. I know that our well pumps a lot of sediment and I was wondering if there is every a need to flush out the pressure tank, kind of like flushing out a hot water heater?? I am not sure if this is even possible. The well was drilled in 1997, and we had the well drilling company out when we connected to the well about 3 yrs ago to ensure everything was OK to add the extra usage...pressure tank size, check valve in the right place, etc.

Anyway, I was sure if purging the pressure tank was something that can or should be done..

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#432238 - 02/01/08 09:38 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: New_Climber]
BillJeffy Offline
Don't Know Squat
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/02/06
Posts: 9171
Loc: USA
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If you're concerned about the tank,(a bladder tank, Yes??) shut off the pump and drain all the pressure out of the system using any faucet......preferably closest to the tank.
The tank should empty out doing this, and see what drains out.......If dirty, do it a few times to flush....

However, the low pressure cut-in is more likely due to the pressure switch malfunctioning...there is usually a gauge located near the tank, and cycling while watching the gauge (and hearing the 'click' from the switch) will tell you what the working pressures are......

Usually 20/40 or 30/50 depending on switch.....see inside cover for settings.
If not consistent with published settings, switch may need replacement. (rusty/bad contacts/etc)
_________________________
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Just Common Sense......
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err....I'm not a Doctor, but I'll take a LOOK ! !

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#432239 - 02/01/08 09:44 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: New_Climber]
CabinConnection Offline
Bigfoot
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 38815
Loc: The Indianhead's Left Nostril....
Read thread at the very beginning of this (Plumbing) section.

Also, it's highly unlikely that sediment/contaminants are inside your pressure tank, let alone causing the symptoms you're describing. Read the thread, focus on the switch. Probably a good time to confirm the tank's charge pressure while you're messing around with this also...

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#432240 - 02/02/08 12:52 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: CabinConnection]
New_Climber Offline
Super Handyman

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 2226
Loc: Kalama, Washington
Thanks CC - I will do some checking this weekend...But I didn't read anything about the need to flush the pressure tank? Gary said something about have sediment going into the pressure tank, but didn't say if this would harm the tank or if it was needed to flush out? I completely agree that there should never be a filter between the pump and its pressure switch.

BillJeffy, both houses have filter and softeners on the system, so I would hope I would not see anything coming out. I know before we install our filter, if my wife filled the bath tub we would have dirty particles on the bottom of the tub, this is how I know the well pumps sediment. I want to say a lot, but I don't know what to compare it to. I guess I could put the filter and everything in by pass and run the water and see what comes out.

The other thing I noticed after being at the well head this morning, was that does the well head always have something running? I know this might be a odd question but I can feel the piping vibrating every so slightly, it almost seemed like the pump was running. I guess it very well could have been but I was not sure if this was normal.

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#432241 - 02/02/08 05:31 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: New_Climber]
CabinConnection Offline
Bigfoot
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 38815
Loc: The Indianhead's Left Nostril....
Quote:

both houses have filter and softeners on the system




WHOA! Please describe your filter in more detail! Type, location in the system, etc.

Depending on this filter, it could very well be the source of your problem...

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#432242 - 02/02/08 06:20 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: CabinConnection]
New_Climber Offline
Super Handyman

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 2226
Loc: Kalama, Washington
Here is the situation....

At the well head...a check valve, and then a tee. One side of the tee, goes to my neighbor house, to the pressure tank, through a sediment filter, a water softener and into their house.....the other side of the tee goes to my house, sediment filter, softener and to the house. So yes the pressure tank and switch is in my neighbors house.

I know this is a very unusually setup, but my neighbor connected to the well about 5yrs before we purchased the land and connected to the well. We both have water rights to the well as written in the deed of the properties, just an unusually setup with where the pressure tank is locate and who supplies the electricity for the well pump. Before we finished construction on our house, we had the company that drilled and setup the well come out and inspect everything. He said all should work fine, I just run the risk of something shutting off in the neighbors house which I don't have control of. Our option at the time was to build a pump house at the well head, move all the equipment out of my neighbors house and to the pump house..at the cost of about $7500. This still would not have fixed the problem with who supplies the electric…who pays for it…because the PECO said they could not supply a separate meter to the well house. We have lived there for 4yrs now with no problems as of yet.

Hope this explanation is written clear enough…..

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#432243 - 02/02/08 06:29 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: New_Climber]
CabinConnection Offline
Bigfoot
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/20/04
Posts: 38815
Loc: The Indianhead's Left Nostril....
Are the symptoms the same at both houses? If so, I'd focus on the pressure switch - they DO go bad on a regular basis.

If not the same, I'd be sure those sediment filters are clean. (This should be done OFTEN anyway.) BTW, again, can you describe what KIND of filter you're using? Is it a replaceable element style? Or one with a screen inside that can be cleaned? Micron rating?

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#432244 - 02/02/08 10:12 AM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: New_Climber]
Gary_Slusser Offline
Handyman

Registered: 03/15/04
Posts: 729
Loc: Wherever I park the motorhome
If no one was using water in either house when you felt the vibration at the well, you have a leak and the pump is running. That would cause your drop in 'pressure' (actually volume of water).

Shut off the water at the houses and take the lid off the pressure switch and see if the points/contacts are closed. If so, the pump should be running and you have a leak between the pressure switch and the pump. It most likely is in the drop pipe in the well. If not turn on the water to just one house at a time and watch the gauge, if the pressure falls, there is a leak between the gauge and that house.

Sediment can build up in a bladder type tank (it doesn't hurt the tank) because the tank never completely empties if the captive air pressure precharge and pressure switch settings are set up correctly.

Drain the tank and as it empties see how much dirt exits as the water stops flowing from the tank, flip the power to the pump on with the tank drain still open. Count 5 seconds and shut off the pump. Watch the drain water for dirt as it stops draining. Repeat until you get as little dirt as possible.

I don't like the plumbing for your two houses on one well. With the tee at the well for the two houses, when your house uses water and the pump is not running, the water flow is out of the tank, back to the tee, then to your house. When the pressure falls and the pump comes on, there will be water hammer in the system because the flow changes to; from the tee to the pressure tank at his house, until the tank is full and then if your house is still using water it reverses flow from the tank to the tee to your house until the pump comes on again... and how many years has it been doing that... That water hammer over time could have caused the water leak. Hammer can be 4-5 times the main line water pressure psi.

Also, I don't like the extra check valve before the tee or at a pressure tank etc. They hide the evidence of water underground from the well and down the well. As we semm to have now...

The only check valve should be the one in or on the submersible pump's outlet or a jet pump's foot valve.

Had there been no check at the tee, he may have heard the switch snapping shut or seen the pressure changing on the gauge and discovered this leak long before now.

If there is a leak in the well, you want to be careful the pump doesn't fall off the drop pipe as it is pulled.
_________________________
Gary Slusser 22 yrs in water treatment and well pumps, 13 yrs helping people on the 'net.

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#432245 - 02/02/08 02:39 PM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: Gary_Slusser]
New_Climber Offline
Super Handyman

Registered: 04/27/03
Posts: 2226
Loc: Kalama, Washington
Thanks for all the explanations....

Gary, you have said before that my plumbing situation is not ideal and could damage the system. I understand you explanation and this summer I think we might think about have a different well company out and see what they suggest. This was something that I didn't know anything about and took the word of the drilling company when we built the house. It was the same company that drilled the well 5yrs before and they had a good rep around town, so I did just take his word with no further checking.

I might have not explained the check valve correctly...my understanding is that there is only one check valve..at the well...before the tee. If it is at the pump on the top of the well pipe, that I am not sure. I was just told it is before the tee at the well so I assumed it was at the top of the well pipe. Is this tee something that would be noticeable to an armature eye if it is at the top of the well pipe??

As far as a leak, if there was one, wouldn't I have constant pressure all the time??? Being the pump is running constantly, so wouldn't that give me full well pressure all the time. When I use water...shower, washer, etc, There is a very distinct time when you notice the well pump turning on...pressure goes up.

CC - the filter that is before the softener is a 5 Micro string wound filter..I think it is labeled a something like a Ax20...but that might just be the place I purchase them a stocking number or something. I replace this once a year at their recommendation, and it us usually completely caked with mud and silt at that time. I figured being it is a tank, that it would hold sediment and just fill up....kind of like a water heater would. I will try the draining idea, but first need to wait for it to stop snowing.... I don't know how you people that live in the northern parts handle the snow you get....We are on day I think 5, my truck is stuck at the top of the road, and I am about to run out of propane for hot water.... Hopefully we can get a least somewhat of a break.

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#432246 - 02/03/08 01:40 PM Re: Flushing a well pressure tank [Re: New_Climber]
Gary_Slusser Offline
Handyman

Registered: 03/15/04
Posts: 729
Loc: Wherever I park the motorhome
Snow or not, you should make sure there is no leak and that the pump isn't running constantly, or coming on when no one is using water. If it is coming on when no one is using water, that kills pumps fairly quickly.

If there is a leak, that means some of the water that would normally go to your fixture is probably spraying in the well instead. That may not be good for the well.

I don't remember telling you this before but have things gotten better or worse since then? All sub pumps have a check valve in or on their outlet.

BTW, having a pump die and being out of water with the well surrounded by snow is something you may be looking at before spring. So mentioning this to the owner/neighbor would be a good thing.
_________________________
Gary Slusser 22 yrs in water treatment and well pumps, 13 yrs helping people on the 'net.

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