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Question DetailsAsked on 1/13/2018

Pressure tank at 0 psi after water leak do I need to add air to the tank or is my well pump shot

Pipe froze and broke coming from the tank to the house. we fixed it and have little water coming out the faucets and the pressure tank is staying at 0 psi do I need to add 30psi or is this a bad well pump

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4 Answers


I don't think I have ever seen a pressure regulator type tank on a pump - those are used on boilers to let in makeup water when the pressure in the boiler gets low (i.e. below the tank pressure). But on a pump the "pressure tank" is not put there to "regulate" the pressure - it is there to even out surges in the system and to keep the pump from cycling on and off very frequently which it would if pushing a solid column of water with no air in it - basically it prevents "surging" and rapid cycling by letting the pump build up pressure in the air in the tank till it shuts off (so typically 50-70 psi), so when you first turn the water on that air pressure pushes the water to the faucet - with the pump only kicking on after a significant amount of water is used and the tank and line pressure drops to say 30 psi or so - typically takes more than a handwash or low-flow toilet flush or so for the pump to kick on if tank is sized properly. That is why they are typically 30-70 gallon, not the 3-5 gallon "football" size used as expansion or pressure control tanks on boilers and water heaters. I guess one could e rigged to a pump in addition to a pressure control switch, but I have not seen it and see no reason for it. So - unless that tank has a regulating valve/switch on the bottom, I don't think raising its pressure would do anything. And normally you do not prepressure that type of tank - they are normally installed empty and the pump pressures them up, with the pressure in the tank varying from near zero just beofr the pump kicks on if a sudden heavy water demand is put on it, and climbing to pump shutoff pressure at pump shutoff.

The zero pressure (if the gage is working right) presumably indicates the pressure from the pump, if it is putting out pressure, is not getting to the tank. or that the pump was damaged by the freezing so cannot build pressure any more - may have a blown gasket or seal for instance. Tests 2) and 3) below might answer that.

Also - is your pump the type that needs priming after being drained (usually surface mounted piston-type and many jet pumps) ? IF there is a chance the pump is running dry (not picking up water) do not run it. May be when you had the pump off and pipe opened up that the water in the system drained back into the well through a leaking footvalve, and the pump cannot start pumping water again until it is primed. (This does not generally apply to a submersible pump because it should be under water, so should self-prime fine.)

You say litle water coming out of the faucets - so pump is pumping at least a bit. Go to the pump and well, and do two things- though I would not run the pump for any significant period of time at a time, because it might overheat if there is not enough water moving through it - especially water-lubricated pumps as many are.

1) with pump on, listen at the well for running water sounds (or look in if removable cover) - possibly the riser pipe/dip tube froze near the surface and is leaking - either losing water from a submersible/jet pump back into the well, or losing vacuum if a surface-mounted centrifugal or piston pump which pulls water by suction from the well.

2) open the drain /priming faucet (usually located right after the pump or at the entrance of the well riser pipe into the pumphouse) on the "downflow" side of the pump - if water trickles out, then the pump or the piping to/from it may be damaged - or remotely possibly your well has frozen up or at least partly froze the pipes, though freezing in the well itself is rare except in open-topped wells. If water comes out at the valve at full flow, then you undoubtedly have an ice blockage somewhere in the line. If trickling out there, and you hear no running/falling water, running it a bit may thaw out any ice blockage in the line in a few minutes.

3) if you have a screw-on pressure gage (a handy thing to have, for about $10-20, if you have a pump) screw it onto the drain valve just "downstream" of the pump or where the pressure riser tube from the submersible pump comes into the wellhouse - if the pump is working right AND there is not a split line or leaking connection in between, it should show normal pressure when pump is running. Or course, if it shows pressure than you should have gotten flow in 2) above as well - though if there is an ice blockage, perhaps not anything like full flow. Put the pressure gage does not depend on flow - so if you had low flow in 2) but normal pressure (by the time the pump auto shuts off) then the pump sounds OK, but there is a partial blockage. If low pressure, then there is a line leak "upstream" or on the pump side of the gage, or the pump is damaged. Or if water level in well is low, possibly ice blocking the intake screen at the footvalve on the riser tube.

4) also - if the pump is running continuously, then either there is pressure in at least the first part of the piping and the pressure switch is not shutting it off like it should (so a frozen point downstream) - (in which case in 3) the pressure gage would hold at the pump maximum output pressure), there is a leak between the pump and the pressure switch, or the pump is failing to build pressure. Testing with a portable gage or maybe slightly loosening a connection or two to see if it sprays strongly or not will tell you if you are getting pump pressure at a given point - just be careful to not loosen connections enough they pop apart, and of course be csreful about spraying wataer on electrical.

5) if pump runs for just a bit and puts out a bit of water, then shuts off by itself - assuming it is not overheating and the motor is shutting down for that reason - could be the pressure switch (which regulates when the pump turns on and off, based on line pressure) might have gotten damaged by the pressure of the line freezing up - or if it frozen itself could be malfunctioning for that reason, not allowing the pump to run up to pressure in test 3) above.

6) Pressure tank staying at zero would indicate, IF the gage did not get damaged by freezing or is not currently frozen up so it is reading wrong, would indicate water is not getting to the tank (at least not at full pressure/flow rate). Track back towards the pump to try to find frozen point.

7) if you have a pressure gage like in 3) above, after checking pressure at the pump, also check at the house when there is no water being used - so static pressure in the line, If there is a noticeable decrease at the house compared to at the pump, you have another break and the water is leaking into or onto the ground - or maybe a frozen and broken faucet somewhere which was not winterized well enough. Listen along the line holding your ear or a stethoscope to a metal rod tapped into the ground firmly (just needs to get through any loose thawed ground - not go deep) along the pipe alignment to hear (when pump has some pressure up) where the leak is - I have ALWAYS found even quite small leaks this way in pipes down to about 3-4 feet deep, very deep pipes it may take a gallon per minute or so or larger leak to be audible this way. Of course, pay attention to the sound of the pump running coming through the ground - but the leak will benoticeably different sound, a gushing or whistling or gurgling usually, as opposed to the humor surging (with piston pumps) of the pump.

If above did not help, then a Well and Pump contractor (your Search the List category) is who you need to call - which along with electrican and plumber and sewer cleaning company is a good type of vendor to research (or select based on previous service experience) ratings and reviews ahead of time and have on a readily accessible list of phone numbers for when you need them.

BTW - here are links to a few similar questions with answers which might or might not be useful in your case:

Answered 10 months ago by LCD


Can you tell if the pump is running every time water is called for in the house? If so, it sounds like your pressure tank is probably water logged. This isn't a hard fix, but should be done pronto as all the on and off for the pump will burn out the motor.

A second problem, but less likely, could be the bladder in the pressure tank has a hole in it and can't hold any air presure. Good luck; problems in the water works are always stressful in frigid temperatures. Erica.

Answered 10 months ago by SwissMiss



Answered 10 months ago by SwissMiss


Swiss Miss is right about the air tank probably being water logged and needs draining, if the pump is running whenever there is demand in the house - turning on almost instantly when water is used and shutting off within a few seconds afterwards.

Also - a failed air bladder (if you have such in your air tank) should not impact the flow through the system - assuming the tank is properly installed 'upright" - with the opening at the bottom - it just allows the air to mix with the water and gradually dissipate into it, eliminating the air pocket over time, which is wht allows your system to "store" pressure after the pump turns off. Yes many manufacturers say the tanks can be intalled atany orientation, but upright is the only way they will work if the bladder leaks, albeit only for awhile until the air dissolves into the water, unless your incoming water has a lot of gases in it.

However - I really do not think that is your problem, because this would not (barring iced up air tank restricting the water flow through the pipe connecting to it) restrict water flow in the pipes, ande you said you were getting very little water.

Good Luck

Answered 10 months ago by LCD

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