Generally speaking, water pressure is the force with which water exits a faucet. Even if you’ve never tested the water pressure in your home, you probably notice if it’s less than ideal or changes significantly. Maybe your showers are no longer as satisfying because the water dribbles out. Perhaps it suddenly takes forever to fill up your washing machine. You might notice that the flow of water is particularly weak when you’re using water in multiple places at the same time.
Homes that receive their water from private wells are more likely to have low pressure problems than those who use municipal water. However, the well is not always to blame. There are many causes of low water pressure, and many possible solutions. In order to increase your water pressure, you must first determine what’s causing the problem.
Assess the Situation First
Before you take any direct action, first assess what your well situation is to better understand and determine what you actions you might need to take to resolve the issue.
Rule Out Hard Water
One of the many pitfalls of Pennsylvania’s notoriously hard water is that mineral deposits can narrow pipes and clog fixtures, leading to decreased water pressure at a particular point or through your entire home. If the holes in your shower head are crusted white, the solution might be as simple as cleaning or replacing it. Similar deposits can also clog the input to your dishwasher or washing machine, causing them to fill slowly. It’s harder to tell what the inside of your pipes look like without calling in a professional, but minerals can build up inside and decrease water flow. If you’ve noticed several signs of hard water, you may want to install a water softener to correct these issues, which may improve your water pressure as well.
Rule Out Hard Water
If you notice a sudden and significant decrease in pressure, it may mean your well pump or pressure tank is failing. Your well pump might be short cycling–turning on and off too frequently–and not allowing the pressure tank to fill completely. Or there might be a leak in that tank, leading to lower pressure. Well pumps last an average of 8 to 15 years, so if you live in an older home and aren’t sure when your pump was last replaced, it might be time for a new one. Other signs your well pump might be failing include hearing the pump running more than usual or making strange noises, water “spitting” from the faucet, or your water becoming gritty or dirty. Well pressure tanks also last about 15 years on average. To see if it’s working, you should turn off the well pump, drain all water from the system, and then test the pressure on your tank to make sure it’s close to the lower range of its setting. A professional like Dierolf can examine your well components and repair or replace them if they discover any problems.
Assess Whether Your Water Needs Have Changed
Sometimes water pressure decreases because your water needs increase. Your system may be working as it always has, but you’re putting more strain on it. Have you recently added or upgraded to a new washing machine or dishwasher? Have you changed the size or style of your hot water heater? Has the number of people in your household increased? Are you more frequently using multiple water sources at the same time? Any major change to your usage could mean that you’re demanding more water more quickly than your system is currently set up to provide. The good news is there are several potential solutions to boost your system and increase your pressure.
Possible Actions to Fix Your Water Pressure
Depending on what you assess, you can then hire a licensed plumber or water treatment specialist to help you take the steps necessary to fix the issue. We advise that you do not make these changes on your own because your settings may very depending on your well system and your plumbing needs.
Increase the Setting on Your Pressure Tank
Well pressure tanks include a setting that controls when the tank turns on and off. These tanks are often installed with the default setting of 20 PSI/40 PSI. To compare, most municipal water lines provide water at 60 PSI. The higher the setting, the more pressure is provided. Increasing the setting to 30/50 or 40/60 may increase your water pressure significantly at no cost to you. A word of warning: you should check that your well pump is equipped to handle your new pressure setting. It’s also best not to increase the pressure beyond 40/60 as that may damage some fixtures.
Install a Constant Pressure Valve
If your pressure switch is already at 40/60, or increasing it doesn’t do that trick, there are several modifications that can be made to your well. The least expensive is installing a constant pressure valve. As its name suggests, a constant pressure valve keeps the pressure in your well pressure tank consistent instead of allowing it to reach its lower level before the well pump kicks on to build it back up. This decreases wear on your well pump from frequently starting and stopping, and also leaves you with a consistent water pressure in the middle of your pressure setting (50 PSI if your switch is set to 40/60 PSI). If your water pressure often fluctuates, this relatively easy to install component may solve your pressure woes and prolong the life of your well pump.
Install a Larger Pressure Tank
If your household water needs have increased and you want to increase water pressure during peak usage hours, you could replace your current pressure tank with a larger tank or supplement it with a second tank. If you have more pressurized water available before the well pump needs to kick back on, you will have fewer pump cycles and fewer pressure fluctuations.
Install a Booster Pump
If your home has always had low pressure, particularly on the upper floors, the issue may be that the well pump is far from your faucets, and it isn’t strong enough to contend with gravity or extended distances to provide the pressure you desire. This also sometimes happens if multiple homes are connected to a single well. A professional may be able to install a booster pump to provide additional pressure.
Install a Constant Pressure System
For a more comprehensive solution, you might replace your current well pump and tank with a constant pressure system. This system includes a sophisticated pump that adjusts its speed according to your water usage. Because there’s no pressure tank, a more consistent pressure is continually provided. Although it can be expensive to replace your entire system, constant pressure systems often last longer than traditional systems because there is less strain placed on the pump because it cycles less frequently. If you need to replace an aged or broken well pump anyway, it might be worth exploring the benefits of upgrading your system.
Low water pressure is a nuisance, but it doesn’t have to be a given just because you use a private well. There are several ways to troubleshoot these issues and improve your water pressure – some inexpensive, others a more significant but worthwhile investment. Dierolf Plumbing and Water Treatment can help you maintain and troubleshoot your well to deliver consistent and pleasing water pressure in your home.