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Guthrie and Frey Inc.


The most common indicators of a failed pressure tank are:

  • Visible leaks or excessive water in tank vicinity that cannot be attributed to condensation.
  • Internal failure of a captive air (bladder style) tank; symptoms are excessive starting & stopping of the well pump when water is being used.

There are many symptoms that can indicate a failed well pump, but many of these symptoms can also be caused other, more minor, failures (i.e. switch or control box failures, wiring issues).

Possible signs of pump failure:

  • No water pressure to faucets in home.
  • Pump runs for long periods of time and produces very little water.
  • Excessive, unusual noise when the pump operates (motor vibration, bearing wear).
  • Unusually high electric bill which can be caused by excessive running of the pump to produce minimal water.

Waterlogging is a condition that occurs when the air to water ratio within the pressure tank is off balance. For a pressure tank to operate properly there must be an air to water ratio within the tank of approximately 3 to 1. (3 parts air, 1 part water). When this ratio becomes primarily water with minimal air, the tank becomes increasingly inefficient which results in waterlogging. (Too much water in the tank.) Waterlogging is evidenced by too many starts & stops on the pump motor when water is being used. For example, if the pump starts every time a toilet is flushed, it is likely that the tank is becoming waterlogged.

The average life of a pressure tank usually 10-15 years. There can be instances where tanks last more or less than the average.

In almost all cases, some type of pressure tank is required to operate a well system. The size and type of the pressure tank can vary based on the type of system installed.

If a bladder tank/captive air tank becomes waterlogged, it indicates there is some type of internal failure occurring with that tank. In some cases, the tank can be drained & the correct air to water ratio re-established by pumping air into the pressure tank. Most captive air style tanks have a snifter valve near the top of the tank which allows for the introduction of air back into the tank. In some cases this is successful, but in other cases the tank will not properly drain nor accept air. In these cases, the pressure tank must be replaced to remedy the condition.

In an empty pressure tank (with no water inside of it), the desired air pressure should be between 30-40 psi. Ideally, the air pressure in the tank should be approximately 3-4 psi less than the start up pressure on the pressure switch/well system. (Normal start up pressure is 30-40 psi.) Normal water pressure in a house is between 35 and 65 psi.

Low pressure can be caused by numerous factors:

  • Restriction in the plumbing such as: plugged piping, plugged cartridge filters, restricted water softener or iron filter. In this case, water pressure at the pressure tank will be good, but pressure at the faucets (post filtration) will be noticeably diminished. Gauges on well pump systems are not always accurate. If the gauge needle never moves while water is being used, it is likely the gauge is defective. This can be confusing when doing home diagnostics.
  • A faulty pumping system. The well pump may be in the process of failure/wearing out and unable to produce sufficient pressure to meet household demand. In this case, the water pressure at the tank will be low as well as the pressure at the faucets.
  • A hole in a pipe in the well or underground. A hole in the well pipe or water lateral can rob the system of pressure. The pump is pumping the correct amount of water but much of it is being diverted to a leak in the delivery piping system. This may cause low pressure and possibly a cycling of the pump when no water is being used in the house.
  • Loss of water in the well. In rare cases, the well itself may not have sufficient ability to produce the supply of water that is demanded in the house. In these instances, the well can temporarily run out of water, resulting in a loss in household pressure. This type of problem will normally require an expert evaluation and possibly a new well.

Because there are so many things that can cause low pressure, if the homeowner is unable to self-diagnose the problem, a reputable service technician should be called to do an on-site evaluation of the problem. It is important that the cause of the low pressure be correctly diagnosed so that costly repairs are not made in error.

This valve (AVC) is used on well systems where air is introduced into the pressure tank each time the pump in the well starts up. This type of system is not as commonly encountered as it used to be, but before the advent of captive air tanks, this type of system was commonly used. Since an AVC works in conjunction with the air charging system in the well, both facets must be present for this valve to work correctly. The purpose of the AVC is to release excess air from the tank in order to maintain the proper air to water ratio and keep the tank from becoming air bound. If the AVC fails, you will usually get either leakage onto the floor around the tank or air spurting through the hard water faucets in the house. In either case, the AVC should be replaced.

A captive air/bladder tank works by implementing an “impermeable” barrier between the air and the water within the tank. This barrier maintains a constant supply of air in the tank by preventing the air from being absorbed into the water. This allows for maximum efficiency on the part of the tank and minimizes the need to replenish the air supply within the tank.

Most people do nothing to their wells in the form of maintenance. As long as water is coming out of the faucets, most of us assume that everything is working fine with the well system. In most instances this is true, however, it is recommended that every 12-24 months the system be evaluated by a professional to insure that small problems are attended to and that the system remains reliable. Attention to the visible components of the system by the homeowner is recommended. If anything out of the ordinary is noticed (low pressure, odor in the water, water leakage) the homeowner can address these issues proactively.

An air over water pressure tank works by either automatically introducing air into the tank each time the pump starts or manually pumping air into the tank approximately once every 12 months.

Chlorinating a well can be very helpful in maintaining a safe and palatable water supply to your home. However, because chlorine is such a strong oxidizer, it can be both damaging and dangerous to your system. Most homeowners improperly chlorinate their wells, thus taking unnecessary risks and imparting costly damage to their water systems.

Chlorinating the well can help improve the aesthetic quality of the water and help reduce the potential for the presence of harmful bacteria in the water.

Wells in Wisconsin are frequently required to be tested for certain contaminants when properties are sold and when certain types of well pump work are performed. These tests help to identify possible contaminants. Literally hundreds of contaminants have been identified as potentially being in water. Although it would be financially prohibitive to test for all possible contaminants, many people have their water tested periodically for coliform bacteria. If you notice any unusual odor, taste in the water, or any unexplained illnesses in the family, it would be recommended to have the water tested.

The definitive way to tell is to have the water analyzed by a state-approved lab. However if you notice unusual taste or odor, testing is recommended.

Well water naturally contains minerals which can sometimes precipitate out of the water in a visual sediment-like manner. This type of sediment can frequently be expected, especially in hard, unfiltered water. If the sediment is more like a sand or a “grit” it is possibly part of the geologic formation that your well is drilled into. Minor amounts of this type of sediment are not unusual, but if excessive, this type of sediment can be very damaging.

Cloudy water can be caused by numerous things, such as the well formation into which your well is drilled and some types of filtration (iron curtain.) If the well is drilled into a shale formation (soft, limestone like material), cloudiness can be a very difficult problem to correct. In extreme cases, the well may need to be reconstructed in order to seal off the formation that is causing the cloudiness.

The best way to ensure water quality is to have the water routinely analyzed for suspected contaminants.

The normal treatment for coliform is the introduction of chlorine in a proper and safe manner into the well. There are several different methods of introducing chlorine into the water starting with a simple chlorination (least expensive) and progressing into more aggressive and invasive approaches. In most cases, the coliform can be eliminated from a well using chlorine, however, in extreme cases the well may need to be abandoned and a new well drilled.


"Thank you for the professional service and support throughout the building process. Your entire staff was great."

J&J., Mukwonago, WI

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