low water pressure troubleshooting

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by kmswans79, May 25, 2016.

  1. kmswans79

    kmswans79 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I am looking for help troubleshooting a low water pressure issue. The system is a bit unique, and was installed by the previous owner:

    Basic overview:

    I have a private well system. The homeowner previously had a solar heat system, and when they stopped using it, they incorporated two cisterns/holding tanks into my water system. I have a pump in the well. Where the line enters the house it splits 3 ways 2 of these are for the holding tanks/cisterns, and the third route goes to a jet pump and water pressure tank, beyond which is the water supply to the house. There is one primary filter before any of the splits, and a second after the pressure tank to filter water in the house.

    Recent History:

    I recently replaced both filters with no known issues (Didn't notice drop in pressure at this point). More recently, I identified a leak in our downstairs bathroom, and had to cut into a wall, and replace a bad fitting on the hot water line. When I did this, I shut of the water to the house, and powered down the hot water heater. At some point after this, I noticed a significant drop in water pressure. while the water pressure was previously what I would consider Average, I now have fulgurations and at points nearly o pressure. Basically if you flush a toilet, you pretty much loose pressure all together.

    I feared that my pressure tank may have a bad bladder. I did check the pressure prior to shutting everything down, and I was at about 30Psi. I then closed of holding tanks, shut down both pumps, and drained the tank. Pressure was then at about 10Psi. Spec sheet on Pressure tank states precharge Psi should be 38, so with the tank empty, I inflated tank to 38psi. Opened up the valves again, and repowered the system. At first the jet pump did not fire up, but I found a lever that kicked it back on. From here the the system at first had nearly no pressure, but slowly got better. I now have roughly the same pressure prior to adjusting the pressure tank Psi, and the pressure there seems to be holding (with water in system it is around 50Psi. While I think there may still be a slow leak since the pressure was significantly lower than the listed pre-charge psi, it does appear to be holding, so I believe my problem is else where.


    Looking for "Next Steps" in trouble shooting, pump seems to work fine, and while some have suggested adjusting the cut-in/cut-out switches, I am wondering how they would have gotten so far out of whack in such a short period of time. Also, is it possible I somehow managed to clog the line by shutting down the system for repairs? If so, is there a fix for this outside of cutting out pipe and replacing? also, given that the pump fills two (i beleive 250 gallon cisterns/holding tanks) I don't believe that the problem would be with well pump and or well flow rate. The tanks have remained full this whole time, so there should be plenty of water to be distributed.



    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    What does the pressure gauge at the pump say when you are not using water-- is that 50 PSI?

    What does that gauge say while you run water from the kitchen sink or flush a toilet?

    How is the flow from an outside hose bib?
     
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  4. kmswans79

    kmswans79 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    I have two pressure gauges one at where the water comes into the house, and one near the pressure tank and jet pump. The well gauge sits at zero until the pump engages, and while running is at 10-15 I believe. I don't think that is what you are asking, but if that seems wrong, I can double check. I just ran down and check the second gauge and haven't used the water in a bit. Prior to any water usage it was at 48-49 psi. I then flushed a toilet and turned on the faucet. Almost immediately you can tell that there is no pressure, and the gauge stayed at 48Psi. I stayed and watched it, and it slowly went sown to about 45Psi. Nothing else came on (well or Jet Pump).
     
  5. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Are the valves from the cistern storage tanks open? You could also have a suction leak in the filter coming in from the well pump.
     
  6. kmswans79

    kmswans79 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Sorry, Missed the hose question. Pressure seems to get worse, further from the source. Furthest being the kitchen sink (Upstairs from water room) and at that location its a trickle at best. I am also noticing if i go to the kitchen sink after not having used the water for a bit, the pressure starts good, and then quickly and progressively moves to very little flow
     
  7. kmswans79

    kmswans79 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Cistern Valves are both open. If I understand correctly, the well pump fills the cisterns, and the jet pump pulls from them. If the floats in the cisterns goes down, the well pump will kick in until they are full again.

    Regarding the suction leak, can you expand on what that means and how to identify if that is a problem? The filter from the pump does have a cut-off built in. I used this previously to change the filter, but also used this to cut off incoming water when I drained the pressure tank. both filters have buttons, that I am unsure of their purpose. If you press the button, water will leak out.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I think you are saying that while drawing water for the kitchen or filling the toilet tank with weak water flow, the pressure gauge only drops a bit. So the problem is after that gauge.

    I am not clear on your filter situation.

    What are those big white tanks?

    Often/usually the water splits off to the outside hose bib(s) before the cartridge filters. From the pictures, it seems that is not the case at your house. Does the water flow from the hose bibs with good flow, or is it weak as it is in the bathroom or kitchen? If strong, the problem is after where the pipe to the hose bib splits off.

    In the bathroom are the hot and cold flows pretty much equally weak? If so, that would say the blockage is before the water splits to go to the hot water heater.

    You should get a pressure gauge that will screw onto a garden hose thread. They are under $20. That would let you watch the water pressure at the hose bib, the water heater drain, laundry tub or washing machine connection.

    Something blocking the filter seems possible. Whenever you replace your cartridge, you should lightly lube the O-ring with silicone grease. I suggest you get a spare O-ring before getting into your housing again, since if the O-ring will not go back on, your system is going to be leaking badly until you get a replacement O-ring. But once you have that spare, try removing the cartridge and putting the empty sump (the black thing you screw on) back on. If the pressure problem goes away, your cartridge has too much restriction. You would need to get a less restrictive cartridge.

    A bad pressure tank will not cause these symptoms.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  9. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    The way it is plumbed, the well pump can feed the cistern tanks and/or the jet pump directly. This is a good idea as a back up. But when the well pump is not running, that filter and all the well pump lines are under vacuum, and a air leak in that line like at the filter o-ring can cause the jet pump to lose prime and/or not pump much water.
     
  10. kmswans79

    kmswans79 New Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2016
    Location:
    Colorado Springs

    Well, First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone for the insight and advice, secondly I should apologize for being an idiot. I lived here for 4 months before getting around to changing the filters. They looked bad at that point, but were not restricting the airflow. When you mentioned that the blockage would have to be after the pressure tank, I figured I should be crossing items off the list even though they have been in there for less then a month. Well, the filter after the pressure tank was extremely clogged. The well filter was so-so, but replaced them both. I now have better water pressure that ever, so that seems to have been the issue.

    Regarding the filters, my father had suggested a charcoal filter, wondering if this is less microns than what was previously installed and if so does that it should probably be changed more frequently, unfortunately, all I had to compare to was the dirty filter with no spec or info visible. There are only two of us living here and I would say our water usage is relatively low, so curious as to why the previous filter didn't run into the same issue after a longer period of time.

    and to answer the previous question, as best I can tell, every water outlet comes after the pressure tank and filter system, so yes the outside hose experienced similar pressure issues.

    Again, thanks everyone for the advice and input, really glad I didn't start tearing things apart and replacng equipment!
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I am glad you were successful in troubleshooting and fixing.

    Different filters have different resistance and particle size removal. A carbon block filter is one of the most restrictive. It may be that you had that. You don't feed a whole house through a carbon block filter normally.

    http://www.discountfilterstore.com/whole-house-filters.html has a nice finder. In the left column, you can select the size and more. You can also select GPM. You would want a rating of 10 GPM or more for a whole house cartridge. 20 GPM would be better. Do not use a cellulose filter for non-chlorinated water.

    Never lube the O-rings with Vaseline or other petroleum product. That will swell and degrade the O-ring.
     
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