You asked. We answered.
-How much air pressure should be in my pressure tank?
This is a question we get a lot from customers...
Generally, air pressure in the pressure tank corresponds with your pressure switch. If the switch has not been tampered with (adjusted) then in most cases you can look under the cover of the pressure switch. Usually, in small print, you will see a cut on and cut off pressure of either 30/50 or 40/60. In our area, these are the two most common pressure switches.
At any rate, you can be from 5 PSI - 2 PSI below the cut on pressure. We have found from experience that sticking with 5 PSI below the cut on pressure works best all around. Note: to get an accurate pressure reading on the air in the tank, you must turn off the power to the well pump (also for safety, as to not get electrocuted) and drain your water from the system so that the water pressure does not conflict with the air reading. If there is a water shut off valve AFTER the pressure tank, you can first turn off the valve to avoid draining water from your entire home. In some cases you will have a pressure tank that is directly buried in the ground. Usually, your pressure switch is connected to your water well and is inside the top of the well casing. In this case, you can't check air pressure/add air unless you dig down to expose the air valve to access it.
-Why is my water surging?
There are many possible issues that can cause water surging. Most of the time, the first and best thing to check is the water pressure tank. This is best done by a professional, because sometimes, you can get in over your head if you have not checked one before. Should you check it yourself, first thing to do is to turn off power to your well pump. If you have a shut off valve AFTER the pressure tank, turn it off so that you do not have to drain water from the entire home.
Next, either run water directly from the hose bib on the pressure tank, or another low point on the same level. If you cannot locate or do not have a way to drain water pressure, you may need to schedule a service call. Once you drain water pressure from the system, you can now get an accurate air pressure reading on the top of the pressure tank. Follow the steps in "How much air pressure should be in my pressure tank?"
If you find that you have zero air pressure in the tank, try filling it with air to the recommended pressure setting (See "How much air pressure should be in my pressure tank?")
If you try filling the tank with air, and it stays at zero when checking again, more than likely the pressure tank is ruptured inside. Replace pressure tank. If the pressure tank takes air, and you are able to fill it with the recommended PSI, Turn on the power to the well pump and allow it to pump up and shut off. Then open your valve (slowly) to your home and you should be good to go.
Note: You will have air in the lines due to draining and filling the lines again. You can allow it to gently escape through a faucet until you have your consistent pressure again. Sometimes, you can first run water at the location you drained it from, to let most of the air escape at one point rather than letting air get into other lines in the house.
If you find that your surging continues again, shortly after performing these steps mentioned above, you may need a new pressure tank, as it may have a small rupture that lets the air out in the lines again over time. As always, it is best to consult a professional.
-When Drilling a well, how much water is adequate for my home?
There are many sources of information you can find, that will tell you how much water should be available per person in a household, and based on how many faucets/bathrooms/kitchens are going to be in the home. You can follow those general guidelines to be sure to have more than enough water for your family. Here is one source of information for how many gallons per minute (gpm) is needed in your home: Water System Planning—Estimating Water Needs — Water Quality (Penn State Extension)
The information provided in the link above provides plenty of insight into how much water you will need. Consulting with your local well driller can back those claims and if the well driller has experience drilling in your area, he can provide additional details on well depths and typical amount of water encountered, based on previously drilled wells in your area. In most cases you can find near the same amount of water as found before, but, as nature is-it can vary.
Depending on the geology in an area, sometimes you can drill a well across the road from a neighbor and have a totally different well depth and well yield. An experienced driller can help shed some light on this, and in most cases, should have other methods to ensure you have plenty of water. Visit our Hydro-Fracturing page, which explains another route to ensuring you have plenty of water, whether it's coupled with a new well or used on an existing well that has dropped in production over time.
-How can I prepare for the cost of future pump system failures?
This is a great question. It is always a good idea to put money back in the event that anything decides to quit on you. We all have had the experience of at least one major appliance/costly unit that we own, having gone bad on us. A pump system is fairly complex as far as the things that can go wrong.
For example, a lot of pumps last for a long time, and in the course of five to ten years or so, many people luck out in having only a pressure switch go bad due to normal wear. Or you can have loss of water or pressure and it be a pressure tank having gone bad. These issues can contrast significantly in cost verses the actual well pump being bad. In addition, the cost of a well pump varies depending upon depth of the well.
This makes it hard to determine what kind of goal to reach in a dollar amount to have on hand and ready in the event that something fails. I think the best approach, would be to start putting money back as soon as you have your new well/pump system in place. Even if you only put back 10 dollars a week...in a year's time you would have $520.00 to keep exclusively for your water well system. At $10.00 per week or $520.00/year, that's $1,040.00 in 2 years.
Many water professionals will have a warranty for their small parts and labor, and usually will have a longer warranty for the well pump and pressure tank. If you stick with the $10.00 per week saving for covering any well related expenses, in 2 years time you should have enough to at least cover a pressure tank/labor. In 4 year's savings at $10.00/week, you will have $2,080.00 which would likely cover the issue, should that be the length of time you have your first problem.
In our experience, when a pump system is installed properly, with good quality parts, it is usually a rarity to have any issues for at least 3-5 years. A factory-defective well pump will usually stop working within a few months to a year.
Any professional well drilling company should be able to give you any warranty information you need in a simple phone call. Brands of pumps and equipment usually varies company to company, so as such, warranties can vary as well.
-What should I do if I suddenly have no water?
This is a question we wish were asked a lot. And now that it's here, at least more people can be aware. The very first thing you should do, should you either wake up with no water or suddenly lose it during use, is turn off the power to your well pump. Do this at the breaker panel. If your well pump is not clearly marked in your breaker panel, call a well driller immediately to see what to do. If you only lose water at maybe one faucet or one room, a plumber would be best to call.
Every other part of the system from the pressure tank to the well outside, it is best to first call a well drilling company. This can save you from paying two people for one thing. For example: You lose water and you're not sure who to call so you look in the plumbing section. If the first thing you see is a plumbing company, you might just dial a number. This is natural, but sometimes a plumber will have the customer contact the people who drilled the well. This means you can potentially pay for his visit and another visit for repair from the drilling company, all in the same day.
-Do you have a minimum service charge?
Yes, we do. But it is simply a one hour minimum charge. We need at least one hour of labor. Our hourly labor rate includes every bit of our expenses: 2 men, our truck, tools, etc. We used to have a higher minimum fee, but we find it helps out a lot of our customers to charge simply one hour of labor, if there's something simple to fix the problem, which in most cases takes very little time to fix.