RonDunbar's blog



When a well-water supply system has been running flawlessly, there is a tendency for homeowners to forget that just like any other mechanical equipment in the house, the well equipment needs periodic maintenance and replacement. A lack of maintenance can lead to a sudden loss of the water supply -- one thing a homeowner certainly does not want to have to live without for even a short period of time. But with regular preventive maintenance, maximum reliability can be achieved. 
Prompt attention to changing conditions is important. If unusual noises or irregular flow conditions occur, it is best to have the system checked out as soon as possible. The effort to perform maintenance or servicing will vary with the type equipment involved. Many private water supply systems now use a submersible pump located at the bottom of the well. If problems with this type pump are encountered the pump may have to be pulled up from the base of the well. However, these units are durable and under normal circumstances can operate trouble-free for relatively long periods of time.
Others pumps are located above the well (typically in a well house or utility area). These pumps can be heard when they operate and may require more maintenance than a submersible pump; however, they are usually readily accessible if repairs are needed.
Regardless of the type pump, water is usually pumped into a tank for water storage and pressurization purposes. The water in the tank ensures a small volume of water is always on hand so that the pump does not have to turn on each time a faucet is opened.
The pressure of the water flow throughout the water distribution system is controlled by an automatic switch located at the storage tank. These storage tanks are designed to contain water as well as some air to help regulate the water pressure. Since water cannot be compressed, the compressible air provides a cushion to help regulate the water pressure, for distribution throughout the house. Without this water storage capacity and air cushion, the pump would turn on and off on a regular basis, causing extra wear, while providing water at widely fluctuating pressures.
In old tanks, over time, the air can be absorbed in the water, allowing the tank to become waterlogged. If the pump short-cycles on and off, the tank may simply need some air. Draining water from this type tank will recharge the tank with air.
New tanks contain a membrane or bag to keep the water separate from the air. These are referred to as captive air or bladder tanks. Others tanks have a rubber diaphragm (wafer) that floats on the water while acting as a barrier between the water and tank. Both these type tanks usually have valve stems similar to the ones found on automobile’s tires, that can be used to regulate the pressure.   Occasionally, these membranes rupture and must be replaced but otherwise they provide for more uniform operation than the basic tank.
Even if your well system appears to be operating properly, it would be prudent to have it checked and serviced by a qualified serviceperson every few years. The well water should also be tested periodically to ensure suitable water quality conditions are maintained.
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