If you live outside of the city, your water probably comes from a well. If so, there’s a good chance you know what it’s like to deal with low pressure.
The optimal water pressure is around 50 psi. This will give you enough pressure to have a satisfying shower without causing excessive wear and tear on your fixtures and appliances.
Well water has many advantages over municipal water from a financial and health perspective, but it too comes with its own problems.
In some cases, the cause of low water pressure may be obvious. However, in most of these instances it’s necessary to investigate potential reasons for this issue.
When your home connects to a Well to supply water, you may experience low or fluctuating water pressure. However, there are many easy ways for even inexperienced homeowners to increase the water pressure their homes receive from a Well and get better water quality.
Here are some ways to address declining water pressure in a home with a connection to well water.
What Causes Low Water Pressure?
Low water pressure is characterized by slow or weakened water flow as it exits any home fixture such as a faucet, shower head, or garden hose. While the effects of low water pressure are easy to recognize, it is not uncommon for homeowners to confuse the term water pressure with other well-related terms such as flow rate and volume.
Before explaining the different possible causes for low water pressure, it is essential to understand the differences between water pressure, flow rate, and volume.
- Water Pressure is the amount of pressure, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch), exerted within the piping system and out of the fixtures. In a standard pressure system, water pressure gets regulated through a working relationship between the pressure tank, well pump, and pressure switch.
- Flow Rate, measured in GPM (gallons per minute), refers to the amount of water and speed at which the entire well system can provide the household. For example, a Well system with a flow rate of 8 GPM can provide a household with 8 gallons of water per minute. Flow rate is dependent on several factors, including the strength of the Well pump and the capacity of the Well.
- The volume of the Well refers to the actual quantity of groundwater within the aquifer itself. Even if a Well system has a large enough flow rate, it is still dependent on the volume of water under the earth’s surface. The volume of water in the Well is dependent on several factors, including the size of the aquifer, the rate at which water gets pumped, and the rate at which groundwater is being recovered from the surface.
Pressure Tank and Well Pump Problems
A good system relies on a functioning relationship between the Well pump, the pressure tank, and the pressure switch. One of the most common causes of poor water pressure is a problem from within the system itself. If any of the components of a Well system fail, it may result in an immediate drop in water pressure or very inconsistent pressure.
Blockage or Narrow Pipes
When water pipes are too narrow to provide enough water due to build-up or insufficient structural width, the problem being experienced isn’t a cause of inadequate pressure but poor flow rate. The PSI of the Well system may very well read adequately, but water just isn’t moving freely enough.
High concentrations of minerals in well water such as iron, calcium, and magnesium can build up within the water pipes causing lower water pressure.
This is often the case when the system pressure is within normal range but the water coming out of the fixtures is slow. Prevention of pipe blockage can be done by installing a water softener or iron filter to reduce hard water.
Clogged Aerators or Shower Heads
Just as is the case with blocked pipes, inadequate water pressure isn’t always a result of the system failing to provide enough PSI. Inadequate water pressure may be experienced right at the exit point due to clogged faucet aerators or calcified showerheads.
Hard water can cause build-up at the exit point just as effortlessly as it can calcify within the pipes themselves.
It is essential to check the aerators and showerheads for calcification as they might very well be the source of inadequate water flow.
Aerators and showerheads are relatively inexpensive to replace and may be an easy solution to a low-pressure problem.
Greater Demand than Flow Rate Will Provide
A Well system’s flow rate is the amount of water that can be supplied to the household within a certain amount of time. Usually measured in gallons per minute, a Well system’s GPM is dependent on the speed of the Well pump and the capacity of the Well itself. For example, a Well pump with a GPM of 8 can provide 8 gallons of water to the household every minute.
The larger the household, the more fixtures which release water, thus the demand for water increases. When the water demand exceeds the Well pump flow rate, the strength at which the water exits the fixtures can suffer. This isn’t necessarily an issue of water pressure in terms of low PSI, but more of an issue of the flow rate not meeting the demands of the household.
In cases like these, the Well pump might not be powerful enough to provide the household with the flow rate it needs, especially during peak hours.
How to Increase Water Pressure From a Well
Adjust Your Pressure Tank Settings
Most residential wells are equipped with pressure tanks that control the pressure of the water that flows from the Well to a home. While the average home connected to a city’s municipal water supply receives water at about 60 pounds per square inch (psi), the default setting for most well water pressure tanks is 28 psi. You can adjust this tank setting to increase home water pressure considerably.
Additional pressure settings on most tanks include 20/40, 30/50, and 40/60 psi. The first number designates how low the pressure in the tank must drop before the Well pump begins filling it with more water, and the second number indicates how high the water pressure in the tank can get before the pump shuts off.
Increase your tank pressure setting to 40/60 psi, and you may be surprised when your home water pressure increases significantly after this simple adjustment.
Consider a Pump with a Higher Flow Capacity
If your pressure tank is already adjusted to its highest setting, then your water pressure problem may be caused by your current well pump. Different Well pumps have different flow rates, flow capacity, ratings, and if the flow rate of your existing pump is too low, then it may not be able to pump enough water into your home to meet your family’s water demands.
The flow rate of a Well pump is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). If you currently have a Well pump with a GPM rating of 8, you may notice that your home water pressure improves greatly after upgrading to a pump with a 12 GPM rating.
Upgrade to a Constant Pressure System
If your home water pressure problem is not consistently low water pressure but instead frequent water pressure fluctuations, then you should consider upgrading your Well tank and pump system from a traditional system to a constant pressure system.
As mentioned, even when adjusted to the highest pressure setting, a traditional well pressure tank will allow water pressure to fluctuate by about 20 psi. However, a constant pressure system does not allow the water pressure in the tank to drop by more than two psi before it triggers the pump to increase tank water pressure again. This consistent tank water pressure leads to constant home water pressure.
While constant pressure systems can vary in design, most are equipped with special electronic water pressure sensors located in their tanks that send a signal to the Well pump to begin filling the tank as soon as water psi begins to drop even slightly to keep water pressure more consistent.
Install a Water Pressure Booster Pump
Another way to increase water pressure in your home is to add a water pressure booster pump to your home plumbing system.
This pump can be especially useful if your water pressure seems much lower on the top floor of your home than on the ground floor since many standard well pumps have difficulty competing with gravity when they supply water to a home’s top floor. Booster pumps are electrical and use motors and impellers to increase the speed of the water that flows into your home. This helps it reach fixtures on your top floor more easily.
Causes for low water pressure can be related to pressure tank or well pump problems, blockage of pipes, clogged aerators, high demand, and depleted aquifers.
When diagnosing the problem, it is essential to recognize the difference between water pressure, flow rate, and volume or capacity of the Well. Be sure to check the pressure tank, pipes, and any other additional appliance integrated into the system, such as a water softener.