Well pressure switch

I have an Aermotor T12-75 well pump with pressure switch. I have no documentation on it. Our water pressure seems low. I assume it should not be as good as our previous house that had city water but it does seem a bit low. Watching the pressure gauge, the pump cuts in at 30 and then works it way back up to 50 and cuts out. The pressures sound about right. The house is 8 years old and I doubt if the system has ever had any maintenance. Is there any I should have done to hopefully improve the pressure?
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Kent McPherson wrote:

50 lbs ain't enough? That's pretty typical. What do you want/expect?
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Those are pretty typical numbers; what is it that makes you think it's a pressure problem rather than pipe blockages, things like that?
:I have an Aermotor T12-75 well pump with pressure switch. I have no : documentation on it. Our water pressure seems low. I assume it should not be : as good as our previous house that had city water but it does seem a bit : low. Watching the pressure gauge, the pump cuts in at 30 and then works it : way back up to 50 and cuts out. The pressures sound about right. The house : is 8 years old and I doubt if the system has ever had any maintenance. Is : there any I should have done to hopefully improve the pressure? : :
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On Sun, 13 Nov 2005 10:08:07 -0500, Kent McPherson wrote:

Sounds like things are operating normally - 30/50 pressure is fine. You can, however, raise it if you like by adjusting the nuts in the pressure switch - mine is 40/60. Need to make sure you don't get too high though - I've been told that some shut-offs on things like washers won't work if the pressure is too high.
Make sure that the pressure tank is ok by watching how long it takes for the pump to cut on when water is running. If it takes a minute or more from full pressure until the pump cuts in, things are probably fine. BTW, pressure in the pressure tank should be a couple of pounds less than the cut in pressure (30 psi from your post) - gotta drain the tank to check the pressure.
I would look for the following as possible causes of low pressure: 1) whole house filter (will be located on the main water line) - cartridge needs changing 2) fixture filter (under sink type) - cartridge needs changing (don't forget fridge if it has one) 3) screens in faucets - look for sand or encrustation with calcium and/or other minerals 4) shower heads - remove and check for sand or encrustation
Note that a whole house or fixture filter could include a water softening unit, depending on water quality.
Soaking in vinegar can help loosen calcium encrustation so that it can be brushed off.
If you find sand, I'd suggest putting in a filter (I have a whole house filter as a preventative - installed it when I hooked the well to the house during construction) and keeping the cartridge changed regularly - how regularly depends on how long it takes for the pressure to start dropping due to buildup on the filter. Sand in your fixtures can damage the shut-off valves and cause dripping faucets and toilets that won't quit running all the way - particularly unwanted in water using appliances like washers and dishwashers.
Sand does not always come from running the well low - I had a lot of sand get into my filter when the water table rose. My well was drilled when we were in drought conditions and when we started getting normal rainfall 2 years later, the powder that was forced into the cracks in the rocks when the well was drilled was washed out by the higher water. Wound up with the filter clogging twice in one month, but then things were back to the normal 2-3 months. Glad I had the filter - wouldn't have wanted all that stuff in the house.
HTH
Later, Mike (substitute strickland in the obvious location to reply directly) ----------------------------------- snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net
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"Kent McPherson"> wrote

Is your gauge installed BEFORE the softener? My system is brand new and has 2 gauges, 1 before the softener and 1 after the softener. Before reads 80 and after reads 55. Next time I build a new house I'll have 1" pipes installed, I like alot of flow in the shower and my wife likes those body jets.
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My well worked off 220 so make sure the power is off before you play if you like living.
In my experience, the nipple pipe right below the switch used to get filled with crap and that would make the switch sense pressure inaccurately. Also you may be reading the pressure in the wrong spot.

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On one hand, you say that your water pressure seems low. On the other hand, you say that it is 30-50 psi (most of the time it is probably near 30 psi), which is on the low end of the typical range (40 psi is more typical).
Either, your expecations are unrealistic, and you either need to learn to live with the water pressure you have, or increase the pressure (which might be easy, just adjust the switch, might require a more powerful pump or more air charge in the tank, or massive changes to the plumbing system).
Or (more likely), the pressure you measured (most likely at the pump) is not actually the pressure that is delivered at the faucet. This would be likely caused by some blockage (old pipes, clogged filter, what have you). Here's one way to test it. Get a pressure gauge that you can connect to a garden hose faucet, or even better directly to a faucet or shower in the house. With no water flowing, you should measure the same pressure at the faucet as at the pump (plus or minus a little bit for the height difference, about 2.3 feet make one psi). Once you turn some other faucet in the house on, watch the pressure gauge on the other faucet. The pressure there should drop a little bit, maybe a few psi. If the pressure there drops a lot, while the pressure at the pump stays pretty constant, you have a blockage somewhere in the plumbing between the pump and the faucets.
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On Sun, 13 Nov 2005 10:08:07 -0500, "Kent McPherson"

Folks coming from municipal water systems are usually unimpressed with the standard 30-50 well system. Municipal systems are usually 60-80. (at least that is what it was in DC when I was there)
BTW when you see those GPM figures on shower heads and faucets, that is X GPM @ 80 PSI. On a 30-50 well system you get a fraction of that. Got a friend in Canada?
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Well I appreciate all the posts to my question. Here's a couple of clarifications. I measured the pressure at the gauge that is built-in. It is before the water softener which I do have. I realize the 30-50 readings are fairly standard. It could simply be a case of not knowing what to expect from a well compared to a city water system. This is our first house with a well. The water pressure is low compared to the city pressure and I think I'm hearing that is normal. I'm thinking I'll just call the company that put in the well pump/pressure tank and have them come check it out. This house is 8 years old owned by only one previous owner who didn't do much of anything in terms of maintenance. Maybe there is no maintenance to this kind of system but might be worth a service call to get someone to look at it and tell me it's OK.
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On Mon, 14 Nov 2005 06:50:46 -0500, Kent McPherson wrote:

Before I shelled out the $$ for a service call, I'd seriously consider turning up the pressure in the pressure switch. You should be able to find the instructions inside the cap of the switch, or if that's gone, possibly finding a similar switch at HD or hardware store and jotting down the instructions. They are very simple and, as long as you don't make major changes in one operation, should allow you to raise the pressure safely to a more suitable level. Of course, doing so means that you should raise the pressure (should be 2-3 psi less than cut-in pressure) in your pressure tank also - almost as simple as raising the water pressure. The only tool required is a compressor - the kind found in auto emergency kits is what I use (never tried, but understand a bike pump takes forever).
Procedure 1) adjust water pressure via pressure switch (don't proceed to step 2 until you have the pressure you want) 2) kill power (required unless you have a shutoff that will allow draining the tank without killing power) and drain pressure tank of water 3) pump air into the valve at the top of the tank until desired air pressure is achieved 4) turn on power and repressurize system
BTW, since you said that the house is 8 years old and the former owner wasn't the type to do maintenance, I'd suggest that while you have the cover off the switch, take a look at the contacts to see if they're burned away. The sparking when they make will eventually burn them out and you'll need to replace the switch. That's pretty easy too - crescent wrench (maybe some pliers to hold the pipe the switch is on to keep it from turning) and screwdriver is all that's required as far as tools. Gotta turn off the power and depressurize the system before changing it though. I dunno the lifespan of a pressure switch, so I just check mine about once a year.
I'd still check the water softener, any filters and the fixtures to make sure they aren't causing a problem, but if pressure is the only problem, you can raise it easily enough yourself. I personally prefer 40/60, which is very close to what I had when I was on city water. The house had a regulator (don't have a clue what the pressure was set to) in the crawl space to drop the pressure from whatever the city was providing. City pressure must have been pretty high as the houses in the area all had regulators installed when they were built (late '60s).
My personal experience (I'm a do-it-yourselfer) with pressure switches is that some keep the same range (for example 30/50 to 40/60), others will allow you to *also* change the range (for example 30/50 to 30/60). It depends on the particular kind you have. Of course the actual pressures will depend on how far (and which) nut(s) you've turned, I was just providing examples of what can be done. The only tool required is a crescent wrench - you could use a socket set instead, but the switches I've had experience with would possibly require a deep well socket to fit over the screw and still reach the nut.
When I bought my new washer, I asked the installer about pressure and he recommended that the pressure NOT be over 80 psi.
Don't have a water softener myself, but do know that they require maintenance. You might look online for the company that makes yours and see if you can get a copy of the instructions. The softening resin has to be recharged - the softening resin I use for tropical fish is recharged using a brine (salt) solution. I would think that this could pose a problem for a person on a sodium restricted diet (replacing calcium ions with sodium ions), but I really don't know. For all I know, the ones systems used for homes use some other ion replacement - never looked.
Later, Mike (substitute strickland in the obvious location to reply directly) ----------------------------------- snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net
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"Kent McPherson"> wrote

If your pressure switch looks like this: http://tinyurl.com/djmmd you can undo the nut on top and pull the plastic cover off, then us a 7/16" box wrench to turn the nut inside either direction and watch the gauge to see which way to raise the pressure. Be careful to not touch any of the electrical components inside, that stuff is 220 volts! I have 2 of these switches on my system and the one closest to the ground gets clogged with ants and shorts the system out. I then unplug the system from the power, remove the switch cover and use an old toothbrush to clean the ants out. Then I spray it down with WD40 and reinstall. The maintenance on these systems is relatively low. Drop a bag or 2 of salt in the tank every month, available at Lowes for a few bux per bag. I use the yellow 40# bags, they seem to last longer than the crystals. Pour about 1/2 cup of bleach in the aerator every 2 months. Once a year yank the drainplug out of the bottom of the aerator (after unplugging everything) and wash the whole tank out, use a new broom or long handled brush, and rinse thoroughly. Check your pressure switches every couple months. If the electricity goes out make sure you reset the timer on your softener. If you have a tech come out to service the system, stand right over him and pay attention to what he's doing. Ask plenty of questions, they are more than happy to talk about the system and what they do.
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