Nowadays, we’re lucky that wells are, for the most part, automated systems that don’t require manual effort to draw water from.
Thanks to modern plumbing, most of us can access well water almost instantly at any time. Water flows straight into our homes, without the need for lowering and pulling up a bucket.
But when your well water pressure drops, your well becomes the opposite of convenient. Your water pressure may be so low that you’re unable to shower in a steady stream of water or use multiple fixtures at once.
In this guide, we’ll be sharing the potential reasons why your well water pressure drops, how to troubleshoot low water pressure, and how to fix the issue permanently.
Table of Contents
🌡️ Definition of Water Pressure
Before we look at the causes of low pressure, let’s quickly recap the definition of water pressure.
💡 Water pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), is the pressure placed on your pipes and plumbing, either by gravity or a water pump.
Gravity-based water pressure is possible when water is stored at an elevation. However, wells are underground, so they require a pump to draw water up through your plumbing with substantial pressure. The rate of the water flow depends on your water pressure – how much pressure is applied by the pump.
The average water pressure required by water-using appliances is 30 pounds per square inch. Some appliances need a pressure of up to 60 PSI. Keep an eye on your water pressure readings so that you know when your water pressure drops.
📉 Why Do Some Wells Have Low Water Pressure?
If your water flow rate becomes slower than normal, you’re likely dealing with low water pressure. While city water users usually have a consistent water pressure (that’s controlled by the municipal water system), wells rely on well pumps, which can cause the pressure to drop from time to time.
We’ve listed the likely causes of low well water pressure below.
Damaged Pump, Switch, or Pressure Tank
All well systems use a pressure tank and well pump to maintain constant pressure. A leaking or damaged pressure tank, a faulty pressure switch, or a worn pump, will affect the water pressure in your home.
If your pressure switch develops a fault, it may switch on and off excessively, preventing the pressure tank from filling and resulting in low or inconsistent water pressure.
Poor Well Water Supply
Your well aquifer should contain enough water to supply your home whenever you need it. If the aquifer is low on water, or you’re using more water than your well can supply, you may notice a dip in your water pressure.
The size of the aquifer, the age of the well, and local weather conditions all affect the amount of water your well can provide.
Minerals like calcium and magnesium are common in well water. These minerals cause scaling on the inside of pipes running from the well into your property.
Fixtures and faucets may also be damaged by this scaling. Limescale clogs pipes and slows down water flow, reducing water pressure.
If the pipes in your home are too narrow, your water output will be reduced.
Water pressure between 50 and 60 PSI may be reduced by 10 or more PSI if your pipes aren’t big enough to accommodate the flow of water from your well.
Increased Water Usage
If your water usage suddenly increases, you may experience low flow and water pressure as a really.
For instance, if you install a new kitchen or bathroom, or an irrigation system, your home will require a bigger supply of water than before. So, while your water flow rate hasn’t actually dropped, it’ll feel like it has because there are more appliances to serve.
Poor Flow Rate
Low water pressure may be caused by poor flow rate. Flow rate is a measure of how many gallons of water flow through your well system, either per minute (GPM) or per hour (GPH). Most wells are capable of delivering a maximum of 20 GPM of water.
You can work out your well’s flow rate by counting the number of gallons drawn from the pressure tank before the well pump needs to pump again, and timing how long it takes for the pressure switch to kick in and shut off.
Some of the causes of poor flow rate include:
Poorly Performing Pressure Switch
You can adjust your pressure switch to determine how much water enters the pressure tank. However, it’s important to carefully make adjustments to prevent a decrease in water flowing into the tank, which will reduce your flow rate.
You’ll need to regularly clean your pressure switch and replace it every year or so to keep it functioning properly. During your annual well inspection, your well contractor will examine your pressure switch and let you know whether you need a new one.
Low Pump Flow
If your pump is aging, your well pipes are corroded or broken, the well screen is clogged, or the pressure valve is stuck, you may experience a low pump flow, leading to poor water flow in your pipes.
Low Air Tank Pressure
Most pressure tanks have a captive air bladder or a diaphragm that maintains consistent pressure inside the tank. If the air bladder is faulty or contains water, it’ll reduce water flow and pressure. You’ll need to repair the air bladder or drain the water to increase pressure in the tank.
Malfunctioning Pressure Regulator
Some wells use a pressure regulator to maintain constant pressure in water entering your home. You should clean and replace the pressure regulator according to your well contractor’s advice to prevent accumulating sediment or rust from affecting flow rate. Malfunctioning pressure regulators are a common cause of low water pressure and flow.
Clogged Fixtures or Faucets
Sediment, iron, and limescale can clog your faucets, fixtures, and shower heads, preventing water from flowing at a fast pace. In this case, your well might have strong pressure and a good flow rate, but the flow of water leaving your fixtures will still be affected. You’ll need to clean and replace your fixtures to prevent limescale or sediment buildup.
Clogged Gate Valves
Gate valves are commonly used in a plumbing system to stop or allow water flow. You should turn your gate valves on and off frequently to prevent them from getting stuck or clogged, which could affect flow rate.
Clogged Water Softener or Water Filter
Finally, slow flow rate can be caused by clogged water softeners or water filters. Clean and replace filter media and softener resin as recommended by the manufacturer to prevent a slowdown in your water flow.
🧰 How to Fix Low Water Pressure in a Well System
The purpose of owning a well is to have a constant supply of water without having to pay utility bills. If you want to rely 100% on your well, you need to address water pressure issues as and when they arise.
If you’ve noticed a gradual or sudden decrease in your water pressure or flow rate, there are several steps you can take to fix the issue permanently:
Install a Constant Pressure System
If you don’t already own one, install a constant pressure system on the main pipe delivering well water into your home.
A constant pressure system has a high upfront cost, but usually pays for itself as it ensures your flow rate is continuous, regardless of how many appliances and fixtures you’re using.
Adjust the Pressure Switch
If you test your air fill valve and discover that your well pressure tank doesn’t receive at least 40 PSI of water pressure, you may need to adjust your pressure switches.
Turn off your pump circuit, then use the air pressure gauge to test the captive air bladder. If the pressure is below 40 PSI, amend the pressure switch and turn the pump circuit back on to check that your water pressure has improved.
Regular Maintenance and Servicing
Finally, regularly servicing and maintaining your well should greatly reduce the risk of sudden low water pressure in your home.
Hire a well contractor to inspect your well once a year. Your contractor can tell you whether your well components need to be replaced, cleaned, or repaired to prevent low water pressure or interrupted water flow.
It’s a good idea to save $500-$3,000 per year for replacement well parts. With the right preparation, you’ll be able to restore pressure in your well as soon as the issue occurs.
Routine Pipe Inspections
Getting your pipes inspected is another way to reduce the likelihood of low pressure in your water system. Well water contains impurities like dirt, metals, and limescale, which may coat the surfaces of your pipes and fixtures over time.
You can reduce the risk of clogged pipes by getting your pipes inspected and cleaned thoroughly.
Install a Water Treatment System
If sediment and limescale are contributing to low water pressure in your home, consider installing a water treatment system to remedy the issue.
A whole house well water filter system can remove contaminants like sediment and iron, while a water softener can prevent limescale formation. Preventing these impurities from damaging your pipes will reduce low water pressure problems in your water system.
Amend Your Well Pump’s Pressure Setting
A well pump is switched on when the pressure in your water storage tank falls to the lowest setting, then switches off once optimal pressure has been achieved.
If your water pressure setting is too low, this will reduce the pressure used in the well. So, increasing the pressure setting by 10 should increase the pressure from your well and prevent issues with low flow.
Get a Larger Pressure Tank
The size of your pressure tank determines how much water can be stored at once. If your tank is too small for your water usage, it may cause low water pressure because there simply isn’t enough water to supply your home during periods of peak water use.
To prevent low water pressure issues related to an undersized pressure tank, replace your tank with a larger model to increase your water flow. Adjust the pressure setting to accommodate a larger tank.
🧠 Low Well Water Pressure: FAQs
How do you fix low water pressure in a house with a well?
To fix low pressure from a well, first diagnose your water pressure issues, then employ a suitable strategy to resolve them. For instance, if your pressure tank is too small, install a bigger one to increase water pressure. Or, if low pressure is caused by clogged well screens or pipes, replace them or clean them out.
What would cause a well to lose pressure?
Common causes of reduced pressure in well water systems are clogged pipes, fixtures, and water filters, malfunctioning pressure switches, and low air tank pressure or pump flow.
Why do I suddenly have no water?
A stuck check valve, a failing well pump, a leaking pressure tank, a dried-out well, and a malfunctioning gate valve can all cause you to have no water from your well.
Why is my well pump not building pressure?
A damaged or aging well pump may be unable to produce normal pressures. An improperly placed well pump located too near the well’s water level may also struggle to build pressure.