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Bad Pressure Tank Symptoms: How to Know a Faulty Tank

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

Homeowners usually forget that water pressure tanks need to be replaced from time to time. And more often than not they come to realize it at an inconvenient time.

The good news is that there are steps that you can take to identify when your pressure tank might need replacement or maintenance. We’ll also provide you with a great deal of information that describes different types of pressure tanks and insight into how long they can typically run.

Pressure Tank
Pressure Tank

How Do You Know If a Pressure Tank Is Bad? List of Symptoms

There are a few clear signs that indicate if a pressure tank has gone bad. If you notice one or more of these in your home, it might be a good time to get your pressure tank checked out:

  • High fluctuation of water pressure from different water sources in your house
  • Abnormal noises like clicking sounds coming from the water tank
  • Spitting and spraying faucets or shower heads
  • Extremely hot shower water
  • Your water tank turns on and off frequently (also known as short-cycling)
  • The needle on your tank’s pressure gauge jumps frantically
  • You have no water or low water pressure
  • Flickering lights when water is being used
  • Discolored water coming from your faucets

Certain tanks can also experience “waterlogging,” which is the term for when the entire tank is filled with water. This will prevent the tank from functioning properly, and will likely require you to get it replaced.

It is suggested that homeowners check their pressure tanks every so often to notice any visible signs of malfunctioning or deterioration. A few things to look for are leaks on the outside of the tank which can be detected by seeing a trail of water running down the side. You can also look for wet spots or puddles of water underneath the base of the tank.

Another indicator that your tank may need to be replaced is if you see spots of rust or corrosion on the seams of the tank. While most signs of needing a pressure tank replacement can be easily observed, it is recommended to regularly inspect your unit to spot them early on.

How Long Do Pressure Tanks Last?

A quality well pressure tank can last 10-15 years. Sometimes they can last even longer if they are properly maintained. Cheaper pressure tanks usually need to be replaced after 5 years.

The difference between a higher quality pressure tank and a cheaper one usually lies in the quality of the bladder inside the tank. The bladder is the compartment inside the tank that holds the water. When you use water in your home, the bladder fills up and empties itself, which is how your faucets create a stream.

Over time, due to the wear and tear of water passing through, bladders can become weak and break down. Cheaper tanks generally have less durable bladders than those of higher quality.

In some cases, the tank itself may still be in working condition, but certain parts may be malfunctioning. It is advised that homeowners should check the pressure of their tanks to detect any potential issues. This can be done in a few simple steps:

  • Turn your pump breaker off and drain any remaining water left in the tank by turning on a faucet in your water system
  • Take off the air valve cap
    • If water is leaking from the valve, then your tank likely has a ruptured bladder which will require a replacement
  • Check the pressure by using your tank’s pressure gauge

Most well water pressure tanks that function with a pressure switch should be around 2 psi below the pressure switch pump cut-in setting. You can adjust the pressure by adding or releasing air until your gauge matches the appropriate level.

When Should I Replace My Pressure Tank?

A well-maintained water tank can last up to 25 years and in some cases more. Water tanks usually come with a five-year warranty to make sure it does not break down or malfunction before it is supposed to.

The lifespan of a pressure tank can also be affected by the quality of water that is being pumped from your home’s well source. If the water is sandy, rocky, or commonly has sediment in it, then that can erode the pressure tank over time and cause a hole to form. If your well pumps coarse water, then you are likely to need a pressure tank replacement sooner than you might think.

Finding an issue with your pressure tank does not necessarily mean you need to replace it. Sometimes there is a problem that can be fixed without installing a new tank.

Some of these solutions include:

  • Installing a new filtration system
  • Replacing your tank’s water filter
  • Adding a constant pressure valve
  • Installing an air volume control system
  • Toying with or replacing the pressure gauge

There are also a lot of tips on maintaining your well which can help you increase the longevity of your water tank. These include:

  • Keeping fertilizers, pesticides, paints, oils, and all products that contain toxic chemicals away from your well pump
  • Keep the area around your well clean and don’t let leaves or debris pile up around it
  • Be careful around the casing of your well
  • Regularly check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing of your well

Most of these steps can be taken by homeowners who do not have experience with well or pressure tank maintenance, but if you are unsure it is always best to contact a professional to provide services or inspect your unit. Poor care can harm your system, so it is highly advised to seek professional help unless you have prior experience.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Well Water Tank?

The price of a new pressure tank averages out to around $400. The typical cost of labor fees for installation can range from $125 to $200. The size and quality of the pressure tank can also affect the price of the unit itself or its installation.

There are a few different types of well water tanks, and each varies in price:

Diaphragm Well Pressure Tanks

Diaphragm Well Pressure Tanks
Diaphragm Well Pressure Tanks

Diaphragm well pressure tanks are highly efficient. A bladder keeps the water and the air apart. They are welded shut which provides a sturdy and durable seal.

Diaphragm pressure tanks generally cost between $200 and $500. Larger units can cost as much as $2500, however.

Bladder Well Pressure Tanks

Bladder Well Pressure Tanks
Bladder Well Pressure Tanks

Bladder well pressure tanks have the bladder held by screws, which makes its replacement straightforward. The downside is that when air escapes, there’s a loss of efficiency.

Due to this slight disadvantage, bladder well tanks can be as cheap as $150, with more expensive units being closer to $400. Better quality and higher volume bladder tanks can go as high as $1500.

One-Compartment Well Pressure Tanks

One-compartment Well Pressure Tanks
One-compartment Well Pressure Tanks

With one-compartment well pressure tanks, there is no separation between the water and the air, hence the name “one-compartment tank.” These units eliminate the risk of failure within the pressure tank itself but come with an increased chance of waterlogging. The typical price range for one-compartment pressure tanks is between $100-$300.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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