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Pressure Tank Maintenance: Step-by-Step Guide

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

When was the last time you checked your pressure tank? If there are a lot of flickering lights in your house, or the water pressure is lower than usual, it might be time to inspect your pressure tank.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on pressure tank maintenance, including how to clean your tank.

Do Pressure Tanks Need Maintenance?

At least once a year, a pressure tank needs to be looked at by yourself or a professional.

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What Is a Pressure Tank?

A pressure tank supplies water to a home or residence. It helps prolong the lifespan of a water pump by offering water under pressure without the pump turning on, and stores water to use the pump less often.

How Long Can a Pressure Tank Last?

The average lifespan of a pressure tank is fifteen years. Factoring in the quality and maintenance, they can last as little as five years or as long as thirty years.

Why Does a Pressure Tank Need Maintenance?

A pressure tank is in control of your running water. Without routine maintenance, a worn-out pressure tank can lead to leakage, faulty appliances, and little to no water pressure.

Replace a Bladder in a Pressure Tank

How Long Does Pressure Tank Maintenance Take?

Depending on the pressure tank’s condition, maintenance could take a couple of hours or a few days. Consult a professional for additional help if you have little experience in plumbing.

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How Much Does Pressure Tank Maintenance Cost?

The cost for pressure tank inspections and repairs is around $250. Without proper maintenance, the price for replacing a new tank would be double at about $500.

What Does It Mean When a Pressure Tank is Waterlogged?

A waterlogged pressure tank means that the whole tank fills with water.

Within the tank, there is compressed air that helps store water under pressure and creates this clear separation.

When the tank’s diaphragm breaks, the separation is gone, and the air dissolves into the water, allowing the tank to fill up.

What Does Short-Cycling Mean?

Short-cycling is when a water pump turns on and off frequently. It’s a clear sign that there’s something wrong with your pressure tank.

When a pressure tank is waterlogged, the water pump will compensate for the lost water and activate for water demands such as turning on the sink, shower, or any other appliances that require power.

Any water required from the pressure tank would need the pump on, but because the tank is full and can no longer expand, the pump can only stay open for a few seconds.

What Other Signs Tell You The Pressure Tank Needs Maintenance?

These are the other signs that tell you if you need to check your pressure tank, including

  • Low or no water pressure
  • Air blowing through the faucets and fixtures
  • visible leaks or puddles
  • Pressure gauge needle bouncing back and forth
  • Flickering lights

How Do You Maintain a Pressure Tank?

Checking the pressure and the pressure switch of your tank is the first step during routine maintenance. It helps to tell you if replacements are needed or if the pressure tank can still function properly.

What Is a Pressure Switch?

The pressure switch is an electric mechanism that activates and deactivates depending on the water pressure.

How Do You Check The Pressure?

To check your tank’s pressure, find the nearest faucet and open it to let the water drain. Take note of the cut-in pressure once the pump kicks in.

Shut off the pump at the breaker. If the tank doesn’t drain the water completely, then the problem is waterlogging.

Using a tire pressure gauge, insert it at the valve stem on top of the tank and read the pressure level.

What Are Cut-In and Cut-Off Pressures?

Cut-in pressure is the low-pressure setting, while cut-off pressure is the high-pressure setting.

Pressure tanks usually have a 20 PSI (pounds per square inch) difference between the cut-in and cut-off pressure.

How Do You Read The Pressure Gauge?

If the tank is 2-5 PSI below the cut-in pressure, no further action is necessary, and you can close all the faucets back up.

If the pressure tank is over 5 PSI below the cut-in pressure, the tank will require an air charge.

How Do You Air Charge The Pressure Tank?

To charge air into your pressure tank, connect an air compressor to the valve stem and raise the pressure until it’s 2-5 PSI below the noted pressure.

How Do You Check The Pressure Switch?

To check the pressure switch, follow these steps.

1. Turn off the breaker for the pump.

2. Unscrew the nut from the pressure switch’s plastic cover and take it off.

3. Examine the switch arm. If there’s no sign of copper or the switch arm is burnt, it needs a replacement. The switch arm should be able to move back and forth.

4. Check the bottom of the switch for any signs of leaking.

How Often Should You Flush Your Pressure Tank?

The pressure tank should be checked and flushed at least once a year.

How Often Should You Flush Your Pressure Tank

Why Should You Flush Your Pressure Tank?

Over time, natural minerals and sediment can settle at the bottom of your pressure tank. This build-up gets in the way of the tank and will shorten its lifespan if not drained.

The sediment can also break free from the tank and clog connecting pipes. The running water in your home or facility will slow down due to the mineral blockage.

How Do You Clean Your Pressure Tank?

To clean your pressure tank, follow these steps.

1. Turn off the pump at the breaker.

2. Use a garden hose to connect one end to the boiler drain under the tank and lead the other end someplace to empty the water.

3. Turn off the main shutoff valve.

4. Open the drain and let the water run until empty. Use a bucket to dump water into and check the sediment discharged.

5. When the water runs out, turn on the pump for 30 seconds.

6. Turn off the pump, drain the water again, and repeat this pattern until the water appears clear and free of minerals.

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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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