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Thread: Mysterious Increasing Static Air Pressure

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member swenerst's Avatar
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    Default Mysterious Increasing Static Air Pressure

    Hello. I am hoping someone on this forum can help. I have had my "well-guy" tell me that neither he nor his bosses have ever seen this problem in a combined 70 years of experience. Here's the deal.

    Something is causing the static air pressure in my tank to build. It builds to the point where water is no longer able to enter the tank, thus causing the well pump to short cycle.

    Here are the steps I took to attempt to diagnose the problem:

    I switched off the pump and completely drained the tank. Almost no water drained out. I then closed the drain valve, and took a pressure reading at the Schraeder. Pressure was 50+ psi (my tire gauge only went to 50 and it blew past it). I found this very odd because I've NEVER added air to the tank. I bled the air pressure back to 38 psi (based on a 40/60 switch), switched on the well pump and thought all was fine. A few hours later, I noticed short cycling again.

    I drained the tank a second time (again almost no water drained out), and took a reading at the Schraeder. Static air pressure was 50+ psi again. This time, I bled ALL the air out of the tank. I noticed some popping noises inside the tank (assumed that bladder was just moving around). What's odd is that when all the air was out, the tank continued to trickle/sputter water for a solid 30 min. No water from the house lines was flowing back because I had the ball valve to the house line closed. Weird.

    I shut off the water valve and repressurized the tank to only 30 psi. Switched on well pump and filled tank. Again, a few hours later I noticed short cycling. Drained tank, almost no water came out again, and got another 50+ psi reading at the Schraeder.

    My theory is that water must be entering the top static air compartment, thus displacing the air and causing the pressure to build. My well-guy disagrees because I'm not seeing water spurt out of the Schraeder when I bleed off air. I'm not sure I agree with him because wouldn't the water need to reach all the way to the top of the tank to spurt out the Schraeder? Also, the tank continued to trickle drain/sputter for 30 minutes after all the air was bled out. Could that have been from the water in the air compartment leaking back down through a bad bladder?

    So, do I need to buy a new tank or is my problem elsewhere? My current tank is a Red Jacket (86 gal.) that is about 9 years old.

    I'm a little desperate to get this fixed, and any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank You!

  2. #2
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    Since Red Jacket is now owned by ITT, I'm not sure who's cheap tank they are putting the Red Jacket name on. I can tell you that neither ITT nor Pentair who own the other half of the brand name water products have a decent tank in my opinion. There are only two very good bladder tanks on the market today. They are Well X Trol and Flexcon. So far they haven't been bought out by any large conglomerates. (At least as far as I know)

    I tend to agree with your theory that the bladder has ruptured and water is on top of the bladder but not yet high enough to come out of the schrader valve. There is probably very little air left in that tank and I assume you noticed that when you let the air out. If it were pre charged like it should be with a good bladder, it would take at least ten minutes or so to let all the air pressure out of the tank through the schrader valve, depending on tank size.

    You need a new tank for sure. If for no other reason, it's already quite old.

    bob...

  3. #3
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Is this a deep well or shallow?

    I am going to guess a shallow with a suction suction type pump and foot valve.

    I bet you have 2 problems.#1 you are sucking air from some where and #2 it is ending up in a bladder that has a hole in it.

    This is just a guess.

  4. #4
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    I have seen this lots of times. The bladder is busted. The water and water pressure get on top of the bladder and then the bladder seals over the hole and won't let the water and the pressure back out. You are correct that the water has to fill all the way to the top before you see any come out of the schrader valve. You could take out the valve core in the schrader, turn on the pump, and you would see water come out the schrader. However, the more you do this, the heavier the tank will be when you try to hall it out. You will need to drill or punch a hole in the side of the tank to let the water drain out because, an 85 gallon tank full of water will weigh about 750 pounds.

    You could replace the tank with one of these;

    http://www.cyclestopvalves.com/video/pside-kick-dsl.wmv

    It will work much better because it will all but eliminate cycling, and cycling is what caused your bladder to bust, then next it will take out the pump.
    Last edited by valveman; 11-14-2008 at 06:58 AM.

  5. #5
    DIY Hillbilly Southern Man's Avatar
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    A broken bladder would have been my guess as well but I'm curious as to why the "well guy" with combined 70 years of experience (in post 1) didn't think so.

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    I have known quite a few Well Drillers who have owned Volt/Ohm meters that didn't have a clue how to use them. I also know several guys who call themselves Pump Tech's, but have very limited experience. Most of these guys started with very little knowledge then went out on their own and didn't learn anything but how to R and R.

    I had a friend (well driller) who drilled great wells, but him and his two sons (who are still at it) didn't have any business doing pump work. They would change out the pump, then call me to figure out why that didn't fix the problem. It was usually a bad wire, start capacitor or something else that any self respecting pumpman could have detected. And for some reason (that I'll never understand) the customer would thank him for having extracted hundreds or even thousands of their dollars for no good reason.

    bob...

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    Swenerst,
    I'm having the exact same problem. I thought I was going crazy with the increase in air pressure. My tank is a Well-X-trol not cheap and only 7 years old. Let me know what you did to fix it or if I fix mine first I'll let you know.

    Paul

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member swenerst's Avatar
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    Default Thank you all!

    Thanks to all who replied. My problem got worse last night. I took the plunge and purchased a new pressure tank today. It is a WellMate. Sorry, speedbump, but there was a place near my house that had the tank in stock for an excellent price. If it lasts for seven years, I'll be thrilled.

    Valveman, you were right and my suspicions were confirmed! My tank was almost completely filled with water and very little air bled out this morning. To drain the tank, I had to drill a hole in the top (to let air in) and a hole in the side to drain the tank. I used a 3/8" drill bit to drill the holes. When I punched through the side of the tank, the water FLEW! Draining the tank took about an hour. The job was messy and sucked. Lots of buckets and trips to the sump pit.

    As for my well-guy... not only was he clueless, but I feel somewhat unethical. He told me that it would cost $1500 to replace the pressure tank! I was highly skeptical and began to look for prices of tanks on the internet. I got my tank (WM-25WB) for $419. He quoted me $1149 list price for the same tank. Finally, I'm a halfway decent DIY'er and decided to tackle the job myself. After about four hours (two to drain and remove the old tank!), I was back in business for a total of $515.

    My only problem now is a slight leak in the coupling that enters the pressure tank. I will have to take all the connections apart and tighten the coupling It is a very small drip, and I will let it go tonight and tackle the job again tomorrow.

    Just curious, but would it be possible to use some sort of leak-seal tape to stop the drip, or do I have to do the whole thing?

    Thanks again to all who responded!

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    DIY Hillbilly Southern Man's Avatar
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    You have to be more careful when working around pressure vessels. You're lucky that water wasn't the only thing that "flew".

    If someone is going to stock supplies themselves so it is readily available for repair then I think that they are justified on a 2.5 to 3x markup. For plumbers that makes sense for small things that they use every day, like fittings and valves. But for a high dollar item that he doesn't carry in the back of his truck, he has no right to charge you that overhead. As a poster here already indicated, he's going to bill for time to order the product and pick it up, and of course that is fair. But to try to do both is a rip off.

  10. #10
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    We could just let an engineer go pick it up for you...

  11. #11
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    Sorry, speedbump, but there was a place near my house that had the tank in stock for an excellent price. If it lasts for seven years, I'll be thrilled.
    Just so you know, my 220 gallon equivelent tank that is comparable to your Well Mate would have cost you $378.29. The difference is; I can't ship one that large economically. I hope you get the 7 years you expect from it.

    bob...

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