For many homeowners across Rural America, a private well is the trusted source of fresh household water.
But not many realize the unsung hero that works diligently behind the scenes to deliver that water on demand – the well pressure tank.
This unassuming metal cylinder is crucial for protecting your submersible pump and ensuring a steady flow of water any time it’s needed. But with different sizes available, how do you know which pressure tank is best for your specific setup?
As the owner of WoodHungry, I’m often asked by customers about well maintenance topics. One question that constantly arises is whether a pressure tank could potentially be too large. The reality is, both excessively large and small tanks come with their own issues.
In this informative guide, I’ll walk through everything you need to know to intelligently size your pressure tank.
We’ll examine the factors that determine the storage capacity required, look at the pros and cons of over- and under-sizing, and provide specific recommendations based on your household’s water usage patterns.
A properly sized tank preserves pump longevity for years to come while stabilizing water pressure. But get it wrong and you could end up with inconsistent flow, sky-high energy bills, or premature component failure down the line.
With Winter approaching and families spending more time at home, ensuring your well system is running optimally is even more important. You’ll learn how to protect this crucial yet overlooked piece of equipment.
Benefits of a Larger Tank Size
Increased Pump Longevity: The Most Crucial Benefit
As any well owner knows, the trusty submersible pump is the unsung hero that faithfully delivers household water supply day in and day out. But subjecting this hard-working machine to excessive wear and tear can seriously shorten its lifespan.
Each time your pump kicks on, it’s putting mechanical stress on internal components like the motor, seals and impellers.
Over thousands of repetitive cycles, this stress accumulates and begins to degrade delicate parts much faster than normal usage.
The industry standard is that each individual on/off cycle reduces pump life by 1-2 months on average. So in a household of 4 using water every 30 minutes, a pump could be facing over 5,000 cycles per year!
A large pressure tank helps alleviate this issue by storing more readily available water. This allows the pump to run for longer stretches between switching on to refill the tank.
Some estimates show a 50-gallon tank can reduce annual cycles by 30-40% compared to a small 20-gallon size.
Doing the math, that type of reduction could extend typical pump lifespan from 7-10 years up to 12-15 years or beyond before requiring expensive replacement or repairs.
Considering pump replacement costs $1,000-$3,500 on average depending on model, larger tank sizing easily pays for itself in postponed maintenance expenses over time.
Stabilized Water Pressure: Consistent Flow is Key
Beyond longevity benefits, a bigger tank works to ensure water pressure stays consistent no matter where it’s being used in the home or how many fixtures are running simultaneously. This is crucial for avoiding annoying flow disruptions.
When demand temporarily exceeds the tank’s capacity, pressure will fluctuate as the pump cycles more frequently to refill it.
But a larger tank harbors a sizeable ready reserve, allowing your plumbing system and fixtures to function optimally even during high-draw events like showering or laundry loads.
Residents won’t experience bothersome spurts and sputters that come with tanks that rapidly drain.
And mechanical devices like washing machines operate more effectively without needing to compensably for pressure surges and drops. Overall home water usage feels seamless and reliable.
So in conclusion, properly sizing your pressure tank delivers immense functional and financial rewards through extended pump life and consistent water flow throughout every area of your home. Let’s explore additional major advantages next.
Disadvantages of an Overly Large Tank
Higher Upfront Expenses: Does Bigger Really Cost More?
On the surface, a larger tank seems to carry a higher price tag than smaller options. But as with many purchases, the overall costs are not so straightforward.
Let’s examine the full costs of ownership. While a 50-gallon tank may list for $500 vs $350 for 30 gallons, the energy and maintenance savings over 10-15 years easily recoup that $150 difference.
Larger manufacturers also offer volume discounts on bulk purchases. And installers can provide package quotes incorporating labor that negate tank price variances.
Don’t forget potential financing options too. Many homeowners take advantage of low-interest loans under $1,000 through local credit unions. The small monthly payments are insignificant compared to future savings.
Physical Space Requirements: Will it Fit?
Most assume oversized tanks won’t fit. However, modern lightweight composite styles offer the same capacity in a smaller footprint. 5-10 gallon size increases may take up no more room at all.
Let’s look inside your home’s mechanical areas with interactive VR. Originally built homes often have unused closets that can accommodate larger units. Outdoor locations beside the pump also free up interior space.
Environmentally friendly buried or mounded installation further decreases the physical profile. Contact local specialists for customized layout solutions. With planning, bigger tanks are highly achievable.
Potential Heat Generation: A Non-Issue With Proper Venting
While longer pump cycles produce more heat, excellent thermal dissipation systems prevent this from negatively impacting components.
Adequate ventilation, advanced sealed motors and automatic thermal shutoffs ensure temperatures remain optimal regardless of tank size. Certain brands even incorporate fans for added cooling.
With attention to these basic installation details, overheating worries disappear. Let the experts properly size, place and install your system for carefree peace of mind.
My aim is to provide an objective perspective beyond initial assumptions. When selecting any home system, thorough research and consultation yield the best choices. I hope this deeper analysis has been helpful!
Can a Pressure Tank Be Too Small?
When Bigger is Better: The Perils of Undersizing
While the potential downsides of an oversized tank have been addressed, the issues caused by choosing one that’s too small can be far more serious. Undersizing your pressure tank is like trying to bail out a sinking ship with a thimble.
Near-constant Cycling Means Pump Fatigue
As we’ve discussed, each on/off cycle causes wear and tear on your pump. With a small tank, there simply isn’t enough reserve capacity to go more than a few minutes before needing to be refilled.
This subjects your pump to incessant short-cycling that can rapidly destroy internal components through excess stress.
Unpredictable Water Pressure Wreaks Havoc
When demand outstrips supply in a tiny tank, pressure takes a nosedive each time the pump kicks on.
This results in pulsating, sputtering flows that wreak havoc on household fixtures and plumbing. Appliances can’t function properly without a steady PSI level to operate efficiently.
Nuisance Alarms and Wet Alarms
Repeated low-pressure warnings trip more often, annoying homeowners into disabling useful safety features.
Small tanks also risk allowing the pressure to plummet so far that wet alarms are triggered – which flood the well casing and can damage electrical systems beyond repair.
Peace of Mind Has a Cost
The added costs of frequent pump repair, plumbing issues, and early replacement far outweigh a larger tank’s modest initial price difference.
Choosing something like a 30-gallon when calculations call for 50 risks paying dearly down the road in unnecessary maintenance fees and hassles.
This isn’t a place to cut corners. Properly sizing your pressure tank protects your system and prevents headaches long-term. Your home’s water supply is worth getting right the first time.
Finding the Right Tank Size
A Sized to Fit Approach: Customizing the Solution
While typical house sizes have corresponding average tank sizes, truly optimizing your system requires understanding its unique characteristics and your household profile. One size does not fit all. Let’s delve into these proper sizing steps:
Determine Pump Flow Rate
Comparing stated and measured GPM sheds light on pump health. Performance changes over timemean this step can’t be skipped. Contact local well contractors for accurate flow testing.
Calculate Minimum Run Time
This involves more than just numbers – consider water softener regeneration periods, seasonal shifts, and future plans that affect run times. Ensure a generous buffer to cover all bases.
Measure Drawdown Capacity
Materials provided enable calculating this static volume at home. But for critical infrastructure, have the formula double checked by licensed professionals. Additional sizing consultations may be worthwhile.
Consider Pressure Switch Settings
While 40/60psi covers most homes, complicated plumbing layouts, multi-level homes or unique fixtures may benefit from adjusted cut-in/cut-out triggers. Factor potential changes into sizing decisions.
Special Circumstances May Apply
From sediment filters to water treatment system requirements to the potential for future expansion, nonsandard setups need tailoring. An on-site walkthrough lets experts eyeball your particular needs.
Getting the details and advice from well-versed sources ensures selecting a tank perfectly calibrated to your specific well’s unique configuration, now and for years ahead. Taking the time for accurate sizing avoids costly mistakes or disappointments down the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Pressure Tank?
Replacement costs vary depending on the tank size, brand, and local labor rates. However, homeowners can generally expect to pay between $500-1000 for the tank alone.
Installation will add another $200-500 depending on accessibility and any other system repairs needed.
Some factors influencing the total cost include tank size (larger is more expensive), material type (bladders last longer but cost more), and complexity of replacing an existing unit.
Warranties and bulk purchase discounts may reduce the tank price. Financing options are also available through repair companies.
What are the Signs a Tank Needs Replacement?
Indicators include fluctuating water pressure, pump cycling more frequently than normal, sputtering flows, and odd noises from the tank like clanging or hissing.
It’s also common for bladder tanks to lose their air charge over 10-15 years, especially in hard water areas.
Professionals can check for air leaks, corrosion, cracks, or other signs of failure. Water stains or rust on the outside don’t necessarily mean replacement is needed, but warrant further examination.
Tank age is also a factor – most last 15-20 years before require replacement. It’s best to have a pro evaluate your system every 5 years.
How do I Maintain My Pressure Tank’s Air Charge?
Bladder tanks are self-contained and don’t require air adjustments. Non-bladder tanks need the air pressure checked periodically, usually once per year, to ensure proper pump cycling.
An air compressor or pressure regulator attachment allows adding air through the Schrader valve until the gauge reads the manufacturer’s recommended PSI, often between 25-35 psi.
Proper maintenance extends a tank’s working life significantly.
I’ve aimed to provide thorough yet easy-to-understand responses to common queries homeowners may have about well pressure tanks. Please let me know if any other questions should be addressed as well.
Securing Your Home’s Water Supply for Years to Come
By now, you should have a solid understanding of why properly sizing your pressure tank is so important for the health of your well system and reliability of your household water supply.
Getting the tank size right up front helps avoid potentially serious and expensive issues down the road.
Whether choosing between replacement options or designing a new installation from scratch, the sizing process we explored ensures you select a tank tailored precisely to your unique setup’s specific needs – both current and future.
This customized approach future-proofs your system and maximizes return on your investment.
With the fundamentals of flow rates, run times, drawdown capacity and pressure switch settings, you now have the foundational knowledge to properly ascertain your ideal tank dimensions.
Consulting licensed specialists can verify your calculations before making such an integral purchase decision.
Always remember, your well water is one of your home’s most essential utilities.
Small investments in regular preventative maintenance like tank air checks, along with educated component upgrading every 10-15 years, safeguard this crucial infrastructure for decades of carefree water service.
Going forward, continue using the resources referenced to stay informed on latest industry innovations and best practices.
And thank you for taking the time to educate yourself – it will surely translate to many years of drinking clean water on demand without worry. Cheers to your secure water supply!