Well Water Pressure Drops Then Comes Back (Troubleshooting Guide)

Sometimes, you turn on the faucet and no water discharges. Other times, you turn on the water faucet, and then you experience slow decline in the discharge. This is common if two people are using the water outlets simultaneously. For example, one using the shower and the other, washing the dishes in the kitchen. Also, if well water pressure drops then comes back after a while, then it’s a sign that something is wrong with your well water system.

So the question is what causes this drop in well water pressure? There are many things that could be at fault here and we will analyze them one after the other in this article.

What is Water Pressure?

Water pressure is measured on PSI or Pounds Per Square Inch, and it is how many pounds per square inch your water is under. Water is constantly under pressure to give you the right flow and pressure that you need. Most times, pressure is facilitated by pumps like the submersible pump.

People on residential well systems have a PSI of 40 – 50, and since most residential well tanks don’t use gravity flow, the PSI would not go beyond that given pressure.

PSI, usually between 40 – 60 is what most homes should be making use of. Anything above that can damage the equipment and components. However, it’s worthy of note that water pressure is different from the flow rate. While water is pressurized from the well through a pump, flow rate is determined by the amount of water flowing through the pipes. A well pump might deliver water at 5 – 10 gallons per minute, depending on the diameter of the pipes.

Well water systems can generate a PSI of 40 – 60, but may still have a terrible flow rate due to the sizing of the pipes. Pipes come in different diameter, ranging from ½ – inch – ¾ – inch, or 1. If you have water pressure of 60 PSI, and your home have ½ pipes all through, you might experience slow for rate.

The larger the diameter size, the higher the flow rate. A pipe with a diameter size of 1-inch will have a flow rate of 15 – 20 gallons per minute with 60 PSI.

Types of Pumps

There are two common types of pumps that are used in well water systems; the submersible pimp and a jet pump.

Most wells are built with submersible pumps because it keeps the water underground safe from contaminants before it reaches the pipes. Jet pumps often permit the introduction of contaminants at the surface concrete well. However, jet pumps are easier to check since they are not in the well. A submersible pump can be checked for power by a volt meter.

A submersible pump is controlled by pressure switch. The pressure switch is set so that the well pump turns on at low pressure and turn off at high pressure. A submersible pump is a long, cylindrical unit that is installed in a 6-inch diameter well casing. The bottom of the pump consists of a sealed pump motor, connected to a series of impellers, separated by a diffuser that delivers water from the ground to the basement.

An ideal submersible pump should last more than 15 years, if the pump is periodically checked for algae, sludge, high mineral contents, all of which can wear out the pump.

Why Would Well Water Pressure Drop Then Come Back?

There are several reasons why well system might have low or drop in water pressure. Equipment problems and power shortages are usually the most common problems that lead to drop in well water pressure.

One common cause of water pressure dropping and coming back is a clogged filter. A clogged filter will accumulate debris, minerals, and sediments. A clogged filter is located in the pipe line after the pump and when it gets clogged, it will obstruct the pump lines.

Another common cause of low well water pressure the clogging of the pressure switch. Accumulation of minerals could hamper the activation and deactivation of the pump that regulates water pressure levels. This could lead to pump failure, in turn will lead to well water pressure dropping and coming back. Water leaks from pipes or devices like water softeners is another common cause of low well water pressure.

The next big issue is the pressure tank. What pressure tank does is to maintain consistent water pressure in the home, so that the work load of the pump is reduced. There is an inflated air bladder inside the pressure tank that mounts pressure on well water in the system. If there is a drop in demand from those using the water, the pressure in the tank returns to the initial preset.

At that moment, the pump will activate to pump more water into the tank to balance the pressure in the well water tank. If the air bladder is under-inflated, it will result to low water pressure output from the tank.

The problem could also lie in the electrical wiring. You should check the circuit breaker in the pump system to know if there is short.

How to Troubleshoot Low Well Water Pressure

Fortunately, some common problems that causes low well water pressure can be handled. Here are common low well water problems and how to troubleshoot them.

1. Clogged Pipes

If you have clogged pipes, it will obstruct the flow of water pressure. One way to check if you have clogged pipes is to take a section and look inside. If you see sediments or orange sludge inside, it’s an indication that is clogged. You can either remove the clogs or contact a plumber to help with removing it.

2. Clogged Faucets

If you notice your faucets not discharging the right amount of water, remove the faucet to check if they are clogged. You should check the aerators as well and if they are clogged, you can either replace to restore pressure or clean them.

3. Insufficient flow coming from well pumps

Several factors can cause low flow coming from well pumps. Aging pumps, rusted pipes, air valve problems, amongst others can cause low flow from well pumps. You should consult a plumber or well professional to handle this issue.

4. Pressure switch not activating the pumps

A bad pressure switch or a lowly set pressure switch can have a negative effect on the pressure. However, you can adjust the pressure switch to attain a higher pressure, but you have to be careful because increase in pressure may affect the pump. We will teach you the steps on how to increase well water pressure through the pressure switch.

Sometimes, a pressure switch may harbor insects and ants and you may need to clean them. At this point, you should call a professional to handle it.

5. Clogged gate valves

Because gate valves are used periodically, they can get stuck while trying to open or close them. This is normal if you haven’t used it for sometime. If they are bad, you can replace them. However, if they are full of sediments or sludge, you can get it cleaned.

6. Bad pressure tank

Pressure tanks have inflated Auf bladder that holds a certain amount of air pressure. If the bladder does not hold a certain amount of air pressure, there will be a drop in well water pressure. To check if air bladder has air pressure, turn of the pump power, and open a faucet to drain the water pressure in the tank.

7. Poorly sized water softener

If you have an undersized water softener, it could affect the water pressure in the well tank. The solution to it is to replace the water softener.

How to Find the PSI of Your Well Water System

Well pressure is measured with a pressure gauge. The pressure gauge is usually along the pipe near the pressure tank. Looking at the pressure gauge will give you the PSI of the water pressure.

How to Increase the Pressure of Your Well Water

Typically, if your well water pressure centered around 50 – 60 PSI and suddenly starts to drop, it could indicate some problems in the pressure tank and switch. Here are tips to get more pressure out of your well water system.

What You Need

  • Wrench.
  • Tire pressure gauge.
  • Air tank.
  • ½ – inch wrench.
  • 7/16 – inch wrench.


  1. Locate the circuit breaker and turn it off. The circuit breaker is responsible for supplying power to the pumps and switch.
  2. Next is to find the air-fill valve, a metal substance that is sitting atop the pressure tank. The pressure tank is beside the well pump.
  3. Connect a tire pressure gauge to the air-fill valve to get the accurate reading of the PSI. Make sure you take note of the reading because you will be needing to add some air by the end of the work.
  4. Locate the pressure with box. It’s a black rectangular box, with castellated nuts that keeps it in place. The box stands above the pipes and indicates the water pressure in the water line. Ensure you note the water pressure on the pipes as well.
  5. Remove the nut on the pressure switch cover by using a wrench to turn it anticlockwise. Look at the cover for some diagrams. You might see some specific settings for the pressure switch like 30/50. The pressure switch should be completely open by now.
  6. Observe the inside of the pressure switch. Note the points of contact and the nuts that require some tweaking. Usually, the two nuts that are present are the ½-inch and the 7/16-inch nut. The ½ – inch tells the pump when to turn on while the 7/16 tells the pump to shut off when the water pressure in the tank is full.
  7. When the faucet is on, the pressure reduces in the tank as water discharges. The pressure switch, then tells the pump to turn on when the water pressure reduces to the cut-in setting, which is handled by the ½ – inch. If you want to increase the cut-in setting, all you have to do is turn the ½ – inch nut clockwise with its ½ – inch wrench.
  8. Adjust the second nut by turning it clockwise with a 7/16 – inch wrench. This is to increase the cutoff setting, so that the pump shut-off immediately the desired water pressure is reached.
  9. Put the cover in place, but don’t close it yet.
  10. Turn on the circuit breaker to test the switch settings. Drain water out of the water valve unroll the pump starts to kick. Remember to note the PSI on the gauge when the pump is on. This will give you the cut-in reading.
  11. After the water must have run for a few minutes, shut off the water valve. Pay attention to the cutoff reading when the gauge is off. As we easier said, cut-in and cutoff have readings like 30/50; the 30 for cut-in and the 50 for cutoff. There are also 20/40 and 40/60. If this pressure switch reads differently, repeat the process in steps 6 – 8, until you get the desired setting. Remember to turn off the circuit breaker after readjusting the switch.
  12. This is where you add air to the pressure tank. The air-fill valve will make it possible to add air to the tank using an air pressure tank. Check the pressure as you add and release air until the setting on the pressure tank is 2 – 4 PSI below the cut-in pressure. For example, if the cut-in pressure setting is 30, adjust to 26 – 28. Note that this is a normal process for every pressure tanks.
  13. Replace the switch cover and nut. Turn the power on.

Safety Tips

  • Avoid adjusting the cutoff setting above 60 PSI unless the switch supports the setting. Else, it could cause switch failure and pipe damage.
  • Cleaning the faucets and the showerheads is essential to prevent clogs that may come from the delivery system.
  • Always check if the circuit breaker is off anytime you want to carryout some repairs or adjustments in the system.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact a professional for extra help when needed.


Well water pressure dropping low can be problematic and if the situation isn’t corrected on time, you could have total well water system failure. It’s vital that you diagnose the problem early, in order to reduce the damage.


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