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My well pressure tank has this symptom... Tank cycles about every 4 minutes without any water running. checked the pressure and it is where it should be. In between cycles I can see the pressure dial going down slowly until it clicks the cycle back on again. Afraid I will burn out well pump. Checked the tank by using the drain tank method and it has 28 psi pressure in it and no water comes out when checking the pressure value. Should not be waterlogged and I need help. So HELP ME DIAGNOSE BEFORE I SPEND MONEY ON A WELL REPAIR COMPANY...PLEASE!!!

Added information...Failed to mention that we have shut the water off to the house at a shut off value at the well but it still does the same thing. Have read several articles about this and from what I can tell to this point it would seem to either be the tank bladder tear or the check value that is down in the well by the pump. Could I assume this is right? And also you are saying I am losing water from the tank...could it be the AIR? – Kevin Kings Mountain

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If the pressure is going down, you're losing water somewhere.

If you have a main shut-off valve on your tank (usually between tank and rest of house) shut that:

  • If the pressure keeps going down, it's probably the check valve (submersible) or foot valve (jet pump), but could also be a leak in the pipe either going to or in the well.
  • If the pressure drop stops, there's a tap open or leak in your house somewhere.

Alternatives to a main shut-off valve are certain types of bypass valves on softeners, carbon or iron filters (the type with two valves to turn -- if you just turn one, it shuts off the water), or cartridge filters are often installed with shut-offs so you can service them.

Diagnosing interior leak

Unless you can isolate the problem to your well, go around your whole house and shut all valves (including toilets and outside taps) and inspect for any leaks.

The time of year is also a hint that you might have had a frozen pipe that burst, and has now melted and is now leaking, so you should definitely take a close look at areas near pipes on/near exterior walls and at any outside hose bibs.

Diagnosing leak in well

Almost certainly this will involve pulling the pump/foot valve out of the well. You'll have to turn off the pump and drain the pressure first.

Before you pull it, see if you can spot an obvious leak above the water line (eg, at the pitless adapter at the top). Pro tip: use a good spot-type flashlight or a mirror to reflect sunlight so you can see down.

Once you pull the pump out, inspect all the fittings for any signs of damage. By far the most common problem is the check valve at the top of the submersible pump sticking open (either spring or other parts corroded, or something actually lodged in it holding it open).

If you still haven't found anything, this starts pointing at a leak in the line going to the house, which is significantly harder to deal with (involves digging), and in worst case, involves digging the entire line up. In my experience, this will usually be:

  • Pipe was above frost line, and froze. If you know a spot the pipe isn't buried deeply, this is a good place to start.
  • Lightning strike. Lighting will travel across trees/fences/etc to get to the water/power lines on its way to that giant metal casing in the ground. Usually where it hits it'll burst the pipe open, and it'll following the most direct path possible.
  • Bad/broken fitting. There should only be one fitting undergound, which is at the pitless adapter where the pipe meets the casing. It's possible there's another at the entrance to the house, but it's best practice to just run lines inside and do the connections inside. It's also possible there's a coupler somewhere in the middle of the line if the installer was being lazy/cheap.
  • Failed to mention that we have shut the water off to the house at a shut off value at the well but it still does the same thing. Have read several articles about this and from what I can tell to this point it would seem to either be the tank bladder tear or the check value that is down in the well by the pump. Could I assume this is right? And also you are saying I am losing water from the tank...could it be the AIR? – Kevin Kings Mountain Mar 8 '18 at 0:19
  • If the tank bladder was torn, what you would see is rapid cycling of pump and big pressure spikes/drops as you open and close taps (since effectively, the tank is not doing anything). When you drained the tank, you'd have 0 air pressure, and it would take an enormous amount of air to refill it (since it would be filling the entire tank, not just the bladder) assuming it didn't just get out through the water line. As soon as you opened values it would go back to 0. If air was leaking, it would go down to 0 psi quickly, and then operate as I described above. – gregmac Mar 8 '18 at 17:32
  • I have worked with pressure tanks that had bad bladders if there is air in the tank it can cycle normally until the tank is rusted through and the air leaks out followed by a water leak and rapid cycling as described by gregmac. I would be looking for a check valve usually close to the pump, then the foot / check valve in the pump.+ – Ed Beal Aug 20 '18 at 13:06

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