Community: Well Tank Short Cycling

irepairspaceships asks:

I noticed today that my well pump is short cycling. I checked the air pressure for the bladder which was around 30 PSI.

The tank seems to hold steady around 50 with no water running. As soon as I open any faucet, the tank pressure will dip down within seconds and I hear the click of the pump kicking back on and the tank will hit 50 again within a few seconds and this will continue on and on. Gently tapping on the tank, it seemed fairly empty.


If the tank itself is not actually water logged it could be that the nipple and/or bowl of your pressure switch are full of sediment. Is the gauge actually operational, or is it stuck at 50?

I'd drain it down, double check to make sure it's actually empty (should be relatively light) check your air pressure against the switch settings (tank air should be 2 PSI less than your cut-in pressure), and unthread the pressure switch and nipple to examine for debris. - ParksVS


The gauge definitely responds. If I turn a faucet on and watch the pressure gauge of the tank, it sweeps down within a few seconds and then I hear a 'click' and the pump turns on and I can see the gauge sweep back up to around 50 PSI.

If the tank was waterlogged, the air bladder itself would be much lower than 30 PSI, no?

This all started after I cut power the other day to the circuit breaker that has the pump on it and mistakenly used the faucet a few times. I heard a hissing noise coming from the tank after I had used a fair amount of water (again not thinking the power was cut) and clicked the breaker back on for the pump. Hissing went away and didn't notice any issues with short cycling but then again I wasn't really watching for that. I'm not sure if that helps narrow down what's going on.


if the tank was waterlogged...

Yeah, should be provided you had the water drained out of it. Some people miss that step and so you get the operating water pressure instead of air pressure power went out

I bet that your switch and nipple are full of sediment then. Spin 'em off and check it out. You could either take apart or replace the switch if it is full of crap. If the nipple is steel replace it with brass, if it's brass just stick a screw driver in there and clean any of the crap out.

Again, check the air setting against the cut-in pressure of your switch once you get it back together. If you have a 30-50 switch you should have 28 PSI of air in the tank. 38 PSI for a 40-60.


Cleaning out the switch might be farther than I feel comfortable going in diagnosing. But I've literally learned more about well tanks and air bladders in the last 24 hours than I thought I'd ever know! I was more concerned if this was an imminent issue, something that can go 24 hours, or something quick and easy to fix like adding air to the bladder. I'm completely limiting all water use as to not burn out the well pump or cause further damage to anything else.

I've been planning on replacing the entire tank this summer anyway, it's corroding externally and the main water shutoff valve is severely corroded. It just may be time to bite the bullet and get it done.


It's a pretty simple operation; if you are wanting to do it just shut off the power to your pump at the panel or disconnect, take a photo of the way the wires enter the switch (mark them if need be), pull them off of the terminals and out of the box, and then you just unthread the switch and nipple. Sometimes they'll come together sometimes separately. To take the switch bowl off to clean it it'll either be a half-dozen Phillips head screws or about four small torx. Pop em out, gently pry the bowl away from the diaphragm and body, clean out, repeat steps in reverse for re-assembly. You may not even need to take the switch apart if it's all in the nipple.