why is our water sputtering and choking out of the faucets?

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We have a 38' well with a submersible pump, and a tank with a pressure switch. I think it's the kind that blows a tiny bit of air in as the pump switches off to keep the pressure up. Ever since it was installed (the pump) we have too much water pressure at times and then too little. When the pump comes on it sounds as if the surge of water is tearing up the pipes, and if the tub faucet is on at the time, the pressure forces the showerhead on instead, and it's almost impossible to turn it back off. The force is just too much. But sometimes when we turn on a faucet mostly air comes out. I read that that can be caused by the pumps' being to high in the well and sucking air, but surely the water shouldn't be coming out of the *tank* mixed with air? My fil installed it (it's his well) and he's no help, because he doesn't think it's a problem. His house is on city water. I've done some plumbing and I think I can fix the problem if some of you wonderful knowledgable people can give me some ideas on what to do and where the problem lies. The pump is less than 6 months old. The tank is an old water heater I think.

Ever grateful for any ideas, and for this forum:)

-- Elizabeth in E TX (kimprice@peoplescom.net), June 21, 2001


Hi Elizabeth,

I'm no expert on pumps so take this with a bit of salt. Have You checked the water level in the well? It sounds like sometimes there's water to pump and other's just air. Could the pump be working so forcefully that it's pumping out the well at times? Perhaps the pump is rated for a higher flow than Your well actually has and needs to be adjusted or replaced with a more appropriate pump.

It'll be interesting to learn the answer!!

Good Luck!!!!


-- Randle Gay (rangay@hotmail.com), June 21, 2001.

I would have a qualified well plumber look at the system. To me it sounds like you have a air leak in the system somewhere to where you sometimes lose the prime. Your statement about an old hot water tank in the system also concerns me as it would be no substitute for a pressure tank.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), June 22, 2001.

You don't have the correct air to water level in your holding tank. I have no idea what that really means :) When it starts happening at my house, I yell for hubby or son. Your holding tank is waterlogged is what he tells me. We turn off all the water, turn off the power to the pump so no more water will go into your holding tank, then turn on the water, this lets all the water out of your holding tank, when no more water comes out...shut off the valves and turn the water back on. This is what we do for our submersible pump, I know that above ground pumps are different. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), June 22, 2001.

I live in a solar powered house with water coming out of a cistern & had that problem last week. I will spare you the new vocabulary I learned.

Seems some air got in the system when one tank went dry & I hadn't switched 'em yet. Pain in the butt, but I ended up disconnecting the stuff next to the outflow part of the pump, let it run the crapola/air out of the system & hooked it up again. Got a little dirt in the hose system & it needed to be drained out. Hassel. You have an air leak, no doubt about it & suggestions about draining stuff are good. Is there an airlock valve that you can access? Usually near the pump or holding tank. The bit about the hot water tank makes me wonder if it isn't the core of your problems. Tank gone rusty & providing you with a leak? Could that be a problem? I hate plumbing. Would rather wire a new house than fix that mess. Good luck...........Kt.

-- K-K-K-Katie (yarnspinnerkt@hotmail.com), June 24, 2001.

Elizabeth, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that your "fil" (what does that mean, anyhow?) was trying to save some money by using the old water heater tank. Problem is, with the air charge system you describe, you have to have a "snifter valve" to avoid the situation you describe. This valve threads into a 1 1/4" pipe fitting on the side of a normal air charge system's pressure tank. It's unlikely that an old water heater tank would have such a fitting.

This snifter valve has a float inside the tank. The float opens the valve when the water is below the level of the float, letting excess air out. When the water reaches the right level, the valve shuts off.

If you can't afford the right tank, you can plug up the recharge system, and just drain the tank periodically to avoid a water logged tank. Your tank is NOT waterlogged at this point--just hte opposite! A water logged tank is out of air, or very nearly so; your tank has too much air.


-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), July 02, 2001.

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