If you rely on well water for your home's drinking water supply, chances are you have one or more water storage tanks in your system. These tanks play a crucial role in maintaining consistent water pressure, providing immediate access to water, and prolonging the lifespan of plumbing components in your home. In this article, we'll explore the different types of well water tanks, how they work, and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Pressure Tanks: Managing Water Supply
Most modern well water systems come equipped with what's known as a pressure tank. This tall, painted steel or fiberglass cylinder sits between the pipe leading from the well pump and the rest of the home's plumbing. Its main job is to regulate water pressure in your pipes and store a reserve of water so that your well pump isn't constantly turning on and off.
A well tank works in conjunction with a well pump, a pressure switch, and a check valve to keep water pressure in a safe and comfortable range. Inside the tank is a rubber bladder, similar to a tire inner tube, that holds pressurized air to force the water out of the tank and into your pipes. The pressure switch on the tank tells the well pump when to turn on and off based on the pressure level in the tank. A one-way check valve prevents pressure from leaking back down into the well.
Choosing the Right Pressure Tank
The correct size pressure tank holds enough water in reserve to allow the well pump to run for a manufacturer-specified number of minutes each time it turns on, minimizing wear and tear on the pump. Pressure tanks come in a range of water capacities, from just a couple of gallons to over a hundred. The ideal size for your plumbing system is determined by your well pump's flow rate, minimum runtime, and the on/off settings of the tank pressure switch.
To find the right size tank, you can use an online calculator provided by manufacturers such as Amtrol or consult with a tank distributor. If you're unsure or find the process confusing, it's best to seek the help of a plumber.
Storage Tanks: Meeting High Water Demands
If your well water system doesn't meet your household's high water demands, you can install additional storage tanks to avoid running your well dry. Non-pressurized storage tanks, also known as cisterns, don't replace the pressure tank in your well system. Instead, they're installed between the well pump and the pressure tank to provide a reserve that the home can draw from when water demand is high.
A pumped storage system uses a float valve in the storage tank to control the well pump. When the tank gets low, the valve tells the pump to run continuously until the tank fills back up. The pump automatically turns off if the well runs dry, but under normal conditions, there will still be reserve supply in the tank.
Modern storage tanks, like the Epp Well Solution System, use digital flow meters to monitor the output of the well and manage backup water supply more efficiently.
Choosing the Right Storage Tank
The capacity of your water storage system depends on your peak water demand. For a small family, a 200-gallon storage tank may suffice for several showers and occasional high demands. For larger families or high water-demand situations, a bigger tank may be necessary. Slow-flowing wells or drought-prone regions may require tanks that hold more than a day's reserve.
Water storage tanks come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, so it's important to consider your location and the installation requirements before making a decision. For instance, small plastic tanks may be ideal for limited-access areas like basements, while some types of steel, plastic, and fiberglass tanks can be buried underground.
It's worth noting that storage tanks do not pressurize water, so a pressure tank is still necessary for homes with storage tanks. Additionally, an additional pressure pump is required between the storage and pressure tanks to provide the home's water pressure. While a storage system for a low-yielding well adds complexity and cost to the system, it can be an essential expense for those who require a high water demand.
In summary, understanding the different types of water storage tanks and their respective functions is essential for maintaining a well water system. Choosing the right pressure and storage tanks for your home's needs can help prolong the lifespan of plumbing components, maintain consistent water pressure, and provide immediate access to water. Seeking the advice of a plumber or tank distributor can help ensure that you make an informed decision for your home's potable water supply system.