Maintenance
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Water Solutions

Give Your Pressure a Boost

By Kurt Anderson
Published: January 20, 2011
Water, water everywhere – and only a drop coming out of the faucet? From bathroom to kitchen, a lack of water pressure at the cabin can be downright annoying. But don’t jump in the lake yet; there are some easy things you can do to turn that dribble into a downpour – without breaking the bank.

Get the Dirt Out
   
Over time, the sediment and carbonate scale can block the aerator screens on faucets and even plug the inside of showerheads. Simply unscrew the faucet cap or showerhead, clean the grit out, and replace. If there’s heavy white scaling, soak the crusted parts in vinegar or cola for a few minutes to dissolve the hard water deposits.  

Fine-tune Your Pressure Tank
   
If your water comes from a well, water is stored inside a pressurized tank, which is regulated by a pressure switch. The pressure switch dictates the low and high pressure settings by “telling” the well pump when to kick on and off. You can adjust both settings by adjusting the screws (it’s live, so be sure to flip the breaker off before you do the adjustment!). Test the settings a few times until it kicks on and off at the desired pressures, as shown on the pressure gauge (see inset below).

Install a Booster Pump
   
For low pressure municipal water supplies or underpowered well pumps, it might be necessary to install a booster pump. These cost about $300 and only require a modest amount of plumbing skill to install, but can drastically improve water pressure. Your local hardware store can get you started.

webpressure-switch
Photo by Kurt Anderson
How to Fine-tune Your Tank

Make sure you power down the pressure switch at the breaker box, then adjust the locknuts on the short and tall posts in the back to increase low and high pressure settings, respectively. You’ll need to re-install the pressure-switch cover, then power up the switch to test the pressure settings. Simply drain some water out of the system until the pressure kick switches the pump on, then record both the “kick-in” setting and the “kick-off” pressure setting (when the well pump kicks off). Repeat this procedure, being sure to power-down the switch at each point, until you reach the optimal pressure while still ensuring the pump kicks off at the high setting.

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