Pros and Cons of Constant Pressure Well Pumps: 6 Deciding Factors


Well pumps are a crucial piece of equipment for anyone with a private water supply system. Their job is simple – suck the water from the source and pump it into the house system.

With technological advancements, we’ve moved on from traditional to constant pressure pumps. But how exactly are they better than traditional pumps?

Constant pressure well pumps control a constant water pressure, ensuring that you never run out of water. They also adjust the pumping speed according to water usage, helping you save money. However, they are more expensive upfront compared to traditional pumps and are vulnerable to power outages.

Difference Between Constant Pressure and Traditional Well Pumps

Constant water pumps are a relatively new type of technology. It’s only understandable that many people decided to stick with the old, reliable system of traditional well pumps.

However, constant well pumps make a very strong case for themselves and they’re definitely worth taking a look at. Let’s check the characteristics of these systems and the ways they work.

Constant Pressure Well Pumps

The biggest advantage of constant pressure pumps is the regulator. This regulator speeds up the work rate of the motor when you’re using water intensely.

However, when you slow down, the motor will slow down too – making sure that it doesn’t waste any water. In this regard, the pump is saving you money, since you’re not wasting water that you don’t need.

Even though constant pressure pumps usually have smaller containers, they can pump water at much higher rates. That’s why you’re less likely to run out of water with a constant pressure pump.

They also need much less maintenance than traditional water pumps. On the other hand, they’re much more difficult to install.

Installing a constant pressure pump isn’t a job for your everyday handyman. Professionals that do this have extensive knowledge of electricity, water systems, and pumps themselves.

The installation itself can be quite costly, but that depends on the plumbing professional you hire.

Given that most constant pressure pumps work on an electricity-based system, they need constant power to work. That means that power outages are a handicap.

However, some pumps are so advanced that you can use a backup generator with them if you have one. They also have self-diagnostic systems that will detect any issue.

ProsCons
Regulator to speed up or slow down motorHigh initial costs
It’s almost impossible for pressure to dropVulnerable to power outages
Energy efficientSmaller water tank

Traditional Well Pumps

Based on a very rudimentary system, traditional well pumps only have the on and off option. There’s no regulator to slow down or speed up the work rate of the pump.

There is usually a sensor that turns the pump on if it reaches a high-enough level of water pressure. Levels of water pressure are different from pump to pump.

It works the other way around, too. The sensor turns the pump off if a low-enough level of water pressure is reached.

The most obvious disadvantage is the number of fluctuations in water pressure. This happens very rarely with constant pressure pumps because of the regulator.

In comparison, traditional well pumps usually have greater capacity than constant pressure well pumps. Because of this, their circulation cycles are longer than those of constant pressure pumps.

Obviously, the larger the pump, the longer the cycles are.

Conventional well pumps are usually much cheaper than the constant pressure kind. This makes them a great budget option, especially if you have a small household.

If your water needs aren’t great, then investing in a constant pressure pump might be unnecessary.

ProsCons
A large containerCan quickly lose pressure
CheapNo regulator to speed up motor
Longer cycles and water reserve

Side by Side Overview

The table below shows a side-by-side comparison between constant pressure and traditional well pumps:

FactorsTraditional Well PumpConstant Pressure Well Pump
Water tank capacityLarger water tank (greater capacity, but it requires plenty of space)Smaller water tank (smaller capacity, but it requires much less space)
Upfront costsLower upfront costsHigher upfront costs (both the system and the installation)
Water pressure regulation No regulator – fluctuations in pressureVery advanced regulators – fluctuations are very rare
Diagnostic system No self-diagnostic systemSelf-diagnostic system that will react to any problem
MaintenanceSome maintenance neededVery little maintenance needed
Best forGreat choice for households with small water usageGreat choice for households with greater water usage

How Do Pumps Work?

These systems are very similar, but there are crucial differences in the way they work.

Traditional pumps usually keep a constant pressure between 40 and 60 PSI in their tanks. The sensor we mentioned will react once pressure drops to 40 PSI and the pump will start to take in water.

Once the water level reaches 60 PSI, it will stop taking water in. This can be a problem.

If you have multiple water sources started at the same time, you can quickly drop below 40 PSI. That means that your water pressure under the shower will suddenly drop.

In this case, there’s nothing else to do but to wait for the pump to take in water and pressure levels to rise.

This problem rarely occurs with constant pressure well pumps.

These modern pumps have a regulator that will register quick water expenditure. The sensor then sends a signal to the motor and the motor starts pumping water at a much greater rate.

As you start turning off your sinks, sprinklers and showers – the sensor will slow the motor down.

This is why it’s difficult to run out of water pressure with this type of pump. You would have to simultaneously use a lot of water appliances.

Constant Pressure Well Pump Problems

Electricity and Power Outages

The most obvious problem is the vulnerability to power outages. These pumps have a small water container.

That means that if you run out of electricity, you’re stuck with a very limited amount of water. At least until the power comes back on.

Some systems (usually the more advanced ones, usually in apartment buildings or expensive homes) found a solution to this. A backup generator.

You can hook your backup generator to power your entire home in the case of a power outage, and that includes your well pump.

However, this is an advanced, expensive solution. Backup generators are not cheap and they’re not easy to install.

Most issues are related to electricity. Since the regulator is powered by electricity, many parts of it can wear out and need replacement or fixing.

Leaks in the System

First of all – leaks are possible with both traditional and constant well pumps. The difference is that traditional pumps usually have larger water containers.

That means you’ll notice the lack of water (caused by the leak) with constant well pumps earlier. Because there’s a leak somewhere, the pressure keeps rapidly dropping all the time.

This will cause the pump to keep refilling almost all the time. Even though they’re silent, if you’re next to your constant pressure pump, you’ll hear it turning on and off repeatedly.

If there’s a leak in the system, you’ll constantly lack water. Your electricity bill will also be bigger than usual because the pump is constantly turning on and off.

The leak could be in the water container itself, but also the piping and somewhere in your home. In this case, it’s best to call a professional immediately.

How Much Do Constant Pressure Well Pumps Cost?

When you’re buying a constant pressure pump, you have to remember that you have to pay for installation too. It’s definitely best to have a professional install it.

The device and the installation can cost up to $5000, but that’s usually on the high-end side. Average-quality constant pressure pumps can be found for about $3000.

Are Constant Pressure Well Pumps the Right Choice for My Home?

The biggest distinguishing factor in this question is the difference in pressure.

If you live alone and you’re not a big water spender, a regular well pump should be more than enough for you. It’s unlikely that you’ll have enough water appliances turned on to drain all the water out of the container.

Even if you have sprinklers turned on while you’re showering – you likely won’t run out of pressure.

On the other hand, if there are more people living in your home, more appliances will work at the same time. Water pressure can easily drop below the 20 PSI limit because of this.

Constant pressure well pumps are definitely superior in this regard, as they won’t allow the pressure to drop. This makes constant well pumps a better fit for households that spend a lot of water.

Tom Lovric

Tom is a writer with plenty of hands-on home maintenance experience, as well as a passion for energy efficient homes. If he's not writing, you can find him running, hiking, or playing football (but you're more likely to find him watching it on TV)!

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