Well Pressure Tank Rusting

In my state private water supply is not part of the sop and most of my homes do not have them so not super familiar. I’ve been readinf about them on the internachi course for a few hours. Just had a question about the rust at the pressure tank. Home was a 2008 manufacturered home but I don’t know how long the well house has been here. Looks older. My question is, does this amount of rust need replaced or is just cosmetic?

I was going to recommend a proper cap for the casing. Even though its in a well house its not completely air tight. There’s a bug in it too.

What State would that be?

West Virginia

Interior supply and distribution is inspected but not whether supply is public, private, or quality/quantity. I’m still doing a visual inspection of the accessible supply and distribution areas.


That was my question I wasn’t for sure. I don’t see a lot of these.

Surprised this isn’t already leaking, and the bladder is likely failing (age)!



It looks like the pressure gauge is dead too!!



Good catch

They usually are!


Tanks have a life span of 10-25 depending on who you ask. I would definitely call this one out as near end life based on appearance alone.


Thanks. I did 60 inspections before seeing a home with an in use well. Not common but I’m trying to learn more about them now.

Common in my area of rural Minnesota is… when the home is upgraded to ‘Public’ water, the original well is maintained for agricultural use (lawn/garden/animals/etc) until the well has issues that cost too much to continue maintaining, then it gets decommissioned/abandoned.

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This is the first time I’ve been able to see down the casing and see water. The other ones have always gone in at an angle and couldn’t be seen/have no other termination at the property. My aunt has an old dug well but it’s covered. I have never seen a traditional dug or open well in use here.
We have plenty of wells in the rural parts, but most of my business is not in those areas.

Wells are required to have Caps to prevent contamination, same with Dug wells.
(Refer to the links I posted above).


I did and will review more. Thanks

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If for no other reason than it is your states regulations. Other states may vary, which is why I posted it for your relevancy.


The rust on the housing is not really concerning. Pretty common to see that, especially in a moist environment like a pump house. A metal housing sitting inside a wet pump house is going to rust.

Pressure tanks only last about 10-15 years on average, depending on usage.

Pressure tanks are likely to fail in three common places. (I inspect these often and also have bad well water at my house so I am constantly working on my own system). Also these are part of the residential water supply system and should be inspected on every house that has one. The SOPs may say whatever, but you should learn about these if you’re going to be inspecting houses on well water. They are pretty simple to understand and have a few weak points where leaks may occur:

  1. Inside the tank where the air bladder is located. The air bladder wears out over time and can be damaged by sediment and other debris from the well water. Most people don’t know this but you should flush your pressure tank out to remove sediment at least once a year. Almost no one does this. It helps to remove sediment and allow full expansion of the air bladder inside. It takes a few hours to do this properly as the well will keep dumping sediment back in during the process. It’s a process but totally worth doing if you have a lot of sediment in your well. It flushes the well too.

2: the most common place of leaks IME is at the supply connection underneath the pressure tank. You should always check this area for small drip leaks. Usually at the elbow connection.

3: at the pressure gauge itself. These are often cheap plastic gauges and they leak around the threaded connection or even through the gauge itself occasionally.

In your case the gauge needs to be replaced but a plumber would also likely recommend replacing the pressure tank on age alone.

The pressure gauge is important because it tells you the resting and active pressure limits that the tank is set to. This is typically a 20-30 psi range from low to high. Typically the resting limit is around 30 psi and active is around 50-60 psi. If the home has a complicated water softener system with multiple stages, the psi is often set higher to push the water through the treatment system and maintain functional pressure at the usage points. At my house I run a 50-70 psi range due to my treatment system, but that is about the max you would ever see. You don’t want to be anywhere near the typical 100 psi max for most supply piping, as this could create other problems. Since you couldn’t read the pressures on this home due to the broken gauge, you should notate that and have a plumber repair and reset the gauge pressures properly.
Next time you see one of these, find a nearby sink to run some water and watch the pressure gauge go up and down as the limits are reached on both ends to ensure the pressure limits are set properly. Sometimes homeowners adjust these without really understanding what it can do to the supply pipe connections and fittings. It can also be a place where sellers can manipulate the water pressure. If a seller knows they have pressure issues, they may turn the limits up during the inspection…so watch for that.

I learned a lot of this stuff by trial and error at my own home and from a local water treatment guy that has helped me from time to time. Consider reaching out to someone like that in your area who might have regional specific info for you.

Also noticed that the wiring appears to reduce in size at the wire but connections in the top of the well tube. May be a wiring size issue there too.


Very helpful. Thanks a lot. I definitely inspect them whenever I can but definitely need more knowledge.

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Rust on the outside of the tank is common and not really a big concern…I have a lot more rust on mine and it was installed in '87. I was thinking about replacing it but eh!.. why replace something that’s working…I recently wrote an article about well inspections on my new website if your interested. About The Well Inspection | Summerville's Blue Palmetto Home Inspection