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jtp
04-11-2007, 10:28 AM
Great forum! Thanks for all the expert advice given here. I've been searching for a similar issue but haven't come across my exact problem, so I decided to ask directly.

I moved into a 10 yr old house about 6 months ago and have just encountered a problem with my well water. I was running water from the hose for a few minutes and the water stopped flowing. The water came back a few minutes later. I can reproduce the problem at any time.

I've been troubleshooting based on info read here, but I'm still confused as to the source of the issue.

-By reading pressure gauge on tee, and testing, looks like a 40/60 pressure switch setup. (Square-D)
-Well-X-Trol WX251 tank
-I dont have data on the pump (i'm assuming submersible and deep well, common in this area)

I duplicated the problem this morning and noticed a few things that seemed odd. Pressure was ~62, I turned water on at hose, fell to ~40 and pump kicked on and started to fill tank. Pump shut off at ~50 psi, I kept running the water. PSI fell to ~40 and stayed there for a while, then suddenly went to zero and no more water, I could hear the water draining back in the pipes, etc... (I turned spigot off) The pump came back on a few minutes later and brought psi back to ~62. I ran the water again to get back to 40psi and pump kicked on, I turned off water this time, but at ~50 psi pump shut off again. I kept water off and pump came back on a few minutes later to get to ~62 psi.

So why would pump shut off before 60 psi? Am I running the well dry or could something else be shutting the pump off?

Not sure what to check next...

Thanks for any help you can offer!

Best,
JTP

Rancher
04-11-2007, 10:32 AM
Two possibilities.

The well is going dry.

The pump is going bad.

Test 1.

Is the pressure gauge still going up when the pump shuts off?

Yes - the pump is going bad and the thermal overload switch is opening.

No - the well is dry the pump is cavitating and the thermal overload switch is opening.

jtp
04-11-2007, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the quick reply!

I'll need to pay closer attention to the gauge and run my test again.

I believe the pressure was still going up when it shut off, but not 100% on that. Is 10 yrs an acceptable lifecycle for a submersible?

Thanks again,
JTP

mrmedic
04-11-2007, 10:46 AM
Is the pressure switch not kicking in right a way when it dropped to 40lbs.? It could be if you have a small piece of pipe sticking up that the switch connects to you could have sand in the short piece of pipe and it doesn't always get the right pressure to the switch. To check it you have to turn off power, relieve pressure and take of the switch. It just unscrews. To see if there is a clog in the short pipe use a piece of coat hanger and put it thru the small pipe. Had this happen once and when I cleared the clog water shot up in the air about twenty feet out of the small pipe. Or the switch could be bad. Just a thought. I am not a plumber.........

Ron

Rancher
04-11-2007, 10:48 AM
Is 10 yrs an acceptable lifecycle for a submersible?7 years is the industry accepted average, some last 5 years some last 25 years, and it doesn't matter if it has a CSV or not.

jtp
04-11-2007, 10:53 AM
If I tested the output side of the switch with a multi-meter and it showed steady current over 40 psi but less than 60 psi, would that rule out a flaky switch?

Thanks

Rancher
04-11-2007, 11:35 AM
Yes that rules out the switch.


I kept running the water. PSI fell to ~40 and stayed there for a while, then suddenly went to zero and no more water This problem was the result of the switch operating but the pump being in thremal overload shutoff so there was no water being pumped.

mrmedic
04-11-2007, 11:36 AM
If you have the standard square-D switch you can pop the cover off and watch and also here the switch click on and off.

Gary Slusser
04-11-2007, 12:07 PM
Great forum! Thanks for all the expert advice given here.
Not all here are experts...


... just encountered a problem with my well water. I was running water from the hose for a few minutes and the water stopped flowing. The water came back a few minutes later. I can reproduce the problem at any time. I duplicated the problem this morning and noticed a few things that seemed odd. Pressure was ~62, I turned water on at hose, fell to ~40 and pump kicked on and started to fill tank. Pump shut off at ~50 psi, I kept running the water. PSI fell to ~40 and stayed there for a while, then suddenly went to zero and no more water,

I could hear the water draining back in the pipes, etc... (I turned spigot off) The pump came back on a few minutes later and brought psi back to ~62. I ran the water again to get back to 40psi and pump kicked on, I turned off water this time, but at ~50 psi pump shut off again. I kept water off and pump came back on a few minutes later to get to ~62 psi.

So why would pump shut off before 60 psi? Am I running the well dry or could something else be shutting the pump off?

You should run water until the switch shuts off the pump and shut off the water past the pressure tank - to the house. Then watch the guage and if the pressure falls, you have a leak from the tank back to the check valve in the pump outlet. Usually the check valve but it might be the drop pipe too. Either would cause the pump to run when no water is being used, and that could be every few minutes 24/7 for the last few whatever, eventually killing the motor.

Possibilities... Thermal overload opens shutting off the pump motor due to a number of things like bad motor, problem (low volts) with power to pump, bad power cable (scuffed, shorted, bad/loose/shorted water proof splice etc.), bad motor, inlet screen plugged, etc..

You should check the ohms of the motor windings and the amps.
www.franklinelectric.com 4" residential troubleshooting.

If bad then you usually have to pull the pump inspecting the cable etc..

sammyhydro11
04-11-2007, 01:01 PM
Rancher,
how does a pressure gauge keep going up when the pump shuts off? Little lost on that one. You might want to go back and do some of your magical editing.

I would also suspect a low producing well or the motor is drawing high amps causing the motor to go into thermal over load.It could also be a clogged pressure switch like medic said.You could check the switch by waiting for the pump to come up to pressure and then try to push down on the plate that the small and big springs sit on. If its hard to push down then the nipple is clogged.Get an amp meter and see what the motor is drawing.You could also take the cap off the well while the pump is running and you might be able to hear the pump overpumping the well. Do you know how deep the well is or what horsepower motor you have?

SAM

Rancher
04-11-2007, 01:06 PM
Rancher,
how does a pressure gauge keep going up when the pump shuts off? Little lost on that one. You might want to go back and do some of your magical editing.Sonny, which part of that didn't you understand? jtp knew exactly what I said "Is the pressure gauge still going up when the pump shuts off?" Did I say after the pumps shuts off? Go back to that other forum that you someday hope to own.

Rancher

sammyhydro11
04-11-2007, 01:31 PM
Sounds like the same thing worded differently.

SAM

jtp
04-11-2007, 01:48 PM
Thanks, I will continue to troubleshoot using some of the other suggestions made here.

I need to look through some of the closing paperwork to find out more details on the pump and well, I think I saw it in there before. The house was vacant for about 8 months prior to us buying it, could that have an adverse affect on the well?

For what it's worth, I called the well drilling outfit that had a sticker on the tank just to see what they would charge to come out and inspect the well and pump. The guy I spoke to said that if I needed to replace the pump it would be minimum $700 for the pump, plus labor, etc... The $700 for his least expensive pump seemed high to me, is that pretty standard for the business? I'm in northern MA and the company was from NH.

Thanks,
JTP

leejosepho
04-11-2007, 02:02 PM
I called the well drilling outfit that had a sticker on the tank ...

Call again and ask for a copy of the record for your well. That should tell you its size, depth, water level, pump-down, pump installed and so on.


The $700 for his least expensive pump seemed high to me, is that pretty standard for the business?

I paid less than half of that for a new submersible, but maybe that is his least expensive pump matching the particulars of your specific well.

sammyhydro11
04-11-2007, 02:04 PM
If they quoted you on a goulds pump,i would say that is right on. The whole job is determined by the depth of the well.

SAM

jtp
04-11-2007, 02:15 PM
Funny thing is he didn't have the info on my well, said he would have to look it up in his other files to see if they had it. I will call them back tomorrow for that. (Now that I know what to ask for..thnx) The $700 was just the least expensive pump they carried, that did not include the labor.

I just took the cap off the well and it looks like it is between 50 and 70 feet down where I can see the water.

Rancher
04-11-2007, 02:40 PM
I just took the cap off the well and it looks like it is between 50 and 70 feet down where I can see the water.But that doesn't tell you how deep the well is, or how deep the pump was placed.

Wells are registered with your State, Google for it in your state, and ask them for the record.

Rancher

leejosepho
04-11-2007, 02:41 PM
Funny thing is he didn't have the info on my well, said he would have to look it up in his other files to see if they had it.

Your local "permit palace" might also have a copy, and that also might have been one of the papers you say you saw at closing.

jtp
04-11-2007, 03:41 PM
OK, just finished up some more troubleshooting.

The pressure switch looks to be working properly, opening and closing at proper pressure settings anyways.

I checked for a leak as Gary suggested, pressure held well, so I'm assuming no leaks.

I watched and listened with well cap off and I can see water at the bottom of the pipe, wasnt sure if I could actually see the pump. I heard the pump turn on, run and turn off. It would raise the pressure by about 5 to 7 psi per cycle. This was between 40 and 60 psi. The pressure switch finally opened at 62 psi.

So now I need to find out why the pump is shutting off prematurely. I will look up the docs suggested here to see if I can find out the well and pump specs.

One thing I just noticed is that I got some orange colored water out of the faucets after I made the pressure go down to zero. I did change the sediment filter as part of everything else I was doing yesterday. Is the dirty water a clue to anything else I should be looking at? It's only present for a few seconds.

Thanks,
JTP

Wet_Boots
04-11-2007, 04:18 PM
Bingo! ~ Orange water is rust scum (others can explain it better) ~ What it means is that you are outpumping your well. You must limit your consumption, so that you don't draw down the water level enough for it to fall to the level of the pump intake.

Rancher
04-11-2007, 04:38 PM
The orange water is really the result of running the tank completely out of water, the rust slime then had the chance to dry out and when water was re-introduced to the tank and pipes some of it went into solution with the water. Run the hose for a while and it will go away.

Rancher

sammyhydro11
04-11-2007, 04:51 PM
Can you see the water in the well when the pump stops pumping water? If so,and unless that pump is set above the water level that you see the well is not being over pumped.

SAM

Wet_Boots
04-11-2007, 04:52 PM
But, if there's rusty scum floating on the surface of the water in the well shaft, drawing down the water level in the well would lead to both the pump no longer pumping water, when the level reaches the pump intake, and for orange water in the lines when the pump resumes operation. If this is a low-producing well, a new pump won't help a bit.

jtp
04-11-2007, 05:04 PM
I can still see water in the well when the pump shuts off. Unfortunately, I can't clearly see the pump, so I'm not sure if part of it is above the waterline or not. My best guess is that it is still submerged.

The rusty water is not consistent, I've only seen it after the water pressure has gone to zero and then come back up. It does go away pretty quickly.

Wet_Boots
04-11-2007, 05:17 PM
I'm not sure how thick a layer of rust scum would be in a well, but you're describing something that I've seen in wells I ran lawn sprinklers from, and in each case, limiting the flow of water kept the pump running, and pumping water, and no rusty water, either.

sammyhydro11
04-11-2007, 05:37 PM
That rusty colored water can be both from over pumping the well and the tank draining. I would bet that the pump motor is shot. If that water level was at the intake of the pump at fifty feet, you would definitely hear a gurgling sound in the well.

SAM

SJProwler
04-11-2007, 05:49 PM
I can still see water in the well when the pump shuts off. Unfortunately, I can't clearly see the pump, so I'm not sure if part of it is above the waterline or not. My best guess is that it is still submerged.

The rusty water is not consistent, I've only seen it after the water pressure has gone to zero and then come back up. It does go away pretty quickly.

Same thing happens to me when the tank goes dry or the water has been shut off. I've always thought that it was just rust/sediment getting knocked off the inside of the pipes due to the sudden re-introdution of water and pressure thru the pipes after they were "dry" for a while.

Gary Slusser
04-11-2007, 09:11 PM
When you drained off the pressure yesterday, that totally emptied the pressure tank. That stirs up sediment in the tank bottom. Flushing by turning on the power to the pump for say 5 seconds while the drain and/or garden hose is open and letting all the water drain again flushes the bottom of the tank. You have to repeat that until the last bit of water out the hose each time gets as clean as it can. IOws the dirt leaves the tank with the last bit of water each time.

Since you didn't flush the tank, the dirt came out the tanks through the fixtures until it was gone. If it didn't go away, then it's from the well.

speedbump
04-12-2007, 08:09 AM
The best tool for your problem is an amp meter. With the meter checking amps while the pump is running, it will be pulling close to max amps. I will assume a 1hp motor which will be pulling 9.6 amps. If the overload protector in the motor opens, the amps will drop to zero and the pressure switch points will still be together. If the pump runs out of water the amps will drop to around 7. The switch points will again be closed. If you don't have one, the service guys should. Make them perform this test before you let them just change out your pump.

bob...

Wet_Boots
04-12-2007, 08:22 AM
How often do pumps cut out when they run dry? I'm not sure I've had anything trip when I discovered I was running a well dry. I always cut back the flow rates, so I wasn't repeating the event too often.

speedbump
04-12-2007, 08:27 AM
It takes a while for one to get warm. I have never let one run long enough to find out. There are a lot of home owners who can probably answer that question. They don't know the damage they are doing to one by letting it do that. They think the overload is a safety device (that will survive millions of cycles) which it is, but each time it trips, a little more damage is done to the windings.

bob...