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Thread: Pressure valve releases in freezing weather

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  1. #1

    Default Help! Wellhead pressure relief valve shoots water all over my yard

    I have a rural system less than a year old consisting of a 400' well and 2500 gallon storage tank.

    One pump sends water from the storage tank to the pressure tank, no problems there.

    The other pump sends water from the well uphill to the storage tank 100 feet horizontally, 25 feet vertically. Pump is triggered by a float in the storage tank (runs only when tank level drops to a certain point).

    This system works fine in the Summertime. Every couple of days I hear the water pumping from the well into the tank.

    In the wintertime when it's around freezing the pressure valve at the top of the wellhead starts releasing pressure when the well pump is running. The guy who built the system says it's because it's encountering more than 75 PSI while trying to pump up to the tank.

    Why would this only happen in the Winter? The well guy suggested the check valve was freezing. Strange part is when it warms up to about 40 degrees the pump will operate and fill the tank but at the same time is releasing pressure and spraying water all over my yard. It's like the check valve is only partially opening.

    Questions:

    1) Is it normal for a check valve to only partially thaw, allowing it to both allow water through and create back pressure?
    2) Is it possible the cold weather makes the water heavier and harder to pump uphill?
    3) Right now the pressure valve release sprays on the yard. Would it be smart to run a connector so the released water flows back into the well? I've read conflicting opinions, some say the pump in the well is not designed to have water dropping on it from above
    4) Anything else could be going on here?

    Thanks very much.


    Jim M
    Last edited by jmericle1; 01-19-2007 at 06:03 PM. Reason: No responses

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default valve

    #1 and #2, NO!
    #3. Once the water leaves the pressure valve it is no longer considered "potable water" and therefore should not be injected into the well.
    4. Yes there is something else going on, but we cannot tell what without being there to observe the conditions when it occurs and test it.

    Incidently, even if the check valve were partially frozen, it would thaw almost instantly once water started flowing through it.

  3. #3

    Default Thanks very much.

    This is helpful. We'll see if the problem goes away again when the weather warms up. Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Another thing with pressure relief valves, if they are old. Once they pop, they don't always seat back completely and may trickle water from now on.

    bob...

  5. #5

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    Unfortunately my pressure relief valve is not adjustable. I think I'll just set up a rig that diverts the released water down the hill when it's cold.

  6. #6

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    Put in a new adjustable pressure relief valve or another one set to 125. You must have a spare 10 or 20 bucks laying around....

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmericle1
    This system works fine in the Summertime. Every couple of days I hear the water pumping from the well into the tank.

    In the wintertime when it's around freezing the pressure valve at the top of the wellhead starts releasing pressure when the well pump is running. The guy who built the system says it's because it's encountering more than 75 PSI while trying to pump up to the tank.

    Why would this only happen in the Winter? The well guy suggested the check valve was freezing. Strange part is when it warms up to about 40 degrees the pump will operate and fill the tank but at the same time is releasing pressure and spraying water all over my yard. It's like the check valve is only partially opening.

    Questions:

    1) Is it normal for a check valve to only partially thaw, allowing it to both allow water through and create back pressure?
    2) Is it possible the cold weather makes the water heavier and harder to pump uphill?
    3) Right now the pressure valve release sprays on the yard. Would it be smart to run a connector so the released water flows back into the well? I've read conflicting opinions, some say the pump in the well is not designed to have water dropping on it from above
    4) Anything else could be going on here?

    Thanks very much.


    Jim M
    It's not a check valve, it's a pressure release valve (PRV). Codes in many areas require the PRV on a well to be 75 psi. Once they blow/leak, they rarely seal and will leak at lower pressures. You either had a bad one or an increased pressure problem the first time it leaked. You should replace it.

    Although it has nothing to do with this problem, yes water is 'thicker', the viscosity increases, the colder it gets (it actually goes to a solid [ice] if you get it to and keep it below 32*). That's why water temp is critical to a RO and why a softener's resin, or a filter's mineral (some of either), can/will be backwashed out of the tank as fall progresses in to winter (in the northern hemisphere) IF this is the first winter since it was installed AND there is no top basket.

    The 1" PVC with many couplers and elbows wasn't a good choice; the pressure loss will be high; which means higher pressure in the line. You should install a pressure guage at the PRV and see how high it goes.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  8. #8

    Default Fixed it (for now)

    So I was up at the house this weekend, temperatures in the 60s. Looked into the PRV and poked the seat with a stick and it re-seated so no more spraying. I believe the over-pressure was 100% due to the frozen check valve.

    Will look to get a higher quality PRV (Watts) soon. Also noticed the check valve is PVC. I thought it was brass. Would I be better off replacing it with a high-quality brass check valve? Do either have a greater chance of breaking when frozen?

  9. #9
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Since you have a PVC check valve and it isn't busted, it wasn't frozen.

    Brass won't break as quick as plastic, but your plastic isn't busted, so there's little sense in replacing it.

    Replace the PRV, they rarely reseal after blowing the first time.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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