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Thread: What's wrong with my water

  1. #1

    Unhappy What's wrong with my water

    Bought my first home in September. This being spring I planted a lot of landscape today. Also watered some areas where I seeded grass. All told I was probably using the hose for a good 3 or 4 hours today. While the sprinkler was running I also took a shower. No problems so far. Then I left the house. When I came home about 5 hours away I went to turn on the faucet. Water came out fine for aprox. 5 seconds and then lowered to a trickle. I checked all the other faucets inside the house...same story. and then only barely a trickle. I looked inside at all the pipes. No leaks. I looked at the well tank ( I think it's a WEL-X-Trol.... I'll try to find specifics later) and I looked at the pressure sensor next to it... was reading at 30psi then climbed up to 60psi and has now settled at 45psi and is not moving. Through all this checking, the pump did not come on once.

    I've been trying to find things on the internet.. but no luck so far. I also just noticed when I flushed the toilet... the water that trickles out to fill the tank was bubbling, and it seemed like there was air in there as well.

    Any ideas where to start? Any other details you need to help me out??

  2. #2
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Diagnosing a pump problem requires understanding two aspects of the system.

    1. How does the electrical power get to the pump, and
    2. How does the pump put water into the system and deliver pressure to your plumbing.

    Is the pressure sensor a gauge or an electronic digital device?

    Can you get any water if you open a valve near the gauge that you can see? You want to find if there is pressure in the tank represented by the 45 psi reading, or if that is wrong.

    If there is real water pressure in the tank, then you should be able to get water from some point nearby.

    A homeowner should own an electrical meter (usually called a multimeter) and learn how to use it. They start at about 10 to 20 dollars at Sears or Radio Shack, more at HD for a better meter. You will need it to see if you have power to the pump. Another type is a clamp-on ammeter which is useful for those with pumps, but costs more (about $80 for the least expensive that I have seen at HD) and is probably not an investment that most homoewners would make.

    Is there a pressure switch with a cover that you can remove? If a pressure switch, then that controls the pump. If you remove the cover there should be some visible contacts. They are electrically hot, unless you turn off the breaker to the pump.

    The contacts should be closed if there is no pressure, and open if the pressure has turned off the pump.

    There should be wires coming from the breaker, and wires going to the pump (or to a control box if you have a 3-wire submersible pump), with the pressure switch contacts in between.

    You can usually see if the contacts are closed or open.

    If you have a meter, then with the circuit breaker on, measure the voltage between each of the incoming wires and between each of the outgoing wires. If no incoming power, check the circuit breaker. If no outgoing power and the contacts are closed, then you may have a switch problem. If there is outgoing power but no pumping, then you may have a motor problem or a control box problem if you have a control box.

    Is there a button on the control box (if you have one) that you can push that is maybe a "reset" button?

    Possibilities are too many to carry this on. Check out what you can and report back for more suggestions.

  3. #3

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    Thank you for the help. I tried the outside faucets and the water came out fine.. so it wasn't the well or the pressure tank. So I changed the water filter and that seemed to solve the problem.

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    I would get rid of the water filter all together. I assume it's an inline filter and if so, doesn't really do you any good. It will keep plugging up though. Apparently the outside faucet you were using was after this filter unlike the ones that ran good before changing the filter.

    bob...

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    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    If you have stuff coming from the well that you don't want in your water, then the only choice is a filter.

    Then you decide what size particles you want to remove and select a filter that removes those particles.

    If you want to remove anything larger than 10 microns (0.01 mm) then you probably need a cartridge filter. If you want to remove sand, you have a couple of choices including backwashable granular filters.

    If you use a cartridge filter, then you will use fewer cartridges in a year if you increase the total surface area or number of cartridges in parallel. Doubling the number of cartridges will at least triple the interval between required changes.

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    If I were going to use an in line filter of any kind, I think I would like the pleated variety. Lots of surface area in a not too large canister.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but having lived in several States and a couple of countries, over the years, I have yet to find tap water be it well or city water that I felt needed filtering for particles visable to the naked eye. I believe anything under 75 microns is invisible.

    bob...

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    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    Smaller and visible is possible. My well has a clay less than 0.5 microns but it is enough to cloud even a simple glass of water.

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    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    The decision of whether you want a filter or not is often determined by looking at the filter cartridge after it plugs up. Many people look at the used filters and decide that they don't want that stuff in their drinking water. Some of the fine material from deep wells looks like mud when it is collected on the filter cartridge. The individual particles may not be visible but the layer of mud is visible.

    If you are going to put your water through a reverse osmosis system you need to filter it well or the fine particles will plug up the RO membranes.

    The EPA standard for drinking water is that it must have a turbidity (a measurement based on light scattering by small particles) less than 0.5 nephelometric turbidity units (NTUs), with an exception to allow 1 NTU for certain filter systems that don't use chemical pretreatment. Turbidity is produced by particles too small to see without a microscope.

    Surface waters are filtered to remove at least 99 percent of 5 micron particles and the concern about cryptosporidium is leading to a requirement to remove 99 percent of 3 micron particles.

    Crypto and giardia (3 and 5 microns) are not usually a problem in water from deep wells.

  9. #9
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alternety
    Smaller and visible is possible. My well has a clay less than 0.5 microns but it is enough to cloud even a simple glass of water.
    Then your water isn't involved in the discussion; which is about filtering invisible 'stuff' that won't harm/hurt anything or anyone except those with filters they don't need and their suffering when they block up and cause problems like the OP described.

    Most probably your well was never developed properly and your "clay" may be drilling mud. Especially if it was rotary drilled. If a fully cased and screened well, the gravel pack may be insufficient or 'bad'.

    BobNH, the EPA has no jurisdiction over private residential wells but, is that an enforceable MCL contaminate?
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    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    I realize that the EPA has no jurisdiction over private wells. However, is it sometimes useful to understand the requirements for public water supplies when considering what to do about your own private water supply. Turbidity is largely a requirement for surface water supplies. I don't know of any turbidity requirement for groundwater supplies.

    The following text is copied from sections at the EPA site at the link below. The bold emphasis is mine to indicate the turbidity requirements.

    http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contami...x.html#listmcl

    Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness of water. It is used to indicate water quality and filtration effectiveness (e.g., whether disease-causing organisms are present). Higher turbidity levels are often associated with higher levels of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria. These organisms can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.

    EPA's surface water treatment rules require systems using surface water or ground water under the direct influence of surface water to (1) disinfect their water, and (2) filter their water or meet criteria for avoiding filtration so that the following contaminants are controlled at the following levels:
    • Cryptosporidium: (as of1/1/02 for systems serving >10,000 and 1/14/05 for systems serving <10,000) 99% removal.
    • Giardia lamblia: 99.9% removal/inactivation
    • Viruses: 99.99% removal/inactivation
    • Legionella: No limit, but EPA believes that if Giardia and viruses are removed/inactivated, Legionella will also be controlled.
    • Turbidity: At no time can turbidity (cloudiness of water) go above 5 nephelolometric turbidity units (NTU); systems that filter must ensure that the turbidity go no higher than 1 NTU (0.5 NTU for conventional or direct filtration) in at least 95% of the daily samples in any month. As of January 1, 2002, turbidity may never exceed 1 NTU, and must not exceed 0.3 NTU in 95% of daily samples in any month.
    • HPC: No more than 500 bacterial colonies per milliliter.
    • Long Term 1 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment (Effective Date: January 14, 2005); Surface water systems or (GWUDI) systems serving fewer than 10,000 people must comply with the applicable Long Term 1 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule provisions (e.g. turbidity standards, individual filter monitoring, Cryptosporidium removal requirements, updated watershed control requirements for unfiltered systems).
    • Filter Backwash Recycling; The Filter Backwash Recycling Rule requires systems that recycle to return specific recycle flows through all processes of the system's existing conventional or direct filtration system or at an alternate location approved by the state.
    Last edited by Terry; 04-21-2011 at 04:39 PM.

  11. #11
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Yes sometimes we in the water treatment industry apply EPA regs to well water. In this case, and IMO, it is not appropriate. The fact is that far too many people are being 'sold' the idea of filtering invisible dirt as being a good thing to do. It isn't needed although they may 'want' to do it. It costs money and can cause other water treatment equipment and appliances reduced flow problems for no gain.
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    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
    Then your water isn't involved in the discussion; which is about filtering invisible 'stuff' that won't harm/hurt anything or anyone except those with filters they don't need and their suffering when they block up and cause problems like the OP described.

    Most probably your well was never developed properly and your "clay" may be drilling mud. Especially if it was rotary drilled. If a fully cased and screened well, the gravel pack may be insufficient or 'bad'.

    BobNH, the EPA has no jurisdiction over private residential wells but, is that an enforceable MCL contaminate?
    Thanks for your insightful answer. I was however referring to the statement that anything less than 75 microns is invisible. Merely for informational purposes to people reading that comment. I am not asking for any answer or opinion of what was done wrong with my well.

  13. #13
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Here is a link that may help you. Data is from the link.

    https://jdparts.deere.com/partsmkt/d...terRatings.htm

    Grain of table salt 100μm = 100 microns
    Human hair 80μm
    Lower limit of visibility 40μm
    White blood cell 25μm
    Talcum powder 10μm
    Bacteria 2μm

    There is a little more discussion at the following link.

    http://www.baldwinfilter.com/engineer/pdf/89-5R3.pdf

  14. #14
    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Bob. Looking at those numbers I believe we talk about too different things when we discuss visibility. For example, while a single particle of talcum powder is invisible, I believe a tablespoon (whatever the necessary amount would be) of it suspended in a glass of water would be visible. There would be reflection from all the particles and the combined light can be seen a turbidity. Rather like smoke I suspect.

    Does that sound right? It would explain the lab results I have had with my water.

  15. #15
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Turbidity is a measure of the scattering of light when it passes through water. The meters put light in from one direction and measure the light that comes out at 90 degrees to the incoming path.

    The very small particles are not individually visible but scatter the light. When the particles are collected in a filter you can see the layer of "mud" that is collected on the filter. The light scattering is what makes the water look cloudy.

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