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Thread: New home on well, flow concerns...

  1. #1
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    Default New home on well, flow concerns...

    Greetings,

    I'm nearing the end of having a new home built, and I have run into what I believe is a serious problem with the water flow rate inside the house. Coming from being on town water, I really don't have a good gauge of what being on a well is supposed to be like.

    As you can tell by my join date, I'm absolutely new to this forum. Apologies if I stumble around with terminology.

    Here are my symptoms:

    I turn on the water to the tub in the master bathroom (the largest fixture in the house, as far as I can tell). Initially I get perhaps 4-5 gpm out of the fixture, but this rapidly diminishes over about 15 seconds to an average of around 2 gpm. Mind you, this is a big tub, and it's going to take about 40 minutes to fill at that rate. While the tub is running, I can turn on any other faucet in the house and I get _maybe_ 1 gallon every 5 minutes out of it... a trickle.

    Here's what I know or have measured:

    The well is 6 inches in diameter and 600 feet deep. The pump is set at 500 feet from the surface. The water comes up to within 30 feet of the surface (measured using a measuring tape and a plumb bob). The well recharges at between 3 and 5 gpm. I do not know the pump's horsepower rating. I believe the pipe running to the home is either 1 or 1.25 inches. The basement floor of the home is located a further 15 feet up a hill from the well.

    The water enters the basement level of the home. The pressure tank is a Goulds Pump V140, used at 40-60 psi. It takes around 2.5 minutes to go from 60 psi to 40 psi when the master bath fixture is open, and it takes around 1.5 minutes to get back to 60 psi once the pump starts running.

    The water passes through a single filter (make and model unknown, other than "low pressure drop, high flow") and then enters a manifold distribution system. From there, the water flows through 0.5 inch PEX for about 80 feet until it reaches the master bath tub fixture located one floor above (call it 12 feet up).

    The home is 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, with an unfinished basement. Eventually the finished basement will add another bedroom and 1.5 baths, so I'd like to plan for that.

    It would be nice to be able to run the master bath tub while the kitchen sink and either a washing machine or dishwasher are running. Heck, toss in a toilet flush or two as well. All the fixtures/appliances are on the floor above the pressure tank and manifold.

    My builder actually told me "well, that's what you can sometimes expect when you're on a well". Based on your collective knowledge, is 2 gpm reasonable for a home on a well? Did I miss something? Is something undersized or underpowered?

    I'm guessing from reading some of the posts here that going to a larger horsepower pump is not necessarily the solution, given the recharge rate of the well. Is this a case of "pump the water up into a storage tank, and use a booster pump from there to feed the home"?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated...

    BJJB

  2. #2
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Get rid of the filter. then see how the flow is. I think you may find a substantial improvement.

    As to the tub, if there's an anti scald valve it will reduce flow.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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  3. #3
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjjb99
    My builder actually told me "well, that's what you can sometimes expect when you're on a well".
    ... is 2 gpm reasonable for a home on a well?
    Being on a well is *not* the problem. Even municipal systems have pumps drawing from wells.

    I believe most fixtures are designed to deliver a limited 2gpm at a given pressure, so that number can be expected.

    I suspect there is something wrong with your internal distribution system (house plumbing). Do a little testing with a 5-gallon pail and a garden hose connected at a spigot near your pressure tank to see what kind of flow you get "at the source" while the pump goes through its cycle. You should get something close to whatever your pump is supposed to produce. If not, your problem is there, and if that is okay, then you will have to figure out why the water is not flowing into the rest of the system properly.

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    Gary: When I first noticed this issue, I did open the filter and check the cartridge. It looked a little discolored but didn't seem clogged. This evening, I'll use the bypass valves around the filter and see what kind of flow I get at the tub.

    leejosepho: The fixture is rated at 18 gpm for a 40 psi input (see http://www.moen.com/shared/pdf/T920sp.pdf for the faucet, http://www.moen.com/shared/pdf/4997sp.pdf for the valve). Now I had no expectations of obtaining that level of flow from this fixture given that I was on a well that recharged at 3-5 gpm, but I certainly expected greater than 2 gpm.

    I have to apologize as I forgot to mention before that I have gone outside to the pump itself and used the spigot there (sorry, don't know the proper term for the blue handled spigot on a pipe sticking straight out of the ground), I got a blast of water at pretty high pressure, and then the flow decreases to around 6 gpm where it appears to stabilize. At the time, I thought I was getting 6gpm because I had a whole house full of water located above the height of this particular spigot. The spigot is located next to the well, 12 to 15 feet below the basement floor of the house.



    So if the filter does not turn out to be the culprit, what is the next thing I should test? Does it make sense for me to just start working my way from the pump through the house, checking flow rates at each outlet as I go? That ought to help in identifying the location of any restriction, right? Once I've worked my way from the pump to the manifold, it's a straight run to each fixture... do I need to test the flow at each fixture throughout the house at that point?

    Thanks for the help guys, I do appreciate it.

    BJJB -- adding a 5-gallon pail to his list of stuff to buy for the house.

  5. #5

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    See if you can find out some info on the pump itself. It would help if we knew what the pump was doing from the get-go. If it's a Goulds, like your tank, I'll have the curves to tell what it should be doing. If it's another brand, someone here will be able to figure it out.
    Ron

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    Pumpman: I talked to my builder, and all he knows right now is that the pump is a Goulds Pump, rated at 7 gpm, 3-wire. He said he might have more information tomorrow after he talks with Goulds Technical Department.

    BJJB

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    As you use water at a good clip, your going to notice the pressure deminishing as the level in the well goes down due to the low flow of the well itself. But you still have a good supply of water in that well being 6" to at least fill a tub without a great drop in pressure. I don't like the 1/2" plumbing, but I guess that's the sign of the times with everything else being water savers. I agree with Gary. Lose the filter. It's totally useless anyway and will only give you grief.

    You did say "It takes around 2.5 minutes to go from 60 psi to 40 psi when the master bath fixture is open, and it takes around 1.5 minutes to get back to 60 psi once the pump starts running." This tells me the pump and well are doing fine and the restriction is somewhere in the house.

    bob...

  8. #8
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    The recovery rate of the well has nothing to do with this. Neither does the 7 gpm rating of the pump; the water being moved is from the static, or dynamic, water level in the well when the pump comes on. Drawing water through a faucet is not going to be a good test because the flow is 'regulated' by the size of the faucet, like the yard hydrant out in the yard. It probably is 3/4" at best.

    The line from the pump to the pressure tank should be at least a 1".

    You may have a leak in the drop pipe or a fitting anywhere from the pressure tank backwards to the pump's inlet but.... with the 90 seconds to refill the pressure tank, I would think there is no leak.

    Since you only get 6 gpm at he hydrant, you must realize that until the pump comes on, the water flows from the pressure tank backwards to the hydrant. When the pump comes on, then you get water out of the well.

    Looking at a filter is no way to gauge it's ability to allow water flow through it... A 15 psi pressure loss across a filter is the best way to determine when to replace a cartridge but... as long as your water is visibly clear, you don't need a filter.

    All the builder needs to do is call the well or pump guy that put the pump in and find out what the hp is.

    If you don't have a $2 at Wal-Mart 5 gal bucket, how did you come up with these gpm numbers?

    Federal law requires all fixtures except tubs to meet water conversation requirements of no more than 2.5 gpm. It's been the law since about 1990 or 1991.

    My guess is you either have a blocked filter cartridge or the filter's fittings are say 1/2", a stuck check valve or stop valve that is partially closed; like a gate valve. Or a water leak somewhere. Or the pump is running on 120 instead of 230 vac.
    Last edited by Terry; 09-22-2007 at 08:28 AM.
    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.

  9. #9
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    Whew, last night was a late night.

    Okay, I went out to the house and took a lot of measurements. I think we have identified the immediate cause of low flow to the master bath tub as a horribly clogged filter cartridge. When I originally opened up the filter and just looked at it, it didn't look like it was clogged up, but when I bypassed the filter... wow, big difference. Here's the measurements I took:

    Flow rate at well hydrant (through about 6 feet of hose as well): 7.8 gpm
    Flow rate at pressure tank: 9.1 gpm
    Flow rate at lower hose bibb (tapped off before the filter): 4.8 gpm
    Flow rate at upper hose bibb (tapped off before filter, one floor up): 4.9 gpm
    Flow rate at master bath tub (with old filter): 1.8 gpm
    Flow rate at master bath tub (filter bypassed): 8.9 gpm
    Flow rate at master bath tub (no cartridge in filter): 9.8 gpm
    Flow rate at master bath tub (new 30 micron filter): 8.5 gpm
    Flow rate at master bath tub (new 25 micron filter): 9.0 gpm

    Measurements were taken by timing how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket, after having let the water run long enough to cause the pump to start cycling. At least two measurements were taken at each location, with the above flow rates being the average. My flow rate measurements from previous posts were made using a 1/2 gallon milk jug, taking the average of at least 5 fills.

    So the filter was the culprit. Right now I can fill the master bath tub in just over 10 minutes while also running a sink or two. I decided to try both filter cartridges, even though I didn't expect the 25 micron filter to perform any better than the 30 micron one in terms of clearing up the water... it didn't.

    As for water clarity, it's not clear at all, much less visibly so. If I fill a 5 gallon bucket with water (even water through the new filter cartridge), I have a hard time seeing a coin at the bottom of the bucket. The water is a slightly yellower version of my hardwood floor color and murky. Seeing the drain at the bottom of the tub when I filled it was not easy. I plan to run the water for a while today when I'm out at the house to see if I can get the clarity to improve.

    Sorry for all the questions, etc., but I have one more.

    When the tub fixture is open all the way, the pressure gauge at the pressure tank drops from 60 psi to 40 psi , the pump turns on, and the pressure continues to drop down to around 25 psi, where it remains until the tub fixture is turned off. Then the pressure rises back to 60 psi and the pump switches off. Are there any concerns I should have regarding that 25 psi pressure and how much the pump is apparently working?

    BJJB

    [edit] minor cleanup of flow rate results

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    Now you should know the uselessness of an inline filter. The reason your pump drops below the turn on pressure of the pump is that your tub is using more water than the pump can handle at a greater pressure. Remember it's only a 7 gpm pump and the water level at the time has a lot to do with it's actual output. For instance a 7 gallon per minute pump with a 30' water level at 30 psi is doing around 10 -12 gallons per minute. The same pump with a 100 foot water level at 30 psi is doing only 6 gpm.

    Since the inline filter isn't cleaning the water, why not get rid of it alltogether, run the water until clear and enjoy it. If the water won't clear, do a water analysis and post back.

    bob...

  11. #11
    Rancher
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjjb99
    When the tub fixture is open all the way, the pressure gauge at the pressure tank drops from 60 psi to 40 psi , the pump turns on, and the pressure continues to drop down to around 25 psi, where it remains until the tub fixture is turned off. Then the pressure rises back to 60 psi and the pump switches off.
    This is what you would expect with a 7GPM pump and a bath tub that is using 8-9 GPM. If you don't want it to go down to 25psi, then you need a bigger pump (more GPM).

    Rancher

  12. #12
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    There ya go! BTW, we can't see particulate matter less than 50-45 microns in size. Smaller the number the smaller the particle.

    Since your water is not clear when drawn, you need real water treatment equipment, not a disposable cartridge filter. Run water for some time without letting the pump suck air, that may help it clear up.

    Then get a water analysis for, hardness, iron, pH, Coliform bacteria and Nitrates and if possible manganese, sulfates and chlorides.

    Is there any odor to the water as you spray cold water out of the yard hydrant or outside faucet into a bucket with your nose on the rim smelling for odor?

    Now you've discovered another problem... the pressure should not be falling after the pump comes on. It should rise. This could be due to the hp of the pump or.... the water level falling in the well from all the water you used doing the flow testing. Either way, it's a pump sizing issue IMO.

    Find out who installed the pump and call them to get all the info about the pump; hp, gpm, depth it is set at, drop pipe ID and type of material; PE, galvanized, sch 80 PVC etc..

    Find out who drilled the well and get the depth, ID, static water level, depth of casing, any grouting and depth and any screening and how much any gravel pack, well recovery rate, and have them send you a copy of the well drilling record or get the number for the State records dept and call them for a copy.

    Then let us know what you've found.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    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.

  13. #13
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    Some updates since the last round of posts:

    I'm still working the issue of getting the water professionally analyzed and also obtaining the well drilling record. Unfortunately, other more pressing matters have taken up my time recently, such as a builder who hasn't paid some of his subcontractors.

    I ran the water for some time, as was suggested, and I found that it would generally start off turbid, then clear up for a while (not bottled water clear, but pretty clear nonetheless), then it would rapidly become very turbid again. At no point did I let water level get down near where the pump was set. The pump is at 500 feet, and the water level never dropped to more than 300 feet below ground level, as measured by timing return echoes from sharply tapping on the well cover.

    I started thinking that maybe the water near the top of the well just contained a lot of residual suspended fine silt, which was not ever being pumped out since I never let the well pump draw the water all the way down to nearly the pump's depth. This silt was then being diluted a bit by incoming water, while the remainder was being forced back up to the static water level. The next time I'd turn on the water, I'd get some initial turbid water, then the diluted portion, followed by some of the turbid water that had been forced back to the top of the well... made sense to me, at least...

    I decided that in order to keep from accidentally pumping the well dry, I'd pump water out of the well, through a series of cartridge filters to clean out the sediment, and then run the output back into the top of the well. That way, the turbid layer of water would slowly travel down to the pump, up through the filters, then back into the top of the well as less turbid water. Repeat this circuit a few times, and the well turbidity should go away, right?

    Well, yes and no. First, the "yes" part. The filtration method I described worked and the water in the well was clear. I sure had some nasty looking cartridges by the end of the filtration, though... especially the cartridge sized for 5-15 micron particles.

    Now the "no" part. While the filtering method did clean the sediment out of the well, as soon as I began pumping water out to simulate normal use, it started to become turbid again. I think I've got sediment coming into the well with the recovery water. I've read that pulling water out of a well faster than its recovery rate can cause turbulent water flow in the surrounding geology which then carries sediment into the well. I work with a geologist/geophysicist who apparently knows quite a bit about hydrologic transport and wells... he described basically the same thing that I had read, and mentioned that perhaps the well had not been fully "developed" (?)

    ... no idea if that makes any sense or not, as wells aren't my specialty.

    It will be a while before I can get around to obtaining the well drilling record or the water analysis. I get to sort out a mess involving a builder not paying his subs first.

    Just figured I'd post an update on the situation. Thanks for the help thus far, everyone. I really appreciate it.

    BJJB

  14. #14
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Yes wells aren't developed today as they were when drillers had the opportunity to spend the time to do it. Now everyone wants to spend the least to get the well done so the driller is forced by competition to come in with the lowest price or go broke.

    Disposable cartridge filters are not a good choice. And I think you need to take a sample of water into a water treatment dealer or lab, or buy a home test kit. You need iron, hardness, TDS, pH, Coliform bacteria, nitrates and if possible, manganese, sulfates and chlorides. I think you may find your problem may be iron.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    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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    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    I'm the heretic engineer when it comes to filters.

    I install water filtration systems for people who use surface water sources (lakes and ponds) for public water supplies. The systems have to meet the requirements of he EPA Surface Water Treatment Rule which requires removal of about 98 to 99 percent of 5 micron particles.

    Rule #1 of filtration systems is that if you have filterable material in the water then you have to monitor the condition of the filter and change it when the pressure loss across the filter approaches end-of-life.

    Some on this forum have asserted that homeowners can't be relied on to manage their filter system. If you consider yourself one of those, you should go no further in this posting.

    You can't see a 5-micron particle with the naked eye, but you can see the effect of millions of them. That is called turbidity. That is what causes the apparent color that you see in your water.

    All of my systems have the filter between the first pump and the first tank. Because surface water systems must be chlorinated with about 30 minutes contact time there are always two tanks and usually two pumps. One advantage of putting the filter before the tank is that the flow is more constant (the pump flow rate), rather than the variable demands of faucet, tub, shower, and flushing. The other advantage is that the pressure loss through the filter doesn't affect the pressure delivered from the pressure tank to the system.

    If you put the filter between the pump and the pressure tank, then you MUST have a relief valve on the inlet side of the filter, and you must have pressure gauges and must monitor them regularly.

    Most submersible pumps have a lot of available head (pressure) capability when the flow is reduced. Therefore, most systems will work without changing the pump. You can't know for sure unless you know the capability of the pump and the characteristics of the well.

    For a filter system to work you need more filters than most people install. More filters will result in fewer cartridges used per 1000 gallons of water delivered. Doubling the number of cartridges will give you at least 50% more water PER CARTRIDGE and will triple the interval between changes. I use 2.5" diameter cotton string wound cartridges and operate most of my systems at about 0.6 GPM per 10" long unit. Pleated polypropylene cartridges are also available and I have used them in some systems where available space made it necessary to get more filter area in a small space.

    In a household system I would use double-length 2.5" diameter cartridges if using the string wound cartridges, or double-length Big-Blue type housings if using pleated cartridges. You can install as many as require to get the necessary surface area.

    If you have suspended solids in your water supply and you don't want them in your household system then you must filter the water. You are the only one able to decide if what you have is satisfactory, or if you want to change it.

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