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Thread: 2yr old well pumping cloudy water from day 1

  1. #1

    Question 2yr old well pumping cloudy water from day 1

    I hope there are experts and experienced well owners out there that can help us...

    BACKGROUND:
    We recently purchased a vacation home in Berkeley Springs, WV. The house and well are only two years old. The house had renters, for its first two years, and they had some sort of filtration system that they took with them when they vacated the house. We had the water tested and it’s considered potable. The problem’s we have encountered, so far, are as follows:

    PROBLEMS:
    1. The water is cloudy and was diagnosed as having colloidal clay by a water testing company. When we put a pot of the water on the hot wood stove, the clay coagulates at the bottom of the pot in globs.
    2. Pressure switch failure, replaced (maybe not, see pump problem further down).
    3. Sulfur in the water, causing the hot water to smell of rotten eggs.
    4. While trying to run the cloudy water out the pump just stops pumping. This can happen in less then an hour with a garden hose hooked to the outside faucet. It can take an hour or more for the pump to start back up again.



    The well is 100ft deep and does not have a screen installed.

    We have had a 30-Micron spindown filter and a 5-Micron cartridge filter installed, which does very little to reduce the cloudy water. The 30-Micron filter has completely clogged when the well is used for the first time between visits (2-3 weeks max) after which the water remains cloudy.

    I am going to install a pre-storage tank Micronizer air injector and a post-storage tank Greensand-Plus filter this coming weekend. This should address the sulfur problem.

    What can I do regarding the cloudy water and pump cut-off issues.

    Thanks,
    Steve

  2. #2
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    There are lots of people smarter than me on this coloidal clay thing, so I'll stay our of that discussion.

    One thing I can tell you is when the pump stops producing water, you had better turn it off. If not, you may be needing a new one. They are water cooled and lubricated. So when the water falls below the inlet of the pump, it can nuke.

    bob...

  3. #3

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    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the reply. Any chance the pump has a built-in float and is cutting off? I left the pump manual at the cabin, so I can verify for sure this weekend.

    When I manually open and close the pressure switch relay, it doesn't behave like the pump is drawing any current (no spark/arc). I will be bringing my multimeter this weekend to actually measure the current draw when this particular event occurs.

    Thanks,
    Steve

  4. #4
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    When a motor is not doing any work, like in the case of a pump running out of water to pump, it's amps drop considerably. If you have an amp meter, that would be the thing to help figure out what's happening.

    What you described is a low yield well. Are you in the mountains?

    Submersibles don't have float shutoffs. Just pressure switches.

    bob...

  5. #5

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    Yes, we are in the mountains where the northeast corner of WV meets MD.

    I am going to perform a (food) dye test where I will remove a little dirt by the casing and pour the dye in the hole, fill the hole with water and see if the dye shows up in my water. If it shows up then I can call the original well driller and tell them the casing isn't properly sealed and they need to fix it.

    Since it's 2 years old and supposedly been like this from the beginning, I have my doubts as to how willing they will be to address this problem.

    -Steve

  6. #6
    Like an engineer alternety's Avatar
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    The solution to the clay is a filter like the ones made by Zenon. They are now owned by GE. http://www.zenon.com/index_gewater.shtml

    They are also in some sort of deal where GE will sell a, presumably, less expensive but similar unit from a company I simply can not remember. All I can think of is that the unknown company is known for pool filtration. Ahh - Pentair maybe. Typing frees the mind.

    The Zenon takes out everything down to 0.02 microns. It fixed my problem with clay that was not removed by conventional filters.

    I would probably put it before the other things you are installing to keep those parts of the system clean.

    Good idea about the dye. I would suggest looking into fluorescence dye instead of food coloring. It is designed to do this sort of thing and is much more noticeable in small quantities.
    Last edited by alternety; 12-29-2008 at 03:21 PM.

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks for the suggestion Alternety, I'll definitely look into the zenon system once I confirm my casing isn't leaking... and get the air injector and greensand-plus filter installed.

    -Steve

  8. #8
    Porky Cutter,MGWC Porky's Avatar
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    Default Low to no yield!

    Like speedbump says, when you are no longer getting water (pump stops pumping) usually means the well ran out of water.

    Cloudy water can mean the casing is leaking where it's seated in the rock. Your dye may or may not recognize this as the problem. However if the well was properly grouted it will not recognize the problem of leaking casing or seal in the rock is leaking.

    It sounds to me that the well is a low yield well and when running low on water, the water may be cascading down the well wall causing the cloudiness and eventually no water.

    Sulfur from the hot water may be the magnesium rod in the hot water tank and not sulfur in the water. The magnesium rod protects the water tank. I've had to remove the rod from many hot water tank to prevent this problem.

    I don't know many of the well drillers in Eastern WV, however if you know the driller that drilled your well (even if it was two years ago), I suggest that if you haven't, call this driller and discuss your problems and possible options. Most reputable drillers would be concerned with your problems and possibly have some recommendations. They don't want the reputation of drilling a bad well!

  9. #9

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    The first time the pump quit on us, we called the original well drilling company.

    By the time a plumber got there it was pumping again and wrote it off as a pressure switch problem. The plumber also suggested the 30-micron spindown and 5-micron cartridge filter combo, which is doing very little to clear up the cloudyness of the water.

    I'm not sure how much "well" experience he has, since he didn't suspect it running out of water as the cause of the pump not pumping. Nor did he offer up any causes to the cloudyness.

    As of today, I have left a message with the original driller and await his call back. I hope you are right about them being concerned.

    Thanks,
    Steve

  10. #10
    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    They are also in some sort of deal where GE will sell a, presumably, less expensive but similar unit from a company I simply can not remember. All I can think of is that the unknown company is known for pool filtration. Ahh - Pentair maybe. Typing frees the mind.

    The Zenon takes out everything down to 0.02 microns. It fixed my problem with clay that was not removed by conventional filters.

    I would probably put it before the other things you are installing to keep those parts of the system clean.
    The product you are thinking of is Freshpoint by Pentair and can filter down to .02 micron. This unit only uses a couples gallons on it's backwash cycle. It is critical though that you have a backwashing pre-filter before this system. It should be rated for 20 micron. The Freshpoint must be last NOT FIRST in the system. Get rid of the spin down filter unless you enjoy toiling with that on a regular basis.

  11. #11
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berkeley View Post
    I hope there are experts and experienced well owners out there that can help us...

    PROBLEMS:
    1. The water is cloudy and was diagnosed as having colloidal clay by a water testing company. When we put a pot of the water on the hot wood stove, the clay coagulates at the bottom of the pot in globs.
    2. Sulfur in the water, causing the hot water to smell of rotten eggs.


    The well is 100ft deep and does not have a screen installed.

    I am going to install a pre-storage tank Micronizer air injector and a post-storage tank Greensand-Plus filter this coming weekend. This should address the sulfur problem.
    A hot water only odor is caused by bacteria reacting with certain types of anode rods. Removing the anode rod or changing it to another type or, increasing the temp to 140*, or killing the (SRB - sulfate reducing) bacteria will prevent the odor.

    Air injection or greensand plus won't do any of that. So if you don't have H2S gas (rotten egg) odor in the cold water, you don't have a need for either one and I wouldn't sell you either of them.

    Wherever you are planning to buy this equipment should be telling you what will and won't work and why, along with the causes of your problems. You should call me.

    A rock bore well does not have any screening.

    Have you heard how well the previous family's filtration worked?
    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.

  12. #12

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    I'll try turning up the hot water temp to 150F to see if that helps.

    I got in contact with the owner of the well drilling company. He is stopping by Friday to run a camera down the well to see if he can identify the cause of the cloudyness along with seeing if we are running out of water when I try to run it for an hour.

    I will update everyone with the results this weekend.

  13. #13
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I would not go above 140* and you don't have to.
    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.

  14. #14

    Default 5yr/well New home bad water problem

    I have a drilled well thats down 450', the casing is down 23', and a 3/4hp was installed down to 350' for the first time in (Nov/08). At the time the well was drilled June of 2002 the well drilling company said we would get around 6-7 gpm. This well has not been used since they drilled in 2002. We have been running the well directly from the inlet valve (Garden hose spickit) for approximatley 2 weeks straight, and we still have gray water coming out. We have not yet charged the house with water because we are afraid we will clog faucets, Refridgerator Water Filter and screens. This is a newly construted home and we are at a loss of what to do.

  15. #15

    Default Making Progress

    Problem: The pump stops pumping for no apparent reason.
    Solution: Replace the pump
    Detail:
    The well driller showed up as scheduled on Friday. He reviewed the well completion report I had requested from the county permits office. He said that his company drilled the well, but another company had installed the pump.

    He popped the top off the well casing and ran his camera down. The water started at 36 feet. We started running the water and waited for the pump to stop. During the pump test, he left the well camera dangling at the water line.

    After about 15 minutes of continuous running, the pump failed as expected. He determined that the water level had only dropped down 12 inches in the well casing and that we were not running out of water. He verified the new pressure switch was working correctly (it was). The pump remained shutdown. He also verified that the pump was getting power at the casing (it was). The pump restarted itself 15 minutes later.

    The only scenarios he could think of was that the pump was defective and/or somehow overheating and the thermal protection circuit must be cutting power to protect the pump. So, I need a new pump.

    Problem: Cloudy Water
    Solution:
    Detail:
    The cloudy water was the next item to address. The camera showed that the water near the top of the well casing was very clear, so he suggested raising the pump up further from the bottom. This made sense, since well could keep up with the pump.

    The well completion report showed the pump set at 80 feet. When he pulled the pump out and measured it, it was really set at 90 feet. He cut 20 feet from the hose, reconnected the necessary fittings and inserted the pump back into the well. The water color is a different shade now, slightly less cloudy.

    I found the pump manual that was left by the prior owners. It is an Ace hardware submersible well pump. It only comes with a 1 year warrantee, which expired a year ago. One of the things we noticed while the pump was out was that the installer did NOT install a torque arrestor above the pump. So, every time the pump starts up, it bangs up against the side of well’s walls. Since it is down past the casing, those walls are dirt/clay/rock/what-ever.

    So, as far as cloudy water goes, the pump depth and lack of torque arrestor may be the main cause of our cloudyness.

    Since the pump needs to be replaced, we will be going with a brand name pump from a company that provides a better warrantee. We will also make sure there is a torque arrestor installed.
    It will be a couple of weeks before we have that done, but I will keep everyone posted as things progress.
    Thanks,
    Steve

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