Pumps and wells can be very complicated subjects. Many people think a well is just a hole in the ground. The earth beneath our feet has always been a mystery. How deep is it to water? What kind of formations do we have to drill through to get to the water? How much water is down there? What is the quality of the water? How do we get the water out without disturbing the formation and caving in the well? These are just a few of the questions that people still ask today, even though man has been digging for water many thousands of years.
Many people think a pump is just a motor and propeller attached to pipe. The intricacies of an electric motor and a centrifugal impeller continue to surprise people daily, as they can be somewhat "counter intuitive". How does a pump move water? What are the qualities that makes a pump last? How do we control a pump to deliver water when we want, and stop when we no longer need it? How do we control the amount of pressure that the pump supplies? These are some of the questions that are ask everyday, even though the basic design of a pump is very old.
Formations, depth, and water quality vary greatly from one area to another. Even driving a well point into a shallow water bearing formation can take some expertise. Anything deeper than about 30', or larger than 2" in diameter, needs the touch of a local driller. There are no good books from which to learn what you need. There is only the experience of a local driller who has learned the hard way, all the problems of conditions in your area. Having more than one driller to work with is a benefit but, you are at the mercy of the driller(s) in your area.
Drillers and pump installers can come is a variety of personalities, work ethics, experience, and education. Talking to references, and personal observations can sometimes be the only ways you have of choosing which one to use. What matters is that the person or company is able to get the job done legally, safely, timely, and produce the best quality well for your use.
Once the well is drilled and completed, you need the help of someone with pump experience, which may or may not be the same person that drilled the well. As with drilling wells, there can be a real art to installing pumps. Some home owners may get things installed correctly, and not have many problems. However, knowing what kind and size of pump to use, where to put a little extra tape, how much slack to leave in the wire, how to control the system, and a multitude of other little things that installers learn the hard way, can be worth several times the cost of the actual equipment. Sometimes just knowing where to put a little extra tape, or not to put tape, can make the difference between a pump system lasting 1 week or 20 years.
All that being said, I have found that the vast majority of so called pump professionals really do not understand what they are doing. Many so called professionals are just glorified part changers. Having a license number and a business phone number does not make a professional. States usually rely on continuing education classes to educate the pump installers. Most of these classes are put on by manufacturers. Manufacturers only teach how to use their products, which in most cases are made for planned obsolescence to deliver a cash flow, not dependable and long lasting service for the customer. Actually in most cases what the manufacturers teaches is counter productive for a dependable system. They want you to use something that is expensive and doesn't last very long, which is good for the manufacturer, not the end user or the installer. Most installers are not educated on the subject well enough to argue with the manufacturers. For this reason many installers fall for the hype of new products.
Informing yourself as much as possible can help you do what you can for yourself. It can also help you weed out the "professionals" who are really not professional. It can also help you to inform good professionals as to what you really want, and even introduce them to new products and techniques they may not yet be aware of.
Here are a few simple questions followed by the correct answers, that every pump professional should know. If a pump professional answers any of these questions wrong, you need to find someone different.
#1 Do Variable Speed Pumps or "Constant Pressure Pumps" save energy or make the pump last longer? NO
#2 Does partially chocking back a pump with a valve cause harm to a pump or motor? NO
#3 Can a 30/50 pressure switch be adjusted to 40/60? YES
#4 Does increasing the pressure switch setting from 30/50 to 40/60 make the tank hold more water? NO
#5 Does cycling on and off shorten the life of a pump system? YES
Some people on this forum suggest products and ideas to help solve your problems. Some professionals claim they are not selling anything on this forum but, they are selling there services if they are trying to convince you that you should always call a professional. If you are one of the lucky few who can find a professional who really understands what they are doing, they can be of great benefit. If on the other hand the only professionals available don't know the correct answers to the simple questions above, you would be better off doing as much as you can yourself.
With a little background in plumbing and electrical work, a home owner can do almost any work above ground on a water system. Some home owners are even comfortable pulling and setting pumps in a well. Working on equipment in the well can be risky and dangerous. If something gets stuck, breaks off, gets dropped, or won't fit back down the well, a simple pump job can turn into an expensive well replacement. A professional should be responsible and have insurance for any problems that they cause. A homeowner would be left holding the bag if they caused the problem themselves.
Many times a professional will not come to the aid of a homeowner who has caused problems trying to do it for themselves. So you need to be prepared to complete the job yourself no matter what, or beg for forgiveness and allow the professional to replace your entire system should you screw it up.
The information in this forum can help you save money by doing some things for yourself. It can help you decide when you need to call a professional, or when just adding a little air to the tank would solve the problem. It also may help you get the water going again when you can't get a professional on the phone during a holiday or weekend. Keeping installers honest by being informed about what they are doing is another benefit. Most of all being able to talk to others who have been in your situation before can be valuable information.
This forum can also be one of the best ways installers can educate themselves. They can hear what actually works for the customers, what doesn't, and why. They can also see what other installers are doing. This can be the best way to get information from real world applications. Simply relying on what pump and motor manufacturers tell you, can be one of the quickest ways to let multiple warranties put you out of business.
Last edited by valveman; 06-29-2009 at 06:45 PM.