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Thread: I ain't scared of nuthin', BUT...

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Default I ain't scared of nuthin', BUT...

    this well situation is starting to scare me! =O)

    Okay guys, here's the deal (on a well).

    1) Water died this morning.
    2) Water came back on for a very short time.
    3) Water died again.
    4) Pressure gauge is reading about 17 lbs.
    5) Points are closed on the Water Pressure Switch.
    6) Meter says there are 250 volts between white/black wire screws in pressure switch.
    7) Submerged Pump doesn't appear to be pumpin'.
    8) Could it be anything else other than the pump being dead?

    Thank you SO much for any guidance/direction/suggestions/worldly wisdom!! :O)

    Paul

  2. #2
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Is the pump making noise? Is it drawing current? Does it have a control box or direct wired? If the pump isn't making noise and isn't drawing current. check the impedance on the motor leads.

    If you cut the power, does the pressure hold at 17 PSI if no water is drawn from the system? If you lose pressure, there is likely a leak in the line.

    Did you dip the well to check water level? Maybe the pump is sucking air and overheating.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Hey LLigetfa!

    Well, let's see. Those are good questions.

    I had my wife listen down into the well for a few minutes while I opened and closed the contacts in the switch and she couldn't hear any "hum" or any noise. I'm not sure how to tell if it's drawing current or not? And I'm not sure how to check the impedance on the motor? The well is 305' and has at least 285' of water in it, so I think I'm good on that count, but in any event, I'm not sure how far down the pump is into the well? Is that something I could pull up myself?

    Yeah, I think the 17 psi is steady even with no power.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Default Worst Case Scenario

    IF the pump is bad (it's approximately 20 years old), how much would it cost to replace in a drilled well 300' deep? Any ballpark figures (in VA, if that makes a difference)?

  5. #5
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PV2U View Post
    I'm not sure how to tell if it's drawing current or not? And I'm not sure how to check the impedance on the motor?
    A clamp-on ammeter would tell you if the pump is drawing current. Mind you, if the pump isn't turning, the thermal overload will turn it off. Leave the power off long enough to ensure it isn't thermal overloaded. A good ammeter would also have an ohmmeter function. The specs on the pump/motor should tell you what resistance to expect. Could be something as simple as a splice burning through.

    You didn't answer my Q about a control box. Is it two wire down to the well or is there a three wire control box between the pressure switch and the pump? If you have one, it might give you a clue on the HP of the pump. What size breaker on the line? Small breaker = small pump but big breaker does not necessarily mean a big pump.

    You say the water is or at least was 20 feet from the top of the well at one time. Doesn't mean it still is. The pump probably isn't 300 feet down but how far down is anyone's guess unless you have that info written down somehere. How much pump you need depends on two things, your GPM needs and the GPM recovery rate of the well. Typically, the slower the recovery rate the deeper the pump might be to be able to draw on the reserve in the casing. The more the well gets drawn down, the more pump you need for the additional height it has to lift the water.

    Does the well have a pitless or do the pipes come out the top of the casing? If it has a pitless there will probably be a release cable. Is there a pull rope in the well and if so how hefty is it? It might give you a clue as to how much weight you might be dealing with if you need to pull the pump. As with breaker size, a small rope probably means not too heavy a pull but a big rope could just mean they oversized it. You might need to setup a tripod and pulley system to pull it.

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    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Okay, thanks for the action items... I'll do some checking and see what's what - I really appreciate it. I just called a tech and they said it was going to be $200 minimum just to come look at it. I'm going to do ALL I can do on my own before I do that! Will check those things out and will check back in later.

    thanks again!

  7. #7
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Even without a good ammeter or ohmmeter, there are several clues to lookout for. If there is current draw, you should see some arcing on the contacts of the pressure switch. You might notice your lights dim slightly.

    If you are proficient around electricity (BIG IF*), there are several tests you can do with a test light, essentially a pigtail socket with a 110V bulb. Obviously you would not put it across 240V but run in series with the pump, if there is any continuity, it will make the bulb glow dim. You can also check grounds by connecting the pigtails between one leg and ground.

    *BIG IF - Don't mess with electricity if you don't have a sound understanding of how it can kill you. A $200 call-out fee is a lot cheaper than an ER visit or funeral.

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    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Gotcha on the BIG IF*! :O) I know my limits with electric. I fiddle around with my multimeter some, but that's about it.

    As an interim, here is a kinda sad, but accurate, drawing of what I see coming out of the top of the well.


  9. #9
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Hmmm... sad is right. Just two wires? No pipes coming out the top? No pitless release cable? No pull rope? No good, batman! Sounds like someone will earn their $200!

    Normally a two wire pump has three wires, the third being ground and a three wire pump has four wires. So, we can assume then that there is no control box. If you use a pigtail lamp tester and apply 110V through it to each wire, one at a time, if the lamp lights, there is a short to ground. If you wire the pigtail lamp in series momentarily and it glows, there is continuity or a short to ground.

  10. #10
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    There are two different style pitless adapters and only the better style has a release cable. The other style is just held by gravity. Both styles use a long iron pipe with the threads screwed into the top of the pitless. Shine a light down to see the pitless and measure how long a pipe you will need. I'm pretty sure it would be 3/4" pipe. Thread or weld a T on the top of the iron pipe so it cannot fall down into the well. Try and thread the other end of the pipe into the top of the pitless. It can be quite the exercise in patience to find the hole. Make sure there are no young'uns around to hear the curse words.

    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You can buy a decent clamp on ammeter for less than $50. It's a lot quicker and safer than screwing around with jury-rigged test equipment.

    Fact is, if there is 220V at the top of the well and the pump doesn't run, it's going to have to come out. It might be 250 feet deep hanging on galvanized pipe and could weigh hundreds of pounds full of water. You would be risking a great deal to try to pull it yourself. If something breaks or you drop it and it falls into the well, it could cost many thousands $$ to have a new well drilled.

    There comes a time when one needs to realize that professional experience and equipment are well worth the cost.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    .... Make sure there are no young'uns around to hear the curse words...

    Good luck!
    LOL! I have 6 kids, so I'm outta luck w/ that! They're just going to have to expand their vocabulary!!

    Thank man, you've been a great help! I'll let you know how all this goodness turns out!

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    ...There comes a time when one needs to realize that professional experience and equipment are well worth the cost...
    Agreed, cacher_chick, and with me that time comes very soon after I twist the faucet and nothing comes out! HA! :OD

  14. #14
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    I set my own pump and had to pull it more than once. Mine ate sand and jammed up. All I can say is good neighbors are good to have. I helped my neighbor with his pump too. His splice wasn't waterproof and it burned through over time.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member PV2U's Avatar
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    Default The Resolution

    Okay, found a guy who would come for $160. He pulled the pump out, found that the wire to the pump had been abraided and had a bunch of bare spots. Replaced 210' of wire, and I'm gold again.
    Although, I'm gold with a 23-year-old pump down there ticking like a time bomb!

    $585.48 including materials and labor.

    I believe if I ever have to do it again, I'll try it myself, but, of course, it's never the same thing twice! :O)

    Thanks all, especially LLigetfa, for your help and insight!! Much appreciated!!

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