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Thread: Pump not pumping

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member colinml's Avatar
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    Default Pump not pumping

    Earlier today (Christmas day), I decided I would change the whole house water filter. It's a Big Blue carbon cartridge type. I've done this twice before without incident. Today, set the valves to bypass, changed the filter, switched things back to going through the filter, and then decided to do one thing differently. I hooked up a hose to the hose bib installed immediately after the filter, and set the end of the hose in the floor drain. I started to run water through, in order to clear out the loose sediment from the filter, but after about 30 seconds, the water stopped flowing.

    I have spent the rest of the day trouble-shooting, but I am way out of my depth. Unfortunately, being Christmas, I don't have other options.

    I checked the breaker. I checked that there is power to the pressure switch, and that there is power to the control box on the wall nearby. The "control box" appears to be a capacitor and a relay (This is a submerged pump in the well 50 feet from the house, and the pressure tank and the electrical components I'm describing are in the crawlspace. The pressure tank is a Well-x-trol (Amtrol) wx-250, which has a bladder, and it is supposed to have 38 psi. I attached a bicycle pump guage to the top of the tank, and the pressure is 22 psi, (with the tank drained and zero pressure reading on the guage attached to the water line). The previous owner apparently replaced the pump, pressure switch and control panel, as the old parts were sitting on a shelf right next to the pressure tank. I tried installing the old switch, just to see. No go. No pumping. The old switch has a lever on the side to force the pump to run. Tired that. No go. I'm a little confused about which switch was the installed switch, because it looks like the previous owner changed from a 30/50 to a 20/40, but he may have replaced the original cover (which has these specs written on it). The switches themselves don't have any markings, so, I'm not absolutely sure which is the 20/40 and which is the 30/60. In either case, though, I think holding the "force" lever should have made the pump come on. I suppose that I can also try letting some air out of the tank, so it is below 20?

    And that gets me as far as I can get. My plan tomorrow is to see if I can find a new pressure switch and control panel (relay/...capacitor? Word escapes me. The little motor that starts bigger motors), and I have a call in to the well pump guy. He won't be back in the office until Monday. The thing that I can't understand is if the water filter change is somehow connected, or a coincidence. All the troubleshooting steps I've done are things I have found on the net. I really am not sure what I'm doing. Is there something else I should check? Is there some way to bypass the switches altogether, to see if the pump works?

    Any help would be appreciated. House full of people who would like showers and to use the bathroom in other ways.

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    If the water filter or any shut off valves are before the pressure tank, closing them could dead-head the pump and cause it to fail quite quickly.

    Can you normally hear the pump running or feel the vibration in the pipe?

    Have you checked to see if the voltage from the pressure switch is making it to the well head?

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member colinml's Avatar
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    Hi,
    The valves are before the pressure tank, but it's a bypass, so, while I could shut everything off, I don't. So, all I'm doing is switching the path to the tank. Either through the filter and then to the tank, or straight to the tank. I have not noticed the pump running before. As for checking the voltage, I have one of those things that beep and flash when held close to a live circuit, and I just now walked out to the well head, and got beeps and flashes, so I guess that means there is voltage at the well head. On my list of things to do is learn how to use my multimeter, but I haven't gotten around to it.

    Does this mean I have ruled out everything but the pump itself?

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member colinml's Avatar
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    Sorry to reply to my own post, but I am hauling water from the stock tank in the sheep pasture to flush toilets, so I'm getting desperate here...

    If this were you, what would you do next? Does it make sense to try to find a pressure switch and the box with relay and capacitor at Home Depot, and replace them? Would that be the first thing the well/pump guy would do? Or is there a way to use a multimeter to confirm these are all operating correctly? Incidently, as soon as I determined that things weren't working, I turned off the curcuit to the pump, and I've only been turning it back on to test, like after I took the switch off and cleaned all the contact points.


    (edited...)

    Also, when I first read "deadhead" I assumed it was a general term for burning up a pump, but I just googled the term, and I see it can have a more specific meaning. Honestly, I don't understand what I've read so far (engineering sites), but I'll continue to read. Is it really possible I fried my pump in a matter of less than a minute or so? The plumber that installed the water filter didn't mention anything about the pump. He just said, "Turn off this valve; open this bypass valve; push this button to release the pressure in the filter cartridge housing; replace cartridge; switch valves back; run for 10 minutes before drinking." Could something in that cook the pump?

    (edited again for clarification...)

    Ok, I looked again. The raw water from the well comes to the house, then there is a "T." One side goes directly to the pressure switch (and then into the tank). The other side goes to the whole house filter. So, as far as I can tell, even if I shut off both paths near the whole house filter, the water could still flow in and out of the pressure tank. I see only one pipe attached to the pressure tank, so I'm assuming the water passes both directions through this pipe. This is correctly installed, no? Given this, I don't understand how my actions could have caused this. Driving me nuts trying to figure out what I could have done, or if there is something I can do to correct.
    Last edited by colinml; 12-26-2010 at 12:03 PM.

  5. #5
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You are dealing with a 220 volt circuit and don't understand how the system works.

    I recommend you call in a professional pump installer to properly diagnose your system.
    Changing parts without understanding what is wrong is a waste of time and money.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member colinml's Avatar
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    Yes, of course you're right. As I said, I already called and left a message with the well/pump guy, but he won't get the message until Monday. I was hoping that someone who does understand how these systems operate could read what I have already checked and point out whether I missed something obvious, something that I could do without the need to understand the system. Like a reset button or something. I do appreciate the reply, and I'll just put on some more deodorant

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