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Thread: Well pump failure and electrical question. 1/2hp Goulds pump

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    DIY Junior Member frankc103's Avatar
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    Default Well pump failure and electrical question. 1/2hp Goulds pump

    Well here goes. My well was installed in 1986 when house was new! I know that it's a miracle that I've made it this long without any issues, but what started to happen is that the 20amp breaker started tripping. So I pull the well cap off and I notice that the electrical connections that tie the 2 wire line from the pressure switch to the wires coming up from the pump are all melted and the connections are in very poor shape. All the installers did was wire tie the two wires and then put some electrical tape on them. Yeah, it lasted 26 years like that so I guess it wasn't too shotty of work. the pump is 1/2 hp and is set at 135' it's a 220v pump has a amp drawl of 5 amps according to the tag. Anyway they ran 14 gauge wire down to the pump which is ok for a 5 amp draw, but the real question is why would they put it on a 20amp breaker???? I believe what happened is the subjective connections they made living in the damp well casing finally allowed enough moisture into the taped connection that the two wires started arcing between each other and since it was on a 20amp breaker it was more than the 14 gauge wire should have been subjected too. Anyway, I cut the bad splices out got back to some good wire reconnected everything and the pump works again and is only drawing 5 amps as it should.
    I obviously am on borrowed time with this pump, and plan to replace it come spring, my real question is isn't 20amp breaker too much for this setup for safety?

  2. #2
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    The 20 amp breaker is OK. I would have used at least a 15 amp breaker anyway. That old of a motor I don't believe has an overload built into it. So there should be an overload the right size built into the control box. If the control box has ever been changed, you need to make sure you use one that has a built in overload. Probably a loose connection that caused the wires to melt.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    The 5 amp draw is running amps. The locked rotor amps will be much higher, hence the need for 15 amp breaker.

    I don't know what you mean by "wire tie the two wires". I like to use Marr connectors without any tape.


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    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    He may have meant wire nuts, but I wonder why they didn't just use a splice kit with heat shrink tubing? They are cheap enough and you know they will seal with no problems.

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    DIY Junior Member frankc103's Avatar
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    Ok, a few more observations from today's testing. Here are the specs first: 155' total depth, 135' pump level, running amps consistent at 5.8 amps. 32 gallon bladder tank 28lb set, 30/50 switch, and I can shine a flashlight down the casing and see the water level at about 20' below the surface. Here's what is happening. If I run a spigot at 1/2 to 3/4 open, the system will come on at approx. 30lbs. the pump will run continuously now as long as you leave the spigot open, at actually will go down to 27-28lbs on the gauge. The pump amperage is steady at 5.8 amps, and I can see the water in the casing not go down at all, but the pump won't build any pressure above 28lbs until you shut the spigot, then it will pump up to 50+ lbs and turn off. Before the electrical issue cropped up, the system didn't work like this, the pump could easily overcome one spigot running and still pump the system up to the shutoff level. Is this telling me I'm losing the pump??

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You would need to know which pump you have and and compare it to the published pump curve to see if it falls within specs.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    If there is a topside checkvalve, you could have a hole in your downpipe and it manifest the symptoms you describe.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craigpump View Post
    He may have meant wire nuts, but I wonder why they didn't just use a splice kit with heat shrink tubing?
    I suppose a poor job with wire nuts and tape could create a haven for moisture to collect and arc. Wire nuts alone probably would have been better.

    Using heatshrink splice on the topside makes it more difficult to pull the pump as you either have to cut the wire or cut the tape holding it to the downpipe. Mind you, I don't think the OP has pulled that pump ever. Over the life of my well, I've pulled my pump probably a dozen times. At first I was using wire nuts but they are not well suited to re-use so I would lose an inch from the leads each time. I switched to the above Marr connectors and tinned the stranded wire so it wouldn't fray.

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    DIY Junior Member frankc103's Avatar
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    I did mean they used std wire nuts. The Only check valve is right on top of the pump down at 135'. This is the same pump for 25+ years, it's not a new pump that I'm not familiar with. It just doesn't seem to be pumping the same volume or pressure of water. Does this happen? I kind of figured once they start going they go! This one isn't running outside it's amperage rating will run continuosly now for as long as you run a water source (I've run it for 30minutes straight) and it doesn't blow the breaker or increase it's amperage draw it just stays right at 28-30lbs and if you open multiple spigot's, there is definetly less volume and pressure than it used to be.
    Last edited by frankc103; 12-09-2012 at 11:36 AM.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    It could be that the impellers have worn over time but that would not present as a sudden change. My old Goulds pump gradually reduced the GPM over a 12 year time frame due to wear but then I had a sediment problem and it ate a whole lot of sand. It was also pretty heavily caked in manganese and suspect that may have been a contributing factor.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frankc103 View Post
    The Only check valve is right on top of the pump...
    Do you mean a built-in check or externally added? If it is an external one, there could still be a hole rusted through the nipple between it and the pump.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member frankc103's Avatar
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    looks to me like it's an add on or maybe it's just a reducer from 1-1/4 to 1".

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    I believe LL is right about the hole in the pipe below the check valve. 5.8 amps means the pump is putting out maximum flow, it is just not making it to the surface. If the pump was worn down, it would not be pulling full load amps.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    I had a neighbor and coworker that had a hole in the pipe. For him though it was gradual. He first noticed that his electric bill was increasing every month. He fought with the PoCo, thinking their meter was to blame. The PoCo changed his meter and it got worse. The hole kept enlarging to the point that the pump was running continuously as it could no longer reach the cut-off pressure. He fought some more... they put in-line one of their diagnostic meters and confirmed he was actually using more electricity. It was only after the pressure dropped ridiculously low because the hole got so big that they determined the cause.

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    DIY Junior Member frankc103's Avatar
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    Just to make sure I'm understanding the message clearly. The only way there could be a leak below the check-valve would be in the pump itself since the check valve is connected directly to the top of the pump unless as you suggest there is a hole or leak at the threads where this valve connects directly to the pump top. I didn't notice anything that looked like a hole there. I do appreciate your opinions and believe at this point, I'll attempt to limp thru the winter and if I make it to spring I'll just put a new pump/valve/switch in and see what happens. I'd say after 26 years on this setup it doesn't owe me anything anymore. The real question is will I make it to Spring!

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