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Thread: pump getting electricity, but not starting

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Default pump getting electricity, but not starting

    I have a 1/2hp lift pump in my rainwater collection system that pumps water from the collection tanks at my house to storage tanks 100' away.

    The collection tanks have a float switch that comes on after water rises a few inches and pumps water to the storage tanks until the water level drops back down to the near empty point. There is also a float switch in the storage tanks that override in case storage is full (no use trying to pump water uphill to a container with zero capacity).

    The pump had been inadvertently switched off (at a control point) during an absence of several days, and when we returned the collection tanks were about 1/3 full from a light rain. So I flipped the switch expecting it to begin but it did not.

    I am not an electrician but have one of the small battery operated hot circuit testers that lights up in the near presence of a hot circuit. With the tester, I could see that the when the float switch in the collection tanks is floating (i.e., the water has risen and "floated" the switch to the upside down position) the circuit is closed (hot) and current flows.

    When the float switch in the storage is hanging, the circuit is closed and current flows. So if the storage tank fills and that switch floats it opens the circuit and the pump does not send more water up to already full tanks. If it is hanging (i.e., tank not full) and the float valve in the collection tank drops as water is pumped out and it goes into the hanging position, that turns the pump off before the collection tank is emptied and the pump burns up.

    When both circuits are closed (hot ) the wire to the pump is hot, but the pump is not coming on. Both the red and black wires in the pressure (?) switch on the pump show to be hot.

    To complicate things, I left the control switch off for awhile, and when I went back to it and turned it on, the pump ran for about 30 seconds then went off.

    I am thoroughly confused, but since the pump went on, at least I know that the pump does work (at least sometimes.) I have the feeling that it really should work normally but I have got something out of position.

    Can anyone guide me through this? Thanks.

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Is there additional information that I can provide which might help formulate one or more questions that might help me solve this? Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
    I have a 1/2hp lift pump in my rainwater collection system that pumps water from the collection tanks at my house to storage tanks 100' away.

    The collection tanks have a float switch that comes on after water rises a few inches and pumps water to the storage tanks until the water level drops back down to the near empty point. There is also a float switch in the storage tanks that override in case storage is full (no use trying to pump water uphill to a container with zero capacity).

    The pump had been inadvertently switched off (at a control point) during an absence of several days, and when we returned the collection tanks were about 1/3 full from a light rain. So I flipped the switch expecting it to begin but it did not.

    I am not an electrician but have one of the small battery operated hot circuit testers that lights up in the near presence of a hot circuit. With the tester, I could see that the when the float switch in the collection tanks is floating (i.e., the water has risen and "floated" the switch to the upside down position) the circuit is closed (hot) and current flows.

    When the float switch in the storage is hanging, the circuit is closed and current flows. So if the storage tank fills and that switch floats it opens the circuit and the pump does not send more water up to already full tanks. If it is hanging (i.e., tank not full) and the float valve in the collection tank drops as water is pumped out and it goes into the hanging position, that turns the pump off before the collection tank is emptied and the pump burns up.

    When both circuits are closed (hot ) the wire to the pump is hot, but the pump is not coming on. Both the red and black wires in the pressure (?) switch on the pump show to be hot.

    To complicate things, I left the control switch off for awhile, and when I went back to it and turned it on, the pump ran for about 30 seconds then went off.

    I am thoroughly confused, but since the pump went on, at least I know that the pump does work (at least sometimes.) I have the feeling that it really should work normally but I have got something out of position.

    Can anyone guide me through this? Thanks.

  3. #3
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    I am guessing you are only getting 115V to a 230V pump. This would cause the pump to run about 30 seconds and trip the overload. The "hot circuit tester" would still light up with 115V, but the pump won't run. One of your breakers is not on or one of the float switches is not completing the circuit.

  4. #4
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    A lot of the pumps with a float may not last long if the motor is left under water for long periods, with no power. Depends on the design and intent of use.

    If things are getting hot then current must be flowing.

    Trash in the impeller or a locked motor could cause your problem.
    Last edited by DonL; 02-11-2013 at 05:06 PM.
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  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    I realized from your replies (thank you for these) that I mis-described the pump. It is an irrigation pump (dry, not submersible. Apology.)

    Had to make an emergency trip out of town just after my last post. While driving, I got to wondering if it had come on because of being off overnight (allowing pressure to drop). When I got home, flipped it on and sure enough it ran again for about 30-40 seconds. This time I had the pressure switch cover off and when it went off the contacts opened. I assumed this meant pressure was building past the upper setting of the range. Followed the tubing all the way and found that somehow the only valve on that line not in the pump house had got turned off. Opened it and the pump came right back on and is now running as it should. Many thanks.

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