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Thread: Well problems since electrical storms

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member randy111's Avatar
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    Default Well problems since electrical storms

    We have a 4" submersible pump that has started acting like it is going out. The circuit breaker tripped after a storm, and the water pressure has been irratic since.
    I had a pro look at it, and he put a voltmeter on the press switch, it showed the pump having power, but the pressure was not building, after a few minutes, the pressure started to build up,
    and stopped at about 25 psi, the voltmeter showed the pump was still getting power. after another short span, the pressure started to build up again, this went on a little longer until the
    pressure finally reached 50psi. He says the pump is locking up, or overheating, and the pump is cutting off due to a heat switch. The pump cools off and restarts. is there any thing else that
    would cause this symptom? I also need a recommendation on a 1HP pump, the depth of the current pump is 175'. Lowe's pumps have terrible reviews, I will not use them, and I hear QC at Franklin has gone down as well. the pro says I should get a pump with 15GPM rating or better. This well has never gone dry, and we have left the water on by accident overnight before.

    thank you in advnace, randy

  2. #2
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randy111 View Post
    he put a voltmeter on the press switch, it showed the pump having power, but the pressure was not building, after a few minutes, the pressure started to build up,
    and stopped at about 25 psi, the voltmeter showed the pump was still getting power. after another short span, the pressure started to build up again, this went on a little longer until the
    pressure finally reached 50psi.
    It is current, not voltage that needs to be monitored to make a proper determination. That said, it does sound like the pump's thermal overload is tripping.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member randy111's Avatar
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    Default I may have used the wrong verbage

    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    It is current, not voltage that needs to be monitored to make a proper determination. That said, it does sound like the pump's thermal overload is tripping.
    He did check with a "loop" around the wires to check for current as well, I am convinced he knows what he is doing, so I always get a second opinion, thank you for the reply, any recommendations on a pump for me? Sta-rite, or goulds? best place to buy one? I'll have to order online, as we are in the boonies.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randy111 View Post
    He did check with a "loop" around the wires to check for current as well...
    ...which you failed to mention in your OP.

    Quote Originally Posted by randy111 View Post
    I am convinced he knows what he is doing, so I always get a second opinion...
    You either trust him or you don't. I'm sure he knows more about your setup than what you told us.
    There are a lot of factors to selecting a pump. Well recovery rate, depth to the static water level, size of tank, lifestyle, etc..

  5. #5
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    How many wires does your pump motor have ?

    What are you using for a pump controller ?

    You may want to install some protection from lightning and do not use your water well for your home electrical ground. There is no reason to bond to it.


    Good Luck.
    Last edited by DonL; 08-11-2013 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Op error
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    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    Sounds like the motor is fried.

    The ONLY pumps I install are Franklins with Franklin motors and I can count on one hand how many I have pulled back put in the past 5-6 years. Grundfos makes a great 4" pump, but the motors are suspect.

    I throw away more Goulds than any other brand.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member randy111's Avatar
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    Oh boy, franklin makes the 4" pumps in mexico now, but I am in the process of getting a quote on a franklin pump anyway, I may go ahead and use them. the pump is a 3 wire, the current pump does not have a control box. (3/4 HP)
    My last post should have read, but I always get a second opinion.
    How would I figure out if the home is grounded through the water system? and what lightning protection would you recommend? the water level to the best of my recollection is about 40' above the pump, the pump is at 175', and has never gone dry, we have been here since 2007, through several years of drought, and letting the water run all night after forgetting it was on. Family of three

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randy111 View Post
    we have been here since 2007, through several years of drought, and letting the water run all night after forgetting it was on. Family of three
    I think it is just a coincidence, which lets you think the pump went out because of lightning. Average life of a submersible pump is 7 years, yours made it 6. Worst case scenario is accidently leaving a single hose running all night. A single hose doesn’t cause the pump to run all night, but rather cycle on and off repeatedly, possibly hundreds of times each night.

    Cycling is more likely the cause for the destruction of your pump/motor than lightning. Lightning usually blows through the electrical insulation somewhere. This causes a direct short which usually trips a breaker or blows a fuse. When the pump tries to run but the overload in the motor trips, it is usually a sign of cycling or heat damage rather than high voltage. If it is lightning, when you get the motor out, it will most likely have a hole about the size of your little finger blown out in the upper 4” of the motor housing.

    Having a type of pump system that just cycles on and off, then accidently leaving a hose running occasionally is the best way to get to buy a new pump. Those pumps from the big box stores are made by the same company that makes “contractor grade” pumps with a different name on them. Contractors just know how pumps should be installed, which is why their pumps usually last longer. Customers from the box stores don’t know some of the things needed to install pumps correctly, which is why the reviews are bad. People are more reviewing their own pump installation abilities than the quality of the pump they install.

    Eliminate the cycling and you would be surprised how long even a cheap pump will last. I am 90% sure cycling, not lightning, is what got your last one.

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    So I google average life of a submersible well pump and I get answers from 6 years to 30 and every number in between. I'm not sure who's doing the average but it seems pretty suspect to me. From my own experience ( going on 40 years now). I would say the average age of pumps we replace is closer to 25 years. My own pump has been down there for over 30 years.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    DIY Junior Member randy111's Avatar
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    Thank you folks for all of the concise and understandable replies. It has been a few years since we left the water on all night, but we were watering the garden with it this summer until it started acting up.
    It is still pumping now, but I need to replace it soon, I do not want to be out of water. Valve man, so you recommend lowes pumps?

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    DIY Junior Member randy111's Avatar
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    Hello Tom Sawyer, I was thinking the same as you, what brand of pumps do you recommend?

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    I stock goulds. I would stay clear of anything coming out of a big box store
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Well you are probably right. 7 years was the planed life expectancy of a submersible pump about 20 years ago. It is probably more like 5 or 3 years now. I was first told the 7 year number in 1974 by a retired engineer for a prominent pump and motor manufacturer. Since that time the seven year average has been confirmed to me a couple more times from other engineers who had retired from other prominent motor manufacturers. Most had been sworn to secrecy about planned obsolescence, and only admitted this to me after they retired. I have been amazed at the stories from some retirees about closed door meetings discussing the CSV as a “disruptive product”, because it shoots planned obsolescence of pumps in the foot.

    I also have personal observation of a 7 year average. For more than 25 years I worked at a pump supply house as well as doing installations. With over 2,000 pumps a year in the boneyard to salvage each winter, I got to know ages of pumps at a glance. Sure there were some oldies that lasted 30+ years. Those had the real “red brass impellers” in them and were worth a lot for salvage. After a few years the old “red brass” pumps were coming in less and less often. Then we started salvaging the ones that looked like they were made of all “yellow brass”. In reality they had plastic impellers, the brass tube and pump heads were thin and didn’t weigh much for salvage. Then we started getting them with fiberglass housings and plastic pump heads as well as plastic impellers. When the pumps of the 1990’s started coming back to the boneyard, everything was made with so much plastic that salvage was no longer profitable.

    But I digress. The point is that yes there are many pumps that last 20-30 years, but there are just as many that don’t last 20-30 days. When you go through a couple thousand dead pumps a year, you would be surprised to find that probably 40% of them lasted almost exactly 7 years. The life of the other 60% will have some really high highs and really low lows, but the average will be about the same.

    Installers think the average life of pumps is higher because most of theirs last longer. People who buy from the big box stores know the average is usually measured in months, not years, because that is all they get from them. The more people who purchase from the big box stores the lower the average life span of pumps will be. So I doubt the average life is 7 years any longer. But you are not going to find the right answer on Google.

    The Utilitech pump from Lowes I believe is made by Franklin. Except for the plastic pump/motor head and suction adapter, it will be identical to other Frankin pumps. Franklin, Goulds, and Pentair make pumps under dozens of different names, but there is very little difference in any of them.

    Pumps are just made cheap these days. The ONLY thing you can do lengthen the life of a pump system is to eliminate or limit the number of times it cycles on and off.

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    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    We pulled a brass jacketed Goulds today that finally quit yesterday. I haven't had time to clean it up and find a date, but I would bet it is from the 70's.

    If Goulds still made that pump with todays motors, we would all be out of business.

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    I suppose that with the el- cheapo box store pumps figuring in perhaps 7 years but I have always installed goulds and I'd bet I can count on one hand the number of them that have not lasted at least 10 an most...... I never see again. But then
    A lot of that probably has to do with the type and quality of the well itself. We don't do 4" case here. 8" steel is and has been the standard since well before I got into the business.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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