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Thread: 30 year old well system- complete replacement- pump, tank, etc.-nuts?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Default 30 year old well system- complete replacement- pump, tank, etc.-nuts?

    Hello all, what a great forum, this my first post- thank in advance for advice.

    considering some well system repairs.

    The existing system-

    The well is 30 years old, 51 feet deep, 6" casing. 35 foot SL, i do not know the flow rate, I think it is low, as the pump installer recommended a low flow pump so the system would not cycle on and off rapidly.

    The pump is a Berkeley B4AM8 1/3 hp 3 wire, I believe it is 220- have to check. The tank is a well x trol wx 252 86 gallon airbag.

    The driller went down about 45-feet, hit a thin layer of gravel with water, went down another 5 feet and hit blue clay- around here that can be 500' thick, so he pulled back and developed the water bearing strata.

    This system has worked perfectly for 30 years- it is very simple and reliable. I do not think it has a "motor control", the wiring is straight out of the panel to the pump.

    15 years ago we built a house and spliced into the water line- formerly it went to a single wide.

    The problem

    For the past few years there has been a slight vibration in the house water lines when the pump comes on. Sometimes it is enough to create a like buzz in the floor.

    There is a little iron in the water, probably from the old galvanized well plumbing.

    A few days ago there was a a blocked toilet valve, there was an organic plug of small old rotted roots clogging it, which made me wonder where it came from. I don't think it came from the well. My belief is it was in the line for a long time and worked it's way to a plug point. The clog was dark brown and semi rotted- not mush but not new roots either-the faucet screens showed a few small pieces of similar material 1/8" long.
    BUT-

    In looking over the well system trying to figure out where the roots came from, I noticed the pump was coming on every 20 minute- the pressure is dropping from 60psi to 40 psi in 20 minutes, pump runs for a few minutes to bring the pressure up and it repeats. I have checked for open faucets ,hose bibs, etc.

    The pressure tank is fine doing the tap test.

    There may be either a leaky foot valve, or some pinholes in the galvanized drop pipe. or?



    The plan

    Replace the pump, plumbing to the wellhouse, (20' run ) tank,pressure switch etc and install a simple pump hand pump- we get a lot of power outages, voltage spikes etc and are at the end of the line, powerwise. So the hand pump would be a nice backup- and who knows, maybe those guys taking about EMP are right..!!

    The charge for this about 5K , of which 2500 is for the hand pump- yikes-maybe I will delete it.-or do it later.

    The replacement pump is a Grundfos 10s05-9 1/2hp. and a Franklin control box is indicated- is this setup going to be voltage spike resistant? I need reliable more than sophisticated.

    All the old galvanized pipe and fittings are going away, they are all rusting. After reading the comments here about clogged 1/4" pressure switch nipples and blown up tanks, I got nervous!
    PVC sch 40 is indicated, is this a good choice for the buried lines and the tank-switch plumbing?

    The water has quite a bit of calcium and magnesium in it, it does build a crust over time.
    There is room in the pumphouse for a softening system, but that will have to wait for money to be available.

    This may seem like an overkill response to my problem, but I may stay here till I die, and I do not want to get bogged down in piecemeal repairs- hopefully this will last another 30 years.

    The installer has a great reputation- he did say i could just go with it till it broke, aka "don't fix it if it ain't broke". But things have a way of breaking at very inconvenient times.

    So am I nuts? Or does this sound like an logical way to approach the problem? Your comments are appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good plan. That is a good pump, but I wouldn't expect it to last 30 years like the last one. Nothing is voltage spike resistant, but that is less likely to shorten the life of your new pump than other things. As long as you have a little gas, a generator beats a hand pump any day.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valveman View Post
    Sounds like a good plan. That is a good pump, but I wouldn't expect it to last 30 years like the last one. Nothing is voltage spike resistant, but that is less likely to shorten the life of your new pump than other things. As long as you have a little gas, a generator beats a hand pump any day.
    Agreed! That is what I normally do- the hand pump is for " total infrastructure meltdown" scenario.
    Every 20 years or so we get a windstorm or something that kicks out power for a couple weeks.

    is there a pump that would likely last for 20-30 years? The well guy told me flat out they are not made now as well as the old ones- I only have experience with this Berkeley.
    Last edited by stoneaxe; 11-05-2013 at 03:02 PM. Reason: extra

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    In the Trades Boycedrilling's Avatar
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    I pulled a submersible pump one time out of a 6" well. It pulled easy for a couple of feet then started to pull hard. Then it got easier again. The pump ended up 42 ft deep. The bottom 15 ft was a solid mass of tree roots. It's amazing how far poplar tree roots can extend horizontally and vertically. The site I'm on now has got all sorts of roots down about a foot deep and I'm 30 to 60 ft from poplar trees. It's an industrial supply well for a French fry plant and I have a pit to receive water & cuttings that is 20 ft wide and 40 ft long.

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Berkeley is as good as any, but no better either. Berkeley is made by Pentair, which also labels the same pump as a Meyers, Flotec, Fairbanks, Sta-Rite, Simmer, Aermotor, and others. And they are “all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same”.

    All pumps have been redesigned several times over the years. They don’t redesign to make them better, but to see how much cheaper they can make them and still get most of them through the warranty period.

    I guess I have to take a little credit for some companies cheapening up their pumps even more. Since cycling on and off is the biggest killer of pumps, the Cycle Stop Valve makes even cheap pumps last longer. Since there is now a device that can eliminate cycling and make pumps last much longer, it puts a kink in their planned obsolescence. So they redesign and make the pump/motor even cheaper still.

    Back in the 90’s the same company built a really cheap, one-piece throw away pump called the “Value Sub”. Most of these didn’t last a year. But we were installing them with a Cycle Stop Valve and some of those things are still running 20 years later. If a CSV can make a “Value Sub” last 20 years, it can make any pump last much longer than usual.

    So there isn’t any special brand of pump that will last a long time. You just have to limit the cycling on the pumps that are available to get the longest run possible.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valveman View Post
    Berkeley is as good as any, but no better either. Berkeley is made by Pentair, which also labels the same pump as a Meyers, Flotec, Fairbanks, Sta-Rite, Simmer, Aermotor, and others. And they are “all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same”.

    All pumps have been redesigned several times over the years. They don’t redesign to make them better, but to see how much cheaper they can make them and still get most of them through the warranty period.

    I guess I have to take a little credit for some companies cheapening up their pumps even more. Since cycling on and off is the biggest killer of pumps, the Cycle Stop Valve makes even cheap pumps last longer. Since there is now a device that can eliminate cycling and make pumps last much longer, it puts a kink in their planned obsolescence. So they redesign and make the pump/motor even cheaper still.

    Back in the 90’s the same company built a really cheap, one-piece throw away pump called the “Value Sub”. Most of these didn’t last a year. But we were installing them with a Cycle Stop Valve and some of those things are still running 20 years later. If a CSV can make a “Value Sub” last 20 years, it can make any pump last much longer than usual.

    So there isn’t any special brand of pump that will last a long time. You just have to limit the cycling on the pumps that are available to get the longest run possible.
    Any comments on the Grundfos pumps- that is what my installer recommended. there was no mention of a "cycle stop valve" at all in my quote.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    Grundfos is a top of the line pump, unfortunately they seem to have motor failure issues.

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    A Grundfos pump with a Franklin motor is one of my favorites. I also have a few Grundfos motors still running since about 1982, but you can't count on anything being made like it was 30 years ago.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valveman View Post
    A Grundfos pump with a Franklin motor is one of my favorites. I also have a few Grundfos motors still running since about 1982, but you can't count on anything being made like it was 30 years ago.
    I think the guy who originally installed my system put in a low gpm pump, and a large tank, to keep cycling to a minimum. It seemed to work fine.

    Two questions-
    would a Grundfos .5 hp pump have this Franklin motor that is so highly thought of?

    The motor control specified is a Franklin, and the wire is a 12-4- that indicated to me the the "control box " is a VFD, and the pump is three phase- am I correct? This makes me nervous- we have a LOT of power surges here- the less circuitry involved the better, as far as I am concerned. The old system ran fine on just a square D pressure switch , a tank and pump.



    .

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    In the Trades Boycedrilling's Avatar
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    The grundfos distributor I use gives me the option of a franklin or a grundfos motor with the grundfos pump end

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoneaxe View Post
    I think the guy who originally installed my system put in a low gpm pump, and a large tank, to keep cycling to a minimum. It seemed to work fine.

    Two questions-
    would a Grundfos .5 hp pump have this Franklin motor that is so highly thought of?

    The motor control specified is a Franklin, and the wire is a 12-4- that indicated to me the the "control box " is a VFD, and the pump is three phase- am I correct? This makes me nervous- we have a LOT of power surges here- the less circuitry involved the better, as far as I am concerned. The old system ran fine on just a square D pressure switch , a tank and pump.



    .
    I found out they use a Franklin motor, and it is a single phase pump- the "motor control" is just a couple of capacitors in a box.

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member craigpump's Avatar
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    We have some Grundfos pumps with Grundfos motors that I installed 20 yrs ago still going strong, but my experience is that the new Grundfos motors aren't near as reliable.

    In this business, reliability is everything.

    Stone axe, a big tank is money well spent. I try to tell people that everyday, but given the general state of the economy along with the "can't see it, can't show it off" mentality, people almost always go with too small a tank.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by craigpump View Post
    We have some Grundfos pumps with Grundfos motors that I installed 20 yrs ago still going strong, but my experience is that the new Grundfos motors aren't near as reliable.

    In this business, reliability is everything.

    Stone axe, a big tank is money well spent. I try to tell people that everyday, but given the general state of the economy along with the "can't see it, can't show it off" mentality, people almost always go with too small a tank.
    It seems like a bigger tank would work to reduce cycling and have a bit more water on hand for the short power outages- usually we lose power for a couple of hours or so, so I don't bother to go start the generator. Good time to make coffee and sit quietly by the fire!

  14. #14
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoneaxe View Post
    ...and have a bit more water on hand for the short power outages...
    Murphy conspires with the PoCo to lose power when the tank is 1 PSI above the cut-in, so if it is a bladder tank, then it is essentially empty.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member stoneaxe's Avatar
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    Today the well pump would not shut off at all, the pressure would not get over 55 psi.
    So I started to dig to the water line, no sense paying the well guys the big bucks to run a shovel...
    When I got to 18" below grade, the ditch started to fill with water- hmmm. Shut off the pump, and continued digging-

    The 1" PVC line into the pitless adapter was broken off at the threads. There was a LOT of roots around it, holding the pipe in place.
    So I did a quick PVC repair in the twilight. Getting the old broken threds out was the hardest, I cut four hacksaw slots in it and pried it out, then chased the bronze threads with a piece of steel pipe with some gooves filed across the threads to make an impromptu tap.

    My take- the threads were partially broken years aho in a quake, we had the ground here roll pretty heavy in the Nisqually shaker, and over the years the roots found a ready source of water. Then recently it must have broken all the way through.
    Still thinking about replacing the pump- 31 years old.....? Think I will ask the well guy on his take.

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