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Thread: Help! My Pump won't shut off

  1. #1

    Default Help! My Pump won't shut off

    I just recently purchased a foreclosure house to fix up and sell. The first thing I did after purchasing it was kick the water pump on to see if it worked. The well is right out in front of the garage and is a deep well with a submersible pump. The utility room is boxed off very small and has the water heater and furnace in it and the pressure gauge and switch are tied in right before the plumbing goes throughout the rest of the house. I have looked everywhere and can't find the pressure tank. I believe it may be buried, but am really hoping I'm wrong. I noticed that the pressure builds up to 25 psi and can't get past it, but also noticed that the pump never shuts off. My father stated that if the tank isn't in the ground it has to be close to the switch or you can get some kind of jumping in the lines. Not sure exactly what he meant by that, but he is an old school retired plumber that knows quite a bit about plumbing, but I don't think he knows to much about wells and pressure tanks.The house was built in 1971 if that helps. I originally turned on the water 3 weeks ago and haven't turned it off. I don't live in the house, but everytime I check the pressure is always at 25 psi and I can hear or I guess feel the line and can tell the pump is on. The pressure does go down when I turn on a faucet and seems to take forever to get back to 25 psi before it stops at that, but the pump keeps pumping. My father said the pump must be shutting of at some point or the pump would have burnt up over the last 3 weeks of continuously running. He believes the bladder may have busted in the tank. If so can I simply install another pressure tank before the plumbing gets to the pressure switch or will I have to dig up and replace. Could it possibly just be a bad switch. I haven't turned the main screw yet on the switch to see if that helps anything. So my guess is either bad bladder, bad pressure switch, or I hope to god not a leak in the line somewhere underground before it gets to the pressure switch. Also not sure if this means anything, but the piping is copper 3/4 in and piping where it comes through the garage into the utlity room the pipe does a weird U-shaped thing before it ties into the pressure switch.Any help or thoughts would greatly be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A bladder tank fault won't keep the pump on. You need to fix this....your electric bill will be a bit higher that expected with the pump running all of the time.

    Sounds like there is a leak (you didn't mention running out of water, only that the pressure was low), since it can't build up proper pressure. A pressure tank only holds pressure between pump cycles, it doesn't make pressure, it stores energy (pressure) from the pump when it is running.

    One of the guys that deal with pumps will have some idea how to diagnose this. In the meantime, you probably should shut the pump power off until needed.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the response. I have not had any problem with running out of water. That's what makes me think it's not a leak. Also, could the pump really be running for 3 weeks straight and not burn up? I thought maybe it was shutting off at some point, but I'm not sure because anytime I check it seems to be running. Any thoughts on what I should first check since it could possibly be a couple different things. What would make the pressure stop at 25 psi and go no higher?

  4. #4
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    I have trouble believing the pump could run steady for 3 weeks and not burn up. Unless the leak is not in the well. This way it could keep pumping cool water and not go bad. It is possible to have a hole/s in the droppipe the pump hangs on and this will keep the pressure from building high enough to turn off the switch. Problem with than scenario is the heat that would build.

    I think your going to find it is a leak in the pressure line to the house or some other buried pipe.

    You dad is right about the switch having to be with the tank. If it were me I wouldn't look for the other tank. I would just add a new one by the switch.

    bob...

  5. #5

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    Thanks for your help. I plan on going out tonight to check it out in more detail. I was really hoping it wasn't a leak in the line so I wouldn't have to dig anything up. I was hoping it was a quick fix such as putting on a new pressure switch or installing a new pressure tank in the house. The only thing I really don't get is why it stops at 25 psi and doesn't budge. Could the pressure tank be waterlogged vs. a leaky bladder. Does anyone have any idea what money I would be looking at for a well guy to come out and dig down and replace bad line if it is leaking? I live in OH so the water line must be at least 32 inches down for no freezing purposes. Thanks!

  6. #6
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    It should be under $100.00 for a service call. We charge $69.00 to show up.

    I imagine you still have some frost in the ground up there, so it could get costly to run new lines.

    It's always a possibility if the tank is buried, it has rusted through and that could be your leak. I have known people to bury a standard tank instead of the underground version. They don't hold up well in wet soil.

    bob...

  7. #7

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    Thanks again for the help. I still don't quite understand why anyone would bury a tank in the first place. Specifically for these reasons when it goes bad. I didn't realize they made different tanks that are meant to be buried. I guess I just thought they buried a regular tank and hoped for the best. The well is right in front of the garage just to the right of it. and the lines come in at the back wall/firewall of the garage and the utility room is right on the other side of the garage and that is were the hot water heater and furnace are as well as the pressure gauge and pressure switch. I would guess it wouldn't be anymore then 30 ft from the well to the back of the garage. They wouldn't run the lines under the garage floor before they poored the concrete would they? In order for me to tell exactly where the lines comes into the house at I may have to tear into some drywall which I was also hoping I would have to do. When I did get this house about 3 weeks ago the house had been sitting vacant for almost 8 months and everything had been winterized. Also thought it was weird the pressure switch cover was off of it and hadn't been put back on. Not sure if the guys that winterized the lines did that or not. Thanks!

  8. #8

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    I just recently replaced the pressure switch and gauge and as expected that did not correct the problem. One thing I noticed is that the pump gets up to 20 psi pretty quick, but then it really takes awhile (10 minutes or so) for it to get to 27 psi where it basically stops while the pump keeps running. Is there anyway I can tell if the leak is from the pitless adapter to the house (underground line) or if the leak is the black flexible line that is down in the well?? I really don't want to pull the pump and line from the well if the leak isn't in that line. Also the well is about 185 feet which I was hoping I could pull with me and a friend of mine. I know I have to screw something into the pitless adapter in order to pull the pump, but not sure what tool I need or can I make a tool that will do this?

  9. #9
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    You probably have the problem figured right with the leak being the #1 culprit. Hopefully you haven't nuked the pump somehow.

    There are too many pitless adaptors out there to tell you what tool you need, but usually it takes a 1" pipe thread either male or female to get ahold of it.

    The one way to check is listen at the pitless while the pump is running. If the leak is above the water line, you should hear it.

    bob...

  10. #10
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    If there is a leak and no tank, the pressure should go to zero almost immediately when you shut the pump off. If there is an extra check valve in the way, you might have to crack a faucet.

    If there is a leak in the pipe above the pump, the pump would operate at a flow rate that just keeps up with the leak, but never pumps any water from the well.

    A submersible with no pressure tank will either burn itself up or burst the pipe, or actuate the relief valve. Twenty-five psi is too low for the relief valve to operate.

    Do you know that the pressure gauge is any good? They rarely survive the winter, even if someone drained the system. They usually don't get the water out of the Bourdon tube.

  11. #11

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    Thanks for the help. I did replace the pressure switch and the pressure gauge. So both of them should be fine. The pump is a submersible and the well is 185 ft. The pressure tank I believe is buried as I have found the main line coming in the house and the tank is nowhere to be found. The well is only about 5 ft from the front of the garage and the line comes in the back wall of the garage. The only wierd thing is the line coming in is a 3/4 copper line. Maybe I'm wrong, but I always thought plastic line was ran underground and not copper. It could be though that the pressure tank is buried right beside the house were the line comes in because that whole side wall of the garage is underground anyway. Should I dig down 3 ft or so right beside the well and find where the line comes out to see if any leak is there first? I guess I'm just a little confused what to try first. My father believes the leak is more then likely in the line in the well as he said that line is just hanging and tends to move a little when the pump quicks on and off. The line in the ground normally doesnt shift much from what he said. Could I look down into the well with a flashlight and see what type of theading I will need if I decide to pull the pump?

  12. #12
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    If you have a buried tank, I would recommend replacing it with a tank you can see and service.


    bob...

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member abikerboy's Avatar
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    Hello
    Spoke to a friend of mine today who does well servicing. I happened to mention your problem, and he suggested replacing the pump. He said that a submersible pump is made up of stages, with each stage having its own impeller and impeller bowl. He said that most pumps out today, with some exceptions, use impellers made of a hard plastic called by a funny name (cant remember Lol!). Depending on the depth of your well, the pump could have anywhere from 6 sets of impellers all the way up to 20 or more. He says that as the pump ages and wears, these impellers can come apart one at a time. You wont notice the first few on a larger pump, but as each one fails, you will lose some capacity and pressure. Eventually, you only have a couple of sets pumping, and the unit will not build enough pressure to trip the shut off in the pressure switch. Something else that he said was common is for the splines to srip out of the shaft where the motor drives the pump head. He says that at first you may have plenty of water, but as pressure builds, the splines will slip, letting the motor turn without spinning the pump, and in turn not building the pressure to shut down the pump. Just a suggestion, and am only passing along info. Good luck!
    Rob

  14. #14
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Default Diagnostic Tests

    You can easily check to locate the problem.

    1. Make sure your pressure gauge is good.
    2. Shut off all water leaving the system.
    3. Connect a hose to a faucet and open the valve.
    4. Start the pump.
    5. Slowly close the valve to less than 1 GPM and watch the gauge.

    If you can't build up pressure, then the problem is in the pump or the pipe between the pump and the tank.
    A. Pump
    B. Pipe from pump to top
    C. Pipe from well to house

    If you can shut off the line at the well head and perform the test, you can eliminate C.

    If it's A or B you have to pull the pump.

    If the pump head is failed but the motor is good, you may be able to replace the pump head, which is usually the least expensive part. I know you can get Goulds pump heads to fit Franklin motors.

  15. #15
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I've found pumps running constantly for months. The folks always say... that's why the electric bill went up last spring, winter etc.. Running constantly says a serious leak or the pressure would rise to cut-out on the switch.

    Submersible pump motors are rated for continuous duty, meaning they can run constantly for a very long time. If they overheat, the thermal overload turns them off and when the motor cools, they turn on again. That will kill the motor eventually but, those that don't get hot because they are submersed, will run without getting very hot.

    Find your well. Remove the well cap and get your ear over the well and listen. If you hear water running/spraying, you've found the leak. That means the leak is above the water line in the well, a leak below it you won't hear.

    Usually the pitless will require a 1" male; a length of black iron or galvanized pipe threaded on both ends so you can screw one end into the pitless and a tee handle wider than the well casing on the other end; the length is whatever you need. Then you lift the handle and such. You have to be able to hold the weight of the water in the line, the line, cable and pump. If you have galvanized drop pipe, you won't be pulling it by hand. And at 180' IIRC, you'll want to stop and rest a few times so you need something to hold the stuff from falling down the well. And since there is a leak, which can be a broken fitting etc., you run the risk of it breaking off allowing things to fall down the well... then ya go fishin for "it".

    I suggest that this isn't a DIYer thing if you have not done it before or no one to help that has done it before. And although I have pulled poly tubing to 170' alone, that was when I was much younger and what I call dumb; after a few times and all but dropping stuff down customers' wells, I turned down pump jobs deeper than 100' and eventually bought a pump puller machine good for 500'+ and a drop pipe vise for the hand jobs. I used two 24" pipe wrenches on the drop pipe before I got the pipe vise. Now I'm old enough to miss the young and foolish times...
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