carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
12/5/21 11:53 p.m.

I hadn't paid attention but my water pressure gradually declined and then my wife starting talking about how high our electric bill was.

During the heat of the summer I run water into my ponds non stop and that makes the bills go up, but I hadn't done that for a couple of months and the bills didn't drop.  I finally checked the holding tank in the garage and realized that pump never went off. It was running 24/7 so I suspected welded points on the pressure switch.  They use 4 contact points just like in a car's distributor and apparently no one has made an electronic one.  I replaced it and it still didn't ever switch off nor would it go above 40 psi.

 

My pump is 15 years old and I was worried that the impeller might have worn out and that was why I couldn't full pressure.  Day by day I'd get about 1 psi less pressure.

 

I wondered if the bladder in my pressure tank might have ruptured and did a little searching on YouTube and found an easy way to test and sure enough it was gone.  Pumping more air pressure in the tank improved the pressure but I knew I had to replace it.

 

Then I stumbled upon a chance comment under one of the videos that said to check the check valve as that could allow water to just flow back into the well.

 

So for those of you with wells, have you ever had either of these go out and did it destroy your water pressure?  Is there any hope I won't have to replace the pump too?  $2,000+

No one has large tanks in stock at the moment, II need 80 gallons and all I've found has been 20 gallons so I've ordered one online and it's going to take more than a week to arrive.

 

The check valve is on the well head and is a pain to get to, but I intend to try to find one of those too.  I'm worried that it will be a much bigger size than I can find at my local big box store but I won't know till I can dismantle the bird bath that is covering the well head on Monday.

 

 

old_
old_ HalfDork
12/6/21 12:21 a.m.

So the pump runs constantly? Pressure switch never turns off? Sounds like either the pump is going out and not able to build enough pressure to satisfy the pressure switch or there is a leak in the system somewhere. If you have a large enough leak in the system it won't come up to pressure and shut off the pressure switch. 

Kill power to the pump and watch the pressure gauge. If you have a leak you will lose pressure. If no leak (and check valve is good) the pressure will hold steady. If pressure holds it's probably the pump is going out. If pressure falls you probably have a leak. 

If it was just a bad check valve the pump would run, tank comes up to pressure, pressure switch would turn off, tank would bleed down, pressure switch would turn back on. You would notice the pressure switch turning on and off constantly. 

 

CJ
CJ Dork
12/6/21 12:31 a.m.

We had a well when I was a kid that started picking up sand.  It eroded the impeller on the pump so much it wasn't pumping much water. 

I have lived in a couple of places with wells and the most I ever did was to replace the impeller and reseal the pump body while putting it back together.  My neighbor's pump went completely south and he had the motor rewound and the pressure switch replaced and he was back in business.

I would check that the pipe(s) into the well are watertight, that foot/check valve is operational, the pressure tank is good.  Might also be good to check the pressure at the well head and make sure any filters in the system are clear.

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
12/6/21 11:23 p.m.

So no one has a well and had issues with it?

old_  That's basically the quesion I was asking, could the busted diaphragm & or a bad check valve cause it not to build pressure, hoping it wasn't the pump itself.  New pump $2,000+ whereas check valve is probably $20ish and new pressure tank (which I now is bad) is $350-$450.

old_
old_ HalfDork
12/9/21 3:12 a.m.

In reply to carguy123 :

Is this is a submersible pump in a drilled well? 

If the check valve or the tank are bad the well would still come up to pressure and turn off (assuming the pump is still good).

Typically if you have a bad tank the pressure switch will cycle on/off rapidly when you use water. After water is turned off the pump would still come up to pressure then turn off. Constant on/off cycling is really hard on the pump. If you do have a bad tank and you have been running it this way for awhile you may have burned up the pump.

If you have a bad check valve the pump would fill tank to pressure, switch would turn off, tank would bleed water back down into the well, pump would turn on and refill tank up to pressure then turn off, tank would bleed back down.... This would repeat constantly even with no water being used in the house. 

You probably either have a constant leak somewhere (could be anywhere after the check valve) or the pump is weak and not able to build enough pressure so satisfy the switch.

Is the diaphragm in your tank ruptured (if you push the air valve and water comes out)? A lot of the time the tank is just low on air. Shut off the well and drain the water out of the tank. With the tank empty check the air pressure. You want to set it 2psi less than the low cut in point of the pressure switch. 28psi for a 30-50 switch, 58psi for 40-60 switch, etc. If the tank is completely waterlogged (water comes out the air valve) or if it won't hold air then it will need to be replaced. 

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
12/9/21 7:45 a.m.

We built our house almost 8 years ago and had to drill our well. 700' later and NO WATER! The well driller gave us the option of blasting or fracking to try and open up an aquifer. We opted for blasting as it was cheaper and less risk of pumping unknown chemicals/substances into our well area. So, to the house came the "explosives expert" and his truck full of fun stuff. He "blew" the well with 50# of dynamite and blasting caps. VOILA, we have water!

 

Fast forward a few days and the well drillers guys came back to set 620' of pipe and a 2HP pump. Once hooked up, we had lots of water, great pressure and a quick recovery rate. Unfortunately, while doing clean-up at the build site I noticed a big loss of pressure and flow rate. I called the driller who came out and decided to have his guys pull the pump. Once the raised 620' of pipe, wiring and the pump, it was discovered the pump screen was plugged up. Turns out the blaster dude used a non-water soluble blasting cap which screwed up the pump. Since it was new and I was worried about motor and impeller damage, I demanded that  it was replaced and then I had them "flood and flush" the whole well in an attempt to remove any of the residual caps still in the well casing. 
 

Depending on how deep your well is, you can take the time to pull all the plumbing/wiring to get to the pump and check it.  It's not easy for a homeowner without a rig, but I watched them do it and I think I can do it with an A-frame set-up, a winch and a pipe vise. Ours is crazy deep here in PA, but in FL, they dug the damn thing by hand!

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
12/9/21 1:00 p.m.

I have a well and it has worked since we moved here nearly 20 years ago.  I did replace the pressure tank once.  I forget why.  The guy who services my iron removal unit says the lifespan of a well pump is around 15-20 years, and that I should figure around $2500 to replace it.  So I have to find a balance between the cheapskate in me that doesn't want to spend that kind of money before something breaks, and the wrath and abuse I will be subjected to if/when it does break and my wife and children have no water for a week or however long it takes to get one and get it installed. 

 

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
12/9/21 1:53 p.m.

Had a well issue at my grandparents house that migth have evidenced similarly, but we had a pump protection box that tripped. 

 

Ours turned out to be the galvanized steel piping in the well corroding just above the pump. A pea sized hole in the pipe hundreds and hundreds of feet down. We had a very very deep well, I cant recall how deep. ( I wanna say 1200ft?) The well guys assistant was sick or had quit or something, so we got a discount for me helping the guy pull the pump. It was a rather long day. We wound up replacing the lower 2/3rd of the piping with PVC as I recall.

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
12/9/21 2:11 p.m.

I had a customer with the problem Apexcarver said.   Hole in the well pipe above the pump.  

Many submersive wells have an hole drilled on purpose in the pipe just a few feet down inside the casing.  Its a very small hole.  It is there so when the pump stops, and the check valve closes, the water in the pipe from the check valve back to that hole can then drain out and back down the casing.   The purpose is so the next time the pump comes on a load of air will be pushed into the tank, so as to maintain an air supply in the tank.   The drilled hole is so small it does not affect the pump being able to fill the tank up to regulator pressure.

But... if the hole gets too large, or another hole forms in the pipe, you will not get up to cut-off pressure even with a good pump.  e.g. my customer's situation.

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/9/21 4:59 p.m.

My well is a sandpoint and it has plugged twice on me in 14 years, which results in a loss of water pressure and other strangeness. Check valves are usually pretty reliable because they are self cleaning. Try jetting the well out with a pressure washer and a jetter tip. Cheap and easy, but maybe no practical if your well is too deep. 

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
12/9/21 8:46 p.m.

It is a submersible pump 125isf feet deep.

 

There are no leaks.  Once in the tank the pressure holds.  I know the diaphragm in the tank is busted and I have picked up a new tank which I will put in tomorrow.

 

I didn't know about the small hole in the pipe near the top, that could be why someone told me a bad check valve could cause water to return to the well and not build pressure.  I bought a new check valve today $26 and I will replace that before I replace the tank to see what effect it has.  I'll still have to replace the tank.

 

Lowes has my pump for $525 so I'm thinking $2,200 to replace my pump is excessive.  I'm not sure how to begin pulling the pipe in the well, I just know that I don't remove the 3 bolts in the top metal plate as that will cause the whole thing to fall.

I'm going to try to find some videos of pulling the pump to see if it's something I can do.  It sounds straight forward and as long as you don't drop it then you'd be OK.  I'm guessing I'd need to replace all of the downpipe?  One of the $2,200 people I called said that wasn't necessary, but it's PVC so the torquing of the motor would seem to me to weaken the pipe over time

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
12/9/21 9:15 p.m.

Pulling the pump generally involves a specialty truck with hydraulic lifting apparatus.  At least for the well stuff I have ever done and assisted.   Not diy.

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
12/9/21 9:56 p.m.

No problem with PVC pipe if it is schedule 40 or better.   Probably better in the long run than steel pipe.  Doesn't rust.  Lighter in weight, easier to lift.  Less expensive.

I have seen over 100' of PVC pulled out to change a pump without breaking it into sections, just one big arch out into the yard.  wink

Steel pipe, you need to un-screw each ~20 foot section as it comes out.  Easier with a truck that has a vertical gantry on the rear with winches and pulleys.

When pulling it you need to be able to clamp the pipe as each length comes to the surface, especially if you are lifting by hand, so you can take a breather.  Many old-timers just use a pipe wrench to lock it in place.

YMMV

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/9/21 10:27 p.m.

125 Feet and a $500 pump sounds like a 4 inch turbine pump. They dont weigh much and would most likely have a PVC discharge pipe.  With one person helping you should be able to drag the whole thing out. Have a rope handy to throw a couple wraps around if you need a breather.

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
12/9/21 11:47 p.m.

In reply to bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) :

It is a 4" pump, I don't know bout no turbines.  Didn't Chrysler make a few cars with them thangs way back in the 60's

 

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
12/10/21 7:35 a.m.

When watching the well guys remove the 620' of PVC pipe from out well, they did use a rig, but the smaller tools were pretty simple. They pulled one section up, when the bell/female end of the pipe was exposed, they put a pipe vise below the threaded area, tightened it, put a small metal piece that grabbed the pipe on and lowered the whole thing until the vise rested on top of the casing. They would unscrew the length, , lower the boom, and repeat and repeat and repeat. I think that with my skidsteer, I could pull mine with one other person helping. If you had access to a piece of equipment, mini excavator, backhoe, skid loader or even an a-frame with overhead winch, I think it can be done DIY. The biggest fear would be making an OOPS and having it fall back in the hole. I haven't figured that one out yet. 
 

This is the type of pipe/yoke vise they used.

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
12/10/21 12:21 p.m.

I have a tractor with a front blade I could use to attach it.  I'm replacing the check valve now.  I'm having to wait for the water to all drain off so I came in to check the internetz.

 

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
12/18/21 1:57 p.m.

SOLUTION:

 

Well a busted check valve and a busted diaphragm in your pressure tank CAN MIMIC A FAILING PUMP.

 

The check valve had a busted spring which somehow caused the pump never to turn off.  When I replaced that the pump would go up to about 32 psi and then cut off.

 

When I replaced the pressure tank it would go up to 60 psi and then shut off.  While that is a normal tank pressure I've dropped it to 50 psi because I discovered in my water troubles that 45-50 psi is quite enough and that reduces wear on the pump so it should last longer. 

 

The companies that wanted to  replace the pump also said we'd need to replace the check valve and pressure tank so they'd have been happy to take credit for the pump replacement solving the problems.  So this saved me over $2,000.  Hopefully this will save one of you with a well some serious money in the future.

 

Interestingly all the plumbing diagrams showed the check valve to be just before the pressure tank and mine is at the well head.  On my next house that's what I'm going to do.

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
1/5/22 11:59 a.m.

This thread alerted me to the fact that my well pump was cycling all too frequently. I'm checking the well tank now, but the manifold has no drain on it. I drained it down from the nearest faucet, but that's above the level of the bottom of the tank, so I'm sure there's still water in there. When I checked the Schraeder valve there was zero pressure. I bumped it up to 25psi and opened the faucet again, which naturally started flowing. Do I just keep doing this to push as much water out as possible, then set the proper pressure? Is there any danger of damaging the diaphragm?

Another thing I've noticed is that the gauge on the manifold registers changes in pressure, but it does not drop below ~36psi, even with no air pressure in the tank. With the well pump shut off and system open, this makes no sense to me. Bad gauge, or am I missing something?

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
1/5/22 6:00 p.m.

Sounds to me like your diaphragm is already damaged.  If you are at zero pressure and there's still water in the tank then it is above the diaphragm.  Adding air pressure forces it through the tear and back into the tank - or at least it did on mine.  Frequent cycling is the first telltale of a busted diaphragm I've learned.

Mine is holding pressure well now, just not as much as it used to do.  I replaced my tank, check valve at the well and added a check valve by the tank.  The check valve being busted could also cause it to cycle frequently as your tank won't hold pressure.  The spring was busted in mine

 

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
1/5/22 8:27 p.m.

My understanding was that, if the diaphragm was breached, there would be water at the Schraeder valve - I had none. I aired it up to 36psi (I checked the gauge low and high, and low was 38psi) and it seems better. I'll be monitoring it over the next few days to see what happens. FWIW, the tank is 15 years old, and this is the first time this has happened, so if the diaphragm is intact, I wouldn't be entirely surprised that miniscule loss of air pressure over that time finally took it down to nothing.

old_
old_ HalfDork
1/5/22 10:31 p.m.

Tanks can slowly lose air over time, small schrader valve leak, etc. 

 

To properly set the air pressure the tank needs to be empty of all water. It is possible there is not enough air in the tank to push out all the water. Kill power to the pump, open the lowest faucet, keep adding air until the water stops running out of the faucet.  Once the water is pushed out of the tank you can then set your air pressure. It should be set two psi less than the pressure switch cut in setting (30-50 switch, set pressure 28psi. 40-60 switch, set pressure to 38psi, etc). You must check the air pressure with the tank empty of all water. If there is water in the tank your air pressure will not be accurate and your tank capacity will be diminished.

 

If the gauge never drops to zero it needs to be replaced. It's pretty common for the gauges to stop working, they are cheap. 

 

If you end up needing a new tank you should get the largest tank that will fit. The larger the tank the less on/off cycling your pump will experience. Your pump will last longer with a larger tank. Alternatively you could switch to a dole valve "constant pressure" system. Check it out-https://cyclestopvalves.com

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
1/6/22 9:13 a.m.

I'm pretty sure I got all the water out of the tank - I could hear air getting pushed into the pipes. I'll look into getting a new gauge.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) Reader
1/7/22 10:50 a.m.

I'm fighting well problems right now too.  Pressure was cycling too high and too low quickly.  Long story short - the little 1/4" pipe to the switch was plugged and the pressure was getting up to 80lbs, down to about 10lbs.  At which point the pressure gauge started leaking.  And the diaphragm in the tank seems to be kaput since my drawdown was about a gallon before adding some air.  I did clean the pipe out so the pressures are sane but my immediate solution is to turn the well switch off when I leave to go camping tomorrow...

Possibly Useful:   After a google search yesterday I found the local Farm Fleet has Flotec tanks in stock for reasonable $$.  Farm supply stores seem to be the best bet around here for tanks.

carguy123
carguy123 UltimaDork
1/7/22 11:47 p.m.

I got mine from Lowes.  It was an 86 gallon one with no waiting as they had 4 in stock.

I reamed my little pipe out too and found very little rust in it plus no blockage.

My water began working well again after adding check valve, replacing big check valve and replacing tank, but . . .

 

I had issues with the water pressure still being low, but I did get the pressure switch adjusted so that it would turn off most of the time.  It took quite a while to come up to full pressure so we began switching the breaker off during times when usage was low and then suddenly it began to generate high pressures again and filling back up quickly.  I haven't a clue why, or rather the only thing I can think of is that possibly, somehow it was running off of 110 instead of 220 and now it's getting 220??????????  I don't know I'm just pulling stuff out of the ether because I've checked all the places conventional wisdom and the internet have said to check

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