circuit breaker keeps throwing on well pump

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  #1  
Old 05-04-05, 03:28 PM
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circuit breaker keeps throwing on well pump

I'm not sure if this is the best spot for this post, but I figured it would be in the deep well forum or the electrical forum, so I've posted it in both.


My question is a two part inquirery:

1. I have a franklin pump system that I inheirited when I bought a house 9 months ago. This system is only about 6 years old. Recently, our pressure has been dropping to nothing, and after inspection, I found that the 30 amp dbl. pole breaker was tripping. The tripping occurs about a dozen times every 24 hours (If you care to continually throw it back on), and there's really no rhyme or reason for when it will throw. Sometimes it's 4 hours before it throws and sometimes it's 5 minutes before it throws. Sometimes it throws if the pumps running, and sometimes it throws even if the pump has been still for hours.
I've eliminated the breaker as the culprit, because I changed it today and it threw about an hour later. In narrowing the problem down: It either has to be the buried wire (which I am highly suspicious of, because the guy we bought this place from just used plain romex to bury), pressure switch?, control box?, or the pump itself?. Is there a likely suspect? Or maybe one that is more likely a culprit within the descriptions I've listed?
Tommorrow I plan to bypass the buried romex with a new temporary wire just make sure the romex, (that is buried), is'nt the problem. If the temporary wire still allows the breaker to blow (eliminating suspicion of white romex being degraded under ground), then where would you go next in evaluating this problem?

2. Second question is: If I decide to call someone to figure this out; who is more proficient in this area that I should call. A deep well installer or electrican?

Thanks In advance,

JW
 
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  #2  
Old 05-04-05, 05:52 PM
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I would say the bearings in the pump are bad. or you have something in the pump.
I would check to see if you can turn the pump by hand smoothly.
It may be cheaper to change the bearings before you burn-up the motor.
 
  #3  
Old 05-04-05, 06:00 PM
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If the previous owner buried plain NM type cable then you have a serious problem. This cable will eventually fail. It could possibly be the source of the breaker tripping. If this is the case, start digging.

If however, he used proper UF cable then it should be okay. Look elsewhere for the problem.
 
  #4  
Old 05-04-05, 06:26 PM
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I'd go ahead and try your test,

this will eliminate the underground cable as a suspect. Based on the results of your test...if it's in the well area I'd call a the well guy, if it's the cable then an electrician, although you can probably tackle this yourself. (Even if it's good now, you may want to plan on replacing it later on for your own peace of mind.)

Just make sure that you use the correct size wire for the test, as too small a wire will cause the motor to try and pull more current due to the reduced voltage at the end of the cable...which will trip the breaker.

Some other ideas: Does this system have more than one motor on the breaker? such as a submersible motor in the wellhead and another above ground for a pressure tank or filter setup? maybe try to isolate the motors and see if one or the other trips the breaker or if both running together do?

Also a through visual inspection for loose or corroded connections, burned contacts on the pressure switch, if possible, carefully remove the motor's electrical cover plate and look there for problems too, inside the pressure switch, etc.

Maybe look for any strange/unusual wiring arrangements, stuff that just doesn't look right. Does the pump run for extended periods of time? (Leak somewhere?) I'm not an expert in this area, but not all pump motors are designed for continous operation.

Are the filters (if any) clean? This will make the motor work harder...and try to draw more current...which could trip the breaker.

I used to live in an area with a high sand content, I'd end up replacing pumps every 3-4 years anyway.

Hope this helps!
 
  #5  
Old 05-04-05, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
If the previous owner buried plain NM type cable then you have a serious problem. This cable will eventually fail. It could possibly be the source of the breaker tripping. If this is the case, start digging.

If however, he used proper UF cable then it should be okay. Look elsewhere for the problem.

I'm assuming the wire in the ground is'nt proper based on it's color (white),
or is there direct burial cable that is'nt neccessarily grey all the time and could be white?
 
  #6  
Old 05-04-05, 06:39 PM
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Do not base your assessment of the wire based on color. Examine the wire where it is visible.

NM type cable has a paper lining to the sheathing, and the individual wires are loose in the sheathing.

UF type cable is all plastic, there is no paper. The wires are also not loose in the sheathing.

You can also look for the type of wire to be printed on it, although it may be hard to read..
 
  #7  
Old 05-04-05, 06:41 PM
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by Desy2820
this will eliminate the underground cable as a suspect. Based on the results of your test...if it's in the well area I'd call a the well guy, if it's the cable then an electrician, although you can probably tackle this yourself. (Even if it's good now, you may want to plan on replacing it later on for your own peace of mind.)

Just make sure that you use the correct size wire for the test, as too small a wire will cause the motor to try and pull more current due to the reduced voltage at the end of the cable...which will trip the breaker.

Some other ideas: Does this system have more than one motor on the breaker? such as a submersible motor in the wellhead and another above ground for a pressure tank or filter setup? maybe try to isolate the motors and see if one or the other trips the breaker or if both running together do?

Also a through visual inspection for loose or corroded connections, burned contacts on the pressure switch, if possible, carefully remove the motor's electrical cover plate and look there for problems too, inside the pressure switch, etc.

Maybe look for any strange/unusual wiring arrangements, stuff that just doesn't look right. Does the pump run for extended periods of time? (Leak somewhere?) I'm not an expert in this area, but not all pump motors are designed for continous operation.

Are the filters (if any) clean? This will make the motor work harder...and try to draw more current...which could trip the breaker.

I used to live in an area with a high sand content, I'd end up replacing pumps every 3-4 years anyway.

Hope this helps!
After reading some of the other post, I'm beginning to lean more to the side of pump related problems as being the cause. I too live in a very sandy area; and as much as I know regular romex wire should'nt be directly buried, I feel that 6 years would'nt be enough to break it down yet. I hav'nt run a temp yet to clarify this........but I bet it won't make any differance......but it should be changed. Thanks for the input
 
  #8  
Old 05-04-05, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
Do not base your assessment of the wire based on color. Examine the wire where it is visible.

NM type cable has a paper lining to the sheathing, and the individual wires are loose in the sheathing.

UF type cable is all plastic, there is no paper. The wires are also not loose in the sheathing.

You can also look for the type of wire to be printed on it, although it may be hard to read..
It is hard to read. I'll use your other method. Thanks!
 
  #9  
Old 05-04-05, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by GWIZ
I would say the bearings in the pump are bad. or you have something in the pump.
I would check to see if you can turn the pump by hand smoothly.
It may be cheaper to change the bearings before you burn-up the motor.
Thanks GWIZ. I'll have to leave this one for the "well guy" though if it goes past the buried cable not being the culprit. This is the first well I've ever had and have never even seen these pumps, much less know about how to go about getting to them to test. I could just start taking the puzzle apart but I'm afraid I'd screw something up. Thanks for the advice though.......I'm beginning to believe you could be right about the pump itself.
 
  #10  
Old 05-04-05, 06:57 PM
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If the circuit breaker is triping without the pump running then the pump is not the culprit. I would lean toward the wiring or the pressure switch.
 
  #11  
Old 05-05-05, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Sparky-L.U.697
If the circuit breaker is triping without the pump running then the pump is not the culprit. I would lean toward the wiring or the pressure switch.
Yea...., I thought about that last night after my last post. Actually it never breaks off when the pump runs. It just breaks off while sitting inactive. I hav'nt had the chance to run a new, clean temp wire to rule out the romex in the ground, because it's pouring here in GA. all day today. I hope that ends up being the culprit, because I have a lot of 10-2 direct burial on hand.

You mentioned the pressure switch as possibly being faulty. In spite of it working properly, as in turning the pump on and off as it should (which it does), could there still be a problem relating to it that throws the breaker?
 
  #12  
Old 05-05-05, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
Do not base your assessment of the wire based on color. Examine the wire where it is visible.

NM type cable has a paper lining to the sheathing, and the individual wires are loose in the sheathing.

UF type cable is all plastic, there is no paper. The wires are also not loose in the sheathing.

You can also look for the type of wire to be printed on it, although it may be hard to read..
Racraft,

I just checked the wire buried in the ground for anything written on it. It is white, but is all plastic on the inside (no paper). Written on the wire is
UF-B- sunlight resistant wire. Would this wire be suitable for direct burial?
 
  #13  
Old 05-05-05, 11:03 AM
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UF-B is suitable for direct burial. What size are the conductors, and how long is the run?
 
  #14  
Old 05-05-05, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft
UF-B is suitable for direct burial. What size are the conductors, and how long is the run?
It's a 10 gauge wire that runs about 110 ft.

UPDATE:
Since my last post, I ran the temp wire (also some 10 gauge) above ground and the breaker has NOT tripped for almost an hour. I think that's a good sign
because it's been tripping all day at a rate of every 5 minutes. The UF-B wire in the ground may be damaged. Time will tell though. If I can get through 24 hours without incident, then it's going to be the wire. Thanks for all the help.
No news will be good news!
 
  #15  
Old 05-05-05, 04:53 PM
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Do yourself a favor, and use larger wire that 10 gage. Voltage drop becomes an issue and you would be best to avoid it. I would go 8 gage.
 
  #16  
Old 05-07-05, 03:58 PM
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Why 8? Its on a 30 for startup and I doubt it is 3 hp, probably 1 or so, maybe 1 1/2. Its probably already a size larger than it needs to be.
 
  #17  
Old 05-07-05, 07:06 PM
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The #10 wire is probably more than adequate unless you have an extremely deep well. If the wire (usually yellow) going into the well is #10, you're probably OK. One other thing you might want to do before calling the pump man (assuming it's still giving you problems after replacing the underground) is replace the capacitor. When you say it sometimes trips without running, maybe it has tied to start and hasn't due to a bad capacitor.
You should be able to get one at any motor re-wind shop for less than $5. Just match up what you have in the control. It's a lot cheaper than calling the pump man and if it doesn't help, at least you now have a spare (since bad caps are a common problem with wells).
 
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