Emergency Generator, Transfer Switch & Well Pump

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  #1  
Old 10-10-11, 10:11 AM
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Emergency Generator, Transfer Switch & Well Pump

I wired a 5K watt generator to a 6-circuit transfer switch, and used 2 circuits for the well pump. I tried to run the well pump off the generator power just to make sure all worked well... after staring up the generator, and moving the transfer swith to "Gen" on the panel, I turned on a faucet to run the water and force the pressure to drop. When the pressure hit 40psi I could hear the pump "click" on and the generator engine strain slightly. The watt meter on the transfer switch shows the well pump is drawing current (from both sides). The problem is that the pressure tank doesn't seem to be running, the water pressure is not coming back up to 60psi before cutting out... When running off the main house power I can hear the continuous clicking of the pressure tank as it brings the pressure back up to 60psi. On the generator power I cannot hear that same clicking and the pressure does not increase at all, but yet the watt meter shows power being pulled by the well pump and the engine is straining a bit. What is going on here? Could the pressure tank be running off a separate circuit? None of the labels on the circuit panel indicate such...
 
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  #2  
Old 10-10-11, 10:18 AM
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Hi,

Are you sure your pump is 220v?

You did not specify what type of pump you have. What does the breaker or breakers say for the pump and how many breakers? Single, Dual?

What are the specs on the pump? Volts? Amps?

We can start there but we need more info to help.

Mike NJ
 
  #3  
Old 10-10-11, 10:41 AM
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Hi, I see a label on the pressure tank that says "this label identifies the Franklin submersible motor used in the well" and indicates as follows: 1/2HP, 230 Volts, 5.0 AMP, S.F. Max AMP 6.0, SF 1.6. I also see "KVA Code R Cont. Duty." In the electric panel there is a double breaker for the well pump circuit.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 10:54 AM
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When running off the main house power I can hear the continuous clicking of the pressure tank as it brings the pressure back up to 60psi. On the generator power I cannot hear that same clicking and the pressure does not increase at all, but yet the watt meter shows power being pulled by the well pump and the engine is straining a bit.
I would say first thing to check is the pressure in the tank. You should not have constant clicking. The pump may be cycling because of this, and you may burn things out.

Turn off all power to the well and open a faucet to relieve all pressure. Check the air in the well tank. It should have 3-5 psi less then the cut in pressure. So if you have a 40-60 psi pressure switch the tank pressure should be set at about 35 psi.

Add air with a air pump if needed, then turn it back on.

Test that and post back.

Mike NJ
 
  #5  
Old 10-10-11, 10:59 AM
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The problem is that the pressure tank doesn't seem to be running,
The pressure tank is a passive device that does not "run". It uses no electricity. There may be wired control devices on the tank but the wires are only for the control device.

but yet the watt meter shows power being pulled by the well pump and the engine is straining a bit.
How many watts? How far is the cable run to the pump? What size wire? Have you verified you have ~240v at the pump when the pump is running? Are your testing with no other loads?



Your problem seems to be the pump.
 
  #6  
Old 10-10-11, 11:46 AM
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How many watts?
1/2HP, 230 Volts, 5.0 AMP, S.F. Max AMP 6.0
What do you think? I would say 1400 watts or so running?

Mike NJ
 
  #7  
Old 10-10-11, 12:43 PM
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I checked the wires on the pressure control switch with my voltmeter, and I'm getting 120v on only one side when powered by the generator... the other side is at 2v when it should be 120v as well.... so somehow I'm not getting 120v to both sides which is causing the problem I assume. I will check and re-check all my connections at the transfer switch, maybe there is a bad connection inside a wire nut. Also, the watt meters on the transfer swith are both showing about 1400 watts with the water pump being the only circuit on.
 
  #8  
Old 10-10-11, 01:00 PM
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Sounds like the connection in the panal you made may be wrong. You use both legs of the breaker for the well pump.

And for the transfer switch I believe you must use the two center breakers on the transfer switch.

Mike NJ
 
  #9  
Old 10-10-11, 01:03 PM
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Connections are all good... not sure if this is the problem, but the 240v circuit "double" breaker in the main panel had a black wire to one 120v and a white wire to the other 120v (these are both leading to the same cable that runs out of the panel, I assume the white is used as a hot wire for the double breaker). When installing the transfer switch, the instructions said to replace each wire originally attached to the water pump breaker with the Red wire from the transfer switch, and then use wire nuts to connect black from transfer swith to original black, and the other is black to white.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 01:06 PM
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Yes the two center breakers "C" and "D" are connected together with a metal tab, and I used wires "C" and "D" to attach to the 240v breaker on the panel.... If I'm getting 240v to the water pump when using normal power, the connections must be fine correct? Why would it drop to 120v when using the generator?
 
  #11  
Old 10-10-11, 01:16 PM
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Have you checked that you are getting 240V from the generator into the Transfer switch? You might have a problem between the Transfer switch and generator.
 
  #12  
Old 10-10-11, 01:44 PM
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Ok, think I found the culprit. One of the 120v push button fuses on the generator itself was popped out... I pushed it back in and then plugged the cord in, and the engine was seriously strained for about 2 seconds before that same fuse popped out again... so that is why I'm only getting 120v into the transfer switch and not 240v.

Could this be a bad fuse on the generator? I would think a 5000 watt generator could handle the well pump with no other load whatsoever... Or is the generator not large enough???

Thanks for all the help!!!
 
  #13  
Old 10-10-11, 01:46 PM
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Yes how are you getting power to the transfer switch?

Is there a 4 slot outlet on the gen that says 120/240 v???

And waht is the make and model transfer switch?

I think you may have something wired wrong. The gen should power the pump.


Generic instructions from reliance.com

For 240-volt circuits, remove the two branch circuit conductors from the selected circuit breaker in the load center( You said white and black) and attach both of these wires with wire connectors to the two selected doublepole branch circuit breaker wires from the transfer panel. ( You said two red? These should go to the two center breakers on transfer switch.)


Mike NJ
 
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Old 10-10-11, 01:54 PM
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but the 240v circuit "double" breaker in the main panel had a black wire to one 120v and a white wire to the other 120v
No, there is no 120v supply to a 240v breaker, only the two sides of the 240v that your house is supplied with. The white wire at the breaker should have been recolored black or red (or any color but white, green, gray). You may have been confused by that mistake by the original installer who did not recolor the white. Think of that wire as red. Now go back and recheck your connections thinking of the wire as red.

I agree with Belgarid, I think you are only getting 120v to the pump. I think you misidentified the white wire on the breaker as a neutral when it was really a hot. As suggested check the voltage at the pump breaker. Is it 240v?

and then use wire nuts to connect black from transfer swith to original black, and the other is black to white.
That sounds wrong if by white they/you mean neutral.

Can you post some pictures of your connections? http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...your-post.html
 
  #15  
Old 10-10-11, 02:03 PM
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yes the generator has a 4 slot outlet, and I have a cord that came with the transfer switch (reliance 6-circuit 3006HDK) running from the generator to the inlet box I mounted on the side of the house... then orange 10/3 wire from the inlet box to the transfer switch... then all of the red/black wires from the transfer switch into the panel.

My connections are all good, and I can get 240v to the well pump from the generator for about 2 seconds before the push button fuse on the generator pops...
 
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Old 10-10-11, 02:08 PM
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yes I'll take some pictures and post hopefully later tonight...
 
  #17  
Old 10-10-11, 02:12 PM
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Have you tested that you have 240V at the transfer switch using volt meter without any of the transfer switches set to generator? Just because the generator bogs down for 2 seconds when you reset the breaker does not mean you are getting 240V to the pump.

Can you post some pictures of the transfer switch and load center were you made the connections?
 
  #18  
Old 10-10-11, 02:14 PM
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To verify your wiring is correct:

The red wire marked "C" from the transfer switch should go to one side of the double-pole well pump breaker in your main panel.

The red wire marked "D" should go to the other side of the DP breaker in the main panel.

The black wire marked "C" should go to the black wire that exits out to the well pump.

The black wire marked "D" should go to the white wire that exits out to the well pump.

If this wiring is correct, and the generator still will not power the pump without popping the push-in breaker, then either that breaker is bad or the generator is not large enough to start this pump.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 02:16 PM
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I can get 240v to the well pump from the generator for about 2 seconds before the push button fuse on the generator pops...
Do you mean GFCI or breaker or a combined GFCI breaker.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 02:25 PM
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I have the same switch.

Here are the instructions for reference.

http://www.reliancecontrols.com/Docu...%20English.pdf

Are you using the cord as is. or did you have to put the 20 amp connector on one end? Possibly if you put the 20 amp end on it may be wired incorrectly.

The two red wires from C and D transfer switch go to the well breaker. Is that correct?

The two black wires that should of been removed from the well breaker should go to the C and D labled black wires and tie with a wirenut. Is this correct? ( But you said one is white???)

Above is on page 8.

Remember working with electricity is dangerous. Take and and all saftey precautions.

Follow the electrician pros advice.

Mike NJ
 

Last edited by lawrosa; 10-10-11 at 02:28 PM. Reason: I was typing when the pros were answering. I will let them follow up, since I am not an electrician.
  #21  
Old 10-10-11, 03:15 PM
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I'm using the cord "as is" with the #30 plug (L14-30 I think it is). I did not use the #20 plug that was in the box.

I will go test to see if I get 240v at the transfer switch with all switches in the "Line" position... if not then I will recheck all wires and take some pictures. The only other spot for wiring that could have gone wrong I guess would be the inlet box, I had to connect the orange 10/3 wire to the back of the 4-slot inlet plug. Maybe one of those connections isn't correct? The white went into the "W" slot, and I put the red into "X" and the black into "Y".
 
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Old 10-10-11, 03:30 PM
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x, I had to connect the orange 10/3 wire to the back of the 4-slot inlet plug. Maybe one of those connections isn't correct? The white went into the "W" slot, and I put the red into "X" and the black into "Y".
That is correct.

..................
 
  #23  
Old 10-10-11, 03:45 PM
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oh boy... opened up the transfer switch box to find black residue around the conduit that all of the black and red wires use to exit the box and go over to the panel... the underside of the transfer switch box was also covered with black residue... there was a strong smell of an electrical fire. I cannot see any particular wire that looks cut or burned, and that portion of the transfer switch was preassembled, I didn't mess with any of that... what could have caused this? I have checked and rechecked the connections and it all looks good. Maybe one of the wires is cut and exposed somewhere?

Here is a photo, hopefully the link works...

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  #24  
Old 10-10-11, 04:03 PM
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The ring to the clamp connector is what burned up, it was basically melted... only half of it remained...

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Old 10-10-11, 05:06 PM
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It looks like you had arcing when you were running off the generator. The wires feeding the pump would be the same if on line or generator so those would not be the problem. Also, the power lines from the main panel would have been fine since you did not have a problem when running on line current. It looks like the connections are correct in the transfer panel for the generator.

Can you post a pic of the wiring on the inlet?

One other thing to try, disconnect the generator lines from the transfer switch and test the voltages on the individual conductors in the cable coming from the generator.
 
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Old 10-10-11, 05:12 PM
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Yes, the nut burnt through due to a direct short to ground. Most likely a fault in the red wire. The burnt wire and the nut need to be replaced.
 
  #27  
Old 10-10-11, 05:19 PM
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I am wondering if he doesn't have one of the hots from the generator connected to the ground in the Transfer panel and the arcing was from the transfer panel itself to the metal armor cable leading to the main panel and ground.

If it was one of the lines in the armor cable it would have arced as soon as he applied line power. IMOP
 
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Old 10-10-11, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by belgarid View Post
I am wondering if he doesn't have one of the hots from the generator connected to the ground in the Transfer panel and the arcing was from the transfer panel itself to the metal armor cable leading to the main panel and ground.

If it was one of the lines in the armor cable it would have arced as soon as he applied line power. IMOP
That makes sense but I couldn't see anything in the pictures.

Wgramer as suggested you need to check you haven't got a neutral or ground with a hot. Earlier you wrote about connecting a black to a white and I replied that sounded wrong.

and then use wire nuts to connect black from transfer swith to original black, and the other is black to white.
That sounds wrong if by white they/you mean neutral
 
  #29  
Old 10-10-11, 05:41 PM
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I removed the entire transfer switch, disconnected everything... I wanted to get a closer look at the armored cable connector... here are some pictures. In the picture "5107" you can see one of the red wires (the "B" wire) with a black spot on it, that is a burn mark and the wire coating is melted. I can't tell if the wire is exposed but I assume it was already? If this wire was accidentally cut at the time it was assembled at the manufacturer's then could this have caused the arcing? There was a red plastic sleeve inbetween the wires and the armor cable and that was all melted as well... by the way, the "B" wire was connected to my family room lights, that is one of the circuits I tested first (running off the generator) and it worked just fine.

I will have to get some pictures of the wiring in the inlet box tomorrow, it's dark outside now! Thanks for all of the help today it is greatly appreciated. I think I will bring back this transfer switch to HD for a new one...

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Old 10-10-11, 05:42 PM
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Wgramer, did the pump work while on line voltage before switching to the generator after installing the transfer switch?
 
  #31  
Old 10-10-11, 05:48 PM
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Yes it worked, when I didn't hear the pump working in "Gen" mode, I moved the switch back to "Line" and the pump came on and brought the pressure back up to 60psi. That was one of my first mysteries since the pump was working in "Line" I knew it was getting power, later I measured 240v at the pump etc... it was only when moving the switch to "Gen" did the pump not work and I was getting only 120v at the pressure control switch.

Is the issue with my pump totally unrelated to the burned "B" wire I found, or the arcing and burn marks all around the armored cable connector? Or is this all related? Very strange...
 
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Old 10-10-11, 06:44 PM
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I think I will bring back this transfer switch to HD for a new one...
I think that would be a good plan.
 
  #33  
Old 10-10-11, 09:31 PM
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I would check what the voltages are on the different conductors on the cable coming from the generator into the transfer switch. It is possible that the wire was damaged from the arcing and not be the cause of the arcing. I would think that if the wire was bad to start with it would have arced and tripped the breaker on the generator or transfer panel when you tested that circuit.

Since it sounds like only one of the two 120v legs from the generator had a problem, the light circuit you tested may have been on the side without the problem.
 
  #34  
Old 10-11-11, 07:38 PM
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Ok thanks, I will do that... I contacted Reliance Controls today and they are shipping me a new transfer switch. Once I get it all installed I will post again with the results! I went back and read all instructions again, including for the generator. The generator instructions do recommend that the generator be grounded by taking a piece of 10 gauge wire and running it from the frame (grounding screw) to a copper grounding rod. Is this necessary since I'm using the 10/3 wire with a ground? Would the failure to ground the generator have caused the arcing inside the transfer switch?

Finally, the generator manual estimates 1500 running watts are needed for a 1/2 HP well pump, and to allow three times that amount for starting. This would be 4500 watts... perhaps the 5000K watt generator is not enough? Could this be causing one of the 120v push button breakers on the generator to trip?

Thanks again for all the feeback, your time is appreciated.
 
  #35  
Old 10-12-11, 08:13 AM
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The generator instructions do recommend that the generator be grounded by taking a piece of 10 gauge wire and running it from the frame (grounding screw) to a copper grounding rod. Is this necessary since I'm using the 10/3 wire with a ground?
I dont think you want to ground the gen. Not grounding would not cause the arcing as far as I know.

Finally, the generator manual estimates 1500 running watts are needed for a 1/2 HP well pump, and to allow three times that amount for starting. This would be 4500 watts... perhaps the 5000K watt generator is not enough? Could this be causing one of the 120v push button breakers on the generator to trip?
You should have plenty of power. My well pump is 3/4 hp. 120 v x 12.6 a = 1500 watts run. My gen is 4050 surge 3250 run, and it works fine.

I would start by testing the power right out of the gen outlet.

Then plug the cord in and test at the end of the cord.

I believe its X and Y that you should be getting 240V. Post back those results.

Also you have the correct wires to the neutral and ground bar?????

Something with that white wire that was discussed at the well pump breaker??????????


Mike NJ
 
  #36  
Old 10-22-11, 12:49 PM
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Round 2

So the replacement transfer switch arrived UPS from Reliance, no charge, with a slip to send back the first one... great service!

Re-wired everything, checked and rechecked... I started up the generator and tried circuits A, B, E & F and all worked great in GEN mode (refrigerator, furnace, lights etc...). So both sides are working.

I put all circuits back to LINE on the transfer switch, then flipped C&D (the 240v connected to the water pump) only. I heard the generator engine strain, the D circuit watt meter was pinned to max for about 3 seconds and then then 20amp button fuse on the transfer switch popped out. I was very surprised since the water pump was not "on", meaning the pressure in the tank was full and it was not yet low enough to cut in (for the pressure switch to be tripped on). I had planned to run the water, lower the pressure and wait to see what happened when the pressure tank kicked on but didn't get that far.

Any thoughts on why the 240v circuit was trying to draw power when the water pressure was high enough and the pressure switch was not in the "on" position? And why would the current through the D circuit blow the fuse? Is the transfer switch trying to send 240v out the D circuit only?
 
  #37  
Old 10-22-11, 01:12 PM
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At this point I'd haul the generator out to the pump house and hook it direct just to see if it will run the pump.

Is the transfer switch trying to send 240v out the D circuit only?
You need to have both C&D to have both sides of a 240v line. Only one wire power isn't going anywhere. You don't have this somehow tied to a neutral do you?
 
  #38  
Old 10-23-11, 05:59 AM
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Looking at the double pole breaker (and reading up on how 240v circuits are wired), I see that there is no neutral wire for the connection to the well pump breaker. They just used a 12/2 wire with a black, white and bare ground. The black and white wires went into the double pole breaker, the ground to the neutral/ground bar. Following that circuit over to the well pump, the wires go into an on/off switch mounted on the wall behind the pressure tank. That switch then continues to the pressure switch itself.

Is the lack of a neutral wire on this 240v circuit causing a problem when using the transfer switch for generator power? I noticed that both of the other double pole breakers in my panel are wired the same (one basement electric baseboard heater, and one garage electric heater). Why don't these circuits have a white neutral wire connected to the neutral bar, and a red & black connected to the breaker as illustrated in most of the DIY diagrams for home wiring?

Also, I disconnected the black C&D wires from the black/white hot wires for the C&D circuit, then started up the generator. I planned to test the voltage on those wires. As soon as I flipped the transfer switch to GEN mode, the generator engine strained significantly again but this time the fuse didn't blow.... Strange again since the well pump wasn't even connected! I flipped the switch back to LINE.
 
  #39  
Old 10-23-11, 06:32 AM
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I found this comment at another forum...

"To connect to 120/240, you need hot, hot, neutral, ground. Without the neutral, the voltage on the two hots will split according to the load on each side. So it the load is balanced, you get 120 on each line to neutral. If the loads are unbalanced, you get high voltage on the lightly loaded one and low voltage on the heavily loaded line. Of course 240 volt loads are always balanced until something shorts out, it's just the 120 volt loads that unbalance the current and voltage when there's no neutral connection back to the generator. "

Seems similar problem, perhaps why I had a high voltage on the "D" line and none on the "C"? How do I test for this and fix it?
 
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Old 10-23-11, 06:37 AM
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Is the lack of a neutral wire on this 240v circuit causing a problem when using the transfer switch for generator power?
No. No neutral needed. In fact the "white " wire of the cable by code should have been recolored black or red (or any color except white, gray, or green) on both ends. My only reason for asking about it was to be sure you hadn't mistaken it for a neutral.


Is the lack of a neutral wire on this 240v circuit causing a problem when using the transfer switch for generator power?
No. because the neutral provides 120v and the equipment doesn't use 120 volts.

black/white hot wires for the C&D circuit,
Recolor the white and start thinking of them as black and black.

Disconnect the 240v cable where it enters the pump house before the disconnect switch and try again. It could be a bad cable or even switch.
 
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