pump people say to swap breaker with higher amp

Old 06-17-19, 02:39 PM
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pump people say to swap breaker with higher amp

I have a chronic problem with the breaker for my water pump intermittently tripping out. There is nothing else beside the water pump on that line.

Pump people checked the pump control today and said that there is no apparent reason for the breaker tripping other than it is drawing 18 amps on pump start-up on a 20 amp breaker.

The pump is 70 ft. from the house, 80 ft. deep. They said that the amps can surge when the pump kicks on and with the resistance in the wire (70+80 = 150 ft), adding to the problem and a 2 amp margin is not enough.

Also, considering that the breaker is old, might be a factor also. They suggested that I swap out the 20 amp (120 volt single pole breaker) for a 30 amp breaker and that should remedy the problem.

Can anyone make a case for why that is not the correct and likely thing to do?
Old 06-17-19, 03:18 PM
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What is the HP of the pump?
What is the gauge of the wires to the pump?

I would first try a different 20 amp breaker. If you have another one in the panel just swap the wires between them and see if the pump still trips it. If it doesn't then replace the breaker.
Old 06-17-19, 03:47 PM
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Hi, I am not a house electrician but I spent many years repairing heavy industrial motors and controls ac/dc.
A 20 amp breaker is used for a #12 wire A 30 amp breaker is used foe a # 10 wire (bigger) so changing breakers is not a good idea.
You have a long feed that could cause a voltage drop, but that would be a constant affecting the motor every time. Your problem is sporadic. Breakers don't fail very often but they do fail sometimes. Look in your panel box and if you have another 20 amp breaker switch wires and see what happens.
Old 06-17-19, 04:14 PM
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I don't remember the exact code, but there is a section that allows over sized breaker for motor and pump loads on a smaller gauge wires.
It was the section that allows next size up breaker for the motor loads.
I'd go for 25A instead of 30A. Might not be easy to find, but there is one for most breaker brands.
Old 06-17-19, 06:24 PM
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Breakers are designed to allow the higher currents of a motor starting. You do not just have a 2 amp margin. Breakers are also sized differently for motor loads and compressors.
Old 06-17-19, 06:25 PM
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Any chance you could convert the pump to 240v ?
Unfortunately the starting current on a 120v pump can be quite high. A much higher percentage than if 240v was used as the supply. I would agree with a maximum breaker size of 25A.
Old 06-19-19, 10:54 AM
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After reading the comments to my original post, I decided to call in an electrician instead of just swapping out the breaker.

He (they) came out and investigated the issue. They suggested that I do a direct run from the 120 A panel using 12 gauge wire. The original was only 14 gauge and it originated in a junction box that contained both newer and older wire. They also said that the original 20 A breaker was feeling a little "hinky" when it was thrown, likely due to having being re-set so often. I gave them the go ahead and they ran a 14 gauge wire directly from the service panel to an outlet for the pump. After testing, they said that the pump was only requiring 12 amps to start now, so they opined that it would take care of my problem.

They also suggested that if the 120 Volt pump should eventually fail, to replace it with a 220 Volt unit inasmuch as they required less starting amps and that the new 12 gauge wire could easily be adapted to 220 volts at the service panel.

So in all some of the input from the forum members was pretty good...it allowed me to make the right decision of getting an electrician and allowed me to evaluate the correctness of his (their), advice. Thank you everyone for your input.

The charge for the work was $435.00.
Old 06-19-19, 11:09 AM
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The original post left out the 14AWG detail. That is an important fact. Glad it worked out.
Old 06-19-19, 03:21 PM
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If you head 20A breaker on 14 AWG, then it was already up sized. I wouldn't put any lager breaker.

Running a long distance on wire will cause voltage drop and smaller the gauge worse it will be. Lower the voltage, higher current it will need. Running 12 AWG was a good call .

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