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Sprinkler pump leaking water in garage - what do I look for?

Sprinkler pump leaking water in garage - what do I look for?

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Old 06-08-11, 03:31 PM
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Sprinkler pump leaking water in garage - what do I look for?

Okay, I'm getting ready to send my son off to college in a few months, his car needs tires, I just had to hire a lawyer to try and get my idiot ex to cough up the last 2 years of support that he never paid, and oh yeah, he's not helping with college...so let's just say...I am TAPPED OUT.

So....my son calls me when he gets home from school today, and says that the sprinkler pump is running (it goes on at 8am, so that means it's been running for 9.5 hours ) and is leaking water all over the garage. I told him to sweep out what he could, and to unplug the pump. I've lived in this house for 13 years, and the pump was probably there for 3 years before I moved it, so let's say it's probably 16 years old. So, chances are it's done for...right? I just can't afford to call in a guy to do this right now. But I'm pretty handy with somethings, and not afraid of a little work, as long as there isn't any electricity or wallpaper involved. :NO NO NO: If I have to replace this pump, is it something that I could reasonably expect to do myself? And what exactly would I look for, to determine if it is indeed, done for? Also, if I have to replace it, are these things terribly expensive?Any help/advice you could offer would be GREATLY appreciated!!!! It just seems like one thing after another here lately.
 
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Old 06-09-11, 07:27 AM
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Hmm...well I guess there aren't too many well pump folks around here? Good thing I have a handy boyfriend.
He came over and checked it out...the pump appears to be fine, and it seems that it has vibrated itself so loose, over the years (it's just bolted onto a box on the floor) that it broke a couple of the fittings. I never pay much attention to the thing as I don't know anything about them, so I've never checked to see if the bolts were tight or anything. My BF took off the fittings that need to be replaced, and I guess I will look at HD tonight and see what I can find. Also, he said that the reason it kept running was that it was sucking air into the intake (where a fitting was cracked) and so it would never shut off. Does that make sense?
 
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Old 06-10-11, 05:46 AM
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Sorry to take so long responding. There is probably a pressure switch somewhere on the output side of the pump or in the plumbing that senses the water pressure and turns the pump off when it gets to say 30-50 psi. When the sprinklers use water and the pressure drops the switch turns the pump back on to raise the pressure. So, if there is a leak in the plumbing it cannot get up to the full pressure required to turn it off and it runs all the time (or until someone comes home from school and unplugs it).

Aside from the running time the pump should be OK as long as there was some water in the pump to keep it's bearings & seals cool. Pumps that are hard plumbed (rigid pipes connecting them) should be anchored so the vibration of the pump does not cause it to walk about. The piping will usually hold the pump in place but as you found out eventually the pipe may break. Another thing that is done sometimes is a flexible section of pipe is used between the pump and rigid plumbing to absorb the vibration and to take the stress off the pipes & fittings. In your case though probably just repairing the piping and anchoring the pump somehow would be easiest.
 
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Old 06-10-11, 11:46 AM
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Thanks. I was talking to my dad and he said we could acutally bolt the box that the pump sits on, to the concrete floor. Not sure if I want to go through that trouble, but we might do that. I have all the pieces to reconstuct the fittings. My problem now is that the larger pipe coming out of the wall has a threaded fitting on it, and the thread on it won't fit the new stuff. I can't get that fitting off, obviously the pvc glue isn't meant to be reversible! There isn't much room there on that pipe - it's just a couple of inches sticking out - I don't think I would have room for a new connection fitting if I tried to cut off the old one. Any ideas? The old fitting, on that pipe, is fine, but the threads are wider. It's gray, and my new stuff is white. The gal I talked to in HD said that (in her opinion) the manufacturers do this on purpose to make you buy all new. Anyway, I looked at HD and Lowes both...neither had the gray type...and even then I don't know if the threads would match the old connectors. Any ideas?
 
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Old 06-13-11, 10:20 AM
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We got the fittings reconstructed (what a cool tool a PVC cutter is!!! I had no idea!)
and got the pump working again. It took forever to refill the well pipe (I guess that is what "priming" means in this case?). We actually had to take a hose (from my city water) and shoot water down the pipe for a LONG time before the water got back up to floor level. Got everything hooked back up, and the psi is staying steady at 50, so it looks good. Leaving for work this morning and I notice that the box is damp, at the pump intake valve. Looking closely, I see a small droplet hanging off the valve. I hate to think that we have to start all over. It's a very very tiny leak...but obviously I have to do something about it as it will rot the wood over time, and besides that, it's likely to get bigger. Any quick suggestions as to what might tighten that seal without taking it completely apart again?
 
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Old 06-13-11, 11:11 AM
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I'm wondering if the old piping might be PVC conduit. I've seen it used that way (by an electrician who had access to tons of it). It's basically the same as PVC plumbing but resist UV rays and aren't tested for water use. Don't know if the threads are different or not. I know IMC (metal conduit) has straight threads (like a bolt), not tapered pipe threads.

Any markings on the grey pipe you can see?
 
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Old 06-13-11, 07:16 PM
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The leak is actually at the pump intake...and the threaded pvc connection is new, as is everything. We had to make completely new connections. I know it's PVC 40, because I bought it. If I can figure out how to post a picture on here, I'll do that in a bit.
 
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Old 06-13-11, 08:19 PM
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This is the pump, with the new connections made.



This is where I see the tiny leak coming from...this threaded piece here...


You can see the drip here...look just below the pvc...
 
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Old 06-13-11, 08:30 PM
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This is the back of the pump...



And I'm not sure, but there might also be a very slight leak on the back of the outgoing valve as well...I'll have to check it again tomorrow.
 
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Old 06-14-11, 09:35 AM
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Before you attached the PVC to the pump did you clean up the threads inside the pump connection, and what did you use to seal the joint? Teflon tape, or something else?
 
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Old 06-14-11, 03:14 PM
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Oh yes, he cleaned out the inside threads, and I guess it doesn't show up in the pictures, but he used Teflon tape.

I put that piece of foil down last night so that I can see how much water is really leaking. I'll post back after I get home and check it.
 
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Old 06-21-11, 06:21 AM
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Just wanted to give an update. The next morning, there was maybe a tablespoon of water in the foil. The next night...maybe a couple of drops. Then, nothing. I've seen maybe a drop or two since then...but honestly, it seems that any drips that do make it onto the little piece of foil, are drying before the next day. I am going to leave the foil there (unless I find a nice miniature drip pan of some sort) so that I don't have to worry about the wood staying damp. But it seems that any leaking is pretty much a non-issue now. Thank goodness!

Thanks for everyone's advice.
 
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Old 07-28-11, 08:19 AM
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Well, it did it again.

This past weekend, the pump started leaking all over the garage. I noticed it after it had run the morning sprinkler cycle, and had not shut off - it was just running. PSI was up fine, and it was leaking out of the outflow line from the back of the pump. My BF tightened the fittings and we turned it back on and ran it, and it seemed dry. Let it run another cycle, and this time, it didn't cut off, and was flooding the garage by the time I checked on it. BF tapped the pressure switch cover, and that turned it off. But that didn't work when he tried it again...still, he thought maybe the switch was bad. Called the irrigation guys, and they came this morning.

First he tells me that my well is the problem, and that they have this problem with everyone lately that has this type of pump/well. He says he can re-plumb and prime it, but that doesn't mean it won't happen again tomorrow. I told him that the well was here before I was, and had been working fine for at least 13 years. He says we're technically in a drought for 2 years, so the type of well is the problem...not the pump.

Sooo....I look at him, square in the eyes, and tell him that I am putting a son through college starting this fall, I just had a lightning strike take out about $3k worth of stuff in my house, probably going to lose the tree as well, and I haven't had a raise in three years...so if I need a new well, then I'll just let the lawn die. I can't afford a new well.

Then he said, well....you know, we really haven't had this problem too much in this area, maybe the best thing to do is to put a check valve on the head of the well (there isn't one on this well) and to replumb, and see if that helps. He really doesn't think there is anything wrong with the pump or the switch...at least, he said not.

I am torn between believing him, and calling someone else. I don't have a clue as to what the problem is, and I really feel like I'm at the mercy of a repairman just trying to make money.

Any thoughts or advice?
 
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Old 07-28-11, 09:42 AM
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One thing I have seen sometimes in old installations is the pipe nipple leading to the pressure switch can fill with debris or rust almost completely closed. The chokes off the pressure switch from the system so it can't read the pressure correctly or it reacts very slowly to pressure changes. It's easy to check by simply removing the pressure switch and it's pipe nipple to see if they are clear. Make sure to check the orifice into the pressure switch. It could also be a bad pressure switch. Luckily they are pretty inexpensive.
 
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Old 07-28-11, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Pilot Dane View Post
One thing I have seen sometimes in old installations is the pipe nipple leading to the pressure switch can fill with debris or rust almost completely closed. The chokes off the pressure switch from the system so it can't read the pressure correctly or it reacts very slowly to pressure changes. It's easy to check by simply removing the pressure switch and it's pipe nipple to see if they are clear. Make sure to check the orifice into the pressure switch. It could also be a bad pressure switch. Luckily they are pretty inexpensive.
Thanks for the reply. I guess we are just going to replace the switch for now, and see how that does.
 
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Old 03-13-12, 06:24 AM
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Wanted to update this. My BF did in fact put in a new switch, and the pump has been running like a champ ever since.

So much for the landscape "expert". They charged me $75 to come out tell me that load of crap. I wrote them a letter detailing what happened, with my check, and sent it to them. They actually called me and told me they were not depositing the check, and apologized.
 
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