Keep losing prime in shallow well pump - HELP

Old 06-07-12, 10:17 AM
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Keep losing prime in shallow well pump - HELP

I have a shallow well pump used for irrigation, and found it keeps losing prime. A few weeks a go, I noticed only one of the two zones was irrigated and twice. I had this zoning problem a couple of years ago but it was due to debris in the indexing valve (Hydrotek 4000 series). That was not the case this time; the valve was clean. I check for any leak but I found none.

Reading this forum as well as other in the web, I saw it may be a clog foot valve (it is 11 years old). I know that this required to pull and inspect the intake line and foot valve. I realized there is no check valve. The elbow that connects to the well is connected to the other end to a 2" nipple to the pump, what a crappy job...!.

Any troubleshooting suggestion from simpler to time-consuming? I was consider to install a pressure meter in the prime cap...would that give me any clue.

Any suggestion is well appreciate, by the way it is a jet pump similar of what home depot sells thanks...!

Old 06-13-12, 05:08 AM
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Clean the food valve. Debris will cause the foot valve to not close completely.
Old 06-13-12, 04:31 PM
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Water well pump protection trouble shooting

Pump overheat protection switch

The Pump Problems most people have are so numerous that I will try to address them one by one so you can fix or trouble shoot the problem you have, so you know how to fix the well pump by being educated about your pumping system.
You will know what your talking about so you can save your money by not having a service man come out and give you an estimate for something that you may not need, spending your hard earned money, for work that may not be needed.

It may not be the pump itself causing the problem.

It could be one of many of the other necessary parts that are required to have that keeps the pump working properly.

Like Pressure Switches,..
Pump Start Relays,..
Broken Zone Valves,..
Pressure Tanks,..
Timer Malfunctions,..
Bad Seals,..
or even just User Error.

One of the most common problems that I hear is that the PUMP HAS LOST THE PRIME.

This means the check valve may have failed and the water fell back down the well or no water is in the pump when it is turned on.
Even THE SEAL CAN BE LEAKING, it is between the pump and the motor, this will cause the pump to run with no water in the pump housing causing it to get very hot from friction and will not cool down until the cool well water is primed back up to the pump.

The seal will also not let a pressure switch shut off because a seal will suck air in when the pump is running, and it will not let the pressure build up enough to shut off the pressure switch.

Some pumps will self prime itself by giving it enough time to raise the water in the well back to the pump.

If it takes more than 10 minutes to raise the prime, the pump will overheat, and this will cause the fittings to get soft, loose, or meltdown,

At the very least. the heat will always cause the fittings to loosen up, resulting in a suction leak at the fittings and this will suck air into the pump because just a pin hole size leak will never let the pump pull up a prime resulting in a total pump system failure.
Also air will not let the pressure switch shut off.
(you will not see water leaking on the suction line because it is the suction side which is a vacuum.)
The discharge side is under pressure an that pipe may show water leaking when it is under pressure.

And If sand or rocks are in the well water, the check valve may be stuck in the open position and should be replaced first or the water will drop back down the well every time the pump turns off, loosing the prime again.

THE FIX ......

First try to see if the fittings are all tight, if not you will need to rethread the male adaptors going into the pump. dont forget to wrap the threads with teflon tape to insure a air tight fit. go around the threads at least 6 to 8 times with the teflon tape.
While you have the pipes apart to fix the loose fittings, you may as well put on a new Check Valve on the suction line.
A check valve is what holds the water up at the pump and not letting the water fall back down the well.

To re-prime the pump pour water in the pump housing.
sometimes you can add water in at the hose bib while running, this can sometimes take 5 minutes to 30 minutes.

To Keep the pump from a total system failure you can protect it with a Pump Overheat Protection Switch.
It will automatically shut off the power to the pump, because when any problem arises, the pump will always get hot causing a meltdown and pump failure.

At 120 degrees F. the pump will shut the off power to the pump
When the pump cools down to 110 degrees F. then it will automatically turn back on again. It is common for the pump to regain the lost prime after 2 or 3 cycles for self priming pumps without melting down the pump, keeping the pump safe while doing so.

If your pump uses a PRESSURE SWITCH to turn pump on and off, it may not be adjusted properly and will not let the pump shut off.
Adjustments may be needed from time to time.
especially If the water table drops.

When the water table drops down a foot in the well,
due to droughts, the pressure will drop about 1-2-lbs less at the pump.
So if the Pressure Switch is set for 40 lbs to shut off but the pump only gives you 38 lbs of pressure, then the pump will not shut off, overheating the pump.
Even cold weather will cause the metal to contract and expand, this will change the settings, making it harder to build enough pressure.

Also look at the contacts on the Pressure Switch, if one of the contacts looks burnt it may sometimes stick closed in the on or run position. not letting the contacts open to shut off the pump.

THE FIX ........

The Pressure Switch nut will need to be turned counter clockwise to let the pump shut off easier. or put a new pressure switch on if it looks rusted or contacts are worn and burnt.

PRESSURE TANKS can also cause a problem, if the tank is not set properly. A pressure tank should have about 2 lbs less than the turn on pressure of the pressure switch.
If your pressure switch turns on the pump at 30 lbs then the pressure tank should have 28 lbs of air in the tank.
The tank air must be measured with the pump in the off position and no water pressure in the system to get a proper reading.

The PRESSURE SWITCH will also not shut off if the SEAL is leaking between the motor and the pump housing.
The seal will suck air into the pump when running and will leak water when it is shut off emptying the water remaining in the pump housing when the pump is off. This also cause overheating at the pump causing a total system failure.

THE FIX ... You will need to replace the seal. if it looks like it has been leaking, you may see a rust line where the path of the water leak is, look under the seal for this kind of leak. or the pressure switch may just need to be adjusted or replaced.

Again A Pump Overheat Protection Switch would protect the pump until repairs can be made.

THE PUMP START RELAY is what some pumps have to turn the pump on. some irrigation systems have this feature so when the automatic sprinkler timer turns on to water the lawn it will turn on the Pump Start Relay to start the pump.
If the relay is old it may have burnt contacts, just like the pressure switch has and they will stick in the on position not letting the pump shut off when the watering cycle is finished. This will also overheat the pump in about 10 minutes and cause a total pump failure.


Replace the Pump Start Relay with a new one.

Another common problem is that an IRRIGATION ZONE VALVE is broken and will not activate on a particular zone.

So when the timer is activated for its scheduled watering cycle,
then the start relay turns on the pump,
when the timer comes to a zone that does not work,
the pump will run for the predetermined time that the timer is set for, and the water will not move thru the pipes due to the broken Zone Valve.
This will also result in overheating the pump and causing a meltdown of the fittings, again resulting in a total system failure.
If a PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH is installed it will sense the problem and shut the power ONLY to the pump for that broken zone valve only, and then it will automatically reset itself to finish the rest of the watering cycle for as long as it is necessarily needed.

Find which valve is not working and replace it with a new one.

The TIMER may loose power. If the battery is not good then the programed time will not be saved . in this case the timer will go back to default settings,
which is set for daily watering on all zones for 10 minutes each zone and the default start time will reset at 5 am every day on all zones.
If you have a 6 zone timer but have only 5 zones then when zone #6 turns on the pump will run on that zone and the water has no place to go. This will cause a pump failure by overheating the pump housing and again, this will loosen the fittings on the suction and discharge sides of the pump, again meltdown occurs unless their is a PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH on the pump.
This will save the pump from costly repairs until repairs can be made.

Keep the battery in good working condition by replacing the battery every 6 to 9 months this keeps the watering schedule from changing back to its default settings when the power to the Timer fails.
Also put a jumper wire on the zone that is not active and attach it to a working zone that has a valve that is active.
this will let the water keep flowing thru the pump to a different zone and will not let the pump run on an empty zone.
Old 08-25-12, 07:09 AM
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Well pump problems

We are having a unique problem with our well pump that we have not had in over 30 years. We have a 60-70 feet well and we have a 1/2 horse pump with a 30 gallon pressure tank. We are able to use any amount of water in the house...laundry, dishwasher, showers (teenagers) and do not have to conserve or worry about the water or well. When we use a water hose out side, however, it runs for a few minutes continuously (even a soaker hose) the pump loses it's prime and then the pump kicks back on and runs w/o stopping because it has no water. The pump does not lose it's prime when it is not running. This problem started a few years ago and has gotten gradually worse. We had a larger pressure tank that had a hole in it and we thought that this was the problem, but when we replaced it no improvement was seen. This is a well that has previously run a household of 6, a chicken house with 15,000 chickens, and watered a large vegetable garden. It now is only used for a household of 3 and a much smaller garden (when we can use it for that). We do not think that this problem is as severe in the seasons other than summer, but are not sure about this because we do not use it outside then as much.

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