Well pump problems

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  #1  
Old 10-13-01, 04:42 PM
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Hey "Old Guy" where you at? Thought I would pick you brain abit. I went to look at a friends electrical problem and since I was able to correct that he decided to see what I could do with his well pump. I have very little experiance with these things so maybe you can help.
His problem is the pump will not shut off. The pressure gauge will only reach 30 psi, no matter how long the pump runs.
I shut off the water supply to the house, problem did not change. We charged the tank with 50 psi and the pump stopped running. Let it set there with the water off and the tank charged--all was good. Turned the water on and the pressure held good for about five minutes. I had him go in the turn on of the faucets on, let it run and than shut it off again. The pressured dropped, the pump came on and continued to run, never getting above 30 psi.
The system is about 15 years old. It isn't a well per say, the pump pumps water out of a underground tank. The tank water is hauled in.
What is your take on this? Is it possible the impaler on the pump is worn to a point that 30 psi is all it can put out? Is there a diaphram in the tank that seperates the water from the air? If it had a hole in it would this show up with the water to the house off? What are the best steps to take to narrow the problem area down?
Thanks for your help......Keep up the good work
 
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  #2  
Old 10-13-01, 10:31 PM
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Hey Try!
What is the manufacturer's recommended operating psi for his particular pump? 20-40? 30-50? Many half-hp residential pumps are 20-40 cut-on/cut-off, and 3/4-hp pumps are 30-50.
The first thing to check with a water pump is the pressure tank. It controls the pressure switch that turns the pump off and on.
PRESSURE TANK
Turn off (or unplug) the pump and let the water pressure drain down. Use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in the tank bladder. It should be two psi BELOW the cut-on pressure.
If it is too high, bleed it off. If it is too low, air it up with a bicycle pump or portable air tank or compressor.
If it won't hold that minimum cut-on pressure, there is a leak in the pressure tank air bladder, and the tank needs to be replaced. If the bladder is leaking, you may see air bubbles in the water in the house, and maybe not.
PRESSURE SWITCH
If the tank is O.K., next, check the pressure switch for loose, burnt or corroded contacts. If it looks worn out, replace it.
A pressure switch will have either one or two spring-loaded adjusting nuts. Turn the nut(s) down to increase pressure, and up to decrease pressure. They should be set 20 psi apart on a residential pump.
If it has one adjusting nut, it will be factory pre-set 20 psi apart. If it has two adjusting nuts, the larger will be for the cut-on pressure, and the smaller will be for the cut-off.
PRESSURE GAUGE
Old pressure gauges can get plugged up over time. You might want to take that one off and check to see if it has a lot of rust build-up in it. You may be able to clean it out with a wire. A pump will work just fine without a gauge, but you have to be able to adjust the pump by "experience", as many pros can do (I'm not one).
PUMP
A 15-year-old pump? It may be re-build time. New impeller and spacer, venturi, shaft seal, etc.
Since he's pulling from a tank or cistern, there should be no problem with a well point (which will begin plugging up in about 7-10 years, and restricting water flow). See if he has some type of strainer in the water tank that may be plugged up, however.
After all of the above to check, my guess is the pump, but check out and eliminate the control stuff first. That has to be right for the pump to do its thing.
Good luck!
Mike
 
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Old 10-14-01, 06:52 AM
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Hi,
There maybe a couple of other possibilities as to why the pump will not pressure up to cutoff pressure (if we're talking about a jet pump).
One, any air leak in the suction line will allow the pump to suck in air. Even a very small leak will allow enough air to enter the pump to keep it from pressuring up. The air essentially breaks the prime over and over. Check the suction line carefully. especially if it's galvanized pipe. Look for leaks and loose/bad joints. Remember, too, that a leak won't always drip water, but will allow air to enter.
Check the mechanical seal area too. Air will also enter the pump through a bad seal. This is usually very noticable, as water will leak out around the shaft between the pump case and the front of the motor.
Another problem could be a plugged up nozzle and venturi. The nozzle has a very small hole it in and plugs up easily.
Depending on the style of jet pump, the nozzle and venturi are located in front of the impeller and direct the water into the impeller eye. (This is what makes a jet pump a "jet" pump. Impeller itself can plug up too.
Lastly, a bad footvalve can caused problems like this. If the footvalve hasn't been replaced in a while, now is the time.
Best regards,
Pumpman
 
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Old 10-14-01, 07:40 AM
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Aha, a REAL pump expert (I'm not one).
As far as air leaks on the suction side, one way to find them is to shoot a little shaving cream around the suspect fittings.
If an indentation appears in the shaving cream while the pump is running, there's your air leak.
If it's galvanized, take it apart and wrap 2-3 flat turns of teflon tape clockwise only around the male threads to re-seal the joint.
The nozzle, venturi, impeller, shaft seal, etc. that pumpman referred to will be involved in the pump re-build, which is probably overdue (and where I still think the problem probably is).
And don't forget to check the footvalve, as he said.
A pump is a system, and things can go bad from top to bottom.
Thanks for your help, pumpman. We need a pump expert in here. I'm just an amateur D-I-Yer.
Mike
 
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Old 10-14-01, 06:33 PM
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Hi Mike,
I would agree with you that it's time to rebuild the pump, since it's been in service for 15 years.
In reality, 50% of my service calls where the pump will not reach cutout pressure, I find an air leak in either the suction line, or through a bad seal. 25% of the time it's a bad footvalve, and the other 25% is excessive wear in the pump. Our water in this area is really good so the pump seems to last a long time. On the other hand, temperatures in the summer can reach 120 degrees, so we have alot of motor failures.
I've enjoyed following the posts in this forum, so I finally decided to jump in. I hope I can be as helpful as you are.
Best regards,
Ron
http://www.peekspump.com
 
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Old 10-15-01, 02:55 AM
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Hey Ron!
It's just the opposite here (Northeastern NC). The pump goes first because of the acidic and hard water.
Motors seem to last forever.
It's great to have a cross-section in here, because we get questions from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, etc.
Thanks again.
Mike
 
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Old 10-15-01, 06:33 AM
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Hey Old Guy and Pumpman,
Thanks for all your input, looks like I will have my work cut out for me. Like the pumpman, this system is located in the Mojave Desert of CA. So we get our hot days out here. The system, if I remember right, is a Sta-Rite, 30-50 psi, 3/4 hp motor. The cutoff switch looked to be in good condiction, we cleaned and lubed it alittle.
My take on the tank part is: the psi should be at 28 psi with the tank empty. Could we have cause any problems by using a air pump to pump up the pressure, while the pump was running? He had done this once before and we did it twice while I was there. It was the only way we could get the pump to shutoff on its own.
I'm almost certain the problem will be in the pump or suction line, as with the aid of portable air pump all the control items seem to be working properly.
In order to check for leaks in the suction line. Would it be fessible to disconnect the the input to the pump, temparlary run it into a bucket and let the pump run. If all works well, than there would be the chance of a leak in the suction line. If the pump still didn't get to cutoff pressure, the pump would need rebuild.
One more question, where would be a good place to get a rebuild book for the pump or is one needed?
 
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Old 10-15-01, 08:16 AM
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Trying to help,
I'm actually located in the Imperial Valley, about 12 miles north of Mexicali, Mex. You know what desert living is all about.
Jet pumps are pretty easy to work on. There's an exploded view of one at http://www.peekspump.com/dwspt.htm
Click on Exploded view of pumps - shallow well jet pumps.
You'll know right away when you open the pump whether or not the pump is worn out. I think a rebuild is in order after 15 years. It's kind of a deal where if you're going to open it up, you may as well rebuild it.
As a thought too, Starite manufacturers some of it's pumps with thermoplastic housings. These pump housings will warp and crack in the desert heat and in those cold desert nights. I see this alot in my area. People will buy a plastic pump at Home Depot or Sears (both are Starite pumps) and wonder why it's sucking in air after six monyhs. Careful inspection shows the suction inlet to be warped and leaking. There is no repair that will hold permanantly.
The repair kit may contain some instructions for the rebuild. If you need some instructions, and can't find any, let me know. I can probably help you out.
Best regards
Pumpman
http://www.peekspump.com
 
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Old 10-15-01, 08:35 AM
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Great site, Ron!
And I just happen to have a shallow well 3/4hp Sta-Rite set at 30-50 that I just rebuilt.
I'm on county water now, but I keep up a well and pump just for the yard and washing my truck, etc.
Between you and your site (and my 2 cents, maybe), try can rebuild that pump.
try, if the pump has a cast iron body (which it must, if it's 15 years old there), get a Sta-Rite re-build kit
made for that specific pump model. It should have all of the parts that you need.
Just bleed the pressure tank bladder down to 28 psi. It should be O.K.
You can leave the pump end with the nozzle and venturi on the suction line, and replace them with it still connected.
If I can rebuild as many as I have (mine, friends and neighbors), anyone can do it. LOL
Go for it, especially with Ron's site to visit.
Good Luck!
Mike
 
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Old 10-15-01, 10:42 AM
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Once again, thanks for all the information. Now I believe I can either fix it or get into some real trouble.LOL I will get back to you on how it goes, may be awhile. By the way pumpman, we are in Twentynine Palms, the pump is located in Wonder Valley. Wonder Valley, so named cause it makes you Wonder why anyone would live there!!!
 
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