frozen suction line, now pump not working properly...

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  #1  
Old 01-23-05, 07:37 AM
Ivale
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Exclamation frozen suction line, now pump not working properly...

Hi, new to this site and new to the world of well-ownership! Here's our problem. Yesterday morning our line from the well to the pump froze (icicles actually hanging from it!). We unthawed everything (and properly insulated), reprimed the pump, made sure the pressure tank was okay and got it all going again. (We have a 1/2 hp convertible jet pump if that helps). Immediately we noticed that the pressure was off - the water from the taps would sputter and occasionally run at a trickle until the pump kicked back in. We had the pump tested in the city (to make sure the impeller was okay) and were told everything is fine. We also (after reconnecting and repriming AGAIN) closed the connection from the pump to the rest of the house to ensure that we weren't losing pressure between the pump and the well. After sitting like that for about an hour there was no change in the pressure at all.
Everything seemed to be working, not the same as usual but working at least last night. When hubby got up this morning, however, the water was back to sputtering and actually stopped running. The pump kicked in and it came back but it has never done this prior to the freezing. Any suggestions on what I could do now? The pump is fine, the tank is fine, and there are no leaks that we can seem to find that would explain this.
Running to town today to buy a heating tape (just have a portable heater down there right now) so any suggestions asap would be appreciated if there is anything else I should be getting.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-23-05, 07:45 AM
Ivale
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Also....

Been reading posts below, and have a new question - how do I tell if my pressure switch is shot? There was a reply to a post concerning loss of water pressure - as mentioned, I already tried turning off the intake line to the house to check for leaks between the pump and the well and there seems to be no problem.
 
  #3  
Old 01-23-05, 08:22 AM
Ivale
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also (again)...

Been reading even further - I'm not quite 'getting' this 30/50 and 40/60 psi stuff. If I understand it right, the '30' is the point when the pump should kick in and the '50' is where the pressure should be sitting at, right? So why would ours be 20/40? Is that a normal number too? We removed the pressure tank (again), spewed water everywhere, draind it and tries pumping it to 28psi. Replaced it on the pump and got it all going again and it's gone right back to 20/40. (Meaning, in my little world, that when it is just sitting there, the pressure gauge reads 40psi and when the water is turned on from a tap, the pressure goes down to about 20-22psi before the pump kicks in.) So is there something wrong with this, or are these readings 'normal'?
 
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Old 01-23-05, 08:53 AM
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Your pressure switch is factory set for 20/40. The pressure tank should have 18 psi precharge. They should always be set at 2 psi less than pump cutin, which in your case is 20 psi.
With 28 psi in the pressure tank, you are running out of water before the pump has a chance to cutin.
Pressure switches will wear out, although it's usually because the contact points get burned and pitted.
If you think your switch is bad, buy a new one. You can buy them preset at 20/40, 30/50 and 40/60. If you want to raise your pressure get one preset at 30/50, then raise the precharge in your tank to 28 psi.
Ron
 
  #5  
Old 01-23-05, 09:32 AM
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Hi Ivale
Do you have a filter of any kind in your system? If so, check to see if it is clogged. Also, check faucet screens to see if there is anything in them. Sometimes when pipes freeze up and then are thawed out, built-up grit, minerals, and rust will break loose from the inside of the pipe and will end up in filters and screens. Always look for the simple things first, could save allot of time and $$$$ Good luck, Rick
 
  #6  
Old 01-23-05, 09:33 AM
Ivale
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Smile Hi Pumpman...

Usually we have been filling the tank to 18psi. Just this one time did we try to fill it to 28psi. There was no difference in water pressure. It only loses pressure after sitting unused for a while (eg over night).

Just to clarify, yesterday when we put everything back together, we primed the pump (filled it with water) and brought the tank up to 18psi. We then put the tank back on and got it all running again. After it is unused for a while, however, we seem to be losing pressure. The water sputters out of the tap and even stops running all together for a short period of time. (This was all BEFORE we tried getting the tank to 28psi). The pump is kicking in at about 20psi and stops at about 40psi (and is still doing that even though we got the tank to 28psi). When the water runs or a short period, the pressure gauge reads 30psi and does not turn on - the pressure stays at 30psi (and it did this both at 18psi in the tank and at 28psi in the tank).

Final question, should we again remove the tank and bring it back down to 18psi? Is there any way I can do this while it is sitting on the pump or do I have to take it back off?

Thank you for your help.
 
  #7  
Old 01-23-05, 09:47 AM
Ivale
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hi waterdoc...

There is no filter on our well but there were screens on our taps and, when I removed them, they were filled wth gunk. Cleaned that out and replaced them and now pressure from the taps is much better than before. However, would this address my previous problem of loss of water pressure when it has been not used for a time (the whole overnight-sputtering taps in the morning thing)?
 
  #8  
Old 01-23-05, 10:21 AM
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Hi Ivale
Is it possible that the pressure switch is chilling up over-night? According to your first post, I'm assuming the pump is in a fairly cold place. If it's near freezing and drafty, it wouldn't take much to chill it in the open position (especially over-night when the system wasn't being used) Rick
 
  #9  
Old 01-23-05, 03:05 PM
Ivale
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Aaarrrggghhh!

Okay, this is so frustrating.

It is definitely possible that the pressure switch could have gotten too cold (I didn't realize we had to worry about keeping that warm too!).

However, today is a beautiful day, the room is very warm and we have a portable heater down the well right now that is preventing anything from geting chilled at all.

We went to town and were gone about 3 hours. On returning, the room is still quite warm. The pressure gauge was sitting at about 35psi. When I turned on the kitchen faucet, however, the pressure dropped to almost 0psi before the pump finally kicked in and refilled to 37psi. Also, the suction pipe sounds like it is empty although there is water in the pressure tank. Why is this happening? We do not have a foot valve on our line (or so I've been told). Should there always be water in the suction line?

Our system is like this (top to bottom): we have a Burke pressure tank on top of a 1/2 hp convertible jet pump. The pump is attached to a 1" black plastic pipe which runs from floor level to the well cap, a length of about 5 feet. From what I've been told by the person who actually installed this system (a DIY-er who really hasn't been very clear on many points, hence the fact that I am here accosting you people for help!), from the well cap, there is a 2" steel shaft running 155feet down, and this plastic pipe is inside the steel shaft for about 30feet.

The first time the pipes froze (a couple of weeks ago) while re-priming, this gentleman told us that we do not need to fill the suction line because it goes straight down into the well water, and because it has no foot valve. At this point we had already poured about 50 gallons of water down there and saw no sign of anything filling up. So we re-attached the pump, put water in the pump, checked the pressure of the tank, replaced that, closed the line to the house, plugged in the pump and watched it run. He opened and closed the tap to the house a few times before the pump kicked in properly and started pulling water. Everything seemed fine at that point, right up until it froze again here. Now nothing is working like it did.

The pump has been tested and is fine, the tank is holding pressure (and is not spurting water when we check the pressure in it), there are no leaks in the suction line nor are there any in the house that we can find.

Sorry for such a long post but thanks for any info offered!
Louise
 
  #10  
Old 01-23-05, 03:18 PM
Ivale
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More info...

I apologize again for the length here but I figure the more info I can give, the better.

Anyways, between the nose of the pump and the top of the suction line is a stop valve. Don't know if that helps or not.
 
  #11  
Old 01-23-05, 03:32 PM
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Smile

Hi again,
Thanks for the extra info. The fact that the pressure drops to '"0" before the pump starts is a clue. If this happens very quickly, it could be an over pressurized tank( should be 2 psi less than "cut in" of the switch )
If the pressure goes down slowly and hesitates before the pump starts, then it is most likely an obstruction in the tube that runs from pump to switch. Remove the tube and make sure it is clear and make sure to remove the fitting at the pump and make sure it and the port it screws into is clear. Sometimes rust etc, will block off this hole from inside the pump. Simply use a screwdriver or nail to punch out the hole.
Hopes this helps, Let us know
Rick
 
  #12  
Old 01-23-05, 03:50 PM
Ivale
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Okay...

I'll go try that right away. But, in the mean time, should the suction line always be filled with water?
 
  #13  
Old 01-23-05, 04:38 PM
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Hi Ivale,
- Anybody who told you that you don't need a footvalve is absolutely WRONG. this may be the cause of the entire problem. If there's no footvalve then water will NOT stay in the suction line, causing the pump to pump AIR into the system before the water comes up. Buy a cheap footvalve ( $6-10)then release pressure and pull up the suction line and fit (or replace )the footvalve.
Waterdoc gave very good advice regarding checking the line and fitting of P/S, but there still may be rust, grit in the diaphragm of P/S. For safety, I'd get a new one anyway. It's most likely a 9013 FSG-10, or-20. Take it to the store anyway, to make sure. Both of these are fully adjustable from 10-65psi. The factory setting is only a common setting, it is NOT 'written in stone'. Well professionals frequently adjust these to suit conditions.
From everything I've read so far, I'm assuming your tank is very small. If it's one of those 4-5 gal. pancake types it is quite unsuitable for prolonged household use. Better to fit at least a 28-33 gal before long. A small tank really overworks your pump.

Do it Right - Do it once.
 
  #14  
Old 01-23-05, 04:55 PM
Ivale
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Hi Nomind...

Thanks for your reply.

Now a couple more questions. So, there SHOULD always be water in my suction line, right?

Also, my suction line (the 5 feet of pipe from the pump to the well cap) is attached at the well cap. The gentleman who has been advising us so far (the no foot valve guy) has told us that to install a foot valve, we will have to replace the entire well cap. Is that right?

And....if we have no foot valve, how has water been staying in the suction line all this time? Prior to freezing, everything ran just fine - there were no pressure problems, etc. It is only since we had to take it all apart and unthaw the line that we've had problems.

Finally, newbie question, how exactly does the foot valve sit in there - it is in the 1" pipe just above the well cap, right?


Thank you all very much (again) ,
Louise
 
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Old 01-23-05, 06:06 PM
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I don't know how you know the line froze but it's more likely that the water level in the well is not up over the low end of the 1" line, and if that's so, then a single line jet pump isn't going to be able to lift the water below about 22-25' deep. That is how he got it to work with no foot valve, the end of the 1" line was always below the water level in the 2" casing. If the 2" casing has a leak in it, then the water level in the 2" casing will be below the end of the 1" and you can prime all day and the water will simply run out of the 1" line into the well.

So to add a foot valve to the end of the 1" line you need to screw it onto a fitting attached to the 1" line. I would get rid of the valve in the suction line. he probably had that there t oprevent the water from leaking back into the well when he worked on the pump.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 04:28 PM.
  #16  
Old 01-23-05, 06:11 PM
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Hi again Louise,
-each time I hear a bit more info we get closer to fixing the problem.
First some facts to correct any misconceptions.
1. ALL surface pumps have to have a foot valve, so called because it is installed at the extreme foot of the suction pipe. There are many cheap and nasty footvalves that go wrong frequently. I use good brass ones, about $10-15 according to size and type.
2. Unless you have an extremely unusual (or broken)well cap you DO NOT ever have to replace it. They are designed to come off easily to replace parts in the well. Yes, it will have to come off to pull up the pipe, it should go back with no fuss.
From this new info, I wonder if the person who put this together installed a CHECK VALVE at the top of the pipe, thinking (incorrectly) that it would do same job as a foot valve ?
My best guess is the pipe between foot valve and pump are leaking somewhere, possibly at this elbow at the top of well. - When I test for this, I close the valve to tank, fit an air nipple in the pump's prime hole, and pressurise it to 70 psi. I then watch it for about ten minutes. If it goes down at all, there's a leak where I suggested.
You didn't mention tank size, - is it a very small one as I thought ?


Do it Right - Do it once.
 
  #17  
Old 01-23-05, 07:47 PM
Ivale
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Back again...

Hi Nomind...sorry it took so long to reply - Have dial-up internet and a single line only; phone in use, no internet! The well itself is 29 years old. The pump and tank are 4 years old. The tank is small - 5 gallon I believe.

After removing the tank, draining it and re-pressurizing it to 18psi, the pump is working - it drops to about 20psi when water is running and stops pumping at 40psi. The line to the pressure switch seemed okay as well. However, we still have the problem of low water pressure when it has been unused for a period of time (anywhere over 1 hour it seems). The water from the tap sputters and stops running for a few seconds all together.

Where can I post some pics that may help you more - for all I know I may very well be using the wrong terms for some pieces here.

Thank you,
Louise
 
  #18  
Old 01-23-05, 08:46 PM
Ivale
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Trying for some pics now...

Used a sight that someone mentioned in a different thread here, photobuckets.com, and now will attempt to post some pics after which I am giving up for the night and going to bed.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v283/Ivale/Pump.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...umpandtank.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...ofwellseal.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...recleaning.jpg

Hopefully this works. The first is a pic of the pump itself with the stop valve attached to it. The second is the whole pump and tank, the third is a close-up of the well cap/seal (not sure exactly what to be calling it, and the fourth is a pic of the suction line and into the well. When we first had problems and opened it all up, the wellcap was literally buried beneath garbage (frozen insulation, an old coat, rotten wood, lots of dirt) and this pic has some of the nasty stuff still left in there. Just to be clear, we did not do that! Lol, I was so offended when I saw the mess.

Anyways, til tomorrow (unless the pics don't work here)
Louise
 
  #19  
Old 01-24-05, 12:59 AM
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Hi louise,
- wow, that is an unusual setup to say the least ! Heath Robinson, where are you ?
I would at least dismount the tank and lay it on it's side, connected to the tee at top of pump with a length of high pressure braid hose. tha t way you could prime without fooling around all the time.
2nd, remove everything from the pump nozzle down to the well fitting. Refit with new fittings (except for valve ) taped and compounded to avoid any leaks. At same time pull up the well tube and fit a footvalve. Measure to water, if it's more than 25 ft from pump to surface, it's not going to work with that pump.
Now, here's another problem. If in fact it is a 2" pipe WITH a 1" pipe inside it, 25 feet of that will only contain about 3 gallons of water ! Your recovery rate has to be phenomenal for that system to have ever worked.
It strikes me that a 2" pipe driven to 155' may be an artesian, -when you get the cap off if the water keeps seeping up, it is artesian. In that case you'd be better off letting it seep up into an unpressurised holding tank of at least 100 gal. and then suck it from there with the pump to the pressure tank.
If it does keep seeping up over the top of pipe enough to fill a bin on the floor your situation will be much simpler. Post back and let me know.If necessary I'll guide you through a holding tank system

Do it Right - Do it once.
 
  #20  
Old 01-24-05, 09:31 AM
Ivale
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Hi Nomind,

To my knowledge, we don't have an artesian well.

We are picking up a new suction pipe, foot valve and connections, and a new well seal at the same time, just in case we damage it taking it off (because I don't believe that it has been removed at all since it was installed 29 years ago). The person I spoke to at the supller asked me if it was for a flwoing well and I said no but in retrospect I should have questioned him about it. Are there different types of well seals for artesian (I assume same as "flowing") wells than for normal wells?

When we got the line unthawed, we ran a wire down inside the suction line to check for any more obstructions. The wire went about 20 feet and hit water. At the same time, we did not notice any water soming up the suction pipe on its own. If it were an artesian well, would there not have been water coming up the suction pipe?

Finally, financially we are giong to have to deal with this system the way it is, kwim? If we replace the suction pipe and install a foot valve, is it not possible that this system could continue working for another year or so? I am currently a university student so income is very limited.

Thanks,
Louise
 
  #21  
Old 01-24-05, 10:07 AM
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Hi Louise,
- your biggest problem is the extremely small amount of water available for the pump to draw out.
See my comment re. how much water is contained in the pipe. It MAY flow back very quickly, but neither I or anyone else can KNOW this without being on-site and doing a 'Flow Test'. If your pump is any good, it will suck up the 2-3 gallons within a minute, then if no water flows into the well, the pump is sucking air which may have been the start of your problem.
In cases like this where a submersible pump is involved, we fit a 'Dole valve' which is a flow restrictor, but in your case, especially having a jetpump, I don't think that would help . You could get and fit an LLC pressure switch. That will cut the pump off after it senses air. However these have to be manually re-set, and in this case, you'd be out there re-setting it all the time.
You really need a well professional to look at this and advise you

Do it Right - Do it once.
 
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Old 01-24-05, 10:09 PM
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Based on the below, I'll stay with my original reply about the water in the well dropping. Especially after reading this:

..... "When we got the line unthawed, we ran a wire down inside the suction line to check for any more obstructions. The wire went about 20 feet and hit water. At the same time, we did not notice any water soming up the suction pipe on its own. If it were an artesian well, would there not have been water coming up the suction pipe?
Originally Posted by Ivale
...... Our system is like this (top to bottom): we have a Burke pressure tank on top of a 1/2 hp convertible jet pump. The pump is attached to a 1" black plastic pipe which runs from floor level to the well cap, a length of about 5 feet. From what I've been told by the person who actually installed this system (a DIY-er who really hasn't been very clear on many points, hence the fact that I am here accosting you people for help!), from the well cap, there is a 2" steel shaft running 155feet down, and this plastic pipe is inside the steel shaft for about 30feet.

The first time the pipes froze (a couple of weeks ago) while re-priming, this gentleman told us that we do not need to fill the suction line because it goes straight down into the well water, and because it has no foot valve. At this point we had already poured about 50 gallons of water down there and saw no sign of anything filling up. So we re-attached the pump, put water in the pump, checked the pressure of the tank, replaced that, closed the line to the house, plugged in the pump and watched it run. He opened and closed the tap to the house a few times before the pump kicked in properly and started pulling water. Everything seemed fine at that point, right up until it froze again here. Now nothing is working like it did.

The pump has been tested and is fine, the tank is holding pressure (and is not spurting water when we check the pressure in it), there are no leaks in the suction line nor are there any in the house that we can find.
It sounds like a self priming pump to me.

Gary
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Last edited by Doug Aleshire; 03-11-05 at 04:27 PM.
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