Air in house water supplied by well

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Old 06-18-08, 07:03 PM
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Air in house water supplied by well

We're getting a lot of air in our water supply from a private well. This seems to coincide with a change made to the well. Here are the details:

1. About 2 years ago, the well casing was shortened by about 3 feet, the pitless adapter was moved down the same 3 feet, and pump was lowered 3 feet. No length was taken off the pipe running from the pitless to the well pump. Well is about 80 feet deep.

2. I recently cut the main water line (from the well) to install a filter before the pressure tank. I thought I had the well pump turned off but didn't. Surprisingly, there was no water in the well line. After purging the main line of air, the house fixtures operated for about 2 days without any air in the lines, then it returned.

3. Today, I used the pressure purge valve on top of the newly installed filter to see if there was any air in it....nothing happened - no air or water came out...so I can assume that, as before, the water is filling the pressure tank and then backs out of the pipe - I'm guessing towards the well but don't know if it backs out all the way to the well as the response time to refill the pressure tank is pretty fast. When the well pump is running, the water filter will purge air at first and then puts out a steady stream of water.

4. When the well runs, there's a ton of water flow with no apparent air in the line - I reach this conclusion from just observing the disconnected well line while the pump runs.

So, it seems to me that there's a failed check valve that's causing the water to back up in the line until it's called for again. Or is this supposed to happen? Or is the pump sucking air as a result of having been lowered 3 feet? That doesn't make sense to me but I'm no expert on this...

any help or testing ideas would be appreciated. thanks!
 
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Old 06-18-08, 07:25 PM
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Hello, and welcome to DIY

Do you have an additional check valve at the pressure tank? Does the pressure reading at the tank stay after the pump shuts off?

It sounds like either a leak in the line, pitless adapter, or check valve on pump. But with either of these, if I am not mistaken, the pump would cycle on and off because it would be losing pressure unless you have a second check valve at the tank.
 
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Old 06-18-08, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
Hello, and welcome to DIY

Do you have an additional check valve at the pressure tank? Does the pressure reading at the tank stay after the pump shuts off?

It sounds like either a leak in the line, pitless adapter, or check valve on pump. But with either of these, if I am not mistaken, the pump would cycle on and off because it would be losing pressure unless you have a second check valve at the tank.

thanks for the fast reply...yes, I believe there is a check valve - a brass valve labeled "200lbs" is installed on the main well water line just prior to the pressure tank.

I went back out and listened to it a few minutes ago...the pump kicks on when the pressure on the house-side of the check valve hits about 35psi, the pump runs for 30 seconds and shuts off when the same gauge reads 38psi.

When the well pump shuts off, I can literally hear the water rushing back out the main line towards the well - this explains why the line was empty when I cut it. What makes no sense to me is that when the well pump kicks back on, the water reaches that same check valve in about 2 seconds despite that valve being 60 lineal feet from the top of the well and the well being 80 feet deep.

This sounds like the pump has a failed check valve (if it has one) or perhaps there is a failed check valve in the well itself - I should be able to hear the water rushing into the well if either is true...pulling the pump will be interesting depending upon the type of line used on it...I don't recall there being a safety line attached.

I don't think this can be a break in the line from the house to the well as it would have to be a very large break which would greatly affect the water volume which seemed to be strong.

Is my thinking correct?
 
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Old 06-18-08, 08:57 PM
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Ok, first off, there is no need for a check valve at the tank. If there is one as you think, it was put in by a smart plumber that knows that if the check valve in the well goes bad there will not be an issue unless the water is lower than the pump.

If the problem is the check valve at the pump, there must be some other leak also or the pipe would still not be able to drain back, as it needs air for this to happen.

The pump only takes seconds to come up because it is pushing, not pulling.

I think you should take the cap off the well and run the pump. Listen for water leaks, or air leaks. Also look for any strange puddles in the ground.

It also sounds as if there is something wrong with your pressure switch because of the pump readings you gave. They should be like 30/50, or 20/40. Maybe the gauge is bad or somebody messed with the settings on the switch If you do not understand anything I said here just ask.

I also want you to understand that I am a 25 yr master plumber and have worked on many wells/pumps. But I am not quite as good as the well pros on this site, so if one of them comes on they may even say I said something incorrectly. I don't think I did, but I just wanted you to understand.
 
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Old 06-18-08, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
Ok, first off, there is no need for a check valve at the tank. If there is one as you think, it was put in by a smart plumber that knows that if the check valve in the well goes bad there will not be an issue unless the water is lower than the pump.

If the problem is the check valve at the pump, there must be some other leak also or the pipe would still not be able to drain back, as it needs air for this to happen.
excellent feedback...and I do appreciate it...perhaps the guage only fluctuates a little because it's not measuring the pressure inside the tank but rather the house line itself...I'm sure the pressure in the tank varies 20/40 or something like that....but what do I know!

excellent point about the check valve at the pump not being the sole cause of the problem...I will listen tomorrow..I also thought I could run a 2nd main line to the pitless to rule out the current line being the issue....but I suspect its in the well somewhere...

John.
 
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Old 06-18-08, 09:14 PM
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Let me know what you find out tomorrow and we will go from there,

Mark
 
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Old 06-18-08, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
Let me know what you find out tomorrow and we will go from there,

Mark

will do Mark...any idea how much air is needed to allow the water to drain back to the well? I tiny crack or a big one?

The good news in having the check valve at the pressure tank is that it stops the well pump from endlessly cycling on and off and burning out. For that reason, perhaps there isn't a check valve at the well pump as it wouldn't serve any real purpose...hmmmm....
 
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Old 06-18-08, 09:59 PM
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what it sounds like is the pitless adapter is leaking, that would allow the line to the house to drain but if the pump check valve is working the water below the pitless adapter will not drain.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies
 
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Old 06-18-08, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedwrench View Post
what it sounds like is the pitless adapter is leaking, that would allow the line to the house to drain but if the pump check valve is working the water below the pitless adapter will not drain.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies
thanks SW...do all submersible pumps need a check valve at the pump? I would think that without one, wouldn't the water always just drain back into the well - or at least until the water level in the pipe was at the same level as the well itself???

I'm curious, why do you think its at the pitless adapter and not, for example, at the pump itself?

Place your bets...
 
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Old 06-18-08, 10:48 PM
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Most submersible pumps either have a check valve built in or have one installed, at the pump. At least so I have been taught.
Usually the only reason you will find a check valve at the tank is because either there was already a previous problem, or the installer went above and beyond and did a quality installation.

I have a good analogy to use, that I hope will help you understand what I am talking about.

Take a glass full of water and a straw. Put the straw all the way into the glass. Put your thumb on the top end of the straw and lift the straw. Notice how no water can leave the straw until either you let air in from the top or you lift the bottom end out of the straw, out of the water. One way or another, it needed air to let the water drain out. Your well works with the same concept. If your well is downhill from your house, it would not take a very big hole to cause the problems. You may need to disconnect the incoming pipe from the pump, and hook some type of pressurization system and the open the well and look for air bubbles. It wont take much air pressure to find the leak unless it is underground.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
I have a good analogy to use, that I hope will help you understand what I am talking about.

Take a glass full of water and a straw. Put the straw all the way into the glass. Put your thumb on the top end of the straw and lift the straw.
I understand your analogy but am not sure it applies as you are changing pressure by raising the straw out of the water ...how about this example...if I place a pump underwater in a swimming pool, connect a hose to that pump and run the hose up a 50' hill, put a check valve at the end of the hose so water can only exit it ... then I turn on the pump and remove it underwater without injecting any air, wouldn't all the water run back down the hose into the pool because the pool is lower than the water in the hose? But if I put a check valve at the pump, the water would remain in the hose...

Isn't that why hose bibs now have anti-siphon valves on them - to stop water from entering the house water supply when the end of the hose is in a large water source?

I don't know if my example works or not but can't figure out why it wouldn't hold true...and it's just like a well on a much smaller scale.

Any other opinions?
 

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Old 06-19-08, 08:27 AM
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No the water will not run back into the pool. The check valve at the top is like holding your finger over a straw full of water. It won't run back until you let air in at the top. I use this analogy a lot myself, it is a good one. You have probably always had a leak at the pitless or in the well. The above ground check valve was like holding your finger over the stray. When you added the filter, you let it have air, and the lines drain to the pitless or hole in pipe. Then when the pump comes on, you get a shot of air each time.

The filters have o-ring seals that hold pressure well but, will let air in when the pump is off and the line is under vacuum. Remove the above ground check valve. It is just masking the real problem. Then the pump will start cycling on and off when no water is being used but, there will be no more air. Then you need to find the real problem which is the leak, and get it fixed.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Valveguy View Post
No the water will not run back into the pool. The check valve at the top is like holding your finger over a straw full of water. It won't run back until you let air in at the top. I use this analogy a lot myself, it is a good one. You have probably always had a leak at the pitless or in the well. The above ground check valve was like holding your finger over the stray. When you added the filter, you let it have air, and the lines drain to the pitless or hole in pipe. Then when the pump comes on, you get a shot of air each time.

The filters have o-ring seals that hold pressure well but, will let air in when the pump is off and the line is under vacuum. Remove the above ground check valve. It is just masking the real problem. Then the pump will start cycling on and off when no water is being used but, there will be no more air. Then you need to find the real problem which is the leak, and get it fixed.
you guys are good! Just to be clear, the problem existed prior to my installing the filter - the filter installation just let me see that the main water line was indeed emptying....when you say removing the above ground check valve will unmask the issue, will that also cause the pump to continuously cycle on and off as the pressure in the main line will keep dropping? and ruin the pump?

Here's what I found out a few minutes ago:

...pulled the well cover...haven't run the pump in 10 hours...I can hear lots of water running in the well...we had a lot of rain the past few weeks....

When I turn the pump on I can definitely hear a sucking of air which appears to be coming from the pitless adapter or close to it. The pump is about 80 feet below the pitless. When the pump is turned off I can also hear air escaping (?)...

There's no water escaping at the pitless when the pump is running or when off....shouldn't water escape also at the pitless once the line is full of water if there is an air leak at that point? And shouldn't water leak out of the pitless thereby creating the void in the main line?

Confused...
 
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Old 06-19-08, 09:14 AM
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If the pitless isn't leaking and there are no leaks in the line, then your check valve in the well is not working. Yes removing the above ground check will cause the pump to cycle on and off. That is how you will know that the check in the well isn't holding. No good news here as that check must be replaced either way. It will either cause air if you keep the above ground check, or it will cause cycling if you remove the check above ground.

BTW, cycling on and off will cause premature failure of your pump but, it is also what usually causes failures of check valves, bladders in tanks, pressure switches, start control box, etc.

If the filter is not where the air is coming from, it is coming from somewhere. Does your above ground check valve have a "schrader valve" or car tire air stem sticking out of it?
 
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Old 06-19-08, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Valveguy View Post

If the filter is not where the air is coming from, it is coming from somewhere. Does your above ground check valve have a "schrader valve" or car tire air stem sticking out of it?
The above ground check valve has no valve on it - it just says 200lbs and BII Taiwan. There appear to be two directional arrows at the check valve fitting. The pressure tank has a schrader valve on the top.

When you say the air is coming from somewhere...could it be coming from the pitless (as I can hear air in that vicinity) - or do you rule that out as the air leak source because there is no water escaping at that point?

If air can escape without water escaping at the same point, then is it possible that the pitless is the air leak source and the well pump has no built in check valve?

How difficult/heavy is it to pull the pump from 80 feet? the fittings at the pitless seem to indicate plastic pipe to the pump.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 11:11 AM
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Yes the air could be coming in at the pitless. Those kind of o-ring seals hold pressure but, not vacuum. So water can't get out but, air can get in. It could also be a threaded fitting or other fitting in the pipe system. Air molecules are much smaller than water, so air can get in places where water will not leak out of.

Pump, "plastic" pipe, wire, for 80' won't weigh 100 pounds. Steel pipe will be much heavier. Sometimes lifting it off the pitless takes a little more lift. And the buoyancy of the water helps a lot. Going to have to fix that check valve either way.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Valveguy View Post
Yes the air could be coming in at the pitless. Those kind of o-ring seals hold pressure but, not vacuum. So water can't get out but, air can get in. It could also be a threaded fitting or other fitting in the pipe system. Air molecules are much smaller than water, so air can get in places where water will not leak out of.

Pump, "plastic" pipe, wire, for 80' won't weigh 100 pounds. Steel pipe will be much heavier. Sometimes lifting it off the pitless takes a little more lift. And the buoyancy of the water helps a lot. Going to have to fix that check valve either way.
are you positive there will be a check valve at the well pump or just above it? Does a well system always require one even if there is one at the pressure tank - if so, why?

thanks again for all your help...John.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 12:15 PM
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As I said yesterday, most pumps will have a check valve at the pump. Some are built in and some are added. From what I have just read, it sounds like your check valve at the pump is bad and probably has been for a while. But most likely you just got the leak at the pitless adapter or in that area. If the pump is running do you see any water leaking? If you cannot see your pitless because of lack of light, the best way to look down the well is with a mirror and the sun.


You are going to need to pull the pump to replace the check valve, and at the same time check the o-rings on the pitless and look for any imperfections, or maybe a loose, broken fitting, or clamp.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
As I said yesterday, most pumps will have a check valve at the pump. Some are built in and some are added. From what I have just read, it sounds like your check valve at the pump is bad and probably has been for a while. But most likely you just got the leak at the pitless adapter or in that area. If the pump is running do you see any water leaking? If you cannot see your pitless because of lack of light, the best way to look down the well is with a mirror and the sun.


You are going to need to pull the pump to replace the check valve, and at the same time check the o-rings on the pitless and look for any imperfections, or maybe a loose, broken fitting, or clamp.
thanks...on my way out to start digging now...don't know if I have a pipe to pull the pitless up...I see no water leaking around the pitless but think I hear an air leak there....

John.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 12:36 PM
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If there was nothing wrong at the well, you would not here anything.

Make sure if you make a pitless tool, you put a tee with handles so you cannot drop it in the well. Most pitless adapters are 1" female IPS thread so the tool must be 1" male threads. I have made them out of copper but sometimes that is not strong enough to get the pitless apart.
 
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Old 06-20-08, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
If there was nothing wrong at the well, you would not here anything.

.

Ok...pulled the pump up enough to view the pitless connection on the pipe itself...the pitless O-ring has a fairly large nick in it which is probably causing the air leak....not too hard to pull up but the pipe is full of water which adds a lot to the weight...I'll buy a new o-ring and see if that fixes it.

I bought a 4 foot section of galvanized pipe and use a T connection with 2 one foot sections of pipe...no safety rope is installed...makes me nervous that its just 2 plastic pipe connectors stopping the pump from falling all the way to the well bottom!

will keep you posted...
 
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Old 06-23-08, 05:14 PM
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the latest...

ok...couldn't find an o - ring to match...so I reversed the existing one, that didn't appear to work...went to pull the pump...got about 15 feet out of the casing when I came across a plastic connector of some kind...about 1.5 inches round and about 2 inches tall...water was leaking out of a triangular shaped hole in the side of it...very strange...anybody know what this could be? about 8 feet below the pitless...could this be the air leak?

thunder and rain forced me to stop....
 
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Old 06-23-08, 05:53 PM
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It does not sound like anything I am familiar with.
 
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Old 06-23-08, 06:00 PM
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Here is a picture of the part I was referring to...what is this? I think it was leaking water where the arrow is pointing...






the pump is about 40 feet below this point i think...
 
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Old 06-23-08, 06:40 PM
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I am sorry, but that is something I have never seen before. I wish we could put our pitlesses that high in the casing. Ours are 5' below ground so the well won't freeze.

We have a few good well guys that pop on a lot. Hopefully one of them will stop in and have some info on that item.
 
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Old 06-23-08, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
I am sorry, but that is something I have never seen before. I wish we could put our pitlesses that high in the casing. Ours are 5' below ground so the well won't freeze.

We have a few good well guys that pop on a lot. Hopefully one of them will stop in and have some info on that item.
thanks for trying...my pitless is 3 feet below that one...that's the old one that was abandoned -- and when all the problems started!
 
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Old 06-23-08, 06:55 PM
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I am curious as to what that does. You said when you pulled the pump the pipe was full of water, correct. If that is the case, how can water be leaking out of that fitting?

Things that make you go hhhmmmmmmmm !

I have installed many new well pumps and have repaired even more. That thing is either something new or we just don't use it in NH
 
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Old 06-23-08, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
I am curious as to what that does. You said when you pulled the pump the pipe was full of water, correct. If that is the case, how can water be leaking out of that fitting?

Things that make you go hhhmmmmmmmm !

I have installed many new well pumps and have repaired even more. That thing is either something new or we just don't use it in NH
the first time I pulled it, it was leaking water out that point...I'm pretty sure it was anyway...the 2nd time, I didn't see water leaking there...yes, the pipe feels full of water at least below that point...it's hard to tell above it because i'm struggling to hold the pipe while my wife takes pictures...if you know what I mean... a team effort, but not the best team!

Without pulling the whole thing, I won't know for sure if its holding water...but I'm going to try again in the morning to pull the entire deal...by the weight, there is definetely water in the pipe though...

I'm curious, there is no safety rope on this...I can't believe its wise to have simple clamps like this holding a 70lb pump...don't the clamps fail? I asked at HD if they had better ones...nope, they don't ....
 
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Old 06-23-08, 07:23 PM
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That is why you always use 2 clamps in opposite directions at each joint.

Believe it or not, It is not as heavy as it seams, You are only lifting the pump and pipe. The water weight is equaled out by the water in the well. You are actually only lifting a little bit of water weight.

A safety rope that is old can actually hamper the situation. I was working with another plumber on a pump pull once, and he grabbed the rope and pulled. The rope broke and jammed the pump in the well, and we were using a power pump puller. They had to get a well driller in to fix the problem after that. I never pull on the rope anymore. I think the wire is safer.
I am going in search of one of the well guys for you.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 07:16 AM
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That is a "bleeder orifice". It is designed to let air into the system when using a standard air over water (no bladder) type tank. If you have switched to a bladder type tank, you need to remove the orifice and plug that hole. If you still have the old air over water type tank, then you have a bad Air Volume Control or AVC. This is a fitting in a 1 " hole, half way up the side of the tank. The bleeder puts air in the tank, and the AVC lets out excess air. AVC's are always failing. It is a common problem.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 07:44 AM
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Good morning

Valveguy, Thanks for the info. I am familiar with the air over bladder-less tanks with AVC's, but have never come across that fitting.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 07:48 AM
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It is a rubber bleeder with a flap closure. They also make brass ones with a ball closure, and even spring loaded bleeders.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Valveguy View Post
That is a "bleeder orifice". It is designed to let air into the system when using a standard air over water (no bladder) type tank. If you have switched to a bladder type tank, you need to remove the orifice and plug that hole. If you still have the old air over water type tank, then you have a bad Air Volume Control or AVC. This is a fitting in a 1 " hole, half way up the side of the tank. The bleeder puts air in the tank, and the AVC lets out excess air. AVC's are always failing. It is a common problem.
wow...thanks...I checked the tank...I don't see any fittings on the side of the tank...it's completely smooth...there is a schrader valve on top but that's it...I'm confused...this worked for 4 years without a problem, so if I have the wrong tank for this bleeder orifice, how did it work for so many years without a problem?

here are pictures of my set up at the tank....

letter A denotes the check valve
letter B is ???

A quick check says this pressure tank does have a bladder in it...so should I definetely remove the bleeder orifice? or plug it? Is it best just to replace the entire plastic line to the pump? is their a minimum psi for the plastic line needed?

 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:00 AM
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Letter B is a relief valve. It is usually set at 75 psi and will release pressure should your pressure switch become faulty.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:08 AM
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I just looked up the tank and it is definitely a bladder type tank. According to vavleguy, and with my aggreement, I would remove that fitting in the well. It could be the cause of your problems. Just cut the pipe about 2" back on each side of the fitting and install a brass insert coupling with double SS clamps reversed on each connection. I have a funny feeling you will be fine after that.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by plumbingods View Post
I just looked up the tank and it is definitely a bladder type tank. According to vavleguy, and with my aggreement, I would remove that fitting in the well. It could be the cause of your problems. Just cut the pipe about 2" back on each side of the fitting and install a brass insert coupling with double SS clamps reversed on each connection. I have a funny feeling you will be fine after that.
thanks PG...can I use a plastic fitting? or is it better to go with brass for strength?

when you say reversed on each connection...do you mean put 2 clamps on each connection and install them so they are tightening in opposite directions from one another...so a total of 4 clamps as exist presently?
 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:16 AM
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Apparently that system use to have a standard air over water tank and needed the bleeder orifice. Now it has a bladder type tank and does not need the bleeder. You can just remove the check valve (A), this will keep the bleeder from opening up. Or you can pull it back up and plug the hole where the bleeder is. I would still remove the above ground check valve, as it will also cause a water hammer on pump start.

It worked for a while and now it is not because you now have a small air leak before the above ground check valve. Probably leaking at the hose clamp connection in the picture.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:20 AM
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That bleeder will just unscrew from the tee. You will need a 1" or 1 1/4" threaded plug. You don't need to cut the pipe.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:27 AM
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Sorry valveguy, I have to disagree on removing the check valve at the tank. It is a good back up if the check at the pump fails. We also do not know if there even is one at the pump.

As far as the fitting replacement is concerned, I would replace it because it is plastic. I just don"t like plastic fittings in the well for strength. I was taught that way.

And yes, you are correct about the reverse clamps.
 
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Old 06-24-08, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Valveguy View Post
That bleeder will just unscrew from the tee. You will need a 1" or 1 1/4" threaded plug. You don't need to cut the pipe.

execellent...will do and I will remove the above ground check valve (if one exists in the well?)...if I find that the pump doesn't have a check valve built in or there is no check valve immediately above it, should I install a new check valve immediately above the pump? Will this fix the air in my lines?

Also, I suspect that the tank is way too small for my pump. as mentioned before, the pump only runs for 30 seconds at a time.

I'm going to replace the pressure guage to see if I can get a handle on the cut in and cut out times...and throw a guage on the tank to see what pressure its holding...

like everything done in this place, it was done with little thought and the cheapest way possible.

One other thing...in the picture you'll see copper to galvanized connections...isn't this incorrect without a dialectic union? What about brass to galvanized?

I really appreciate all your help.
 
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