New owner of old well trying to learn some basics


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Old 11-06-13, 09:45 AM
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New owner of old well trying to learn some basics

I've been trying to get a grip on my well and determine at what capacity it is functioning.

1.
I have a Flotec 1/2 HP shallow well jet pump and a galvanized bladderless above ground residential water tank that is very similar to a ""Quick Tanks Inc." model # Q120VW max working pressure=75PSI" that I saw at a hardware store yesterday. The hardware store is owned by a company whose main business is drilling water wells, so I asked a knowledgable employee whether those are pressurized tanks. He said that there is no adjusting the air pressure on them. I don't see an air valve on the tank.

I ran across this forum thread (Bladderless water tank question) where responders state that these tanks are pressure adjustable. If the tank does not leak, then it should be able to be pressurized.

Any reason why the guy would tell me that these are not pressurizable?

2.
Another question I have is regarding the pump. When we had the house inspected before buying it, the inspector tested the system by opening all faucets and checking to see if the pump could keep up. His report stated that after 1 hour, the water coming from the faucets was slowing significantly. He said that the cause was that the pump impeller was worn out. He did not open the pump when making this assessment.

While the water at the faucets and toilets flows well and seems to have decent pressure, I can't help but think that something still is not right with the system. The pump runs excessively, it seems to me. I have heard it running when there was no water being used in the house, and at odd times (like middle of the night). I have found no leaking fixtures/spigots nor any wet spots in the yard.

Also, I have tried to increase the pressure by adjusting the switch at the pump. The pressure was always around 30-35psi whenever I would check. I wanted to increase it to 40psi cut-in and 60 cut-out, so made the adjustment. The pump would just run and run, while the pressure never got above 45psi. I shut all valves and ran the pump to just pressurize the tank, and it did shut off, but still was not above 45 psi. I then opened the valves, and the pump just ran continuously while no water was being used in the house. I finally just readjusted the switch pressures down.

I'll disconnect the outlet from the pump next to check the volume output from the pump.

It does seem like a worn impeller could be the problem. What should my next step be as far as diagnosing my system?
 
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Old 11-06-13, 11:27 AM
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I'll add my 2 cents. I am not an expert on bladderless tanks but I do know how tanks with a bladder work. A bladder tank gets pre-charged, when completely empty of water, with air pressure just slightly below the cut in pressure of the pump switch. When the water is turned on, the water pressure comes up against the air pressure. As soon as the water pressure is higher then the air pressure, the water enters the tank. As the water enters the tank it compresses the air, increasing the air pressure to equal the water pressure. Eventually both water and air pressure equals your cut out pressure and the pumps shuts off. When one opens a tap, the air pressure pushing on the water is what creates the water pressure in your house. As the water leaves the tank, the air volume increases and therefore the air pressure on the water decreases and eventually the values equal your cut in pressure and your pump refills the tank again.

I have always thought of a bladderless tank as the same as a bladder tank whose bladder has ruptured. I am probably wrong but if this is the case, I assume this happens. When the tank is empty of water it is full of air. When you turn on your pump, the water rushes in and again starts to compress the air, since there is really no escape. Eventually the air is compressed to equal the cut out pressure of the pump and the pump stops filling the tank. That air that was trapped in the tank will provide the pressure for your water system. Unfortunately, air dissolves in water. It takes time, but eventually the amount of air trapped in the bladderless tank gets reduced. Since the amount of water your tank will put out, between cycles (drawdown), is proportional to the amount of air in the tank, eventually the amount of air is so small that the amount of water you get also becomes very, very small, and the pump starts to "short cycle".

Now maybe some bladderless tanks have a way of allowing you to add more air to compensate for this dissolving problem. This I do not know.

The other issue you described was the pump coming on when you are not using the water. This can be from a leak in the system or from a serious short cycling problem. Is your pump short cycling? Going on and off, fairly quickly, every time you use water. If not, then I would look for a leak between your well and your pump, since you mentioned that you have not observed a leak in the pipes after the pump.

The last issue about whether your system can provide the water you need. I wouldn't worry about it struggling if all your taps are on at once. I am sure mine would struggle under that condition. The real question is, does it work under normal operation. Until you figure out the short cycle (if applicable) and the possible leak (if applicable) I wouldn't worry about the pump at this point. Once those other issues are addressed you will be able to determine if the pump will provide you with the water you need.
 
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Old 11-06-13, 11:58 AM
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No, it is not short cycling. I have not timed how long it will run, but even at the lower pressures (30-35 psi) it was adjusted to before I raised it, it would run for 5-10-15-??? minutes between cut-in and cut-out.
 
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Old 11-07-13, 06:22 AM
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1. I looked again at the tank. There is a plug on the top - looks to be 1/2 NPT size, although I didn't pull it to check. What is this used for? Seems like a convenient place to put an air pressure valve/gauge.

2. The pump is a Flotec FP4022-00(L?). There is a plug on the side of the impeller housing down toward the end of the taper (picture attached). Is this a drain plug? I have read that people get access through such a plug to clean out the nozzle. Any recommendations for doing this procedure?

I assume that before removing this plug, I disconnect power and shut off valves at the pump.

I'll also try to remove the connection line from the pump housing to the pressure switch to see if there is any obstruction
 
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Old 11-07-13, 06:42 AM
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Air gets in the tank buy a volume control... Should be on the side...




Attaches to the pump...




Everytime the pump runs it adds air....
 
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Old 11-07-13, 07:25 AM
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That's good to know. Mine is not hooked up like that, although there is an unused connection on the tank.. I don't know if the Flotec pump has that option. I'm looking into it now.

The more I look into it, I probably ought to go ahead and get a Goulds or some other quality pump. It's against my nature to use cheap crap if I can avoid it, and the pump I have probably falls into that category based on what I've read.
 
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Old 11-07-13, 07:27 AM
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Take a pic of your tank and overall pic of the set up... possibly the plastic type pump is there for a reason... PH issues. A steal pump will corrode....
 
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Old 11-07-13, 08:08 AM
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Here is a picture of the galvanized tank. It is all I have for now.

The water coming from the well is very high in magnesium, calcium & iron. I don't know what the ph is, but I do have some test strips I can check with tonight.

What is the ph limit at which I need to use a plastic pump?
 
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Old 11-07-13, 08:11 AM
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I see a drain valve on the tank but my eyes are old... Take pic of top and close up of anything attached to tank that looks like a shrader valve or air volume control...

Your PSI issues may be the filters and softener... Stuff may be clogged up...
 
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Old 11-07-13, 09:09 AM
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I'll take more pics when I get home. I just happened to have taken the last pic I posted last night. There are no schrader valves on the tank, only gate valves on the inlet and drain, as well as the mid connection as shown in the picture. There is the plugged port on top, which I was asking about as a place to add an air valve/gauge

I bypassed the softener with no effect on the pressure. There is a filter before the softener that is still in circuit even with the softener bypassed, but I did shut this out of the circuit when I shut all valves on the piping to test just the pump and the tank. I still could not get the 20 psi differential between cut in and cut out in this isolated condition, so I don't think that the filter is the problem. (That being said, I do need to check the filter, but I don't have water flow problems)
 
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Old 11-07-13, 09:19 AM
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Possibly you have an old point well and the point is clogged... what material pipe attached to the pump? Poly plastic or galvanized steel?


[ATTACH=CONFIG]20695[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 11-07-13, 09:38 AM
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galvanized steel goes into the pump. It is a PVC cased well. The neighbor who has been there for decades said that there is foot valve at the bottom of the string. I have broken the vacuum going from the pipe to the pump and the water stayed at the top of the pipe. I assume that this would only happen with a foot valve.
 
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Old 11-11-13, 12:53 PM
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Here are some pictures of my tank and piping. One of the pics shows the plug on top of the tank. There is about 7" distance between the top of the tank and the ceiling of the well shed. Two other pictures show the drain valve on the bottom and the mid-height side valve, neither of which are connected to anything other than the tank.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 05:51 AM
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By looking at your pictures and knowing your location (Pearland area) you have a shallow well, probably in the 100' range. That is an 82 gallon galv. tank. Don't bother with the AVC, they won't last long enough in your water to make it worth your while. Just keep either draining the tank or add a schraeder valve to manually add air every 3-4 months.

Those flotec and all big box store pumps are pretty junky, their "1-HP" pump isn't even equal to a professional grade 1/2 HP pump. Just look at the amps, that will tell the story.

Since you appear to have a shallow well pump your water level is within the 25' range. I would suggest looking at the Goulds shallow well pumps like the J5S. A 1/2 or 3/4 HP should suffice. If you're using the water for a house I would go with the 3/4 HP because it gives more water at pressure.

Also, knowing the area I would strongly suggest looking at drilling a deeper well. It will cost you more but the water quality will be much better. We refer to that shallow stuff as "cow water". It's high in hardness and minerals and will generally cost you much more over time in maintenance and upkeep not to mention staining your fixtures and appliances, even with expensive treatment.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 06:42 AM
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TW, thanks so much for the input.

The post by Lawrosa on the 7th shows the Goulds pump with a volume control connection into the side. I don't see anything in the Goulds literature that mentions a connection to maintain air pressure in the tank, so maybe that was an option in the past but no longer. Of the two options for maintaining pressure in the tank, I'd prefer to add the schraeder valve at the plugged port on the top unless, it is recommended to put it in the side connection. If I do go the route of just draining the tank, do I just drain it down to the mid height outlet?

I would like to drill a deeper well, but that probably will not happen in the near future. Perhaps a couple of years from now, but this house is requiring a bit of investment in other areas, so it'd be good to live with this well for the time being if feasible, although the cost of a new pump and an RO system for drinking water will have to be weighed against the cost of a new well. For reference, roughly how much would a deeper well cost in this area?
 
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Old 11-19-13, 07:10 AM
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Drain the tank from the bottom drain completely. Close then turn pump back on. That should recharge the tank.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 07:23 AM
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I heard that the hardware store folks get $6500 for 300'. Not sure if that includes pump/tank. I'm a little further south so I'm not sure what prices are in your area.

That Kinetico softner probably cost about $5K.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 07:27 AM
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The way yours is set-up you simply turn off the pump, open the middle and bottom valve and let her drain. The water that is naturally present in the tank will give you an 8 gallon drawdown. You can add a schraeder valve and "supercharge" the tank with air (once it fills with water) and increase the drawdown but the air will dissipate over time into the water.

There is nothing special about the AVC connection, it is on the pump suction side. When the pump comes on it sucks a little air into the AVC into a holding cell. When the pump kicks off the suction turns to pressure and is forced into the tank. It is only a very small volume of air applied over time that will keep the air head up.

In hard water like yours they won't work for long and they're not very cheap.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 07:34 AM
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That Kinetico softener did cost around $5K. But it is about 25 years old now. I was looking at the current value of it and the classifieds I've found for this model list it around $300-500, so not much help toward a new well there, unfortunately.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 07:49 AM
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My point was that if the original owners spent about $2K on the well system and $5K on the softner = $7K plus extra upkeep on the well system due to high hardness.

PS...you would still probably need a softner as almost all water in our area is hard. It would just have to work a whole lot less.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 08:39 AM
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True enough. That's quite a chunk of change to spend on poor water.

Thanks again everyone for all of the help. Much appreciated.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:42 AM
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Update - unfortunate developments

Yesterday I replaced the Flotec pump with my new Goulds J7s. I had to redo some of the piping as expected, but the configuration remained basically the same. I primed the system from a port in the piping at the top of the pipe coming out of the well as well as from a highpoint of the discharge pipe. After all pipe was reconnected, I cracked the vent plug on the pump between suction and discharge ports and water came out, so it appeared primed well enough.

I started it up and it eventually did reach pressure of around 50 psi. It took a while, but I had drained the tank so didn't think much of it. It was running fairly quietly, but the pump did seem to pulse slightly. At this point I thought that I had finally solved my well problems

After a while the pump started struggling to reach pressure and later, it would not. i ended up having to reduce the cut-in/out setting just to get it to shut off, just as i had to with the Flotec pump.

The pressure would drop faster than I thought it should on the whole system when I saw no significant water being used or leaked on the property.

With the running condition of the new pump being about the same as that of the old one, which has been running like that for quite a while, I went to bed with disappointment but no real concern for the pump. I read last night that I might have leaks in the suction pipe connections and was going to check that this morning by wrapping joints with saran wrap.

Upon waking this morning, there was low pressure in the house and when I checked on the pump, I found that the pressure was lower than I'd ever seen it at around 20 psi and the pump was running. However, it didn't sound like it was pulling any water and the pump housing at the front where the suction port is was too hot to touch, so I cut power to it altogether. I'm afraid that I fried my new pump. I have no idea how long it had been running last night.

As far as the pump spec goes, I replaced a 3/4 HP pump with another 3/4 HP pump, so didn't think I was pushing the limit. Looking further into it, I saw both recommendations & requirements depending on the source that the suction pipe should be the same size as the suction port. However, the suction pipe coming out of the well is a 1" pipe, while the suction ports on both the J7S & the Flotec were both 1-1/4". The 1-1/4 - 1" reducer was the last fitting before the pump with both pump setups. The only difference in piping was that the discharge port on the J&S is 1" and on the Flotec it is 3/4", with piping coming out of each to match.

I can reinstall the Flotec fairly easily, but don't want to fry that one too. I am very disappointed that I did not get to check for suction pipe leaks before apparently frying the J7S.

I do have the good fortune to be able to get water from my neighbor via a garden hose into one of my hose bibs, so the house does have water.

Advice on how to proceed will be much appreciated.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 06:54 AM
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I doubt you hurt the pump, even with it getting hot. Fix the suction leaks. 1" pipe is ok.
 
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Old 12-15-13, 10:46 AM
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I sure hope you are right and that the pump is alright.

I will check for air leaks between the suction port and the pipe coming out the top of the casing. Are there any possible joints going down into the well, or is the pipe going down into a shallow well a single length with no joints?
 
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Old 12-16-13, 05:25 AM
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PVC comes in 20' joints and the max. depth that a jet pump can draw is close to 30'. Most people will put in a full joint and then a 10' section, making the suction pipe 30' to ensure that it always has water, even if it can't quite pull it up from that far.

You use 1" because 1.25" is such a tight fit in the well that it is a PITA to deal with. We even use 1" on our deep well jet sets.
 
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Old 12-16-13, 06:25 PM
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I went ahead and swapped back in the old pump, just to get back to a known condition. I suppose that the J7S was just that much more powerful/efficient that it made whatever suction leak that much worse in short time.

After putting in the Flotec and doublechecking all of my joints between the pump and the 90 going into the well, I wrapped each joint with saran wrap as tight as possible at the recommendation of a well pump site that I ran across when searching on the issue of not being able to reach pressure. I primed the well and started the pump and finally saw what a well functioning pump sounds like and how quickly it will reach pressure (50 psi in my case) when there is no air leak. At least now I know what the goal is.

Well, that condition didn't last too long. After a couple of cycles, it started struggling to reach pressure, and I had to adjust the cutoff down to 45 to get the pump to cut off.

I didn't have any real hope that the saran wrap would be that effective, but it was a possibility and was easy enough to try. Any other suggestions on how to try to discover a leaking joint? I've thought of spraying soap water outside of the joint to see if bubbles get sucked in. I've used teflon tape for all of my threaded joints. Would a good quality pipe dope have been a better choice?

Any issues pulling the suction pipe and replacing it and the foot valve? Is it typically straight casing all of the way down and then the 1" pvc with a foot valve at the bottom with nothing else in between for this type of well?
 
 

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