Well water pump constant recycles and pressure drops rapidly


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Old 11-14-13, 05:53 PM
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Well water pump constant recycles and pressure drops rapidly

This morning I woke to my water pump recycling every 10 seconds.
For a year it has been recycling more than it should and I now realize why I have been paying up to $100 a month MORE in electrical bills.
Pressure in the pressure tank was about 10 so I raised it to 30.
My cut in and out is 35/55.

This helped slow the recycle down to every 60 seconds instead of 10 seconds.

But its obviously not right and something needs to be fixed. I cannot find a leak or reason for loss of pressure anywhere in the house. When I close the water main down just after the pressure tank it still loses pressure rapidly.
When I close the water down right after the pump it goes crazy and recycles every second.

I'm unemployed and poor and can't afford a professional or to fix things that don't need it.

Can anyone offer any advice on that it could be based on this?

Thank you
 
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Old 11-14-13, 06:59 PM
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Welcome to the forum.

Since you didn't tell us what you have for a well we'll guess at it.

Since you can hear the pump.... it's most likely a shallow well possibly a two pipe jet pump system. At the bottom of the pipe(s) in the well there is a point that has a foot valve in it. That foot valve may not be holding which will allow the water to drain back in to the well causing short cycling.
 
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Old 11-14-13, 07:20 PM
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Yes. Sounds like you have a leak between your pump and the end of the pipe in the well.

When you added the air to the tank was the tank empty with a tap or two open?
 
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Old 11-14-13, 09:43 PM
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Thanks for the responses.
I emptied the pressure tank to add air but did not open any taps though.
My jet pump is in the basement with 2lines coming in thru the wall.
I've read that the check valve could be leaking as well. I'm just really hoping the problem is not outsude the house and underground.

Ill have to look to see what the foot valve is as I am not familiar. Maybe it's the check valve I've been thinking may be the problem.
 
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Old 11-14-13, 09:53 PM
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The foot valve is a check valve located in the well at the bottom of the water lines.
A check valve would be near the pump.

Normally a check valve is not installed until there's a problem underground.

Maybe you could post a picture or two of your setup.
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html


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inline check valve
 
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Old 11-15-13, 05:06 AM
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Below is a drawing of what your system probably is. It sounds like you could have one of two problems; a leak in a pipe somewhere from the bottom of the well to the pump, or a leaking check/foot valve. Easiest to do would be to install a check valve in the larger pipe leading into your pump. A leaky pipe would continue to leak wasting your water & electricity but at least the check valve would help stop the pump from cycling on/off when you are not using water.


 
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Old 11-15-13, 09:09 AM
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Since your pump was cycling about every 10 seconds, before you put in air, it tells me that you either have an incredible fast leak or perhaps your diaphragm has ruptured inside your tank. If you had a tap open and a ruptured diaphragm, you might have found it difficult to pressurize the tank to 30psi, since all the air would rush out the tank and through the open tap. With a closed tap, one cannot be sure since it is possible that you simply pressurized your entire water system to 30psi, not just the tank. Or perhaps your tank is fine.

In any event, it still looks like you have a leak since the pump should not come on when you are not using water, so you must be using water when you didn't think you were. This must be fixed first and then you can look closer at the tank.

I would set the air pressure to 32 to 33psi. Refill the tank. Measure the amount of water you get from it between cycles (drawdown). If this amount of water reduces over the next couple of weeks, you most likely have a ruptured bladder in your tank. How large is your pressure tank, by the way?
 
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Old 11-15-13, 10:23 AM
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A couple pics of my setup. It looks to have a check valve just after the pump. As suggested maybe i need one before the pump.

Just a recap. The pressure gets up to 50 and now takes about a minute to drop to near 30 then it just plunges way down instantly and the pump kicks in.
Thank you all for the possible causes. Now i may have to figure what fix will wor.
 
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Old 11-15-13, 02:33 PM
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After research I want to try and clarify my issue and what I have done.

I'm guessing the leak must be on the "suction side". From what I just read.

System pressure drops and cycles every minute. Even with water main shutoff to the house.

Pressure reached 55 and cuts off, 60 seconds or so and its already back down to 35 and then it suddenly drops to 25 and the pumps starts.

I filled the pressure tank to 33psi and it has remained there for 24 hours. Tank is hollow on top so it is not waterlogged.

The picture shows a shutoff valve immediately after the pump and before what I assume must be a check valve. If I turn that valve off the system goes crazy and it cycles every second.

At this point I think I must replace the check valve which unscrews into 2 pieces but the top is soldered to the pipe.

Any last minute advice before I go shopping tomorrow will be very much appreciated.

One suggestion was to add a check valve BEFORE the pump. Is adding a second check valve wise? Or should I just worry about the check valve already in the system.

Thank you all for your advice.
 
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Old 11-15-13, 06:23 PM
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Kenny Iím not a well guy or a plumber. But I believe the white thing in the picture, which is what I think you are referring to as a check valve, is actually a union. It allows you to take the piping apart to make changes or repairs. I canít follow the piping in the pictures too well, but you would probably open that union if you wanted, for example, to put in a new pressure tank (they eventually need replacement).The big nut in the middle of the union unscrews and thus disconnects the pipes on each side.

At least thatís what it looks like to me. The well-guys/plumbers and other guys need to assist you.
 
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Old 11-16-13, 06:22 AM
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Yes. It is difficult to follow the pipes in the picture. I can't tell if that union/check valve is going into the front of the pump (input) or the top of the pump (output). It looks like the output and that would not be the optimal place to put a check valve, so it probably some form of union.

When you said that you filled the tank with air and the air pressure remained for 24 hours, was the tank empty of water when it was measured and for the entire 24 hours? Were any main shut off valves closed at the time? The reason I ask is if it was empty of water for 24 hours, why did your pump not lose prime from the leak...or did it? If it wasn't empty of water, why did the system not cycle like it had been, every 60 seconds, changing all your pressure readings?

This is important because it sounds like you have a fairly large leak (pretty large tank emptying in 60 seconds) but if you do, why does your pump not lose prime? This has been bothering me. Unless you have been losing pump prime...or the leak is on the output side of the pump, where one would think you would visibly see that amount of water sloshing around inside the house.

Lastly, how long does it usually take to refill the tank when the pump cycles on. We know it takes about 60 seconds to empty.
 
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Old 11-16-13, 07:06 AM
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The union is just after, and the output of, the pump.

When I filled the tank with air it was at about 10psi and I raised it to now about 33 psi. Where it has stayed at that pressure since.
I don't believe it was empty of water at all and was acting as it should. It was just low of air and I have never lost prime thru this trouble.

After my efforts to slow the cycle, lowering the kickpoints and adding the air, it now cycles at a constant 3 minutes off and 1 minute on to bring pressure back up.

No water leaks anywhere and if I shut the main water off which is immediately after the pressure tank it still stays on that exact 3min off / 1min on cycle.

So I assume the water has to be leaking back into the well.

So I think I need a check valve on the top, or suction, intake into the pump.

I am curious why the shutoff valve immediately after the pump makes it go crazy when I close it. Even from 50psi if I close that shutoff it drops to 20 psi and back to 50 psi in a fraction of a second and the pump just turns off and on continuously.
 
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Old 11-16-13, 07:34 AM
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I was able to enlarge your picture. You don't have a check valve there. It would have to be in the yellow suction line.

It looks like the valve I have circled in red goes to the storage tank. If you close that the pump will short cycle since you are removing the tank from the system.

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Old 11-16-13, 07:49 AM
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Quick answer to your question. As PJ said, once you turn off that valve, you eliminate the pressure tank. Just so you know how all this works. The pressure tank is supposed to have a certain volume of air. As the water is pumped into the tank, that air gets compressed and the pressure of that compressed air increases. Once you open a tap, the air pressure pushes on the water to provide all the water pressure to the house. As the water flows out of the tank, the air volume increases and therefore the air pressure reduces, until it reaches the cut-in level of your pump and the pump kicks on and refills the tank.

If you take the tank out of the system (as you do when you shut off that valve) the pump pushes on the valve and pretty quickly gets to the cut out level and shuts off. Since there is no pressure tank and the pump is off, the water pressure drops immediately. Once it goes below the cut in pressure the pump turns on. So once the pump turns on the pressure instantly shoots above cut out and once the pump shuts off the pressure drops below cut in and presto, you have a very short cycling pump.
 
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Old 11-16-13, 07:57 AM
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Thank you all for your help and info.
I'm going totry and install a check valve and I'll report back the results.
 
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Old 11-16-13, 08:03 AM
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OK, so back to the problem. The fact that you have not lost prime is very perplexing. You could run a test where you shut off the pump and open a tap and just leave it for a while. It definitely sounds like you have a leak and since you are not seeing a lot of water around, that leak must be on the well side of the pump. If it is, it should drain out the water in your pump, when it is turned off. Anyways, maybe it would and you just haven't let it drain long enough before your pump kicked on and refilled the system.

In any event, you are filling the tank with air, improperly. You want to turn off the pump. Open the lowest drain possible to get all the water out of the tank. You do not want a little water (or water pressure), you want none. Now fill the tank with air to 2 psi below your cut in pressure value.

Now your tank is properly pre-charged, however, if my suspicion is correct, you will have probably lost the prime in your pump while you were doing this. Maybe not, it depends on the size of the leak.

I would do the above and while the tank is emptying, I would install a check valve just before the pump on the well side. That should fix your problem. If you lose prime just add some water to the pump (fill a few jugs for this purpose while you can, before you begin the repair) and the leak should get fixed.

As for the tank. When the leak is fixed the problem of the pump cycling on and off on its own will be resolved. To verify that the tank is operating properly, you should attempt to roughly measure how much water you are getting between pump cycles (drawdown). If it is in the gallon range, just measure how many toilet flushes you get. If it is in the quart range, use a measuring jug, although that is way to little for the size of tank you have. Anyway, in a few weeks, measure how many toilet flushes you are getting and if it is about the same, everything is rosy, enjoy the water. If it reduces, then your diaphragm in the tank is shot and you should look at getting a new tank. If you don't, eventually the drawdown will get to a patheticly small amount and the pump will start cycling on and off every time you are using water (this is different from now where it cycles even when you are not using water)

That's what I would do.
 
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Old 11-16-13, 09:40 PM
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More help/advice needed please

After extensive research, thought and testing I am sure it is a leaking foot valve. It makes sense to me that I am not losing prime cause the system is always full of water. It just comes in and leaks out but never empties enough to cause an air gap.

The big problem is my well is 6 feet underground and I'm not even 100% sure exactly where to dig.

I want to install a check valve before the pump but have read that because I have the 2 intake system, suction and pressure, I cannot attempt this but I cannot find the reason why it cannot be done with my setup.

Anyone know why I cannot install the check valve on the suction intake to avoid the several thousand $ foot valve fix?
 
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Old 11-16-13, 09:54 PM
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Essentially the two pipe system is a closed loop. It draws water up on the suction line while sending water down on the return line to improve water pickup. Usually on a single line system you would just install a check valve on the suction line. On a dual line system the water could be leaking back into the well on either line.

Since I'm not a well pro I don't know if a check valve on the suction line will cure your problem.
 
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Old 11-17-13, 07:32 AM
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Another test I did I found interesting.

If I wait til pressure its its peak and the pump cycles off, I turn off power to the pump and close the water line immediately after the pump.

Pressure gauge on top of pump immediately drops to 25 and the pressure tank maintains 50 psi until water is turned on.

But if anyone else has advice on why I should or shouldn't add a check valve to a Dual Line System please let me know before I make any costly mistakes.

Thanks to all who reads or gives advice in this forum.
 
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Old 11-17-13, 10:18 AM
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Kenny repeating myself Iím no well-guy/plumber and maybe the other guys could see obvious flaws in this, but I donít see why you couldnít put a check valve and pressure switch after your pump. Sort of what is done on submersible pump setups (like mine). The check valve is right before the pressure tank and the pressure switch is after the check valve.

When the tank is pumped up to the max pressure (I guess 50 psi in your case) the pressure switch turns off the pump. The check valve would then ensure you donít lose water back down the well and lose pressure. It actually masks the problem, but it does work. (I had a leaky service pipe from the well and never knew it until it totally broke, because my check valve had masked the problem.)

I know your jet pump has a pressure switch mounted on it, so I donít know how that would complicates things. But you would think that pressure switch could be easily moved, or bypassed with wires from a new pressure switch coming to the pump. Looks like your pressure tank is within several feet of your pump so I donít know why you couldnít put the check valve at the output of your pump and then just make sure the pressure switch is anywhere between there and the pressure tank?

Kind of like this picture where in 5.4 where (D) shows the check valve followed by the pressure switch:

The Center for Rainwater Harvesting providing information on collecting, purifying and using rainwater making use of local materials and a full spectrum of technologies

Seems to me you could put the stuff wherever you wanted between the pump and tank, as long as the order is check-valve Ė pressure switch. They even make check valves with tappingís so you could even mount the pressure switch right on the output side of the check valve for convenience (mine was like that for a while, and it did work.)

But maybe there is a major flaw(s) in the above. Maybe the other guys will weigh in.
 
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Old 11-17-13, 10:34 AM
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Well the check valve is in before the pump on the suction line and the problem persists.

I too wondered about a check valve AFTER the pump but I assume if the water is leaking back into the well then water will drain from the pump at each cycle and I will constantly lose prime. I think.

It does make sense that if the check valve is after the pump I would also have to move the pressure gauge to go after the check valve.

I'm kinda admitting defeat at this point and may just have to call the professionals to come out and fix my system. Unless someone else can chime in and give me some professional advice as to my next step.

Thank you for the help
 
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Old 11-17-13, 10:47 AM
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...I too wondered about a check valve AFTER the pump but I assume if the water is leaking back into the well then water will drain from the pump at each cycle and I will constantly lose prime. I think...
Yep ! That sure does seem to make sense doesn't it. Don't forget to post back if you have time after the problem is solved.

Good luck!
 
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Old 11-17-13, 11:31 AM
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Does anyone know how hard it is to pull up the lines and replace a foot valve?
Digging the 6' deep hole will be the worst of it but I can't really afford for a professional to charge me a couple hundred an hour for this.
 
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Old 11-19-13, 05:29 AM
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It all depends on the set-up. If it's hung on steel pipe or is a packer jet it's probably not a DIY job unless you've got some lifting device. If it's a twin-line hung on poly it's probably not too bad.


Definitely sounds like a leaking footvalve. Good luck.
 
 

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