Anyone had trouble w/ high line voltage and pump-saver controls


  #1  
Old 01-25-14, 04:58 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Anyone had trouble w/ high line voltage and pump-saver controls

I am many hundreds of dollars into pump repair bills for parts and trips out to the house, only to be told again and again that my line voltage is too high (248.5 -251.7, depending on whose Fluke meter and which measurement point), causing my "pump saver" controls (to prevent dry well pumping) are reading this high voltage as a shut-down alert. My pump is going off from several times a week to not coming on at all, at times, but everytime I can get it to function, there seems to be water in the aquifer.

Pump Company says the line voltage must be tuned down a little, but the power company says it's w/in their limits and they don't want to do anything.

Over and over, I (my tenants) have no water, for two months running.

System is quite complex, but i'll be happy to go into more detail if it helps.

Thanks in advance,

Dan
 
  #2  
Old 01-26-14, 05:06 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 36,608
Upvotes: 0
Received 9 Upvotes on 8 Posts
Are you and your tenants the only ones on the transformer? If not, are others affected by high voltage problems? The POCO can't just "turn it down", but they can replace the transformer to make the incoming more within limits. I think 11 volts over is pushing the envelope, and your sensitive equipment is not making matters any better. Can you take the equipment out of line and see if your pumps work properly? What are the parameters of the manufacturer's specifications on the pump saver? What range of voltage?
 
  #3  
Old 01-26-14, 09:08 AM
V
Vey
Vey is offline
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mid-Florida
Posts: 1,201
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
What does the manufacturer of the pump saving device say? Have you called them yet?

Do you have a clamp on amperage meter so you can see how many amps the pump is pulling? It's my understanding that these devices are adjustable and are looking for lower amperage use. When the amps drop below a certain level, it cuts off the pump.

Maybe you need to adjust it correctly?

Correct readings of voltage are done while the circuit is under load, meaning while the pump is on so it may not be as high as you think.
 
  #4  
Old 01-26-14, 09:41 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thanks for getting back, Chandler. My house is the only one served by a very old transformer. I was told by a few people that the POCO can "tune down" a typical transformer by a few volts. The second POCO worker to come out and seek the problem was kind enough to go up the pole atop a 40 foot mountain slope rising over the house. Unfortunately, he said it was so old that it doesn't have the capacity to be tuned down.

I agree 11 volts over is pushing it. But at the meter base two POCO workers read only 8-9 volts overage. My measurement was from the end of the main lines coming out of the meter base, where one of the POCO workers measured it, and saw only the same 248/249. But, to be honest, I got that reading two if I didn't REALLY press the volt meter probe (Fluke) into the oxide coated aluminum line. So I realize the discrepancy in readings could be various factors, including meter calibration. But two pump company workers measured the 251/252 at the pump controls. As for manufacturer specs, I seem to recall the pump co workers saying 250 was about tops. But I cannot find the literature for the exact model of that Pump-Saver, even at the Manufacturers website. I did find a nearly identical model, which claims that it should be functional up to 265 volts, so that seems like a healthy margin.

I have considered bypassing the Pump-Saver controls. I must research how to do it properly, and then see what happens, and I'm not sure why the pump co didn't try that. But at the end of the day, I cannot let the system operate without it. We are in a severe drought in the west, and signs show the water table has sunk considerably. (We supply the house off of a holding tank up the hill, to mediate the water flow from the aquifer.) I can tell you that nearly every time I find the pump not working (when you can hear a constant, once per second clicking in the pump controls, even with a new controller) I do this strange trick of letting the pressure out of the tap at the base of the pressure tank until the pressure switch trips, and then the pump controls click in and begin to work properly. Whenever I do this, the line to the holding tank is open, but not filling because the pump is not running. But releasing the flow at the (very small +- 7 gallons) pressure tank makes it "click" in ... for a time. It sometimes only operates for a few minutes, and I've had to teach this trick to my tenants, who tell me sometimes it doesn't work at all. I have seen it work long enough to fill between 1200 and 1500 gals to the holding tank, but it will eventually go out again.

One other (helpful?) note that points to the controls; anytime I cut power to the control unit, then restore power, the control box begins that clicking mode again, and won't operate properly until I do the pressure tank release. Then it's a matter of an unknown factor as to how long it will run again.

FWIW - we run an extremely high pressure system, something like 90/100 lbs. constant and the pump is supposed to come on at 70/75 lbs. This is due to the 100+ feet of rise across a three hundred foot line to the holding tank. There is some uncertainty as to exact numbers, because the last freeze left the two pressure valves in the pump house malfunctioning, but the pressure switch seems consistent.

We also have a cycle stop in-line from the well head. This is not so much for the conditions needed by the holding tank, but for an auxiliary line to the garden, which comes direct from the pump, so that we can't drain the home's water supply by overwatering or a plumbing fault in the garden. However, this line has it's own shut-off valve, and has been inactive for the entire duration of this problem. Still, that cycle stop is right after the well head.

I will try the bypass, and also increasing the air pressure in the pressure tank bladder, as its at 45 lbs. now, but I'm told that air pressure should be charged to within 5 lbs. of the "On" pressure of the pressure switch.

Thanks for reading.

Dan
 
  #5  
Old 01-26-14, 09:53 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Vey -

Thanks for the thoughts. The pump co. pump a clamp-on amp meter on the line and said it was within spec, though maybe a little low. We've tried a variety of sensitivity settings.

I tend to believe your reasoning is along the proper path. The pump co suggests that due to ohms law, a rise in voltage causes a drop in amperage, and so the controls read that as either problem in the well or an over-voltage condition.

After I bought the new pump-saver controls, and the problem persisted, the second trip out from the pump co read the pump saver internal data, which stated there had been 3 faults due to "dry well". But if that was the only or true problem, the controls would wait out the "restart delay time" (set at various lengths of 50-150 minutes), then come on again properly assuming there is water in the well. As I described in my last lengthy post, there seems to be plenty of water available every time I'm able to "trick" the controls into working. But they always seem to fail again, and not restore themselves.

I'm gonna try a bypass and greater pressure tank charge, and see what happens.

Dan
 
  #6  
Old 01-26-14, 09:54 AM
Z
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,104
Received 93 Upvotes on 85 Posts
hi Dan -

Well I typed the following so slow that I just now see you post. I'll post this anyway and then read what you said LOL:

No well/plumber/electrical guy but I installed a Pumptec well pump protector several years ago. Here is a paragraph concerning voltage from my manual:

Voltage Indicator Light

When the voltage light is solid, an under voltage condition has been
detected. The under voltage trip is factory preset to 203 volts. The
remote control feature may be used to alter the under voltage trip
point.

When the voltage light is flashing, an over voltage fault has been
detected. The over voltage trip is factory preset to 253 volts. The remote
control feature may be used to alter the over voltage trip point.
After a voltage fault has occurred, Pumptec will check the line voltage
every two minutes and will reset when the line voltage returns to the
normal range.
I never had the over voltage case but I have had the under voltage case when I lost one of the 120v legs from the POCO to my house. The Pumptec worked properly, turned off the pump, and turned the Voltage Indicator light on solid to indicate under voltage.

I assume yours must have some positive indication like the flashing Voltage Indicator light that an over voltage condition has occurred.

As I said Im no electrical guy, but I thought the over voltage indication had nothing to do with the well running dry? When my well has run dry (a few times with very high water usage) the Pumptec would shut off the pump and turn on the LOAD light solid (normally off) to indicate a dry well has been detected.
 
  #7  
Old 01-26-14, 10:02 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
BTW - Its a fairly new pump system.

Also, I should mention that the entire pump and control system is only two and half years old, and had been functioning fine until sometime in the fall. The cycle-stop was added a year and a half ago.

The exact failure date is unclear because the tenants at that time never informed me of the problem, though they heard the "constant clicking" of the controls. They were able to go without because we have a spring which also feeds the holding tank. That source has receded due to the drought.

I realize the spring may point to the issue of a dry well, but I have historically had the best water table/flow in my neighborhood, which is all water challenged, but no one else seems to be having these problems. Also, that "trick" I mention always seems to produce water.
 
  #8  
Old 01-26-14, 10:12 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
thanks Zoe's Dad -

I tried to avoid any rants, but one pet-peeve I have about this is the state of the control box. Mine is a type of which the control contacts are only engaged when the metal control box cover is on. All controls and fault lites are INSIDE the cover. This requires a very expensive interface (two actually, because the pump-saver requires its own specialized equipment to read the fault reports) to be able to see the operation lights or test points in the system while the pump controls are engaged.

So I don't know how to monitor the details you mentioned until I spend a chunk on the interface(s). Still, the pump co had 'em and they couldn't resolve the issue, so who am I to assume buying the same equipment will help me solve my problem.
 
  #9  
Old 01-26-14, 10:24 AM
Z
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,104
Received 93 Upvotes on 85 Posts
... All controls and fault lites are INSIDE the cover. This requires a very expensive interface (two actually, because the pump-saver requires its own specialized equipment to read the fault reports) to be able to see the operation lights or test points in the system while the pump controls are engaged.


I know what you mean. Thats how mine is also (except for lights on the outside). Ive heard others complain about the impossibility of troubleshooting that box because you remove a lot of stuff as soon as you open it and you are dead in the water.

Ive been lucky and havent had to troubleshoot the box. But I have 3 lights visible from the outside without removing the cover: POWER, LOAD, VOLTAGE. They helped to figure out what was going on in the circuit.
 
  #10  
Old 01-26-14, 12:19 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I'm green with envy ...

thanks for the input
 
  #11  
Old 01-29-14, 02:10 PM
V
Vey
Vey is offline
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mid-Florida
Posts: 1,201
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
"The pump co suggests that due to ohms law, a rise in voltage causes a drop in amperage, and so the controls read that as either problem in the well or an over-voltage condition."

I understand that, but from what I read, the pump saver devices need a 25% (!!) decrease in amperage draw to trigger the device. That +-5% over-voltage wouldn't do that.

And I read that the device can be adjusted in case it is too sensitive. Maybe they sold you a device that is not very adjustable.

I once lived in a house that had a terrible transformer. Voltages all over the place, from 0-400. It was so old that it still had PCB's in it which is why the power company didn't want to replace it. It's expensive to get rid of those old ones, but hanging on a pole costs them nothing.

My wife and I went on a trip out-of-state and at a party, I struck up a conversation with a lineman from a neighboring power company. I told him my long tale of woe and here is what he told me: "Stray bullets from .22's often kill transformers."
 
  #12  
Old 01-31-14, 04:38 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thanks for that, Vey,

I've annoyed the Power co to the point of being "infamous", but they agreed to put a time-data voltage meter on the line, so as to rule out any possibility there, but a week has passed and they haven't done it.

I also inquired further into tolerances of that controller, and the manufacturers say it should be good up to 165V.

So I'm back to square one, as my tenants report it continues to go out.

As for those stray bullets, the lineman who came out (on his last day before retirement) told me "EXACTLY" the same thing!!!

Its probably a good thing I don't own a firearm.

Still searching,
Dan
 
  #13  
Old 02-01-14, 12:39 AM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 16,321
Received 38 Upvotes on 30 Posts
If this is the only thing that you have that is suffering from high voltage and the power company refuses to do anything you could use a "buck-boost" transformer to reduce the voltage to the pump. You need to know the full-load amperage of the pump in order to size the transformer but from there it is a simple addition. The transformers come in various voltages to effect a 12/24 volt change or a 16/32 volt change.

Acme Electric

Buck and Boost Transformer Calculator - Schneider Electric United States
 
  #14  
Old 02-02-14, 11:30 AM
Z
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,104
Received 93 Upvotes on 85 Posts
hi Dan

The pump co suggests that due to ohms law, a rise in voltage causes a drop in amperage,
Just caught the above. Are those guys correct? I dont understand what they mean? (But it could just be me.LOL)

V= I x R . I think. An increase in voltage while holding resistance constant should cause an increase in current? I just found the link below. Might be of interest.

http://www.littlegiant.com/media/documents/vol19no5.pdf
 
  #15  
Old 02-02-14, 10:27 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Well, you're right about the math! I didn't fully understand it either, but as I re-read my quote, I realized I mis-spoke in how I phrased that. What they seemed to imply was that because the controls are set to see a certain relationship between the volts and amps (assuming resistance is constant), then, anytime the voltage rises too high the controls assume that the current is dropping too low.

There were a few detail like that which went over my head. Another was that fact that every time I go out there to deal with it, I have water in my aquifer and I can "trick" the controls into coming on by opening the water spigot at the base of the pressure tank, but an open line 150 up the hill doesn't make the controls kick in. Something about the sudden pressure drop down to the trigger pressure of the switch makes this possible.

This week I must borrow a compressor and charge the pressure tank with an additional 20-30lbs. 45 lbs isn't high enough for a 70 lb. "on" pressure. I must deal with each variable individually before I go for a sit down w/ the pump co., w/ both bill and disatisfaction in (at) hand.
 
  #16  
Old 02-02-14, 10:32 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Good Link!

Thanks Furd - It was my first thought when this issue came up, but something told me the issue really lies elsewhere. After conferring with the manufacturer it still seems that way.

But I was planning on researching trannies, and you saved me a lot of time. I wasn't really sure what is available commercially for this task. If I get hung out to dry with no other option, I'll stick one in just to show the pump co. that the issue has been rectified, and go from there.

d
 
  #17  
Old 02-06-14, 07:41 PM
V
Vey
Vey is offline
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mid-Florida
Posts: 1,201
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Buck boost transformers are not cheap, but that may be your only choice.
 
  #18  
Old 02-08-14, 07:32 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
I have an update which may help trace out the real problem. I have suspected that the voltage isn't really the issue, and the power company and manufacturer of the suspected part (pump saver control) both say the voltages I'm getting should be compatible.

So here's some info I wonder if sparks any memories for those with experience in these things:

To rule out all possibilities, I went up to the property two days ago and increased the pressure tank charge (bladder air pressure) to between 65-70 lbs of charged air. (The pressure in the system is set at 90-100 lbs.) The tenants had checked the pump controls that morning a few hours earlier, and they had turned themselves off due to that repeated failure to engage. So they performed the "pump control trick" I taught them (described in previous post) and re-engaged the controls. When I arrived that afternoon, the controls seemed to be humming along gracefully. I turned off power and closed the outflow valves to drain the pressure tank to prepare for a charge, charged it to a more "proper" level, and when I re-engaged the controls, the "pump control trick" would engage the controls, but only for about two minutes. I tried this three times, then turned off power to the pump. I'm hoping the tenants can get by with the water in the reserve holding tank, in the meantime.

Any thoughts on how a pressure change could lead to an answer? To be more concise on this post, the "pump control trick" is when the pump controls are "clicking repeatedly" as if trying to come on, but unable, I go to the pressure tank, turn off the outflow mainline valve, and release water from the pressure tank until the pressure switch is triggered. Then I re-open the mainline, and often, it begins to refill our holding tank. In the past there have been times when this would work for only a few minutes, but lately, it had been successful for hours to days, long enough to fill a 1500+ holding tank. But now the controls won't stay engaged. I would try de-pressurizing the tank, but had to rent a compressor to do the job, and I'm told I should stay at this higher pressure tank charge.

How could this be related to my issue?

Thanks to all who've read and responded

dan
 
  #19  
Old 02-08-14, 10:20 AM
V
Vey
Vey is offline
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mid-Florida
Posts: 1,201
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Have you reset that pressure tank? We have instructions here:
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/we...well-info.html

It doesn't sound like you are ding it right.
 
  #20  
Old 02-08-14, 07:20 PM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thanks for pointing me to that page, of tips Vey. But I performed the charge exactly as described there.

Another site is suggesting that my cycle stop valve is causing the problem, and not compatible with a pump saver control. The pump company suggested the same at one point, as a possibility. However, the cycle stop has been in more than 15 months now, without previous problem.

Most importantly, without a cycle stop my pump cycles on and off every 60 seconds when heavy watering occurs in summer time, and that will burn it out fast.

The pump company suggested a $1500 solution of "constant pressure pump controls", but its absolutely unaffordable right now.

I may try to pull the cycle stop just to see what happens.

D
D
 
  #21  
Old 02-09-14, 09:09 AM
D
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: usa
Posts: 12
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Pressure Gauges

While I was perusing the pump tips section, one suggestion brings up another interesting point. During a hard freeze in December, both the pressure gauges failed (one at pressure switch, one at cycle stop).

I'm told some gauges are more reliable than others. Can someone recommend a brand which is particularly hardy, especially to freezing. (normally we keep a light on in the pump house in winter, but my tenants "borrowed" the light and never put it back in!) So I need something to withstand freezing just in case.

Thanks,
Dan
 
  #22  
Old 02-11-14, 07:46 AM
V
Vey
Vey is offline
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mid-Florida
Posts: 1,201
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
"pressure gauges failed "

I think that is one of the reasons for the use of liquid filled gauges, but I don't know which liquid you would want to stop icing.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: