Intermittent Issues with Well: No Water and Well Pump Running Continuously


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Old 06-17-14, 05:55 AM
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Intermittent Issues with Well: No Water and Well Pump Running Continuously

1: submersible pump
2: 1980 well
3: 280 '
4: 6" diameter
5: 230 voltage pump
6: Franklin Electric controller
7: WM-6 Well Mate 20 gallon tank

I have been having intermittent lack of water and continuously running pump off and on for a couple years. Coincident with these problems, my oil burning furnace has had low water pressure and leaks out when the water pressure is low in the house. I went back over my records and I have recently started keeping a log. I have had a plumber here numerous times and a well guy here several times. I have also consulted with a friend who is a well expert. However, nobody can tell me for sure what's going on.

5/12 low water pressure and fill vent leak at boiler, well went dry, filled well with 100 gallons of water!!

6/12 replaced water tank, check valve, relief valve, pressure switch; installed electric hot water heater

6/13 switched over from Boiler Mate to electric hot water heater, got an electric bill that was astronomically high that could not be explained by the electric hot water heater; did a very thorough job of electrical testing in the house, signed up for Energy Manager to see exact energy usage and have since determined that the well pump was running continuously, despite the well guy telling me it's impossible
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12/13 no hot water, boiler was low on water, learned how to add water when pressure gets below 10psi

5/14 replaced backflow preventer on boiler so it won't leak; had a well guy and a friend come to test that the well pump was getting electrical current both in the house and at the well, and both times it was normal

5/5,6,7,9,10,19,23, 6/5 2014 no water, pump running continuously; I can tell by putting my hand on the box and I feel it running; I have also 100% correlated it with the Energy Manager, for example:
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The first time it happened this spring was after running 2 loads of laundry, which I rarely do. Another time it was after taking a shower in a shower I rarely use that does not have a low-flow shower head. But other times it was just after doing a single load of laundry or taking a normal shower. What appears to happen is that after the pump calls for a lot of water, it seems to run continuously, for example, overnight on several occasions, which I can see directly on Energy Manager. And the problem is I often don't know about it right away until I notice low water pressure.

I now know to shut the pump circuit breaker off when this happens, and after some time, from a few hours to a day or more when I've been away, everything goes back to normal.

At one point when I had the problem for 3 days in a row, I had a guy come to fill the well with water again only to find that the well to be completely full, so he dumped the water on the ground! Arggg!!

I have also learned to put my ear to the well and listen for a trickle and to drop a stone to hear it plunk. I often hear a slight trickle in the well. It's harder to hear the plunk because of the well casing.

When things are working normally, I have seen the water pressure go from 40 - 60 in 90 seconds as it should. I have also seen it way below 40.

I have been told I should pull the pump ($1500). I have also been told you can pull it by hand, and it wouldn't be hard to do if the water level is high in the well.

The well guy suggested that I have a low flow well and might consider redrilling ($2000) and/or hydro fracturing the existing well ($1500).

I have also been told I should have a pump shut off installed so the well pump doesn't run continuously.

WHAT SHOULD I DO ????
 
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Old 06-17-14, 06:13 AM
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I only skimmed your info but I'm thinking you have a low producing well and are simply pumping it dry. The pump shutoff could help save the pump but it does nothing about the underlying problem. You are using more water than your well can supply. It sounds like it's only an occasional problem so maybe a storage tank would help handle your peak demand times though living Main you'll have to do it properly to avoid freezing problems. Whether or not a storage tank would be cheaper than another well or fracking I don't know but it would probably be in the same ballpark.

---
I lived in a house for 10 years that had a 400' deep well that only produced 1/4 gallon per minute. The depth was to provide an in the ground reserve or storage. Still care had to be taken with the use of water. Conservation was #1. No half hour showers and no washing the car or watering flowers. Absolutely make sure the toilets are working properly and not leaking. Stagger the times of water use. One person showers in the morning while another goes in the evening. Washing laundry is done one load a day during mid day.... Basically spread the usage out so you're not doing laundry all in one Saturday morning and running the dishwasher right after everyone in the house took a shower.
 
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Old 06-17-14, 09:57 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts. I would agree that I have a low producing well. However, can you explain why the pump would be running continuously, for example, through the night when nothing is calling for water, albeit after calling for water the night before? Shouldn't the pump eventually shut off when the well recovers? Why must I reset the circuit breaker to reset things to normal? Do the symptoms sound like it could be a defective pump under circumstances of low water? Thanks for any more input you can share.
 
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Old 06-17-14, 01:04 PM
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hi NRS-

At one point when I had the problem for 3 days in a row, I had a guy come to fill the well with water again only to find that the well to be completely full, so he dumped the water on the ground! Arggg!!
Does that mean there must be something wrong with the pump? Seems like there was plenty of water? I think when you have the problem you should see the contacts closed in the pressure switch indicating that the pressure switch is calling on the pump, and they would just stay closed until the house pressure is back up.

Iím sure no expert but I think the pump motors have a thermal shutoff. So I guess it would be possible if the well ran dry for the motor to overheat, then shutoff, then cool down, and then come back on and try again. I guess that could go on and on until the pressure switch was satisfied and turned off the pump. It seems like you might be able to use a lot of electricity if that scenario is possible? (But Iím no expert for sure, lol, maybe that canít happen?)

Maybe the well guy thinks the pump wouldnít last too long in that case? And I guess that wouldnít explain why still you had the problem when you had plenty of water. Although maybe it was Murphyís Law in action and the well recovered while the guy was on the way with water?

I put in a Pumptec protection box to catch the well running dry scenario. Works pretty good. They are not very difficult to install. I think they are a hundred and some bucks? Not too bad. For a dry well condition it shuts off the pump and you can set it to automatically retry the pump after a certain period of time (e.g., 20 minutes), or you can set it so it doesnít retry. That way you have to manually reset it, but you would absolutely know the Pumptec thought the well was running dry.
 
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Old 06-18-14, 05:11 AM
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This morning, for instance, after small load of laundry last night, the pump was running after flushing the toilet and running the water briefly. I watched it sit for more than a minute at 50 psi and never move, so I shut it off. What causes that?
 
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Old 06-18-14, 09:36 AM
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The pressure will not rise if there is no water for the pump to pump but I would expect your well to recover a good deal overnight. Is this ability to only get up to 50 psi new & sudden or do you think it's been getting gradually worse over time?

It is possible for pumps to wear out. The friction with water and sediment in the water can erode the blades of the pump, gradually reducing its efficiency and pumping ability. I use pond water for irrigation (ponds here stay brown year round with suspended silt) and only get 4 or 5 years out of a pump. Over time it takes longer and longer to prime and the maximum pressure it can generate gradually decreases.
 
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Old 06-18-14, 09:59 AM
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When I had a problem like that it was because the pipe from the well-head to my house busted open and I had a whopper of a leak. So the pump couldnít bring the house pressure up, all the water was being pumped into the ground. So your gauge just sticking at 50 I think means your pump just canít pump more water into the house yet is trying to get the pressure up to 60 (cut-off).

But since this doesnít happen all the time in your case (Iím no expert) it seems like Pilot Daneís thought that the well is just running dry sometimes would fit your case. I mean if most of the time your pump comes on, and eventually pumps up the house pressure, and then shuts off at the proper cut-off, then when you use water the pressure drops again and the pump comes on again and the cycle repeats Ė then that would seem to me to say that your pump and tank and system are working properly.

Itís just that you are running out of water in the well sometimes. I guess another possibility could be that for some reason your pump sometimes refuses to work properlyĖ but other times it does its job. But that doesnít seem very likely Ė I think! Although as you say someone suggested that you pull the pump. I guess with the pump out of the well it could be tested properly.

Iím not positive but I think whether you could pull up the pump by hand depends on the type of drop pipe down the well. The metal pipe is very heavy. If your well is 280í I think even the plastic pipe (PVC or black poly) would be heavy when itís filled with water. But maybe 2 or more guys could pull up the plastic pipe at 280 (probably take a few guys, I know water is about 8.3 lbs/gal and there are a lot of gals in 280í of pipe, even if the plastic itself is light). But I know the trick is to make sure the pump is not dropped down the well.

Sorry Iím no help, basically repeating what you know, but I would install one of those pump protector devices in the meantime. I may be wrong but Iím wondering if it is possible for you to conduct your own test for the well recovery rate? Maybe over a 48-72 hour period or something like that? I just have a vague recollection about something like that, where you can measure that levels in the well with string etc. Ė but I could be wrong. But I guess all of these rates vary with time, season, etc. Ė but maybe a test like that would show something?

Well since Iím the slowest typist in the world (lol) I just now see Pilot Daneís post Ė but Iím posting this now before I read Pilot Daneís post.
 
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Old 06-18-14, 10:13 AM
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You state you have a 280' well. How far down the casing is the pump set? How far down is the water level when the pump is running? When there is no water being pumped what is the water level of the well? Easy way to me4asure the water level is with a 200' cloth measuring tape. Attach a piece of (6") 1" PVC pipe with caps at both ends. Before attaching one of the end, install a I bolt to it so you can hitch the tape to it. Drop the float hitched to the end of the tape into the well. When your tape goes slack that is the height of the water level. Find out how deep the pump is set and you will know if the draw down is below the pump intake.
 
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Old 07-10-14, 07:44 PM
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Issue Solved: Cracked Nylon Pitless Adapter

Hi folks,
I have good news! I finally figured out what was wrong. First, before spending $1500 to pull the pump, my well guy wanted to test for a leak outside the house. So he installed a valve just on the outside of the pressure gauge at the water tank in the basement. I honestly don't know what he did after that, but he said he was 99% sure that there was a leak outside the house.
So today the plumber came and dug down 4' to the pitless adapter at my well, and lo and behold, there was a large tunnel just next to the well where water had obviously been leaking for some time! Because it was clay, there was no evidence on the surface that water had been leaking. He then extracted the threaded nylon part, which turned out to have split! See attached. Although the nylon piece was about 30 years old, it never should have been used in the first place. He replaced it with a bronze pitless adapter, which is what should have been used originally. And now all is well (ha ha ha).
Hope this story proves useful to you.
 
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Old 07-11-14, 05:57 AM
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Thanks for the update. I personally nave never seen a barbed nylon fitting split like that.
 
 

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