Water pump keeps tripping circuit breaker


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Old 04-20-16, 08:49 PM
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Question Water pump keeps tripping circuit breaker

First I want to say thanks. I have read a few forms about well water pumps on this site and I have learned a lot about my well pump system.

My well water pump keeps tripping my circuit breaker under heavy use. Normal daily use, washing dishes, one shower at a time, and wash machine works fine. But if a few of my family members take showers in a row, or if I water the lawn for more than 20 minutes the circuit breaker trips.

I watched it with just my sprinkler on. Max pressure is 60, which turns off the pump. Below 40 turns the pump back on. I have a 20 gallon Goulds air/water tank. It takes about 40 seconds running just my sprinkler to drop the pressure to below 40 to kick on the pump, and it takes the pump 20 seconds to get it back up to 60 where it cuts off again. I timed it, it is pretty consistent. To me it seems like the pressure is dropping way to fast. (But Iím not a pro) After about 15-20 minutes of this the breaker trips off.

The pump is submersible I believe, I donít see it anywhere. So I donít know model, HP, or Gallons per minute. I will attach pictures. The breaker is also somewhat of a mystery. It is a two pole breaker, but has no markings on it as to the Amps, 25, 30, etcÖ

Right from the start I ordered a new 30 amp breaker, and new whole house water filter cartridge, just from reading other threads on this site. They were cheap enough. And I donít mind changing the pressure switch either if anyone thinks that might be it.

I did not test the tank though. Like I mentioned it is 20 gallon tank and it has an air pressure spot on the top. How do I check or reset the tank? Do I have to drain the tank first and then charge it with air? Would getting a bigger tank help any?

Any other ideas of thing I can test would be greatly appreciated. If I have to Iíll pull the pump and replace, but Iíd hate to go through all that work and money to have the same problem.

Any help is greatly appreciated. We run on a shoe string budget it seems like, 4 children and one working adult. Thank you in advance for any help. Pictures should be below.

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Last edited by PJmax; 04-20-16 at 09:38 PM. Reason: added pics from links
  #2  
Old 04-20-16, 09:50 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Your pictures were too big to post directly but you can link them directly from photobucket and they will post here. Check this out so you know for the future.. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html

Yes you have a submersible pump. It's under the well cap there. The pictures don't really help us much here. The wiring is a mess.

It takes about 40 seconds running just my sprinkler to drop the pressure to below 40 to kick on the pump, and it takes the pump 20 seconds to get it back up to 60 where it cuts off again.
It depends on how much your sprinkler uses but that sounds pretty normal to me. The ability to have longer off times is to increase the tank size.

It looks like you have #12 wiring there which means it's sized for a 20A breaker. You can't just increase a breaker size without knowing all the facts. The facts are you need to know exactly the wire size used there and you really need to know the pump specs. They should have been given to you by the previous owner.

I'd refrain from watering the lawn until you get the problems resolved or you will be pulling the pump sooner then you want. You may even be overpumping the well...... using more water than it can supply. Many wells cannot support household water and sprinkler water. The pump could be just getting old and worn out. The sprinkler system is not helping.

What you really need is an amprobe. It's a current meter that clips over one of the red or black pump wires and tells you what the pump is drawing. Maybe a friend has one. Most electricians have them if you know one.

I just touched on this.... others will add more info.
 
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Old 04-21-16, 04:57 AM
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I can't help with the breaker problem but you might want to recheck the air in the tank. 20 seconds to refill that size of tank leads me to believe that you may not have enough air in that tank causing a lower drawdown (amount of water obtained between pump cycles).

To check the air, turn off the pump, open a tap as low in the house as possible to drain the water in the pressure tank. Keep a tap open. Check the air pressure from the air valve at the top of the tank. It should be 2-3psi below your pump's cut in pressure, so in your case, 37 to 38psi. If it is too low, which I suspect, add air until it reaches those numbers. Then shut off the open tap and turn on the pump and refill the tank.

All this being said, it is possible that you have so little air in the tank that the pump is almost short cycling when a lot of water is being drawn and perhaps this is causing some electrical problem. Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to get the tank set up right so as to reduce how hard your pump needs to work.

If you experience a problem adding air to the pressure tank, when you have a tap open, then it would be a sign that your tank's bladder is breached and you would need a new pressure tank.
 
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Old 04-21-16, 05:48 AM
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Thank you, I am going to use your instructions and test the take pressure tonight. I will update tonight or tomorrow.
 
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Old 04-21-16, 06:19 AM
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I will add one point to OptsyEagle's good explanation. You have a drain valve right under the pressure switch visible in your picture. After you've drained as much water as you can in the house, open that valve and let remaining water drain. You can attach a hose to route the water away. Leave the valve open while you are testing the air pressure and adding air if necessary.

I will also mention that adding air with a tire pump is fine, but will take a long time, so use a compressor if you have one.

Close the drain valve before turning the pump back on.
 
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Old 04-23-16, 07:54 AM
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Low pressue

I turned off the breaker, drained the water from a garden hose and at the pressure switch like you guys described. With it all drained, it is a little low about 28-29 PSI instead of around 38. I'm going to get a air take and fill it up to 38. Will update.
 
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Old 04-23-16, 09:54 AM
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I put the tank back up to about 38 PSI. Not it takes 23 seconds to get pressurize up to 60 PSI, and it takes about 47 seconds to bring it down to 40 PSI. So I guess that is a little better? Or does the take seem bad? I'm still waiting on the breaker and water filter to come in the mail.
 
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Old 04-23-16, 10:12 AM
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You changed the cycle rate by a few seconds.

In re-reading your first post.... are you saying that when the sprinkler system is running that the pump is (or was) cycling every 40 seconds ?

Normally the sprinkler system uses enough water so that the pump doesn't cycle..... it just runs. Either your sprinkler system is not using much water or the pump has a fast recovery.

Off the top of my head..... it sounds like you're going to need a larger pressure tank.
I'm still concerned just randomly putting in a breaker without knowing the system current draw.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 04-23-16 at 11:08 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 04-23-16, 11:01 AM
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There are certainly a lot of variables, but with approximately 33% more air (10psi/30psi) only getting about 15% more water (23 seconds / 20 seconds) something doesn't seem right but perhaps the test parameters are not exactly the same.

The best way to test how much water you get to drawdown from your tank, is to simply fill the pressure tank until the pump goes off, then open a tap to some kind of measurement bucket and measure how much water you get before the pump kicks back on. The maximum amount of water you will get from a 20 gallon pressure tank will be around 6 gallons and if you get 5 gallons you are doing pretty well. Does your pump push 5 gallons of water into your house in 23 seconds. Possibly. I know mine wouldn't but I can't say that yours doesn't. If it does, it is certainly pumping to specification or better. The only way to know for sure is to measure your water drawdown.
 
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Old 04-24-16, 08:02 AM
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Unhappy

I'll test the "drawdown of the tank" using a 5 gallon bucket and update with the results. The circuit breaker is still tripping, and to be honest it seems to be worse after filling the take to the proper pressure (38 PSI empty). This morning I was using the garden hose for a short period 3 minutes or less and the breaker tripped. Just by chance, one time I was watching in the pressure gauge when the breaker tripped. I saw electricity arch and seemed like it came off the pressure switch to the ground or another metal piece lower than the switch.

I'm working on getting a clamp meter so I can measure the current or amps whatever it is called. And I'm still also waiting on the new circuit breaker and water filter. Things are adding up price wise already. I had shell out $40 for the air tank, $13 for the circuit breaker, and $9 for the water filter. Although after seeing the electricity jump out from the pressure switch I doubt the circuit breaker is bad, it seems like it is just doing it's job.
 
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Old 04-24-16, 08:48 AM
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Whoa...you should not see electricity arc anywhere (unless you happen to have the PS cover off and are staring right at the contacts when they open. Even then, the arc would just be between the contacts.

Is it possible one of those un-sleeved wires has damaged insulation and is shorting out because of vibration? That could certainly cause the breaker to blow.

Turn off the power and have a good look at the wiring for any signs of burning or bare wire, especially where they go into the pressure switch.

As Pete said way back in first post...the wiring is a mess and this might be the right time to fix it all up and get it safe and to code.
 
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Old 04-24-16, 10:43 AM
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Yeah, that certainly does not sound like a problem that is related to how much water you are getting from your pressure tank.
 
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Old 05-02-16, 10:39 AM
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Thumbs up

Sorry for the delayed response. The whole house water filter and the new breaker came in. I replaced both, I don't think they were causing the issue but I replace since I had ordered them. The old filter was a yarn filter which hadn't been replaced in what seemed like years. I put a new regular filter in and got some more water pressure at the sink and shower.

I did the water test with the 5 gallon bucket. And it filled up the bucket most of the way. I would guess at least 4 gallons.

Since replacing the breaker and water filter it has tripped the breaker one time. At this point I'm going to replace the old wiring. I have have seen the electricity arch and come out like I described in a previous post. And the wiring is old, there are glass fuses from the 1960s in there.
 
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Old 05-03-16, 08:53 AM
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hi tec-

Iím not an electrical guy and maybe the other guys will have some comment about this. But I donít that is really the right way to connect wires to the pressure switch. You see that a lot I believe but I believe to do a good connection the wires should be wrapped ĺ around the screw. Nothing looks discolored there so maybe that has not been a problem.

The other thing is it looks like that is an old no longer used pump control box in the upper left corner of picture 2. Why are wires from that box running down into the well? Maybe Iím not looking at this correctly but if the system was changed from a 3-wire pump to 2-wire pump why would you have wires from the pressure switch AND the old control box going down into the well? Anything funny going on there?

Just a thought!
 
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Old 05-04-16, 03:36 PM
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The water drawdown is pretty good. Actually 5 gallons is about the theoretical maximum for that tank with your pressure switch numbers and I find if you get 75% of the maximum you are good to go. Your at 80%.

Zoesdad has a good point. Those wires on your pressure switch should be wrapped around those screws. 3/4 around would be perfect. Whoever did that was no electrician so perhaps they cut a few other corners.
 
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Old 05-04-16, 09:53 PM
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Those contacts have a slot cut in them where the wire sits and the screw keeps it in place. No need to wrap the wire around the screw. Just make sure the screws are tight.

If you run the pump with the cover off the switch you will see some good sparks.

I would still look around to borrow an amprobe to check the motor draw.
 
 

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