slow leak in well pump or line to house?

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Old 04-19-18, 10:43 AM
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slow leak in well pump or line to house?

1: submersible pump or jet pump. -- submersible - 15 yrs. old 1 hp
2: age of well if known. -- ~25 yrs.
3: depth of well if known. -- 80 ft. 74 to water
4: diameter of well if known. -- 8" diameter
5: voltage of pump if known. -- 230
6: brand of pump/controller if known. -- franklin
7: size of tank if known. - 2 tanks don't know size

We've heard our water pump go off unexpectedly for the past several months. I've checked the toilets 2x, no leaks at faucets, or hose bibs. I chalked it up to the ice maker so I turned that off today. I watched the pressure switch for ~ 30 min. and saw that it lost a bit less than lb of pressure. This leads me to believe there's a leak between the well and the house somewhere.
I've done the rebar test and didn't find any excessively wet spots.

About 2 years ago we had pinhole leaks in the pipe as it entered the house. I thought that there might be an issue there but the ground is dry at the house where the pipe was replaced.

I'm thinking there's an issue with the pump, or could it be something else? I don't think there's a separate check valve but I don't remember for sure.

Are there issues with a slow leak like this other than the electricity bill? We love our house but are tired of the well for house supply and septic system.
 

Last edited by tsnider; 04-19-18 at 11:10 AM.
  #2  
Old 04-19-18, 11:54 AM
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What do you mean when you say "heard our water pump go off"? Does that mean it turns off unexpectedly or when it should not? Or do you mean the pump turns on when it should not?

If you are in Kansas your water line is probably buried rather deep. It's probably too deep for a leak to appear on the surface and you may not be able to detect it by probing. If absolutely nothing in the house is using water and the pressure gauge is slowly dropping then there is a leak somewhere. In the house is easiest to check since you may have a wet floor or water dripping in a crawl space. Other than that it could be the water line from the house to the well or the check valve on the pump that's leaking. Most often I find that it's the water line underground. In most cases I don't look for the leak. I just get out the excavator and run a new line from the well to the house.

If you're on a well and septic you likely don't have any other options short of selling the house and moving unless the city has moved close enough that you can tie into municipal water.
 
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Old 04-19-18, 12:42 PM
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You should have one, maybe even more check valves, they are a mechanical part and are prone to leaking!
 
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Old 04-19-18, 02:41 PM
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ts-

If there is a check valve upstream from your tanks (like in the pic), that would prevent water from flowing backwards from your house and so you would not drop pressure in the house – unless that check valve is leaking. In fact many say don’t put a check valve there because that will in fact mask a leak in the piping from the well pump to the tank(s).

Others say if you have a leak from the piping into your house, that check valve by your tank(s) will save you rear end – for a little while anyway.

If you don’t have a check valve near the tank(s), but you do have a shutoff valve for the house (also in the pic), then I would shut off the valve for the house and observe the pressure gauge over many hours. If it drops then unfortunately the leak is somewhere from the pump up to the tank(s).

I’ve had that kind of leak and it was in the pipe from the well head to the basement. But it caused a big puddle of water up on the ground surface so I knew exactly where the leak was. But as Pilot Dane says if the leak is deep enough unfortunately you won’t know where to dig.

I found in my case when I dug it up, the pipe was so bad, that it only made sense to replace the whole thing.
The only thing I would question Pilot Dane on is if there is a leak should you pull the pump first and look at the check valve at the pump before excavating? (I think there is always a check valve at the pump, but there may not be one near the tank(s)).

Seems like a tough problem either way.

(forgot to say you would shut off the pump during the test for a leak)
 
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Old 04-19-18, 03:08 PM
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When the line is pressurized, remove the top of the well casing and listen. If there is a leak in the pipe above the water level you may hear a hissing sound. If you don't hear anything then you could use a stethoscope or the "screwdriver test" on the well casing to possibly hear if any leak in the buried pipe is transmitting a sound to the casing.

I once had a problem similar to yours and discovered a cracked elbow at the slip joint on the casing by listening.

Screwdriver test: Place the metal end of a screwdriver (or something similar on the metal casing and press you ear against the end of the handle. Sound will transmit through it so you can hear it.
 

Last edited by 2john02458; 04-19-18 at 03:11 PM. Reason: Explained screwdriver test.
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Old 04-19-18, 04:14 PM
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Losing 1 psi in 30 minutes would be a tiny leak and tough to find. Usually the best place to start is turn the valve off that supplies the house and see if the leak remains.
 
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Old 04-19-18, 06:26 PM
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To answer the 1st question the pump comes on unexpedtedly.
There’s no check valve at the tank.
I’ll shut the water off at the house tomorrow when I get home and let y’all know.
Thanks
 
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Old 04-20-18, 07:52 AM
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Hate answering using the phone. Everything's so small.
Pilot Dane: the water pump turns on unexpectedly. If a new line to the house is needed I'd have to probably hire someone. I haven't had need to buy an excavator, yet.
Zoesdad: No check valves in the house, they're all at the well. I don't remember if they put one on the line or not. If I pull the pump I might as well replace it, it's getting fairly old. After 2 hours - there's no movement in the pressure gauge.
2john0248: I couldn't detect any sound with the screwdriver test.

Back to the beginning -- I either have a slow leak in the house somewhere, in the pump, or water line.

I'll keep investigating. Thanks for the responses / ideas.
 
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Old 04-20-18, 09:54 AM
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If no pressure drop after 2 hours, probably not a leak before the valve you shut off. May be a slow leak past a toilet flapper. Turn toilets off and turn house valve back on. Then try pressure test by turning toilets on one-by-one. Watch pressure for some time after turning each one on to see if that is the cause. It will take a long time and if you are near the toilet you may hear it refill. Or put food coloring in each toilet tank and see if it shows up in the bowl when not in use.

Another thought: Have you checked the pressure switch to see if it is corroded or damaged inside. What are your low and high pressure readings? Usually 20 to 50 or 30 to 60 pounds.
 
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Old 04-20-18, 10:05 AM
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2 toilet test with food dye were negative. The pressure switch is a good & new with an oil filled dial. It was replaced when the pipe was replaced due to pinhole leaks at the house. I think the switch is 20 & 50.
 
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Old 04-20-18, 11:11 AM
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Have you checked to see if the pressure tank is waterlogged? If it is waterlogged, the pump will come on more often.

Check the air valve when the system is pressurized. If water comes out of the air valve when the pressure is on, then the bladder inside is ruptured and the tank needs to be replaced.

If bladder is OK, isolate the tank by closing the valve to the house and shut off the pump. Drain until the pressure is zero. Check the tank pressure at the air valve with a tire gauge or similar. With the tank, empty of water, the pressure should be 2psi below the cut-on pressure. So, for example, with a 30-50 pressure switch (factory default setting), air pressure in the tank will equal 28psi. If the pressure switch is adjusted to 40-60, the cut-on pressure will be 38psi. If you need more pressure pump it up with compressor or tire pump
 

Last edited by 2john02458; 04-20-18 at 11:12 AM. Reason: typo & more info
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Old 04-20-18, 12:16 PM
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After 2 hours - there's no movement in the pressure gauge.
.
You have to be careful with that statement. Make sure you are accounting for different pressure levels. You said that the pressure drops 1psi per 30 minutes. That is not a big leak to begin with. Now assuming you have a leak and assuming the leak is of the "non-size changing" type, which almost all are. Point #1:More water volume will be pushed out of the leak at 50 psi then at 20 psi. Point#2: For the same amount of water loss the reduction in pressure will be much higher as your pressures are closer to 50psi then 20psi. In other words the higher your pressure is the MORE noticeable the change in pressure for the same amount of water loss. So, not only is less water being pushed out of the leak at lower pressures but the guage moves even less for the same amount of water loss. So if your water was close to 20 psi it might take 3 hours or more for enough water to leave that leak, to drop the water pressure just 1 psi, when it only took 1/2 hour to drop it when closer to 50psi. I hope that makes sense.

So what I am saying is be careful saying that there was no movement in pressure, since there might have been but it might not have been noticeable on your guage. Or it might have. It depends on where the pressure was before the 2 hour test started. It helps to understand how your water volumes and water pressure relate to each other at the different pressure/volume levels, in order to resolve this issue..
 

Last edited by OptsyEagle; 04-20-18 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 04-20-18, 05:50 PM
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ts-

IMHO Optsy is right. That’s why I suggested running the test over many hours. When I’ve run that test I did it for at least 10 hours. (On one test I temporarily removed the check valve at my tank to see if I had a leak somewhere from the pump to the check valve collocated with the tank. After 10 hours I concluded the pressure did not drop at all, hence there was no leak from the pump to the tank.)

But one thing puzzles me. It seems to me that if this is a really slow leak the probability of you hearing the pump come on when it shouldn’t is pretty small. The slower the leak the lower the probability that you will hear the pump come on when no water is being used. If on a fairly regular basis you are hearing the pump come on when it shouldn’t (I know regular basis is vague), I would bet the leak is in your house somewhere, because it would have to be more than [1 psi/2 hr] leak for you to hear it often.

In other words, the probability of a leak dropping the pressure to pump cut-in pressure, would be very small compared to the probability of normal water usage dropping the pressure to the pump cut-in pressure – if the leak is very slow. So you wouldn’t be aware of the leak, i.e., it would be very rare that you would catch the pump coming ON when it shouldn’t. So if the leak can’t be as slow as you just measured in the path to the house, then the leak would have to be in the house somewhere. At least that’s the way it seems to me. Could be wrong.

Are you on a slab so that pipes could be leaking in the slab? Are there pipes under you house in a crawl space that might be leaking? Any water treatment equipment that might be going bonkers and backwashing when it shouldn’t?

Just a few thoughts.
 
 

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