115 volts or 220 volts to well pump

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by JoeBarth, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. JoeBarth

    JoeBarth New Member

    Messages:
    2
    My brother in law tore down his house. The only thing left is the well with two wires coming out of it. One yellow and one red. Should we run 115 volts or 220 volts. Thanks
  2. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    You should have looked at how it was wired before, now you'll have to pull the pump to check the HP and voltage of the pump. Also, is there a ground wire for the pump?
  3. JoeBarth

    JoeBarth New Member

    Messages:
    2
    I don't see a ground wire. Live and learn. Need to use the well temporarily on the new house. How easy does the pump pull out? Can I run 115v and check the amps?
  4. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    Some (most-all?) submersible pumps have a "control box" located in the house or well house. If you need, but don't have, this control box you may be SOL.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Measure the resistance between the two wires. Then see if it corresponds to values for any particular size motor. Even if it does, that doesn't mean it is going to work.

    With only 2 wires it is either a 2-wire pump or it isn't going to work.

    Red and yellow might indicate that it is a 2-wire 220 Volt pump.

    Older pumps had no ground wire.

    220 Volt pumps had no neutral; therefore usually no white wire.

    I would try connecting 115 Volts for a few seconds. If it is a 2-wire pump it is probably thermally protected. If no water (or little water) comes out in 30 seconds, try 220 Volts. You don't have much to lose.

    If you put 220 Volts on a 115 Volt pump it should trip out on thermal protection in a few seconds.
  6. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

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    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Wire colors for a three wire Pump are usually Red, Yellow and Black. Two wire Pumps have a Red and a Black. If you have a Yellow and a Red, you have probably not yet located the Black wire. It may be broken off in the Well. So chances are you will have to pull the Pump to make repairs anyway.

    bob...
  7. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    Regardless, if the house was torn down and everything is "new" the wiring needs to be 4 wire for 240 and 3 wire for 120. For 240 you need the two "hot wires" and two grounds, one to the well case and another to the panel. For 120 you need 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground to the panel.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Most submersible well pumps are 2 wire pumps (they are better and less expensive than a 3 wire [with control box]) and do not need or have a control box. Most older pumps did not have a ground. It depends on what code if any you are under IF the pump and/or casing is supposed to be grounded; the pump doesn't require grounding because it is usually very well grounded in the water in the well. But it doesn't hurt unless the ground wire is broken and you are used to make it.

    Actually IIRC, grounding the casing is not what the codes call for, they call for use of metal well casing as the building's electrical system's ground electrode. That's in addition to ground rods and use of metal water lines to ground the house electrical system with. And that's a bit different than "grounding the casing"; as if it needed it. IMO, using the well casing as the building's ground electrode can be very dangerous to the well or pump guy that comes out to work on a well. But he electrical codes guys never asked me. ;)
  9. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT

    Where to start educating you on your post....
    I think I will start with this comment.



    This comment scares the hell out of me, A pump without a low impedance path back to the service will NEVER trip the breaker, the earth is NOT a low impedance path. Your gonna kill someone.


    Actually the NEC does require the casing, if metal, to be bonded with the EGC that supplies the pump motor, NEC 250.112(M) And no, you dont have to use the well casing as a GEC.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2008
  10. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    You dont need to bond the well casing to the service disconnect separately, the egc the supplies the pump is all you need. just make sure that it gets bonded to the well casing.
  11. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

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    Location:
    S. Maine
    That is what I was trying to say but it got lost in translation. Thanks for clarifying it for everyone.
  12. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

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    Location:
    MN, USA
    I've thought about running a heavy wire from my three ground rods over to the well in order to improve lighting protection.

    Back on the original question.

    Is the yellow really yellow? It could be a white wire that got discolored.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
    the pump doesn't require grounding because it is usually very well grounded in the water in the well. But it doesn't hurt unless the ground wire is broken and you are used to make it.

    Chris, it seems you need some education on pumps before you scare anymore people and further scar my reputation.

    I'm from PA and PA historically had the largest number or rural population until TX surpassed us in the 2000 census. Rural is identified/defined as households with a private on site water source and septic. There are a million+/- wells in PA and the majority have submersible pumps. The vast majority of them are 2 wire, meaning no ground wire pigtail. There is no ground wire run from the pressure switch to the well or the pump in the well. And the casings are not grounded/bonded or used as the building's ground electrode.

    You're from CT and I can understand you not hearing of people in PA being killed as you say I will be killing them but, I've lived in rural PA since 1942 except for 12-14 years and I have worked on a hundred wells as I described; no ground wire run to the well, or attached to the metal casing, or to the submersible pump. I have never heard of any related injuries or deaths. Although my uncle was killed when a galvanized drop pipe got away from him and others and touched overhead electrical wires; that was in 1952. So can you continue to educate me as to why that is?

    Wells and pumps are not my primary business, water treatment is, and I must have been in maybe 3-4000 houses and businesses right next to pressure tanks and switches without a grounded submersible pump or well unless it was a 120 v submersible pump; they are very rare. That's OMG! only two 120v wires running from the pressure switch to the sub pump up to 200' from the house and the pump 500-600' deep in the well.

    How do you and the guy that got you involved in this suppose we ever survived?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
    Actually IIRC, grounding the casing is not what the codes call for, they call for use of metal well casing as the building's electrical system's ground electrode.

    ummm can you spell out EGC and GEC?

    Also, is the NEC mandatory in all US States and local jurisdictions?
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    If you have a control box for a 3 wire pump, the wires are always color coded in the box as Yellow Red Black and Green; it's an industry standard AFAIK but, any color wire can be used if they are kept in the right 'order' and connected to the right pigtail wires.

    If you have a 2 wire 240v pump the two wires can be any color and it doesn't matter which goes on what pigtail; which are usually both black.

    If it's a 120v pump the wires are usually black and white and bare but can be any color.
  15. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    So you have no electrical background what so ever? Your not the guy that steals the grounding wire off a 240v well pump circuit for a 120v receptacle for the water softner are you?


    EGC is Equipment Grounding Conductor
    GEC is Grounding Electrode Conductor

    The Nec is mandatory if your state has accepted it and adopted it. with the exception of state amendments.

    Here is a picture to help you grasp the idea of a grounding conductor.

    250.2.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Oh but I do, since 1960 actually. A... 5 years USAF nuclear weapons maintenance which was very HIGH in electrical grounding (a lot of high explosives), 6 months building moblie homes doing all the wiring of fixtures and receptacles and then final testing of the entire home (for shorts with 1000 vac), a few years as a power company ground hand and lineman in new line construction and replacement with maintenance of existing power lines and service drops (very HIGH on grounding again), 5 years in electronic troubleshooting and 20 years of well pump work not to mention decades as a homeowner wiring this'n that but...

    Now you're just blowin' smoke. Talk about what you've decided to educate me on, here's another copy:

    (you) Where to start educating you on your post....
    I think I will start with this comment.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gary Slusser
    the pump doesn't require grounding because it is usually very well grounded in the water in the well. But it doesn't hurt unless the ground wire is broken and you are used to make it.[/quote]

    (you)This comment scares the hell out of me, A pump without a low impedance path back to the service will NEVER trip the breaker, the earth is NOT a low impedance path. Your gonna kill someone. (end of your original quote)

    Tell me this, if in troubleshooting a no water call on a well with a 2 wire (no ground wire) submersible pump, and at the top of the casing you undo the wire nuts and check the cable wires back to the switch and all's well but, checking the casing to the drop cable wires to the pump you find a short TO GROUND.

    How do you explain that? Is that magic or is the pump and cable that is under water grounded some how? And yes, it may not have popped the breaker but tell me where is all the danger unless you're stuck on stupid and fooling around out at the casing not knowing what you're doing with the power on tripping around reading your code book.

    What does that short to ground mean to you if not that the electrical cable or motor windings are in contact with the water in the well or the metal casing?

    Answer that and we can go on with my education.

    And if you think people are going to dig up their yards to add a ground wire to an existing well, you're on something. And actually I don't know of anywhere that their existing well is not grandfathered to the OLD no ground required codes in force when the well was originally done. They will go with a new 2 wire non grounded pump because there is no way to add a ground wire back to the house.

    Now I could add the ground to the drop cable from the pump pigtail to the top of the casing and attach it there BUT, will that pop the breaker if there's another short to ground? (that's a test of [/b]your[/b] grounding knowledge sparky)

    Yeah I know that and that's why I don't reply as if codes cover everywhere in the US as you obviously seem to believe the NEC or CT codes do.

    BTW, in case you don't take my test above, you can't build find or design a better GROUND than a metal well casing, and trust me, all groundwater (that's what is in a water well) will conduct electricity to ground.

    Question, are you saying that the metal casing is not the same ground as the electric company's meter base, or the power company pole or tower ground or the ground rod ground many houses have or the metal water line ground the NEC requires or the ground used back at the electric generation plant?
  17. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    All your reading is continuity.

    Your confused on the EARTH and a actual ground, yes I know the NEC does not make it easy, but you have to remember this, that little hole in your receptacles does NOT GO TO THE EARTH. I cannot stress this enough.


    This is the scary part, what do you think happens if that pump has a short underground and the breaker does not trip? You end up with a potential shock hazard. Even death. Here is a picture...

    501ecm17fig4.jpg






    An accident waiting to happen.

    That will accomplish nothing, it would have to connect back to the service neutral to open the breaker.

    Your right, it will conduct electricity, but at a high impedance, which will NEVER open the circuit breaker and clear the fault... this is the danger.

    The whole time buddie! Look at it this way, ground rods and other grounding electrodes we install are only for lighting and surges from higher voltage lines, the actual ground wire on a light fixture or receptacle actually tie back to the system neutral, this is what allows the circuit breaker to open during a fault, now sure, we bond the ground rods and such to the system neutral, but it does nothing in terms of protecting us during a fault.


    Here is another picture to study, this one actually involves a service without a neutral, but it may help you understand that the earth does nothing in relation to circuit breakers. Picture the motor shown, a well casing with a well pump that has a ground fault.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  18. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Grounding and Bonding are very hard for people to understand, even electricians.... alot of it has to do with the wording in the Nec. but either way, education is the only answer. And I apologize to the OP for disrupting his thread.
  19. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Okay, let me show you a picture of a control box I came across working in the field....

    [​IMG]

    They didnt have enough conductors for the pump, so they used the ground wire that normally protects people from electric shocks as the extra wire they needed.

    If a ground fault were to ever occur in the well pump, the breaker would never open, and anyone walking in the yard could be seriously hurt or killed.
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yeah you want the breaker to trip. Due to the newest code my guess is you'll have that on all wells in another 25-50 years.

    In the mean time... Most if not all well owners will know when there is an electrical short to ground or other problems in there submersible pump well system because they won't have any water.

    Anyone working on any electrical system should know to turn the power off before working on it and especially a submersible well pump.

    I see that Meyers box, I always looked for that kind of thing when I opened switch covers, control boxes or pulled pumps etc.. And I've found some; and life went on.

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