30 year old well system- complete replacement- pump, tank, etc.-nuts?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by stoneaxe, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    Hello all, what a great forum, this my first post- thank in advance for advice.:D

    considering some well system repairs.

    The existing system-

    The well is 30 years old, 51 feet deep, 6" casing. 35 foot SL, i do not know the flow rate, I think it is low, as the pump installer recommended a low flow pump so the system would not cycle on and off rapidly.

    The pump is a Berkeley B4AM8 1/3 hp 3 wire, I believe it is 220- have to check. The tank is a well x trol wx 252 86 gallon airbag.

    The driller went down about 45-feet, hit a thin layer of gravel with water, went down another 5 feet and hit blue clay- around here that can be 500' thick, so he pulled back and developed the water bearing strata.

    This system has worked perfectly for 30 years- it is very simple and reliable. I do not think it has a "motor control", the wiring is straight out of the panel to the pump.

    15 years ago we built a house and spliced into the water line- formerly it went to a single wide.

    The problem

    For the past few years there has been a slight vibration in the house water lines when the pump comes on. Sometimes it is enough to create a like buzz in the floor.

    There is a little iron in the water, probably from the old galvanized well plumbing.

    A few days ago there was a a blocked toilet valve, there was an organic plug of small old rotted roots clogging it, which made me wonder where it came from. I don't think it came from the well. My belief is it was in the line for a long time and worked it's way to a plug point. The clog was dark brown and semi rotted- not mush but not new roots either-the faucet screens showed a few small pieces of similar material 1/8" long.
    BUT-

    In looking over the well system trying to figure out where the roots came from, I noticed the pump was coming on every 20 minute- the pressure is dropping from 60psi to 40 psi in 20 minutes, pump runs for a few minutes to bring the pressure up and it repeats. I have checked for open faucets ,hose bibs, etc.

    The pressure tank is fine doing the tap test.

    There may be either a leaky foot valve, or some pinholes in the galvanized drop pipe. or?



    The plan

    Replace the pump, plumbing to the wellhouse, (20' run ) tank,pressure switch etc and install a simple pump hand pump- we get a lot of power outages, voltage spikes etc and are at the end of the line, powerwise. So the hand pump would be a nice backup- and who knows, maybe those guys taking about EMP are right..!!

    The charge for this about 5K , of which 2500 is for the hand pump- yikes-maybe I will delete it.-or do it later. :eek:

    The replacement pump is a Grundfos 10s05-9 1/2hp. and a Franklin control box is indicated- is this setup going to be voltage spike resistant? I need reliable more than sophisticated.

    All the old galvanized pipe and fittings are going away, they are all rusting. After reading the comments here about clogged 1/4" pressure switch nipples and blown up tanks, I got nervous!
    PVC sch 40 is indicated, is this a good choice for the buried lines and the tank-switch plumbing?

    The water has quite a bit of calcium and magnesium in it, it does build a crust over time.
    There is room in the pumphouse for a softening system, but that will have to wait for money to be available.

    This may seem like an overkill response to my problem, but I may stay here till I die, and I do not want to get bogged down in piecemeal repairs- hopefully this will last another 30 years.

    The installer has a great reputation- he did say i could just go with it till it broke, aka "don't fix it if it ain't broke". But things have a way of breaking at very inconvenient times.

    So am I nuts? Or does this sound like an logical way to approach the problem? Your comments are appreciated. Thank you!
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Sounds like a good plan. That is a good pump, but I wouldn't expect it to last 30 years like the last one. Nothing is voltage spike resistant, but that is less likely to shorten the life of your new pump than other things. As long as you have a little gas, a generator beats a hand pump any day.
  3. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    Agreed! That is what I normally do- the hand pump is for " total infrastructure meltdown" scenario.
    Every 20 years or so we get a windstorm or something that kicks out power for a couple weeks.

    is there a pump that would likely last for 20-30 years? The well guy told me flat out they are not made now as well as the old ones- I only have experience with this Berkeley.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  4. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

    Messages:
    58
    Location:
    Royal City, WA
    I pulled a submersible pump one time out of a 6" well. It pulled easy for a couple of feet then started to pull hard. Then it got easier again. The pump ended up 42 ft deep. The bottom 15 ft was a solid mass of tree roots. It's amazing how far poplar tree roots can extend horizontally and vertically. The site I'm on now has got all sorts of roots down about a foot deep and I'm 30 to 60 ft from poplar trees. It's an industrial supply well for a French fry plant and I have a pit to receive water & cuttings that is 20 ft wide and 40 ft long.
  5. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Berkeley is as good as any, but no better either. Berkeley is made by Pentair, which also labels the same pump as a Meyers, Flotec, Fairbanks, Sta-Rite, Simmer, Aermotor, and others. And they are “all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same”.

    All pumps have been redesigned several times over the years. They don’t redesign to make them better, but to see how much cheaper they can make them and still get most of them through the warranty period.

    I guess I have to take a little credit for some companies cheapening up their pumps even more. Since cycling on and off is the biggest killer of pumps, the Cycle Stop Valve makes even cheap pumps last longer. Since there is now a device that can eliminate cycling and make pumps last much longer, it puts a kink in their planned obsolescence. So they redesign and make the pump/motor even cheaper still.

    Back in the 90’s the same company built a really cheap, one-piece throw away pump called the “Value Sub”. Most of these didn’t last a year. But we were installing them with a Cycle Stop Valve and some of those things are still running 20 years later. If a CSV can make a “Value Sub” last 20 years, it can make any pump last much longer than usual.

    So there isn’t any special brand of pump that will last a long time. You just have to limit the cycling on the pumps that are available to get the longest run possible.
  6. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    Any comments on the Grundfos pumps- that is what my installer recommended. there was no mention of a "cycle stop valve" at all in my quote.
  7. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,083
    Location:
    ct
    Grundfos is a top of the line pump, unfortunately they seem to have motor failure issues.
  8. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    A Grundfos pump with a Franklin motor is one of my favorites. I also have a few Grundfos motors still running since about 1982, but you can't count on anything being made like it was 30 years ago.
  9. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    I think the guy who originally installed my system put in a low gpm pump, and a large tank, to keep cycling to a minimum. It seemed to work fine.

    Two questions-
    would a Grundfos .5 hp pump have this Franklin motor that is so highly thought of?

    The motor control specified is a Franklin, and the wire is a 12-4- that indicated to me the the "control box " is a VFD, and the pump is three phase- am I correct? This makes me nervous- we have a LOT of power surges here- the less circuitry involved the better, as far as I am concerned. The old system ran fine on just a square D pressure switch , a tank and pump.



    .
  10. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

    Messages:
    58
    Location:
    Royal City, WA
    The grundfos distributor I use gives me the option of a franklin or a grundfos motor with the grundfos pump end
  11. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    I found out they use a Franklin motor, and it is a single phase pump- the "motor control" is just a couple of capacitors in a box.
  12. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,083
    Location:
    ct
    We have some Grundfos pumps with Grundfos motors that I installed 20 yrs ago still going strong, but my experience is that the new Grundfos motors aren't near as reliable.

    In this business, reliability is everything.

    Stone axe, a big tank is money well spent. I try to tell people that everyday, but given the general state of the economy along with the "can't see it, can't show it off" mentality, people almost always go with too small a tank.
  13. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    It seems like a bigger tank would work to reduce cycling and have a bit more water on hand for the short power outages- usually we lose power for a couple of hours or so, so I don't bother to go start the generator. Good time to make coffee and sit quietly by the fire!
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Murphy conspires with the PoCo to lose power when the tank is 1 PSI above the cut-in, so if it is a bladder tank, then it is essentially empty.
  15. stoneaxe

    stoneaxe New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    wa state
    Today the well pump would not shut off at all, the pressure would not get over 55 psi.
    So I started to dig to the water line, no sense paying the well guys the big bucks to run a shovel...
    When I got to 18" below grade, the ditch started to fill with water- hmmm. Shut off the pump, and continued digging-

    The 1" PVC line into the pitless adapter was broken off at the threads. There was a LOT of roots around it, holding the pipe in place.
    So I did a quick PVC repair in the twilight. Getting the old broken threds out was the hardest, I cut four hacksaw slots in it and pried it out, then chased the bronze threads with a piece of steel pipe with some gooves filed across the threads to make an impromptu tap.

    My take- the threads were partially broken years aho in a quake, we had the ground here roll pretty heavy in the Nisqually shaker, and over the years the roots found a ready source of water. Then recently it must have broken all the way through.
    Still thinking about replacing the pump- 31 years old.....? Think I will ask the well guy on his take.
  16. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    20+ years ago I also thought a big tank was money well spent. But a big tank only “reduces” the cycling, it doesn’t stop cycling. So you still have to make sure any long term uses of water exactly match the output of the pump. You can’t run a garden hose or anything small for long periods of time without cycling the pump to death.

    A Cycle Stop Valve will completely “stop” the cycling as long as you are using more than 1 GPM. So with a CSV to stop the cycling, a big tank is a waste of money, space, heat, and a false sense of security if you are counting on having some storage when the power goes off. As LL said, a big tank will be almost empty when the power goes off as Murphy has control of things like that.

    A couple of 5 gallon jugs in the closet is the best way to be sure of having coffee and be able to flush a couple of times until the power comes back on. Your water comes from the well via the pump, not the tank. A pressure tank is designed to limit the cycling, not to store water.

    An 80 gallon tank looks big, but only holds about 20 gallons of water when completely full. But it could have as little as 1 gallon left in it at any time. If the tank only has 1 gallon left in it at the moment you shut off the shower handle, then 1 gallon is all the storage you have.

    However, adding a Cycle Stop Valve to a big tank system greatly improves the chances of the tank being full when you need it. With a CSV, the pump does not shut off until you are completely finished using water. So the pump runs for as long as you are in the shower. Only when you finally turn off the shower does the CSV top off the tank and the pump shuts off. In this way you can be sure the tank is completely full every time you stop using water. A CSV will always top off the tank before the pump shuts off, which gives you a much better chance of having 20 gallons in an 80 gallon size tank during a power outage.
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Unless of course, someone draws off 19 gallons before the power is lost. Now, if you were to deploy a CSV along with a narrow range on the pressure switch as you proposed HERE, such as maybe 5 or 10 PSI spread and keep the precharge low, then you would have near constant pressure AND have a reserve of water albeit at lower pressure.
  18. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees. You are exactly right. All you need to do to guarantee there are many gallons of water stored in a pressure tank when you need it, is make sure the tank STAYS topped off.

    Maybe this is a better way to say it. Once the pump starts, the CSV won’t let it build to 60 PSI and shut off until you are completely finished using water. However, if sometime later you use small amounts of water that add up to 19 gallons, the tank could be depleted to 41 PSI, almost to the point of starting the pump again at 40, but not quite. Then when the power goes off, there is only a gallon or so left stored in the pressure tank. There is no power. So when you draw off a gallon or so of water, the pump doesn’t start at 40. Since there is 38 PSI of air pre-charged in the tank, the bladder hits the bottom at 38 PSI, and not another drop comes out of the tank.

    In the past, lowering the air pre-charge in the tank to about 25 PSI, was the only way to guarantee having a few gallons of water after a power outage. This decreases the actual draw down amount between the normal 40 and 60 PSI causing more pump cycling, and also over-stretches the bladder in the tank.

    However, if you use the CSV in combination with a large tank and a pressure switch with a 5 PSI bandwidth between on and off, the tank stays topped off. The CSV still makes sure you are completely finished using water before it lets the tank fill up to 60 PSI. An 80 gallon size tank will be completely full with 20 gallons of water when the pressure switch shuts off the pump at 60 PSI. But the next time water is used, only 5 gallons comes out of the tank as the pressure only drops to 55 PSI before the pressure switch restarts the pump.

    With a good producing well, you could set the CSV at 58 PSI. So as soon as the pump starts at 55 PSI, the tank is refilled to 58 PSI. At 58 PSI the CSV takes over and maintains 58 PSI constant for as long as the shower or anything else over 1 GPM is being used. When all water outlets are finally closed, the CSV continues to supply 1 GPM to top off the tank to 60 PSI, which takes about two minutes, and the pressure switch finally shuts off the pump. In this way you are only getting about 5 gallons of draw down from a big tank before the pump starts, but that is not a problem with a CSV, as it will work fine with tanks that hold as little as 1 gallon of water. What all this really does is make sure there is always at least 15 gallons of water stored in an 80 gallon pressure tank, even after a power outage. Icing on the cake is the almost perfect constant pressure in the house at all times. Even when the pump is off and you are getting water from the tank, the pressure will only be between 60 and 55 PSI. Then when the pump starts the CSV will maintain 58 PSI constant for as long as you are using water. The pressure will be so constant that you may not be able to tell if the pump is on or not. Sprinkles on top of the icing, is that the 15 gallons kept stored in the tank for emergency situations is replaced regularly which keeps it perfectly fresh at all times.

    With a weak producing well, you could do the same thing except set the CSV at 40 PSI. In this way the pump still starts at 55 PSI after you use the first 5 gallons out of the tank. But because it is set at 40 PSI, the CSV restricts the pump to 1 GPM like a 1 GPM Dole valve. As you continue to use water as with a 3 GPM shower, 1 GPM is now coming through the CSV from the pump, and 2 GPM are coming from the tank as the pressure continues to decrease. Seven more minutes into the shower the last of the 15 gallons in the tank is gone at 40 PSI. But with the CSV set at 40 PSI, it quickly opens up to 3 GPM to continue supplying the shower. The shower can then continue until all the stored water in the well is used up. If you have 50 gallons of water stored in the well, the shower will still have water for another 16 minutes before the well is dry. Of course then it would be important to have a Dry Well protector like the Cycle Sensor to shut off the pump before any damage from dry run occurs.

    I have narrowed the bandwidth of pressure switches many times for other reasons. Shortening the pump run time, maintaining as constant a pressure as possible, and staggering in multiple pumps to name a few. I just didn’t realize it was also utilizing a pressure tank as real storage, which can be very beneficial for weak wells or frequent power outages.

    Sometimes I just have to be hit by a tree to start looking at the forest. So I guess I am back to thinking a big pressure tank can be money well spent. If you have a weak well or frequent and short power outages, a big pressure tank, 5 PSI bandwidth pressure switch, and a CSV can make sure the tank stays topped off and full of fresh water.
  19. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    555
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    Or, you could just use galv. tank like me.

    ;)Sorry, I couldn't resist.

  20. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,586
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    The same thing will work using a galvanized tank. We use Cycle Stop Valves with Galv tanks all the time. You just have to put the bleeder in a little deeper or use a compressor like a White Water to maintain the air ratio. The CSV doesn’t let the pump cycle as much, so you need more air in the pipe when it does, or use a compressor with probes.

    Just think how much stored water you would have in a Galv tank if you kept it topped off all the time.
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