Capacitor problems

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

  1. chefkelbel

    chefkelbel New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I just bought a house, and upon moving in noticed a constant noise coming from the closet where the water enters the house. After a couple of days the noise stopped---as did my water. My electrician stopped by and said the capacitor went. I am replacing it today. He also said that capacitors usually go when there is another problem and the new one might fail as well. I know very little about well pumps (this is my first house with a well) and any advise would be appreciated.

    Is capacitor failure a sign of bigger trouble to come?

    p.s. the house sat empty for 6 mos. and the pump may have been shut off for a long period of time.

    Thanks.
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    2,718
    Location:
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    Capacitors are used for starting electric motors. If the capacitor fails, the motor won't start, and sometimes just sits and hums. Could you describe the noise you heard in more detail? I suppose it could be motor noise transmitted through the pipe.

    I don't see why a capacitor failing once would indicate it'll fail again any time soon, although if the rotor is locked or the motor is exceptionally hard to start, that might cause repeated failures.
  3. chefkelbel

    chefkelbel New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Thank you.

    I can't really describe the noise other than to say it is annoying (but not as annoying as having no water). I am going home to help replace the capacitor now, hopefully this will do it.
  4. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

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  5. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

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    Location:
    MN, USA
    A larger tank is a better option.

    Tanks also fail with time so once the water works again see how often the pump turn on and off.
  6. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

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    4,495
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You can't put on a large enough tank to do what a Cycle Stop Valve does. Three times larger tank will cut the cycling by 2/3rds but, it doesn't stop the cycling. Also with a larger tank you will be experiencing longer times between high pressure and low pressure, and it continually changes. The CSV will keep the pressure steady and constant as long as you are using water. The CSV will more than offset it's cost by using a much smaller pressure tank. 20 years ago the larger pressure tank would have been my answer as well. Now you have a much better option with the Cycle Stop Valve.
  7. Raucina

    Raucina Previous member

    Messages:
    515
    A control box that makes noise usually means the amp draw is very high and there is a short in the system. Better get a pump guy and check the specs on the down wires. You might need a lot more than a capacitor.
  8. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Beside the start capacitor, there is also the run capacitor that can go for no good reason. They used to never go bad in the good old days, but now they too can go bad at any time depending on the life expectancy built into them by the folks who design in the obsolence.

    bob...
  9. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

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    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.

    The cycle stop valve won't help if the tank is bad since the pump would have to turn on every time a tiny amount of water is used. (The foot/check valves are not perfect)

    FYI: Most well systems don't have a separate air tank for the hot water heater since the main tank does this task. This means that the T&P valve can start leaking if the main tank fails.

    Things to check
    1. The tank.
    Open a faucet and monitor how often the pump cycles on and off. (click sounds)
    The tank could have went bad or it could be a non-bladder tank and needs to build up air.

    2. The pump's check valve.
    with all water using items turn off (including the toilet) see how often the pump turns on and off.
  10. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Yes it will, simply by keeping it from cycling when water is being used. As long as it's more that one gallon per minute.

    Foot and check valves when used in the proper places do work quite well and do not leak at all. Only a cheap valve or one that has a piece of rock or similar foreign object stuck in it will leak.

    bob...
  11. chefkelbel

    chefkelbel New Member

    Messages:
    3
    The solution

    The well pump died. It has been replaced and we have water. FYI-It was a 1985 Franklin and the pipes had not been changed when the pump was changed. The pump was hanging onto the pipe by a thread.

    Thank you for all of your help, and I never knew how much I loved to flush a toilet.
  12. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
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    If every problem is a nail, the only tool you need is a hammer.

    The Cycle Stop Valve has saved a lot of pumps when the bladder tanks busted. In 1995 I let a salesman talk me into trying a new brand of pressure tank. This tank had a bag instead of a bladder. If it ain't broke don't fix it. I should have known better than to switch from a tank that had served me well for decades. Within a few months these bags in the tanks started busting. However, I had already installed 86 of them before I new there was a problem with the tank. Thank goodness I had also used a Cycle Stop Valve on all of these systems.

    Yes, when the bladder or "bag" is busted, the pump will start as soon as you crack the faucet open, and shuts off as soon as you close the faucet. This is exactly the way most of the variable speed pumps operate, and no it is not a good thing. Without a Cycle Stop Valve, these pumps would have cycled on and off rapidly as long as a faucet was open. If you have ever watched a pump cycle with a waterlogged tank, you know that it could cycle every second or two as long as a faucet is open or the shower is running. This means the pump could cycle hundreds of time while you are taking a single shower. When the system has a Cycle Stop Valve, the pump will start as soon as you turn on the shower, and the pump will stay on as long as the shower is on. Turn off the shower, the pump immediately goes off but, it doesn't cycle WHILE the shower is on. This will help save your pump until you can get the tank fixed.

    Since many of the 86 of these systems I installed also failed basically at the same time, I was unable to get to many of them for several days and even weeks for repair. It was a big job to warranty 86 systems at the same time that I was trying to do my regular (scheduled) jobs every day.

    Many of these systems had run with the waterlogged tank for weeks or months before I was aware of the problem. Most customers did not even know there was a problem. As soon as I was aware of the problem, I called all 86 customers and ask them to run a 1 GPM hose in the flower bed or garden, until I could get there. Knowing what I know now about Cycle Stop Valves, I would no longer even worry about running the 1 GPM. After replacing all 86 of these bad tanks, I was amazed that not a single pump out of 86 systems had been destroyed. There was not even a single capacitor blown.

    This proved two things to me. The first is that when using a Cycle Stop Valve, the size of the tank was not nearly as important. The second thing was that when using a Cycle Stop Valve, the systems were much safer for the pump even if the bladder tank is waterlogged.

    Since that time I have learned that there are many other benefits for using a Cycle Stop Valve. Pumps, motors, bladder tanks, check valves, pressure switches, and everything else in a pump system last longer when using a Cycle Stop Valve. Using the Cycle Stop Valve saved me many, many thousands of dollars not having to replace all 86 of these pumps. When using a Cycle Stop Valve even starting capacitors do not blow, which is a first sign of rapid cycling, NOT A SHORT.

    BTW, pump hanging by a thread tells me that you probably had galv pipe threaded into a brass check valve. If you simply rap this connection with electric tape, it will prevent the electrolysis that caused the pipe to be eaten off just above the brass check valve.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    26,842
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tape

    Wrapping tape around the outside of a pipe prevents electrolysis. How enlitghtening. And here for decades engineers have been saying that electrolysis is an internal problem caused by the presence of two dissimilar metals, usually steel and copper, in the presence of the water, which is inside the pipe. Then too, since brass is between the two metals on the nobility scale, it is not a common problem with it. In fact the use of brass is one of the ways to eliminate, or at least minimize, electrolysis. More than likely the pump was hanging by a thread, because threading pipe removes the galvanized coating at the thread and the pipe thread just rusted out as steel is wont to do in water.
  14. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,495
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    In some areas, if you don't wrap that brass to galv pipe connection with electric tape, it will leave the pump "hanging by a thread" in about 6 months. I am sure corrosion where the threads have cut off the galv coating is part of it but, if you wrap it with tape, it will look like new under the tape 30 years from now. The next joint up is usually still under water and also has exposed threads but, it is galv to galv and I have never had a problem there. Brass or Stainless to galv will erode our very quickly so, electrolysis has got to be a big part of the problem. With 25 cents worth of electric tape, a pump man would have solved the problem and saved the engineers decades of head scratching.
  15. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    Sorry for the delay. I had to check some things.

    1. valveman has a point in that if the water runs long enough for the pipe to condense water at the joint you will get a very fast electrolytic corrosion.
    Adding a sealant (tape) will prevent the condensing water from getting to the small gap where the threads no longer touch.
    Teflon tape, gupe, or pretty much anything will work.

    2. Tape will not prevent internal corrosion, however a lot of places have enough minerals in the water to coat the inside of the pipes.

    3. Pipe to pipe loops where you go from one metal to another to another to one that is heated can cause even more serous problems and tape will NOT help.

    So in summary
    Well pump fittings for pumps that run a lot. Tape, goop, ect
    Hot water heater. use Isolator.
  16. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,495
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Thanks Bill! I knew it worked, now I know why.
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