Consistent water, but low pressure

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by JD3263, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. JD3263

    JD3263 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    FL
    Hi,

    Two days ago we lost water pressure throughout the entire house. The master bathroom toilet tank, which is farthest away from the well equipment, will not refill at all; the other tanks in the house do.
    At this time, the power to all the well equipment is disconnected. Is it a bad pump? Or any other suggestions?

    This is our equipment:
    - Franklin Electric Pump Model: 2445089003, 1 HP, 2-wire, 230 Volts
    - Flexcon Challenger PC66-FR Pressure Tank (20 Gallon, Pre-charged to 38 PSI)
    - Sta-Rite SK-2 40/60 Pressure Switch

    Symptoms:
    - We continue to have water, but at very low pressure. Warm and cold both work.
    - Pressure switch stays closed, so pump never shuts off.
    - Plug from pressure switch was very hot.
    - Pressure gauge reads 78 PSI and doesn't ever change, so I assume it's bad.

    What I've checked:
    - Checked voltage at the pressure switch.
    - Removed pressure switch and checked for blockage.
    - With power off to equipment, opened faucet until all water drained. Left faucet open and checked pressure to bladder tank with tire gauge. It was only at 26-28 PSI with two different gauges, but it looks like the pressure switch may have been adjusted. Compare adjuster on new switch to old switch in image. Could it have been adjusted to be a 30/60, which would warrant the lower PSI? I haven't tried the new pressure switch yet because I want to be sure about this first.
    Two Switches_1.jpg

    Thank you!
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,943
    Location:
    IL
    Problem may be the line(s) to the pressure switch and gauge is plugged. Clean the path. If this does not fix things, replace gauge. That should help guide you to the next step.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  3. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    862
    Location:
    ct
    Sounds like a serious leak due to a broken pipe someplace. Changing the pressure switch & gauge is a good idea, but won't solve the problem.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,842
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    That would not explain away the root cause for low pressure. In fact, that would cause very high pressure.

    craigpump is on the right track. There is likely a leak preventing the pressure from reaching cutoff.

    The pressure on the bladder is too low and needs to be topped up for a 40/60 switch. My guess is the new switch is either preset lower, or the old one has been jacked higher.
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    The leak is quite likely to be inside the well. If there is any chance that your pipe froze ahead of the tank, that would deadhead the pump which will cause damage.

    There has been a lot of frozen pipe calls lately, which might or night not be related.
  6. JD3263

    JD3263 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    FL
    Thank you for the replies!

    1. Even if it's likely not the problem, is it easy to check the path of the lines just to rule it out? The pressure switch was connected to the line with a 4 inch copper pipe. Do I just flush it with water? Would I be required cut the old PVC and install new?

    2. How do I check for leaks in the lines? Is there any method that doesn't require pulling the pump up? I'm going to get a new pressure gauge today.

    3. I will increase the pressure in the bladder tank to 38 PSI.

    4. I live in southwest Florida...it hasn't been very cold here, at least not to the point of freezing. We did, however, have a cold front come through this past week. Could contraction and expansion of the PVC pipe from hot to cold to hot cause a break?

    Thanks again!

    Lines_1.jpg

    Check out the leaning tower. I can't believe they installed it this way...
    Tower.jpg
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,842
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    The standard way to test is to isolate sections by turning off valves and then pressuring the section with air. I don't see any valves in the pictures. Also, the tests assume there are no checkvalves anywhere except in the pump.
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,943
    Location:
    IL
    2. While the pump is running, you could look down the well casing with a flashlight. A leak may be obvious. You did not say how deep your well was, but it looks like your pump is appropriate for a deep well.

    I see the gauge still shows pressure with pipe open to the atmosphere. If your gauge were working, you could watch for the pressure drop with nothing drawing water inside while the pump is off if there is no top-side checkvalve.

    If you cannot get your new gauge right away, but a screw-on gauge is available, that could help until you get your permanant gauge. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Watts-3-4-in-Plastic-Water-Pressure-Test-Gauge-DP-IWTG/100175467 This item would be handy later to look for pressure drops.

    It looks like your water softener tank could use some support.
  9. JD3263

    JD3263 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    FL
    I brought the bladder tank up to 38 PSI and added a new pressure gauge.

    With the water cut off to the house, I turned the well equipment on and watched the gauge. The pressure would not go above 12 PSI and the pump would obviously continue to run. If I manually disengaged the pressure switch the pump would stop and the pressure gauge would immediately drop to 0 PSI. If I let the switch go, it would connect again, the pump would start, and the pressure would climb back to 12 PSI.

    I turned the water back on to the house and opened the spigot in the kitchen. The pump continued to run and the PSI slightly dropped at a very slow pace. I'm not sure what a normal pace would be so I don't have anything to compare it to.

    Does this help narrow it down at all?

    Thanks!
  10. wondering

    wondering New Member

    Messages:
    105
    Sounds like a split pipe in the well.
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,842
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    You have a leak between the valve to the house and the pump. As was mentioned, there is a good chance the leak is in the well. Open the well and listen for the sound of running water.
  12. JD3263

    JD3263 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    FL
    Update:

    I opened the well cap and could see water about 15 feet down. I also didn't notice the sound of any running/leaking water.
    I'm not sure if this helps with anything, but the amp draw of the pump motor was around 9.5 amps. The SF Max on the pump is listed at 9.8.

    We pulled the pump and ended up snapping the pipe. There is 35 feet of pipe from the top of the well casing to the pump. From where the water level started all the way to the pump, the pipe was very slippery and appeared to be covered in mud. Something else to note is we have a lot of iron in our water, so could that be what's making it muddy? We stuffed a clean pipe with a 90 degree fitting back down the well; it came back out clean and the water in the 90 was clear.

    The pipes didn't appear to have any breaks/leaks, but it's hard to see anything with the condition of the pipes.

    I also noticed that the motor is Franklin Electric with the specs mentioned in the original post, but the pump is different (Pro-Source bolted on top of the Franklin). This is the first time I've ever dealt with a well pump so I don't know if that's common or not.

    I didn't mention it in my previous post regarding the pressure testing, but when the power to the pump is killed and the pressure drops back down to 0 PSI, you can hear the water running back through the pipes at the well.

    I have a couple friends that think it's a bad pump. The motor sounds like it runs well. Could it be the impeller? I'd hate to buy a new pump only to find out it wasn't the problem. It did, however, run for 1-2 days without ever shutting off so maybe it's damaged now anyways.

    MuddyPipe2.jpg MuddyPipe1.jpg Pump_1.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  13. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,391
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    9.5 amps means that pump was moving lots of water. One of your pipes must be split, you probably just can't see it.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,842
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Cap the end of the pipe after the 90 and put a valve and pressure gauge on it. Turn on the pump and slowly close the valve to see what PSI the gauge can go to. That will tell you if the pump with the new pipe can make pressure.

    Since you have cut into the pipe from the well to the tank, now would be a good time to cap it and pressure it up with air. If it holds, the line from the tank to the well is good.
  15. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    862
    Location:
    ct
    The split may have been where the pipe broke
  16. JD3263

    JD3263 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    FL
    Just to ensure I understand, there are two tests I can do now.

    1. Cap the end of the pipe that leads to the tank and pressurize the pipes to see if it holds. If it does, then there is no leak in that entire section. How do I pressurize that section?
    Cap.jpg

    2. Attach the pump to a new pipe. Cap the end of that pipe with a valve and a pressure gauge. Drop the pump down the well and start it up. With the valve closed, the pressure should build. Will it burst if I don't open the valve or shut off the pump, as in it will keep building pressure?
    I'd be performing something similar to this test, right? ... Here.

    Thank you all for your help!
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,842
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    For test #1, use an air compressor.

    For test #2, start the pump with the valve open and slowly close it, watching the pressure. Starting on a fully closed valve might burst the pipe.
  18. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    862
    Location:
    ct
    I always check the drop pipe first using the pump so I know what I have to work with, then I check the offset piping using the pump.
  19. JD3263

    JD3263 New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    FL
    After running through the tests we were able to narrow it down to the pump.

    Thank you for all the help! I've learned a lot!
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