Constantly Replacing Well Pressure Switch

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Holy Kow, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. Holy Kow

    Holy Kow New Member

    I have a home with a well shared with my neighbor. We both have pressure tanks, but the well and 3/4 hp pump is on my electric service. I've been here 10 years and have replaced all the plumbing in the house. The pressure tank (bladder) is a Flotec 42 gallon and is only a few years old. I am constantly replacing my pressure switch (Square D 40-60 PSI) when the pump starts short cycling (click-click, click-click when water is running). It seems to short cycle more quickly when my neighbor is using water then when I am.

    I was replacing the pressure switch every 6 months or so, but now it's only been 3 months and it's starting to go bad. Why do I think it's going bad? I have a whole house filter on the supply downstream of the tank and I change it every 2 months - brown sediment and floating silt like stuff. I'm assuming this type of gunk is clogging the pressure switch diaphragm.:eek:

    Draining the tank, replacing the switch, recharging the tank, and adding water seems to "fix" the problem for a while. Since the bladder can be refilled with air, I'm assuming it isn't leaking. Since it's only $15 for the switch and a few hours of time, I don't mind doing it myself. What am I missing? Could there be a problem with my neighbor's tank? Any help will be greatly appreciated!
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Lubbock, Texas
    First; With a standard pressure switch/pressure tank system, multiple tanks should never be in different locations. The tanks will fill at different rates and different times because of the friction loss in the pipe system. This unbalance in the filling of the tanks can cause excess cycling.

    Second; The fact that you have to add air to a bladder tank, means the bladder is bad.

    Third; Burning a pressure switch is the first sign that you are destroying your pump. The "click/click" you hear when the pump is rapid cycling is putting tremendous strain on your pump. It is also probably what busted the bladder in your tank.

    Fourth; If your filter is downstream of the pressure tank, it is not what is causing your pump to cycle. If the gunk was clogging your pressure switch, the pump would just not come on when needed or would not go off when it should. The fact that it is "clicking" means your pressure switch is not clogged up with gunk.

    Fifth; After you get good bladder tanks installed in close proximity, the pump clicking every minute or two is still too much cycling. Clicking every two minutes is still 720 cycles per day. Cycling destroys pumps, pressure tanks, pressure switches, control boxes, and causes water hammer that is hard on the pipe as well.

    I would remove the neighbors pressure tank. If it is still good, you can install that tank at your house with the pressure switch. Then I would install a Cycle Stop Valve on the line from the well, before it tees off to the other house or irrigation. The CSV reduces the size of pressure tank needed, so the 42 gallon is more than enough for two houses. The CSV eliminates cycling, which will make your pressure switch and everything else last much longer.

    Last; I would be prepared to replace the pump. After enough cycling that you needed to replace a couple of pressure switches, your pump is running on a wing and a prayer.
  3. Holy Kow

    Holy Kow New Member

    Wow, that's a lot of points!

    Yes, the bladder now has a hole - what I meant eariler by "adding air" was topping off the precharge. But now, when I check the air pressure, water is spurting out, so that's my first problem.

    What would you suggest - replacing the whole tank or getting a new bladder? This one had a vinyl one. Who makes a good pressure tank that may last longer (or can have the bladder replaced more easily). My Flotec came from Farm & Fleet and is 8 years old (how time flies). I will have to do the same amount of work - but this time I will put a quick disconnect fitting and not solder everything!

    Tell me more about the cycle stop valve and how would I know if I already have one? I will be asking my plumber about my neighbors tank, but doubt if it will taken out of the equation right away. Another neighbor has 3 houses on his well and they all have tanks, so maybe that's how they did it 30 years ago in Wisconsin???

    The pump I'd like to replace in the spring - if it lasts that long. Any recommendations on brands?

    Another question: the water goes into my pressure tank and out to the neighbors in the same pipe so I can't have a check valve on it. Is this a normal set-up? I'm starting to question everything about my system!

    Thanks for all the help!
  4. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Lubbock, Texas
    A lot of people, including some installers, think you need a tank at each house to have water. Water comes from the pump, not the tank. The tank is just to keep the pump from cycling on and off too much. If you have a CSV, the pump does not cycle too much, so you don't need a very big tank. With a CSV, a 20 gallon tank, that only holds 5 gallons of water, can run as many houses as the pump can keep up with.

    You would know if you already had a CSV, because your pump would stay running and not cycle on and off while you are using water. You would know that you ave a CSV, because your pressure switches would not have gone bad. You would know that you have a CSV, because the bladder in your tank would not already be busted. You would know that you have a CSV, because your pump would still be in good shape instead of being on it's last leg.

    Pumps and tanks are designed to last an average of 7 years. Some people get 14 years while others only get 2 years, depending on how many times their pump cycles on and off. Manufacturers have determined how many times a pump cycles on a normal home, and they have built in enough quality for their pumps and tanks to cycle for an average of 7 years. After this number of cycles, the bladder in the tank breaks, just like bending a wire back and forth until it breaks. If the pump has not already been destroyed from this number of cycles, then the busted bladder in the tank increases the cycling and hastens the failure of the pump.

    Pump and tank manufacturers would go out of business if their pumps and tanks last 20 to 30 years like they did in the past. Car manufacturers would go out of business if they made cars that would last like a 57 Chevy. Appliance manufacturers would go out of business if they made appliances that would last. So it is our duty as consumers to continue to purchase these items on a regular basis, and not to use things like Cycle Stop Valves and synthetic oils that would make equipment last longer. These manufacturers are too just too big to let fail. We must continue to empty our bank accounts to keep our appliances and vehicles working. It is perfectly alright if the average home owner and the entire economy goes broke, as long as we don't let these big manufacturers go out of business. Every item we purchase has been designed with planned obsolescence in mind. If manufacturers had to go back to making quality products that would last, homeowners would have too much money and manufacturers would not have enough. The average person would have enough money to purchase quality products, and only manufacturers who make quality products would still be in business. Then where would we be?? The government would have to bailout the big companies who make inferior products, and they would have to increase our taxes to do so. We need to keep purchasing inferior GM products and cheaply built pumps and tanks, or the whole world economy will fail.

    A CSV will drastically reduce pump cycling and triple the life of your pump, motor, and tank. This will cut the pump and tank manufacturers out of 3 or 4 more sales in the next 20 years. So do you want to make your water system more reliable and be able to keep more of your own hard earned money, or do you want to make sure big manufacturers who build inferior products can keep their private jets and huge salaries?

    Sorry to be on my soap box this morning. I am starting the new year out with even more pessimism than usual. Pump companies have known for 15 years that the CSV makes pumps last longer and use smaller tanks. Car companies have known for years how to make cars that will last and get better gas milage, or not use gas at all. We keep falling for the hype. We keep bailing out companies who don't run good businesses, so they can compete with companies who do run good businesses and don't get bailouts. Those who don't learn from their mistakes, are doomed to repeat them. This pertains to everything in life, including your water system.
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