disaster averted !

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by fleckuser, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. fleckuser

    fleckuser New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    florida
    I had a water softener installed about 2 years ago. I believe it was a standard "internet" flecks unit. It stands about 5 ft tall and has been working flawlessly for the last 2 years. My system is a in ground well pump set at 35lbs. This flows to the house and goes through a large "whole house filter" to remove any sand. It then goes through a sulfur remover (looks like water softener) and then the water softener and then a booster pump bringing the 35lbs of pressure up to 95lbs to feed up a 3 story house. This has worked quite well until today. I am in florida and the temp went down below freezing last night some of the well head piping is exposed outside. My shower ended about 10 min in to it when the water pressure dropped to almost nothing. I when to the garage where the tanks are and noticed a cracking noise. To my horror , I suddenly realized the water softener resin tank was bulging and the fibers were cracking and splitting as if it was being blown up. I ran to the breaker box and killed all power to house and pumps. After a short time i checked the pressure meters that are before and after the booster and both showed zero. so I bypassed the water softener and then powered everything up keeping an eye on the pressures. All looks good and is working fine les the water softener. What the hell happened to the water softener tank? Nothing else looks compromised and no leaks.
  2. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    What did the temperture get down to? Does the well turn off by itself? Is there a check valve between the softener and the booster pump?
  3. fleckuser

    fleckuser New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    florida
    About 28 degrees, Well kicks off at 35lbs, no check valve between softener and booster. Only check valve in in ground after main pump
  4. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    I'm not sure if your pump would allow pressure to back feed or not, but I would install a check valve to prevent any back pressure. Also, it's possible the booster pump may have caused a vaccum if no water was incoming from the well (well line frozen) which caused the tank to collaspe. Then water from the well came back on stopping the vaccum.
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Resin tanks usually have a max pressure of 125 lbs.. Without a check valve the softener has been seeing 95 lbs for as long as the booster pump has been installed.

    I think something caused the well pump to continue to run instead of shutting off at whatever psi the cut out is set to. I would suspect the pressure switch 1/4" nipple froze or ice blocked it after it came on and prevented it from shutting the pump off.
  6. fleckuser

    fleckuser New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    florida
    yes i think maybe you are correct and the pump switch probably jammed. As far as the 95lb at the booster. I have to disagree. I have a gauge just before and after. It's max pressure in is 36 and and out is 95. But I can see the switch outdoors jamming. I appreciate the input. This was the first time I forgot to cover the well head with a blanket.
  7. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    The more I think of this the more I believe a vaccum was caused by the booster pump. As little as a 5 lb vaccum will collaspe a fiberglass media tank. To prevent this from happening again, I would put a vaccum breaker on the main line or use a flow switch to interupt the power to the booster pump.
  8. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,911
    Location:
    Ontario California
    I have seen resin tanks collapse due to the drain lines running down a hill. I will post a picture of a vacuum damaged tank tomorrow. The damage is usually right in the middle of the tank.
  9. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    I too have seen it due to a down hill drain. This is why I believe it is due to a vaccum and not a faulty tank.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  10. chevy427

    chevy427 Banned

    Messages:
    174
    Location:
    USA
    His explanation sounded like 'too much' pressure as the tank was bulging. I have seen two tanks implode from a foot valve or check valve breaking causing negative pressure but not "bulging". I wonder it water was being blocked or restricted after the softener and the pump wouldn't shut off off some reason, increasing pressure. Could his pressure switch stem have frozen? But still, if he was running water at the time, it should have released it into the house and avoided freezing.

    I think more information is needed.
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    If it was, the evidence has long since melted away. I have to agree with Gary on it being the most plausible cause. There could be any number of small water consumers such as an icemaker refilling or a toilet flush that could have started the pump but not enough to keep the pressure from climbing too high.

    The resin tank could have been weakened by many partial vacuum events over the years and the final failure was pressure related.
  12. fleckuser

    fleckuser New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    florida
    The booser pump is a Grundfos MQ3-45. It is supposed to have built in run dry protection. I will look for a pressure switch to put in system.
  13. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,494
    Location:
    Alaska
    The grundfos has the switch built in.
  14. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    I can see your point about the nipple freezing, but he stated the tanks where in the garage. I pictured the well tank in the garage as well. If the well pump came on, won't the water flow thaw the nipple? I have seen many times here in Fla the cold weather freeze the pipes without breaking. The last cold spell we had my son's line froze and he woke to no water. Can his booster pump cause a vaccum?
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    He also said he forgot to throw a blanket over the well head.

    In FL etc. the pressure tank and pressure switch is usually out in the yard at the well, where the switch nipple can freeze and usually will before other parts because it is a 1/4" nipple and doesn't take much time to freeze it compared to 3/4" or 1" water line. And the warmer water from the well can melt the ice in the lower end of the nipple as it flows past but that means the switch saw the pressure change and came on or he wouldn't have had water for his 10 minute shower.

    So I say ice blocked the nipple after the pump came on and the switch couldn't see the increased pressure to shut the pump off, which he did by flipping the breakers. Then the ice thawed as if it never happened.

    Or, ice in the water line going by the switch nipple blocks the end of the nipple and the switch doesn't see the pressure change to shut the pump off.

    Vacuum doesn't bulge a tank, it sucks the sides in, pressure bulges a tank.
  16. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    There is a 50/50 chance the pressure tank is in the garage. I understand the buldge would be from pressure, but what I'm thinking is the booster caused a vaccum which collasped the tank breaking the fibers and when the water came back on the tank "buldged". My question is, "Could the booster pump cause the vaccum"?
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    OK, lets see....If the switch is in the garage and assuming it can't freeze, it is before the equipment, or should be.

    If the pressure tank and then the well pump and the booster pump were delivering water what was the cause of the booster pump causing this vacuum? Or, what shut off the water flow from the well to cause the booster to cause the vacuum?

    What made the well pump come on again after the booster pump created the vacuum?
  18. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    741
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    Good point. I believe the well line froze. With no water flow from the well, the pump caused a vaccum. I guess we will never know, but it is food for thought.
  19. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    You are violating plumbing code over 80 PSI. Install a low pressure cutout switch to prevent a vacuum situation. Good Catch.
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    A vacuum doesn't cause a resin/mineral tank to swell and burst as the OP stated he saw happening..

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