Foot Valve leak vs. supply leak

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by bikeguy18974, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. bikeguy18974

    bikeguy18974 New Member

    New poster here but have been lurking for a while. I hope I can provide enough detail to get some help. Sorry for long post.

    The house is new to me and have no real details on the well and pump.

    Last night I heard the well pressure switch kick on for the well pump. I believe its a submersible pump. I hear it again a little later. Worried I timed it. The gauge on the pressure tank is broken and stuck at 40. The cut in and off are written on the pressure tank as 30/50. About every 4 minutes the pump is kicking on (as little as 4 seconds at a time, no more than 8 seconds). This is with no water draw in the house. I closed the supply valve to the house (just after the pressure tank) after the pump kicked on and still it comes on after 4 minutes. I obviously have a leak coming to the house.

    The only options I am aware of are the check valve (foot valve?) at the pump or a leak in the line coming to the house. I do hear a slight hiss coming from the hole were the supply line comes through the block wall. It seems to lessen as the pressure does. Or it could be me worrying

    Is there a way to detect whether or not the check valve is leaking or if I have a leak in the supply line?

    Are there any possibilities?

    The next door neighbor who has a plumbing business (don't know them very well yet) is coming by professionally later today.

    Until I get this figured out should I shut of the breaker to the pump; I'm worried about burning it out or worse yet flooding the ground around the foundation.
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Plumbers that do not know how to and are not willing to pull pumps etc. should not be used. A pump guy or well driller is the best choice.

    You already did all you can to find the problem, a leak between the submersible pump in the well (that is where your pump is right) and the pressure tank/house.

    Shutting off the power to a jet pump, if you have one, can cause a loss of prime and no water until you can prime the pump again (a leaking foot valve etc. prevents priming) but.. if you have a submersible pump, shut off the water to the house past the tank, then the power to the pump and see if the hiss stops.

    Then shut off the pump and drain the tank and replace the busted gauge so you know where the pressure is. Then start the pump and note the off switch setting. Then run water and note the setting when the pump comes on and note the reading. Shut off the power to the pump, drain the tank, shutting the water off to the house first if you turned it on, and check the air pressure to be 1-2 psi less than the cut-in switch setting; 30/50 psi water pressure gets 29-28 psi air pressure with no water in the tank.
  3. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Sounds like your pressure tank is waterlogged, and you have a slow leak.

  4. bikeguy18974

    bikeguy18974 New Member

    Rancher was right. Small leak and completely water logged tank(Wel-x-trol (amtrol)WX-201) Neighbor (plumber) said its one of the smallest he's seen around here for residential use and its probably never been looked at since install.

    I've been hesitant to drain the tank and check the pressure due to its age and the age of the valves. I've experienced many times things that are better left alone. Anyway after draining the system the pressure was zero, zip, nada. A new gauge was installed. The pressure switch was checked to be working at 30/50.

    My next question is what is an acceptable amount of pressure loss for a well pump/ pressure tank system. 4 of 5 people I've talked to today said their pumps come on ocassionally when no water is being drawn. They had no idea about what kind of time period though. In a perfect system I guess there would be no loss. With the changes made to my system the pump still turns on every 30 minutes or so. Is this okay or should I continue to pursue this agressively. My perspective has changed because I am happy with 30 minutes vs. 4.
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Pumps have so many starts before they fail. With a leak, the pump starts many more times than it would without the leak. You had a short cycling situation along with the leak, so your pump motor is well aged now. I've been in thousands of houses with well water systems and worked for hours next to pressure tanks and switches, it is rare to find any with a leak. I suspect maybe the same guy has installed lot of the well systems in your neighborhood and y'all have the same type leak if they have a leak on the well side of the system.

    The leak will probably get larger. I've seen some all but ready to allow the pump to fall off the drop pipe and down the well. Some were leaking underground at the casing, and that can be a serious problem by the time it shows up.
  6. pitless

    pitless Well Driller, pump installer, engineer

    Your WX-201 tank has a drawdown of 4.8 gallons on a 30-50 psi system. Since the pump turns on after 30 minutes you have a leak of 0.16 gpm. This is not a very big leak. Have you checked toilets etc.

    Your tank is probably too small. As a rule of thumb you pump should run for a minimum of one minute before is shuts off. Cycle you pump and time how long it take for the pump to shut off. If the pump runs for less than a minute either by a new larger tank or install a Cycle Stop Valve to reduce you run time.
  7. masterpumpman

    masterpumpman New Member

    Virginia Beach, VA
    A leak somewhere!

    If there are no leaks the pump should never come on! If the pump comes on every 30 minutes that means it's cycling 48 times in 24 hours. That's wearing out the pump, pressure switch and the tank many times faster than necessary.

    You have a leak somewhere! Unless you are using a Cycle Stop Valve a WX-102 is way to small. Personally I like a minimum of a WX-202 tank on any home system. With 4/5 people in a family I personally prefer an even larger tank. Installing a Cycle Stop Valve makes the wife happy in that she will see a constant pressure instead of 30/50 psi.

    I recommend that you call several QUALIFIED/CERTIFIED well drillers or pump installers near you. Ask them some questions such as what size of tank do they recommend, how often should the pump come on if you aren't using any water and how you might locate the leak. If they seem helpful great, if they aren't call another one.

    You don't have to be able to play a piano to know if it's being played right or not!

    You may end up hiring one of the contractors you ask the above questions, however you will be more confident on which one to choose.

    Most plumbers are plumbers. If the pump has to come out of the well, you'll still have to call a driller or pump installer. Then you have two people to pay!
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