Help diagnosing well problems

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Reboot, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    We have a hand dug well (depth unknown). We moved here 5 years ago and the first July the well went dry. We are renting so I notified the landlord. A pump company came out and pulled the original jet pump and installed a submersible pump with a tethered shut off. This was all done while I was at work so I don't know what kind of pump was installed.

    I kept the jet pump and there was nothing wrong with it. It seems that where I live, many wells go dry around July for a few weeks. We have dealt with this for 5 years, but this year we lost water in April.

    The toilet valve started leaking and I discovered that the toilet was being replenished, but the water pressure from the trap became a trickle. I was thinking that the aquifer level was fluctuating ... wrong!?

    There is a hose bib in the well house so I connected a hose, opened the valve, and settled down to observe what would happen. The pump would turn on (like clockwork) about every 35 to 40 min. and pumped approx. 20 gal. in like 3 minutes.

    Still very little pressure to the house. No sign of a broken pipe. I have an 80 gal. bladder pressure tank, but there is no water being stored in it.

    Out of frustration, I turned off the ball valve at the well house and the ball valve at the house and ran hoses up (well is abt. 25' below the house elev.) to the hose bib to see if it would at least solve the dribbling faucets when the pump was on. It did nothing!

    Where do I go from here?

    Thanks

    Michael
    Global Family Survival
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,418
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I don't understand. You ran a hose for 35 to 40 minutes before the pump came on? Then it refilled the tank and shut off in 3 minutes?
  3. nod

    nod New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    watervliet mi.
    not a pro, but it sounds like your tank and pipes may be full of sand from your old pump
  4. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    Hi- The well pump will turn on about every 35 - 40 minutes. It will pump 20 gal. of water each time it cycles. All other times there is no pressure and no water. The garden hose to the house will output every 35-40 minutes, the stream is strong and will shoot a good 2 ft. out of a 5/8 hose for about 4 min.(20 gal) then nothing for another 35-40 minutes.

    I can fill my washer if I stick the hose in it, but when I run the hose to my hose bib into the house in a reverse flow type thing, there is very little pressure in the house.

    Michael
  5. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    nod-
    OK, but when I open the hose bib at the pressure tank, wouldn't I see sand coming out the valve?

    Michael
  6. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,907
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    It may be taking 35-40 minutes for the well to refill back up, 20 gallons at a time.
    And that would be normal operation for a submersible pump with a tethered shut off.


    DonL
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  7. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    Thanks DonL-

    The pressure switch was replaced a year ago. But I don't hear the pressure switch turn on. I wonder if there isn't enough pressure from the well pump to trigger the switch?

    I hesitate to pull the pump up because I don't know if the thing is just hanging in the well, or if the company dropped a pipe down to put the pump into. Up to this point, the landlord can't blame me for screwing with the pump installation.

    Could it be that the aquifer fills to the point that the tethered switch on the pump turns the pump on and it pumps the water level down to where the tethered switch turns the pump off ?

    Michael
  8. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,907
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    "Could it be that the aquifer fills to the point that the tethered switch on the pump turns the pump on and it pumps the water level down to where the tethered switch turns the pump off ?"

    I would say Yes.

    And trying to fill a 80 gallon tank 20 gallons at a time may never build enough pressure to feed the house.
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,897
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    You will lose close to 11 PSI between the well and the house. If there is no water stored in the bladder tank, the water pressure is lower than the precharge pressure on the bladder. Sounds like you need to up the pressure.
  10. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    Thanks LLigetfa-

    How would I up the pressure ? By adding air to the pressure tank ?

    I am thinking of adding an 1100 gal tank up here by the house and pumping from the well to the storage tank. Then I would add a submersible pump inside the storage tank (tethered on/off switch) and relocate the pressure switch and the pressure tank and then pipe to the house.

    I know I'm working with minimal well water right now, so maybe I will also add rain reclimation to the storage tank. The well system has no filter, so I would want to add a filter or two (particulate and carbon) to the system.

    How does that sound ?

    Michael
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,897
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    By "up the pressure" I meant adjust the pressure switch. If the tank is not storing any water, the precharge air pressure is already too high for the given water pressure. The precharge air pressure adjustments are in a sticky at the top.
  12. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,907
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    That type of pump is not made to make much pressure.

    The Jet pump that you had was better for making pressure.

    I would think that the pressure switch is always ON right now, and your pump is cycling on the tethered on/off switch.

    So adjusting the pressure switch would not cure your problem.
    You need a different type of pump to make the pressure higher.


    DonL
  13. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    maybe they installed a pumptek that automates the water delivery according to level.
  14. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,907
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    It may be best to Connect a pressure gauge in the output of the pump and see what pressure it can make.

    It sounds like a Sump Pump , and if its max lift is 20feet then I would expect to get 10-20 PSI or less at 5 Foot lift, with no back pressure on the Output. Trying to fill a pressured tank, May not work very well, unless there is little air in the tank.

    I would check the pumps output pressure, then adjust the water tanks air pressure, for what the pump can provide.

    You could be correct ballvalve. The tethered switch led me to believe it did not have a electronic Level sensor.

    Anything is possible. Knowing what Type/Model the pump is would help too get better answers.


    DonL
  15. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    Thanks to all-

    I will look for a pressure gauge for measuring the pump output and a tire gauge for measuring pressure in the tank.

    As I said before, I ran garden hoses from the pump to the house which is 20' - 25' above the well and 125' away from the well. When I stand on my back porch the pressure coming out of the 5/8" garden hose will shoot a stream of water abt 3' for 3 - 4 minutes then it drops to 0 pressure. This repeats itself every 30 - 40 minutes.

    I am thinking of adding an 1100 gal tank up here by the house and pumping from the well to the 1100 gal. storage tank. Then I would add a submersible pump inside the storage tank (tethered on/off switch) and relocate the pressure switch and the pressure tank and then pipe to the house.

    I know I'm working with minimal well water right now, so maybe I will also add rain reclimation to the storage tank. The well system has no filter, so I would want to add a filter or two (particulate and carbon) to the system.

    How does that sound ? I know I'm sort of treating the symptom and not the problem, but I'm renting this house and I know the landlord will not spend the $$$ to fix it right. Up here it costs $2000 to get a drilling rig set up and then they charge $40 per foot to drill and another $1000 - $2000 to case and "button up" the well and take down the rig.

    Michael
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  16. DonL

    DonL Out of the Trades

    Messages:
    3,907
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    The landlord should provide you with running water, I would think.

    Good Luck on your project Michael.


    DonL


    P.S. You said; "As I said before, I ran garden hoses from the pump to the house which is 20' - 25' above the well and 125' away from the well. When I stand on my back porch the pressure coming out of the 5/8" garden hose will shoot a stream of water abt 3' for 3 - 4 minutes then it drops to 0 pressure. This repeats itself every 30 - 40 minutes."

    Running a garden hose is a lot different then filling and pressurizing a water tank, too feed a house.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  17. WellWaterProducts

    WellWaterProducts In the trades

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Northwood NH
    I would move to a place with water if I was renting. It takes a strong understanding of pumps and controls to make something viable and sanitary of the situation that your are describing.
  18. Reboot

    Reboot New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Cascades
    Hi Chris-

    I would agree with you but there _is_ a method to my madness. My wife and I are headed for a nice piece of property up here. On grid or off grid, we are learning to live a sustainable lifestyle. I have a blog site called Global Family Survival and we advocate things like renewable energy, gardening, canning, and local farming. We raise our own meat and most of our vegetables.

    One important aspect I want to learn is water supply. This is more a learning experience for me than anything else. I'm learning about pumps and controls and making something viable and sanitary. There are three creeks on this property and I could tap into two of them, but it would not only cause the Fish and Wildlife people fits, it would be too easy and I wouldn't learn about wells, pumps and controls.

    As for the landlord; He lives in San Fransisco and is planning to subdivide and develop the 20 acres he owns here. Our agreement is that I can live here with a reduced rent until he decides to demolish the house and barn and start to develop the property. I don't think he will agree to $8k - $10k investment on a well. In the mean time we are looking for a good piece of land to build our own house on. -Real estate just keeps on dropping. :)

    I'm a Civil designer by trade, but I haven't had experience with wells or septic tanks. This place will give me more experience than I imagined.

    At the same time my wife is starting to say the words "shower" and "divorce" in the same sentence so I need to get this resolved. I have explained my design but nobody has given me feedback on if they think the project will work. What do you think ?

    Michael
  19. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,897
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Pumping to a large non-pressurized storage tank from a poorly producing well is a sound design. When choosing a submersible pump for inside the tank, be aware that some models need to have a sleeve added to force water to flow past the motor for cooling.
  20. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Use the creek. Hide the pipe.
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