I seem to have a pretty unique shallow pump problem.

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by mccabechristian, May 13, 2012.

  1. mccabechristian

    mccabechristian New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Hey there, I have been looking through this forum for two days now for anything that could lead me to solution. I could not find anything that fit so I hope I am not repeating a previous thread. I recently purchase one of those Utilitech plastic internal cast iron 1/2 Horsepower centrifugal pumps from Lowe's "it was all the budget I could get from my wife". It draws from an irrigation ditch. The foot valve/check valve is down in a plastic basin sunk into the ditch. The pump runs fine with adequate pressure for 15 zones of sprinklers.

    Here is the problem. I decided to install a pressure switch because I didn't like waking up at 2am to flip the breaker. I'm new at this so it did not occur for me to look at the pressure more than seeing what it was when the sprinklers were running. I installed a pressure switch but then I noticed that the pressure remains constant at 40psi when all zones are off. When all zones are on... 40psi. When the pump turns off the pressure drops to 0 slowly over about 1/2 to one hour.

    My first thought, leaky check/foot valve. Opened it up and looked, completely clean and functional. The foot valve is about 1 foot from the bottom of the plastic basin which is about 3 feet out and 3 1/2 feet down from the pump. Second thought, leak in sprinkler line. So, I closed the gate valve in the output line "which is located 3 feet from the output T" to see if pressure would adequately build as it should... stayed at 40 psi. K, if I keep gate valve closed and turn pump off, the PSI drops very quickly. While still off if I open the gate valve the PSI shoots to 40, then drops slowly. I have gone through the thing and taken every piece apart and put on enough gunk, glue, and teflon tape to plug a mediocre dam "all in the right application places of course".

    So, my question... what the heck could it be and what the heck can I do?
  2. masterpumpman

    masterpumpman New Member

    Messages:
    729
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    If using a pressure switch you must have a small tank as well. If you do have a tank and the pressure still drops you still have a leak somewhere!
  3. mccabechristian

    mccabechristian New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    This is something I wondered about. I was told that the backflow from the sprinkler heads being closed would create enough pressure to activate the switch.
  4. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,461
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Without a pressure tank, you only have to leak a thimble full of water before the pressure drops and the pump restarts.
  5. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    Why not just put the pump on a timer?

    John
  6. mccabechristian

    mccabechristian New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    I don't want to go on a pump timer because the irrigation ditch is not consistent. It runs 4 days a week but sometimes from upstream water usage it is not sufficient to run the pump. It's more just in case I am not home I want the switch to be pressure activated. Does that make sense? So you're saying a 4.4 gallon tank or is that just your picture? But wouldn't shutting the gate valve create at least some pressure in the line? It shows me holding at 40psi. Thanks for your help. Like I said, I don't know much about this stuff. In terms of a tank, I have a half acre lot and around 15 zones. What size do I need? Also, haha, installation?
  7. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,461
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Does the pump cycle on and off rapidly while you are using water?
  8. mccabechristian

    mccabechristian New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    No, if I leave all sprinkler heads closed, it just stays at 40 psi as well as when strinkler zones are open. When I flip the breaker the pressure drops to zero. That's why I figured a leak in the line because no pressure builds in the line past 40. So, I closed the gate valve located after the output line T so that I could see if pressure built there. Pressure did not build, so my assumption was faulty foot valve. I went in and checked and it is fine... unless I need another check valve in addition to that foot valve/check valve combination thing.
    Last edited: May 14, 2012
  9. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,461
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    A good footvalve is all you need. Sounds like your pump can only build 40 PSI. Makes it hard to use a pressure switch when even 20/40 setting is too high for the pump. Without a pressure tank the pressure will drop off quickly. To properly use a pressure switch you need a pump that can build enough pressure for the pressure switch setting, and a pressure tank. Then if your pump comes on when not using water, you have a leak or a bad footvalve.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,973
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Not really unless your pressure switch has a low pressure cutoff. If the pump runs when there is no water, you risk ruining the pump.

    If the pump won't shut off because it cannot build enough pressure, you risk deadheading the pump and ruining it.
  11. mccabechristian

    mccabechristian New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Well, I'm going to fix it with a baseball bat or admit defeat. I went and got an additional check valve today and a ball valve for the outlet just in case the old gate valve wasn't closing off enough to show a build in pressure. I installed both and thought I was in luck... it surged to 50 then dropped off to 40psi again. I closed the gate valve to see if I could isolate some pressure and.... stayed at 40 psi. I've looked all over for leaks and see none between the ball valve "about 4 feet up in the outlet pipe" and the foot valve. Does this pump regulate it's own pressure output? Told you it was a unique problem. Also, when the pressure drops to 0, it doesn't lose prime. I look in there and still full of water.
  12. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    is the pump holding prime or just the pipes. I am thinking having a small tank would help with this.
Similar Threads: seem pretty
Forum Title Date
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog installed new pressure switch, low pressure seems like tanks are not filling Dec 11, 2013
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog Wells in karst cannot be disinfected, it seems Sep 7, 2009
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog Constant pressure pump seems to run way too often - almost will not stop Apr 11, 2009
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog ?Pump? seems to turn on and off May 25, 2008
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog Pressure seems to be stuck Oct 24, 2007

Share This Page