Just what is normal?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by goat1of2, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. goat1of2

    goat1of2 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Well, I've been googling for a half hour and have read the stickies at the top of this forum and STILL cannot find an answer to:

    What exactly is "normal" well pump cycling?

    Ours turns on just as soon as you withdraw even a half cup of water from any fixture. During a shower, it turns on immediately, runs constantly for a minute or two, shuts off for five seconds (getting it's second wind?), then turns on for a minute or two. Rinse and repeat until you're done showering.

    The pressure tank is really small, maybe 10 gallons, 20 gallons? The well is old old, put in in 1937 when the house was built and is located under the house--making servicing it a real joy. :(

    We have a serious water hammer problem with the fixtures in the addition (done in 1984 without benefit of any building permits) but before I try to fix that problem I want to make sure there isn't a problem with the pressure tank.
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    When a pump comes on, it needs to run for at least 1 minute. When it goes off, it needs to stay off for at least 1 minute. These are minimum times as 2 minutes on or off is even better. Your tank must be water logged or out of air. Even a 10 gallon tank should give you 2 gallons of water before the pump restarts. It should not come on the instant you crack a faucet, and it should stay off longer than 5 seconds between cycles. Bladder tank or Hydro Tank? One pipe into the tank or two?
  3. goat1of2

    goat1of2 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Unsure about the type of tank. Will crawl under the house (ugh!) when it warms up a bit and find out. I've got a really great article I found about how to add air to a tank and have located my bicycle pump, so maybe I can actually fix this myself!

    Thanks for letting me know that our situation is not "normal". That's what I needed!
  4. goat1of2

    goat1of2 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Just returned from the crawlspace. Tank is a "gould hydro tank" or so it says. Pressure at the valve reads 38 PSI on my tire gauge. Well pump gauge itself also reads 38 PSI. Rapping on side of pressure tank suggests that water level is about 1/3 up. The system is resting quietly and nothing is running. Forgot to notice whether one pipe or two!

    This looks good to me, although the pressure seems kind of high for the tank. Now I need to figure out how high it's supposed to be set at....
  5. goat1of2

    goat1of2 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    In case anyone has a similar problem someday and wants to know what I did---

    I am cautiously reporting success in adjusting our well pump to cycle a lot less than it has. My first foray under the house seemed to confirm that the pressure tank was okay--water only partway up inside, as I rapped on the side. Schrader valve emitted air only and was pressurized to 38 PSI.

    So, I attached a garden hose to the outlet at the bottom of the pressure tank and routed it outside the crawlspace. Turning it on, I observed that the pump turned on when its pressure gauge reached 36 PSI. I shut off the water. The pump ran until the pressure reached 40 PSI. Holy cow monkeys!! No wonder the thing turns on at every request for water! All my earlier Googling seems to indicate that the delta should be around 20 PSI. Yikes!

    I decided to make only one change in case I made a devilish mess of things and have to "put it back". The water pump pressure control switch said it was rated for 30 PSI to 50 PSI (the label is underneath the cover). I turned the smaller setscrew (the one that DOESN'T have the huge spring under it) clockwise quite a bit. Turned on the hose. Pump turned on when pressure reached 34 PSI. Pump ran until 46 PSI. Much better. Gonna try it like this and see how it goes.
  6. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You can't check the air in the tank until you have turned off the pump and drained all the water out. You can keep adjusting the small screw in the pressure switch to widen the bandwidth or "delta". When you decide on the on and off pressure, you need about 2 PSI less air in the tank than the start pressure. BTW, that should be a bladder tank with only one pipe.
  7. goat1of2

    goat1of2 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    I did notice that the tank does have just one pipe at the bottom, where the drain spigot is. I also noticed that the pressure in the tank, as read by my tire pressure gauge, always matched the pressure gauge on the well pump. So, I did begin to suspect that I wasn't actually reading the pressure of the tank itself.

    Will I do damage to the pressure tank bladder if I do not adjust the pressure properly? Will the bladder burst or something?

    This morning, during the boyfriend's shower, I noted that the pump came on about a minute after he started running the water, ran steadily during the shower, and snapped off about 50 seconds after the shower ceased. Certainly a HUGE improvement over previous behavior--but is it correct? I've just never lived with a well before.
  8. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,388
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Sounds much better but, without knowing the size of the tank and pump, I can't tell you if this is the correct run time or not. The correct air charge is important. Too little air can cause the bladder to bust, and can keep the tank from deliveriing the correct amount of draw down. Usually the pump will cycle a time or two while someone takes a shower.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,309
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    tank

    When the pump is on and the system is pressurized the air in the tank will be at the system pressure, unless it was too high to start with. Three conditions will cause the pump to operate immediately.
    1. The air pressure is too high so there is no reserve water in the tank so any use immediately starts the pump.
    2. All the air in the tank has leaked out so its effective pressure is zero meaning the tank is full of water but there is no air pressure to force it out, again causing immediate operation of the pump.
    3. The switch is defective or out of adjustment causing premature cycling of the pump.
    In the first two situations, because there is no resevoir for the water, the pump will reach its cutoff point almost immediately and shut off. The on/off cycling will continue as long as you use the water.
  10. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    You still have only 12 lbs of difference in cut in & cut out pressure . I would adjust the large nut until the pump cuts off at 50 & then adjust the small nut until the pump cuts on at 30 . Then turn off the pump & drain all the water out of the pressure tank . Check the air pressure in the tank with an air gauge . It should be 28 lbs . If not add or release air until it is . Your pump will cycle less with 20 lbs difference & the 20 lbs difference is standard .
  11. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    goat1of2. The tall screw's nut controls both the turn on and off settings and the short screw's nut, or a bolt head on some switches, the turn off only. I set the turn on first and then set the turn off while the pump is running as I watch the gauge. To raise the settings you tighten the nuts, to lower the settings, loosen them.
  12. goat1of2

    goat1of2 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Thank you all for your help! Yes, I think the tank is 20 gallons and, as I said, by rapping on the side you can clearly hear a difference. The water appears to be 1/3 up from the bottom. The pump is above-ground and is rated at 1/2 HP, but I don't know what the flow rate of the well might be. I suspect the previous morons....er, residents, of this house might have messed with the adjustment screws during our last drought. Who knows.

    Since we are in the middle of other very large projects right now (the boyfriend is focusing on replacing windows and siding), I don't want to do anything which will cause another problem for him to deal with. I have improved the situation--for now, that is enough. I am afraid to drain the tank and then lose prime on the pump, or cause some kind of issue with the tank itself.

    I'm saving all your posts and we will revisit this issue when I can get my guy's help...breaking something together is MUCH preferable to breaking it by myself! In the spring, we intend to call a well guy and have our whole well situation evaluated anyway (large quantities of iron in the water). Might be worth paying him to really fix it then.

    One thing at a time.....
  13. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Where were you when I was young and in the shower??? The girlfriend goes in the crawl space to fix the pump while the guy takes a shower. What a catch you must be.

    I have trouble believing you can get less than a 15 lb. difference with any switch. I would check or change the gauge just to be sure your getting correct readings. You should also be able to set the pressure high enough to keep the pump running while boyfriend is in the shower, instead of it cycling. 1/2 hp jet pumps aren't known for making high pressures while pumping much water.

    bob...
  14. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    Guess I had a brain f*** . Follow Garys instructions . Don't forget there is electricity in the pressure switch unless it has been turned off .
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