Low flowing water

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Frank, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. Frank

    Frank New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Hoping someone can help!
    We have a well system that includes a 2500 gallon reserve storage tank. Recently our water flow has dipped to a trickle. I'm wondering if the water trickle is due to gravity from the large storage tank, and not actually a result of lower pressure from the pressure tank. On the electrical panel next to the Pumptec, there is a box that has wires going in the top and bottom, and in the middle there is a black button that appears to be a connector switch. When that button is depressed, I can hear the pump in the 2500 gallon holding tank turn on. And at the same time, the pressure gauge on the pressure tank goes from 32 psi to around 60. That provides full water pressure to the entire house for around a minute or two. Then the pressure falls back to 32. The pressure tank switch contacts are in the closed position at all times, including when I depress the black button. I used a current tester and touched it to the two screws with wires on the pressure tank switch, and there is no current. But I'm not sure if current to the switch is continual, or if it only gets current when cut-in is activated.
    Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!!! frank
  2. I'm no expert on this, but have you checked for a tripped breaker? The power to the pressure switch should be continuous. The contacts should not be closed, unless it's on. You may need to replace the pressure switch.
    Another thing to check is the line from the pressure tank to the switch. It may be clogged. Disconnect both ends and check it.
    Have you checked the pressure tank pressure? Turn the pump off, drain the water pressure off, and check the tank pressure with a tire gauge. It should be two psi below your pump cut-on pressure, i.e. if your pump is set for 40-60 psi, which it apparently is, the air pressure in the pressure tank should be 38 psi. Air it up with a bicycle pump or portable air tank or compressor to 38 psi. If the tank won't hold the 38 psi without anything running, you need to repalce the pressure tank. The bladder is shot.
    I think that you're probably going to at least have to replace the pressure switch and air up the pressure tank a bit to get it straight.
    Good Luck!
    Mike
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Your pressure tank may be waterlogged. The Pumptec Plus model is supposed to turn off the pump to protect it from short cycling if the tank is waterlogged. For checking pressure tank systems see my Post #9 at the following thread:
    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4583

    Am I correct in assuming that all discussions of controls are related to "2500 gallon tank to house" system and not the well system? Pumptecs are usually installed on well pumps. I assume the well is supplying the reserve tank and another pump in the 2500 gallon tank is pressurizing your house system.

    It looks like your Pumptec is shutting off. Look in the 2500 gallon tank and see if it has adequate water. One of the functions of the Pumptec is to shut off the pump when there is not adequate water at the inlet of the pump.

    Do you have a voltmeter to measure the voltage at various places along the way? Start from the pressure switch and measure to detect voltage at inlet and outlet of pressure switch, control box, and Pumptec. If you have a 230 Volt system you should have 230 Volts between pairs at each point. Where you no longer have voltage is where to look for the cause of the failure.

    You say that you wonder if the problem is low gravity flow from your 2500 gallon tank, but that you hear the pump in the 2500 gallon tank. If the pump is in the tank, then flow from the tank is not by gravity. Since you are getting 60 psi, it looks like you can get water from the tank and pressure from the pump.

    The black button may be an overload protector or a reset switch. What box is it on?

    What are your pressure switch settings? I don't understand why the pressure drops to only 32 psi if the pump is not operating. Do you know that the gauge is good? If actual pressure goes to zero (no flow possible) the gauge shoud read zero if it is measuring water pressure.
  4. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    "there is a box that has wires going in the top and bottom, and in the middle there is a black button that appears to be a connector switch."

    What you described is a contactor. When you pushed the button in, it energized the jet pump which pumps water from the big tank and pressurizes the home. If the switch points are closed and the pump isn't running, there may be a float or some other device that keeps that pump from running when the tank is low or empty. Or the coil in that contactor is bad.

    The pumptec may be the protection for that pump you described as "being in the tank". It is a submersible and it can't run dry. Hence the Pumptec.

    You didn't say whether you held the button in or if you pushed it and let go, so I'm kind of winging it here. Some contactors have hi/lo amp protection and this may be the button your pushing and it's tripping again later. A little better step by step description of what you have would help. Pictures are even better.

    These systems are created by contractors not manufacturers and are installed in bazillions of configurations and are sometimes hard to troubleshoot if your standing there.

    bob...
  5. Frank

    Frank New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Unreal

    Thanks VERY MUCH for the help you nice folks have given me here. I am going to proceed using your suggestions for troubleshooting up at the well today. I'm just blown away by the knowledge and good ideas you have sent. I'll post the results on how it all comes out. Happy holidays, and thanks again! Frank
  6. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Following up on Bob's (Speedbump's) reply:

    The button on the Contactor (relay) may be an overload reset button. It is unusual to have separate overloads on small systems because the pump usually has overload protection in the motor.

    The "Start" for the contactor is probably the pressure switch connected through the coil of the contactor. I would not expect a manual start button on an automatic system such as a pump with a pressure switch. If it is a "Start" button you should also have a "Stop" button and they would be marked.

    Assuming that it is an overload reset, then you are resetting it and allowing the pump to run. It may overload again and trip out again. Overloads usually trip out if there is sustained current (Amps) exceeding the rating for the motor. Sustained over-current often indicates bearing or internal part failure that is causing the motor to overload. A short circuit would usually trip the circuit breaker.

    If it is a pump failure, you can often replace the wet end separately from the motor. Those Franklin motors are pretty reliable.
  7. rshackleford

    rshackleford New Member

    Messages:
    284
    Location:
    Eastern Montana (The Bakken)
    If the wet end has failed, make sure the new wet end is matched up with the old motor horsepower. If this were a deep well and something that had to be pulled professionally I would recommend changing out both motor and wet end.

    If you have a sub in the cistern, does it have a “cooling†or “flow†jacket? If it does not, it should. A cooling jacket forces water by the motor and allows it to cool itself. If it does have a cooling jacket they can get plugged up. The jacket may have bacteria or algae growth on it that keeps the water from entering fast enough to keep up with the pump.

    Is the storage tank above ground or below? I have seen clear above ground tanks that have a lot of algae growth problems. The algae would easily plug up a pump.

    If you do have a sub, you could have a bad motor bearing. FE motors have a Kingsbury (sp) type bearing. This is basically an oil film that act as a bearing when the motor comes to speed. If this bearing has failed a pump will often trip out on an overload condition. You will need a special gauge made by Franklin Electric to tell if this bearing is bad (the tolerance is very precise). If you were in my area you could bring the motor in for us to test the bearing. A pump shop in you area might be able to do it for you as well.
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Frank. whatever the box is that has the black button on it, it is seeing an electrical problem and tripping. Otherwise there would be power to the panel box side of the pressure switch and when the pressure falls to the cut-in setting, about 32 in this case, the pump would run since the points are closed; if the points didn't open when the pressure got to 60, then the electrical problem occurs then and shuts off the power at that box.

    IMO you are circumventing a safety device by pushing the button. The cause of the problem could be the box with the button or the pump motor on the pump power cable or the Pumptec is causing the box to trip.

    Gary
    Quality Water Associates
  9. Frank

    Frank New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Thank you

    Thanks again for the feedback. The box with the black button is called a "Furnas", if that helps. I did some troubleshooting to see if the float switches in the above ground holding tank was working. I didn't want to climb down the small opening in the 2500 gallon tank to check the bottom float switch, and decided to test by going with the known good switch (the top float switch). My thinking was that the bottom float had failed, and was in the position that caused Pumptec to "think" the tank was empty. I knew that once it was in this position, the pumptec would not allow the pump inside the large holding tank to run - to prevent it from burning out. So at the top of the large holding tank, I opened the electrical box, and switched the wires so that the top float switch was now connected to the wires that formerly were connected to the bottom float, and visa versa. Next I taped the upper float in the "up" position so the pumptech would "think" the tank was full. My thinking was that when I turned the power back on, the pump inside the large holding tank would now turn on, and jet water into the pressure tank - proving that the bottom float was bad. That did not do the trick, so I assumed that since I was now working with a known good switch, the problem was not a faulty lower switch. So time to move on! When I went around testing current flow with my voltage meter, the only connection that did not show any current at all, was at the Pumptrol switch, which as I had mentioned, is in the closed position. All other readings were 220. I also tested the Pumptrol current while I was pressing the black button on the Furnas box. There was still no power to the Pumptrol switch. In a previous reply, it was mentioned that that Pumptrol switch should have continual current to it. If that is true, I guess my question is:
    Would a bad coil in the Furnas box prevent power from getting to the Pumptrol? And if not, and other than a "short" somewhere else, why would the Pumptrol switch not be getting power? Sorry for the long update! And thanks so much for your suggestions. Not exactly a good time of the year for pump problems... ugggh.
  10. Marc

    Marc New Member

    Messages:
    21
    I'm by far an expert... but if you're using an amp-meter (or a multimeter to measure current) that needs to go in series, not in parellel with the switch.

    -Marc
  11. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    OK Frank,

    The Furnas box has a coil which I think is bad.

    The bottom float is to shut the booster pump off when the tank is empty. The top float is to turn on the submersible pump to fill the tank when the water is low enough to turn it right side up. The pumptec is to protect I would assume the submersible. The well must be a low producer or you wouldn't have the 2500 gallon tank in the first place.

    So when the top float is right side up, the power will then go to the coil energizing it so the sub can come on. The sub will run until either the float goes upside down again or the pump runs out of water in the well and the Subgard detects low amps and shuts the sub off for a specified amount of time.

    So again, either the coil is bad or the bottom float is stuck or open. That is of coarse if I read what you explained correctly. I have been wrong before.

    If you have a ohm meter, pull (after turning the electric off) the wires off the two terminals on the coil in the Furnas box and put a probe on either one. Your reading should not be infinity. It should have a value somewhere in the thousands If it is good. Infinity means it is open and that's the problem.

    bob...
  12. Frank

    Frank New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Will give it a try..

    Thanks Speedbump! I will give it a try. I need to go buy the meter. Will let you know. Cheers...
  13. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Furnas Probably Contactor

    The Furnas box is probably a contactor and the black button is a reset device for the overload protectors.

    Somewhere above the Furnas box there should be a circuit breaker or a pair of fuses or a disconnect switch.

    Open the Furnas box (carefully) and check to see if there is Voltage at the inlet of that box. There should be about 230 Volts between a pair of wires, and 115 Volts between each wire and neutral (probably white or bare wire).
    Note to help us avoid confusion - please use the term "current" only when talking about Amps.

    If you don't have 230 Volts across the hot pair at the inlet to the Furnas, then your power is disconnected for some reason. If you have 115 Volts from one to neutral but nothing from the other to neutral then you have a power loss on one of the hot leads.

    If you don't have the correct power, then find out why and restore power to the Furnas before going further.

    If you have power at the incoming (usually top) of the Furnas, check for voltage at each end of the coil relative to neutral, and across the coil. The voltage on the coil, if there is any, is probably coming from the pressure switch.

    Now the contactor coil may or may not be wired through the overload protectors in the Furnas. From an earlier post where you mentioned pushing the black button, I suspect that the coil is wired through the overloads.

    Now we are going to try a little experiment. Using a screwdriver so your hands don't get too close to the hot wiring in the Furnas box, push and release the black button and see if the contactor pulls in. If it does it will probably startle you. See if the pump starts; have someone near where they can hear it if you can't hear it from where you are. If the pump starts when you pushed the overload button, then it probably means that the overload was tripped out from overcurrent in the motor, and you may have a pump failure. In that case it will probably trip out again pretty quickly.

    Check it as far as this goes and get back to us.

    Post an electrical schematic if you can, at least as far as the order of boxes in the system. We are just guessing on the alternatives if we don't know where all the controls and Pumptec and other things are connected in your electrical circuit.

    If you are going to buy a meter, consider the extra investment to get a clamp-on ammeter which will also measure Volts and resistance (ohms). I have seen some reasonably priced one at Home Depot. I got a Sperry DSA-400 Digisnap there a few years ago which has served me well. It isn't practical to measure current in your type of system with the usual Volt-Ohm meter.
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