Low pressure, pump stays on - tank, pressure switch? Replace all?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by applebach, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. applebach

    applebach New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Hi. I am a new homeowner and thus new to this forum as well. We have been here all of six months and of course the well system has now developed problems.

    Pressure switch meter reads zero, it is not cycling, the pump just keeps running. I would guess there is probably 10 psi at the faucets. Showers are weak at best.

    I had someone just here to look at it, no testing done they just want to replace everything = new pump, bladder tank, pressure switch and also offered to cut out the iron pipe and replace with brass. $1500, seems like a reasonable estimate if not a good price altogether? Two-wire pump with capacitor, bigger tank. Currently an Amtrol 20gal, pump has like SIX wires going to it??? I think it is about a twenty-year old install.

    But I can't help thinking I could get a couple more years out of this system for cheap if it's just the pressure switch. How does one know? If the pump is running OK wouldn't there be better pressure available, or the tank is what generates the pressure?

    Thanks for any help, guys (and gals)!!!
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    If the pump is running and you get very limited water, the pipe going to the pump might have a hole in it.

    Without properly diagnosing the problem, throwing a bunch of new parts at it is not a very good solution.
  3. applebach

    applebach New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I mean, a healthy pump should put out more pressure than that, am I right? It might be 20psi, I am only guessing.

    The whole system could easily be 25 or even 30 years old. That is why replacing everything may not be a terrible idea. If it's the pump, you can bet I will go for the whole enchilada anyway, the pressure guage and tank are all corroded and stuff.
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    You might be right, but there is also the possibility that you could spend all that money when the problem might be that the well is failing.

    If someone suggests they can replace "everything" for 1500, my guess is that they are trying to get their foot in the door so that they can sell you more as additional "problems" are found.
  5. WellWaterProducts

    WellWaterProducts In the trades

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Northwood NH
    It's a fair price but may not solve the problem. This does not sound like a little adjustment. The right pump professional should explain what issues may be encountered up front.
  6. applebach

    applebach New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Wow,

    I was really hoping for some more pointed advice. Now that it's the weekend, I trying to do some diagnostics myself. Here is what I found;

    Pressure switch is probably OK, there is 237V on both load and line. I bought a new one but haven't tried installing it yet. It looks like it's the newest piece of the puzzle, last item to be replaced. I began thinking that maybe one leg was bad, giving the pump only 120V and not enough pressure.

    With the low pressure, of course the pressure switch is keyed ON.

    Tested air pressure at the tank: 12psi! So, that's not right. Should be 38psi. It went up to 14.5 psi with the pump running. Should I try to pump it up? I have a pretty good floor bike pump I could use.

    But my most basic question remains - should the pump not produce way more pressure and flow than this? Or could a bad bladder tank cause these symptoms? I know another possibility is a rupture in between pump and tank plumbing. This happened suddenly, like one day we had 40-60 psi and the next day like 10 maybe 20psi. We don't have sediment in the water or sand or hard water, don't think anything is clogged, so is the pump going bad?

    Thanks for any help!
  7. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Hopefully you have been turning the pump off with the breaker and not letting it run all this time.

    Given your description of the fact that the pump is running and there is limited pressure and flow, I would open up the well and look and listen for a water spraying inside when the pump is running.

    You might have a pump problem or you might have a hole in the pipe. We cannot tell you which it is given what we have been told.

    If you cannot see or hear a leak, the pump should eventually end up coming out of the hole so that everything can be inspected and tested.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,841
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I am going to assume that you have a submersed pump in the well. If there is no other checkvalve than the one in the pump, if there is a leak in the pipe between pump and house, when the pump is shut off, you should see a complete loss of pressure.

    My guess is the six wires are really a three wire pump with pair doubling. There is no way that a 240 volt pump could run at 120 volts on one leg. A 240 volt pump has no neutral. It's 240 or nothing.

    The very first thing you should have replaced is the pressure gauge.
  9. applebach

    applebach New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the input. The pressure guage, though rusty, was working but it only shows 20psi & up. I think there is less pressure than that, but used to be you could see it cycling 40-60. I was wrong on the wiring, it's four wires with the yellow wire unconnected, so it's a 2-wire 240V (2 power 1 GND).

    So, it looks like I will probably pull the pump, or at least check for the sound of a leak as cacher chick suggested. I suspect the check valve because when the pump is turned off it sounds like everything backflushes through the system rather quickly, with a lot of gurgling when I turn it back on and it fills right back up. Does the check valve also affect the pressure?

    I have been turning the pump off at the breaker box, but it had been running quite a while before I realized it. No deterioration in performance thus far, hope I haven't stressed it too much.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,841
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    The check valve would not affect the pressure but a hole in the pipe would and it also would cause the water to rush back when the pump is shut off. You now need to determine where the leak is. As cacher_chick suggested, listen for the sound of a leak at the well casing.
  11. WellWaterProducts

    WellWaterProducts In the trades

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Northwood NH
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