Low Water Level Protection

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by tvl, May 1, 2012.

  1. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    OK ……………. more testing has brought me to create a new thread. After installing the ¼†poly tubing so that I could monitor the water level in our well, I am now able to better understand what is occurring with our well and lower than normal pressure readings.

    After 34 years of great service, I do believe our well is losing its ability to produce as well as it once did. I’m sure this is because more and more folks around me are installing wells for irrigation and there is only so much water available in any given stream. Here is what I am learning:
    1- For the past couple of weeks, the water level with no water usage and no pump running has been stable at about 115 feet ……………….. and the pump intake is about 14 feet below the static water level. (note: I can NOT set the pump any lower ...... that is not an option!)
    2- As I monitored the water level in the beginning, I found that we had approximately a 2 foot drop in water level when the pump was running with the irrigation system on.
    3- During the past week or so, I’ve noticed more folks around the neighborhood using the irrigation system. Are they using the same stream as us ……. who knows! But, now I have noticed a drop in water level of about 5 feet with the pump running continuously, which means there is only about 9 feet of water above the pump intake.
    4- Will this get worse as the summer progresses? Only time will tell, but I want to do something to protect the pump in case it does.

    What are the available options for protecting a pump in a situation such as this? I want something that will do its job should the pump encounter a low water level, but which is easily installed ….. if there is such an “animalâ€. I just would rather not pull the pump again so soon if possible, but that may not be an option for me.

    Please inform me of the available options for doing what I want. Thanks!
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    3,915
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
  3. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    The Franklin Pumptec looks interesting. The unit looks very similar to my existing control box which is also a Franklin. Does the Pumptec simple replace my existing control box and I then have low level protection? No other wires to run or sensor required in the well?
  4. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,423
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    No, you still need the control box. The Cycle Sensor doesn't look the same as a control box. It has a digital display of the amperage andshows DRY for a dry well and RCYC for a rapid cycle condition.
    [​IMG]
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,915
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I forgot that this is just for your sprinklers and not the primary water supply for the home. In that case, nuisance trips of a low pressure cutoff switch might be tolerable. The run-of-the-mill $20 Square D switch does not have an adjustment for the cutoff pressure but it roughly follows 10 PSI below the cut-in setting. Depending on what the cut-in is set to, the reaction time could be quick but so too might nuisance trips.

    I don't know what the reaction time is with the Cycle Sensor compared to a brainless Square D but maybe valveman can advise on that.
  6. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Thanks for the info fellows!

    After some reading, I am leaning towards the Pumptec QD
    QD Pumptec.jpg

    The primary protection I am searching for is from a low water level situation. This unit seems to fit the bill. However, in their specifications it states:
    Dry Well/ Deadhead
    The most common causes of an underload trip is a
    dry well or deadhead condition. Wait for the well
    to recover. It should be noted that the QD Pumptec
    detects a deadhead condition only if the motor load
    drops sufficiently. Not all pumps unload the motor
    under deadhead conditions.
    How do I know if our pump will unload the motor under a deadhead condition????


    The other unit is their Pumptec model
    Pumptec.jpg

    Is this unit better .............. does anyone have any experience with either??
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  7. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    UPDATE

    I contacted the technical support group at Franklin motors and spoke with an engineer. I explained my primary concern was protection from a low water level condition. Since I was already using a Franklin motor and control box, he stated the QD pumptec would fit nicely and was very easily wired. It offered the main protection I desired with a few other features. I think I will go ahead and place the order since it appears to be what I need and will fit nicely inside my existing control box. The other models simply had more features, but were no better in response times to any given problem. The QD Pumptec does respond in less than 3 seconds to a low water level condition.

    spec.jpg
  8. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Update & THANKS!!!!

    Update & Thank You!!

    Well, I now have the QD Pumptec wired inside my 1 HP control box. I am protected should the water level drop below the intake. I also have the 1/4" poly tubing and a pressure gauge in place so that I can monitor the water level at various times. That's about all I can do for now. I do want to thank those who shared their knowledge so freely. Without your help, I wouldn't have the "tools" in place to help me understand what is occurring and the protection should I need it. Thanks to all!
  9. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,423
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Hope it all works out for you. I was at a class yesterday with about 125 other pump installers. Many told me that the new “sensitivity” adjustment of the Pumptec does help. (sensitivity was recently added to make it more like the Cycle Sensor) However, they say it is still not sensitive enough to know the difference between really low flow and no flow, but I haven’t tested the new Pumptec feature.

    The digital display on the Cycle Sensor would have let you see the amps the pump is using while there is really low flow, so you could know exactly where to set it to shut down when there is no flow.

    Taking the advice of the company who sold you the pump/motor, and would love to sell you another, may not be the best idea.

    You won’t know if it is working for sure until you really need it. Then you will either need a new pump, or you won’t.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,915
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Kind of like buying life insurance for yourself. You won't know if you made the right choice or not until after you're dead.

    Still, doing something is better than doing nothing.

    As for how fine to set it, I think sensing a deadhead or near-deadhead condition versus sensing a dry well condition are two different things. ISTR the issue that Cycle Sensor addresses is the false trip from what the Pumptec might detect as a near-deadhead condition. Unless you have a well that can easily be pumped dry, testing that you got it right could be hard to do.
  11. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,423
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Exactly! You adjust the "sensitivity" until the pump shuts off, then you move it back a bit. But you won't know if you moved it a bit too far until you test it with a real dry well condition. If you can't pump the well dry to test it, you won't know if it works until you really need it.
  12. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    What is ISTR ??

    And, thanks fellows!
  13. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I was reading over the documentation that came with the Pumptec. As mentioned, there is a sensitivity setting that can be increased or decreased. The manual indicates it is not normally necessary to make any adjustments. But, you fellows have me wondering? Should I play with the sensitivity setting???

    Also, there is an optional field calibration. Do you fellows feel I might be better protected if I go through the process:

    Field Calibrate Setting
    The QD Pumptec may be calibrated to the load of a particular system. Moving the sensitivity knob pointer to the “Field Calibrate†position will initiate a field calibration “snap shot†the next time the system is powered. The first time power is applied, after selecting the “Field Calibrate†setting, the QD Pumptec will run for fifteen seconds and take a snap shot of the load and then shut off for ten seconds. The QD Pumptec will then restart and run normally within five seconds. When the motor load goes below 25% of the “snap shot†setting, the QD Pumptec will trip on the underload condition. The sensitivity of the field calibration may be adjusted by moving the sensitivity pointer.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,915
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I Seem To Recall.

    ISTR that you don't have very much water above the pump, so as the level drops, and the pump de-rates drawing less current, there is a small range before it sucks air. If your intent is to trip it out before it sucks air, you will have to calibrate it. ISTR also that the well is only used for sprinklers and so nuisance trips would be just a minor inconvenience.
  15. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,423
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Even with proper “setting” you are just guessing or hoping that the amps will drop 25% when the well pumps off. Some pumps will, some won’t. Depends on several different things. But if you don’t restrict the pump, as when running a small amount of sprinklers, you will probably be OK.
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,915
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Valveman,
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the amp draw on the pump should drop to a detectable level when it starts sucking air and cavitating. I understand your concerns are germane to the general topic of "Low Water Level Protection" particularly in an application where a well may frequently be pumped dry or the level dropped enough to deadhead the pump. The reaction time of the Pumptec (or your Cycle Sensor) should still be better than say, a low pressure cut-off in most situations.

    While repeated cavitation could/would shorten the life of the pump, repeated cavitation does not sound likely in this application. I think the OP is knowledgeable enough to detect aberrant pump behavior to notice and rectify the adjustment if not set sensitive enough.
  17. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Thanks again valveman & LLigetfa!

    If I'm reading you two correctly, I would be better served if I implemented the "field Calibrate" function. Afterwards, I will be required to move the sensitivity pointer to a value between -20% to +20%. I spoke with a technical support individual at Franklin and he stated I should be fine at 0%. Any other setting could possibly trigger nuisance trips, or worse yet, miss an event altogether. I would value your input as well!

    QDPumptec.jpg
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,915
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Given that this is only for your sprinklers, I would err on the side of caution and opt for nuisance trips. My guess is there may be a concern of having something go wrong while you are away. A nuisance trip could have you returning to a brown lawn if a neighbor were not knowledgeable enough to reset same. Better to return to a brown lawn than a burned out pump.

    I have only a low pressure cut-off, originally as a Square D with the little lever that had to be held "just so" until the pressure returned above the trip level. When I got nuisance trips, Murphy conspired that I would be away from home and have to talk the wife through how to reset it. Now I have the EPS15/99 so nuisance trips are no longer an issue but the reaction time is long. If there was potential for my well to run dry, I would deploy something like the Pumptec or Cycle Sensor. The only time I was ever able to pump the well dry was in the beginning while I was developing it by over-pumping it.
  19. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,423
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You only get one chance. If it misses the event, your pump is toast. Better do exactly like Franklin says, so if you have a motor failure, you can say you followed the directions exactly. Since you can’t see any numbers (amps) or know what number it took a “snap shot” of, I would still want to lift the pump out of the water to test it. Better it should miss the event while I am watching than when I am not.
  20. tvl

    tvl New Member

    Messages:
    138
    Location:
    South Carolina
    OK, I've think I'll do the following:

    1- Run the field calibrate feature
    2- When finished, set the sensitivity to +10%. Based on the documentation, this will increase the default trip sensitivity from 75% to 85% OR the Pumptec will now trip when the motor load drops to 85% of the "snapshot" taken during the field calibration.
    3- set the timeout feature for 60 minutes ........ it even resets itself.

    From here on out, only time will tell if all is OK!

    Thanks to all!
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