Need well water system advice

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by charp, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. charp

    charp New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Grass Valley, CA
    Thanks for a great forum, I've been doing a little lurking here trying to learn.
    Our situation is that we had to sell the nice house I built 3 years ago and we bought a 33 year old severe fixer less than half the size. This house has only one bath but will be gaining another soon. When our youngest leaves for college this fall there will only be my wife and I most of the time. Unfortunately, there is no irrigation district water available in this area to water the yard and garden. Which brings me to what I know about the water system.

    According to the county, the well is 295 feet deep and produces 5 gpm. This output was verified by a local well drilling company before purchase of the property. That company wants around $2,500 ball park to bring it up to snuff with no specifications. Everything looked original but I have since received a receipt showing the pump was replaced in 2004. The receipt lists the pump as 10LS10 1 HP SUB less Control Box.
    The control box is probably an original Red Jacket. The pressure switch is a 30/50 psi. The well casing is PVC and looks to be 6 inches. There is a check valve on the output coming out of the split well-head. One of the pressure tanks is a Sta-Rite PSP220-T52 and the other is probably half the size or smaller Well Xtrol or something like that. The well house is 70 feet from the house and at least 20 feet lower. Water pressure in the house is too low and washing a car is ridiculous! Although at times outside spigots will have good pressure. I don't know the static level or draw down in the well. Today, the missus left the sprinklers on for half an hour and when she turned on the faucet the water came out a trickle. She turned the sprinklers off and the pressure in the house went back up but the water was "dirty".

    I want to install a pitless adapter and move pressure tank(s) into the daylight basement along with any future filter and softening system to deal with H2S, iron and hard water. Sounds like a cycle sensor and cycle stop valve would be a good idea? I'm also unsure what to do about pressure tank number and size or whether I need a storage tank and booster pump? Any advice much appreciated. I ain't scared to tackle much of this myself as long as I have the info I need and schematics and diagrams and pictures are nice! I replaced the well pump, downpipe, control box, installed a pitless, wired and plumbed everything on a property we owned before, but that was 14 years ago, only 120 feet deep and I had directions on how to hook it all up! Thanks much, sorry for the kinda long post.
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,183
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Would not the county or the well driller that verified the well not be able to tell you what the static water level is?

    So, the well purportedly produces 5 GPM. What does the existing pump produce? How many GPM are you hoping for at what PSI?

    What are the pressure settings on the pump switch? If you hold down the switch, what PSI is the pump capable of reaching and what GPM will it produce at a higher PSI?

    If you plan to aerate the water with a micronizer, 5 GPM isn't going to do it with good enough pressure. You might want to consider a system with an air pump instead. The greater disparity between what the well can produce and what you need, the greater the amount of non-pressurized storage you would need.

    I get by with a 5 GPM of flow through my micronizer at 40 PSI but would like to see more.
  3. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,579
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You may have just been running too many sprinklers. Check a sprinkler in a bucket. If it puts out 2.5 GPM, you can only run two at a time. That pump can deliver 5 GPM from 290’ and 30 PSI. If your well can really produce 5 GPM you can make that work.
  4. charp

    charp New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Grass Valley, CA
    Thanks for the replies. The only info I have from the county is 295' deep and 5 GPM. I guess that's all they cared about back in '78. The well driller is out of business and the company that has the old phone number hasn't responded to my message. The company that tested the well prior to purchase stated this in their letter, "After four hours of pumping, a flow rate of 4.48 gallons per minute was established.". "That'll be 420 bucks, thank you very much"! They didn't write or say that, I did. I should have taken time off work, quizzed them prior and maybe could have gotten some more info outta them for my $420! So, I have less than 5 GPM.

    I need to replace the pressure gauge before any testing since it doesn't drop to zero when shut off and drained.

    Valveman, you're right about running too many sprinklers. I think they're 2-3GPM and there's at least 6 of them on the zone she was running! They don't get run at full volume, but still too much for that long a time. It's a butchered manual system that was here and the pipes aren't buried so we're just using it to keep the plants alive until we get to redoing the yard.

    Given the info we have, how much pressure tank volume is ideal and can I increase the pressure switch setting to 40/60?
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,183
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    It almost sounds to me that the well GPM recovery rate was not tested, that the guy simply ran the existing pump. I'm not sure why you had it tested, perhaps it was a mortgage company requirement. A true recovery rate test would involve pulling the pump if in fact the pump was the limiting factor and using a known good higher GPM pump.

    When I bought my property with the intention of building on it, the mortgage company required that my well be able to produce 5 GPM and so the driller used his own 5 GPM pump to verify the capacity. The test did not verify the max GPM recovery the well was capable of and the driller did not develop the well for more than 5 GPM. Later, when I dropped in my own 10 GPM pump, it sucked up so much mud that it damaged my pump.
  6. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,579
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    From water level of 295' that pump can only build 43 PSI. So setting the pressure switch to 40/60 may cause your pump to deadhead and melt down.

    When the water level is less than 200' that pump can produce more than 10 GPM. So even a big tank, or several big tanks will not keep the pump from cycling when you are only using 5 GPM. Also a big pressure tank is seen as an additional load for a pump in a weak well. So you can pump the well dry while trying to fill the big tank.

    A CSV will work with a small tank. The CSV fills the tank at 1 GPM, so it won't pump the well try while refilling the tank. The CSV will let you run 5 GPM without cycling the pump on and off. And as long as you only run 5 GPM, you won't pull too hard on the well, and you can up the pressure switch to 40/60.
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,183
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Yes Cary, all that is good advice but if the OP wants to add an iron filter, the limited GPM and low pressure will severely limit his options. On that, I speak from experience having only 5 GPM from my 10 GPM pump.

    An iron filter that uses a micronizer relies on more than 5 GPM for good aeration, depending on pressure. Also, a birm type iron filter may need more than 5 GPM to properly backwash the media.

    It would be good to know if the well is to blame for the poor production, or the pump. If it were the pump, it would simply need to be replaced. If it is the well, pumping through an iron filter into a non-pressurized tank and then having a second pump provide the pressure from the storage to the home/sprinklers may be necessary. Of course then an elaborate system of solenoid valves may need to be setup to backwash the iron filter.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
  8. charp

    charp New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Grass Valley, CA
    Hmm, where do I start? We had the well tested because it was an unknown. The pump house and it"s contents looked to be in real bad condition like most everything on this property! In hindsight, I could have disconnected the plumbing from the well, flipped the switch and timed how long it took to fill a 5 gallon bucket. If the well company was able to run the pump continuously for 4 hours for the test, is it a safe assumption that I have enough water, won't run it dry, provided I don't exceed 4.48 gpm in useage. I'll be able to use more for short periods if I add storage (and a booster pump for pressure)? Sorry, it's the end of the work week and the old brain isn't running on all cylinders. An alternate source of water for irrigation would really help. I've thought of a rainwater collection system but that would require tons of storage since we don't get rain during the growing season. The listing RE agent said there's 2 wells on the property. I did find a 5' square concrete pad with a small rectangular hole near the center but there's dirt in the hole so it must have been filled. It may have been a shallow hand dug well from the late 1800's or early 1900's when the property was part of a 160ac ranch. Anyway, I sent off an email to the well company asking about their test and what they think it says about the well itself - drill a new one at $15/foot!
  9. charp

    charp New Member

    Messages:
    19
    Location:
    Grass Valley, CA
    Still working on getting info on the well. The county dept of environmental health only has well logs back to '92, so we'll have to get the info from the state.
    That pump number listed on the 2004 receipt, 10LS10, turned up as a Goulds pump in a google search, a 10gpm model LS 1.0hp. According to a chart in the Goulds info that pump may be pumping it's max, between 3-7gpm at 30-40psi, at 290 feet deep. Of course, I don't know what depth the pump is set at.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,183
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    It's not really about how deep the pump sits, it's about where the water table comes up to. Can you open the well cap and drop a line to determine that? Also, determine whether the pump draws down the static level to ascertain whether the pump out-draws the well recovery rate.

    Once you determine whether it's the well or the pump that is the limiting factor, you can decide either to upgrade the pump or to go the storage tank/ two pump route.
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