No water and blown fuse

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by blacky, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. blacky

    blacky New Member

    Messages:
    12
    I have well pump but no water. Found one bad fuse out of two and when I replaced it there was a spark and another blown fuse. Was checking out the control box, forgot that power was still being supplied thru the good fuse, and got a shock off the case of the closed control box. Once I removed power and removed the outside of the control box I don't see anything scorched.

    The control box and pressure tank are underground with what I think is the pressure switch. Wires run from the control box to the pressure switch...? We got some very heavy and repeated rains and a decent amount of silt washed into the underground bunker where the pump components are kept and partially buried the pressure switch and the wires leading to it.

    I am thinking that I need to remove all the silt around the wires and pressure switch. Is it possible the wires being buried are causing the fuses to burn? Or do I need to check the control box? I can see a wiring diagram inside it's case but no voltages...

    Any comments on how to proceed?
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

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    4,549
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Something is shorted. The case of the control box should not shock you. Clean it up, dry it out, and ohm it out good before throwing the power back on. It could be the wires and/or the control box. You need to get all the silt and water out.
  3. blacky

    blacky New Member

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    12
    Thanks for getting back to me. Was afraid I'd have to dig it out. There is no room so have to do it with tiny garden spade...
  4. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

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    1,045
    Location:
    ct
    Try getting a vac truck they use for cleaning storm drains
  5. blacky

    blacky New Member

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    12
    Is the below-ground area where the pressure tank and pressure switch located supposed to be filled with dirt at the top of the well? Or is there like a concrete cap that's gotten buried?
  6. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

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    1,045
    Location:
    ct
    No there shouldn't be dirt over the well. You may have a well seal that needs to be exposed
  7. blacky

    blacky New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks for getting back to me...

    I've dug out a lot of sandy silt from the bottom of the well dugout so that the wires are no longer buried. 2 wires lead to the pressure switch and 4 wires lead down thru a hole in a concrete cap. The hole in the concrete cap is not sealed around the wires...

    The red and black wires to the pressure switch labeled L1 and L2 show infinite ohms when measuring between them.

    There is a red, yellow, black, and green wire leading down to the concrete cap on the floor of the dugout. Resistance between these wires gives me a low ohm reading.

    I assume these 4 wires lead down to the pump. Should I expect to see infinite resistance between them. Does this mean the pump has shorted out?
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    2,672
    Location:
    IL
    You would expect less than 10 ohms wire-to-wire mostly... representative numbers are available if you have an ohmmeter that can make good use of them. If you want expected ohm readings, identify your pump.

    That is except for the green wire, which should be well over a megohm to the other three wires ideally.

    I would suggest that you get your well fixed... at least have a sealed well cap that has a vent that will not go below water level. I would replace your pressure switch if it has been under dirty water. I would wash our your control box and rinse well with distilled water and dry well before applying power. I would consider putting in a sump pump into your pit, presuming that you want to keep the pit system. I would look into sealing your well cap better to keep out anything that the sump pump could not easily deal with. Do you know how the silt came in? After you make your repairs, sanitize your well to kill the bacteria that got into your well.
  9. blacky

    blacky New Member

    Messages:
    12
    We got record rain here and the garage that contains the pit doesn't have gutters. So I imagine that when the rain poured down the ground became saturated and water ran under the garage slab and into the pit. The pit is mainly built with curved block but each block has horizontal gaps. I was able to scoop quite a bit of sand back behind some of these blocks...

    The pressure switch and control box were not under water. Only the 4 wires leading down to the concrete cap were buried under sandy silt. Each of these 4 wires were about 5 ohms wire to wire. Not knowing, I was expecting infinite resistance just like with the 2 wires leading to the pressure switch from the control box.

    Is it possible that having the 4 wires buried in damp sand caused the short and blown fuse or is the short below the concrete cap? I'd like to avoid another blown fuse so is there a way to tell?

    Thanks...
  10. blacky

    blacky New Member

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    12
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    If there is a splice in the wire that is now buried in damp sand, it could still trip the breaker or cause death. You really need to get all the sand out and dry the place out. Use a large wet/dry shop vac to empty the pit.
  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,672
    Location:
    IL
    You really have about 5 ohms from the green to the yellow wire?
  13. craigpump

    craigpump Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,045
    Location:
    ct
    A bad splice or nick in the wire can and will trip a breaker.

    I hate pits and vaults.....
  14. blacky

    blacky New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks for getting back to me.

    The wires are no longer in the sand. The red, yellow, black, and green wires go from the control box to a hole in a concrete cap at the bottom of the pit. And I don't see any splices in the wires. The 5 ohm measurement is between the R, Y, and B wires. Between those wires and the green wire I read very low resistance but not 5 ohms. Thought it was odd because I was expecting infinite. I will take another reading...

    Does anyone have a link how I take readings from the other side of the control box. It separates into two with one side being just the 6 wires and the other side with a capacitor and a blue relay. There are no voltages and such on the drawing...
  15. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    4,452
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    You should have a open from green and the rest of the wires, unless you have a lightning or surge protector that shorted.

    Or a motor winding could be shorted to the motor frame ground.

    If you put your meter in diode check mode and read anything on Ground/Green, then you have a ground fault. Diode check puts voltage on the probes, and you can read the voltage drop, if you have a good meter. You should measure open even on R X 10K scale.


    Be careful playing with electricity.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    That would depend on whether or not the OP is isolating the wires from the control box. Green (protection ground) is bonded to neutral at the service. The test is only valid if all the wires are isolated.
  17. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,452
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    True that.

    I guess I assume too much...

    If a person has a meter then they are a expert, And know how to use it. Right ?


    PPE is in order for this job.
  18. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,672
    Location:
    IL
    While over a megohm from green to another wire would be ideally over a megohm, I would not worry much about 50 kilohm or higher. 1 kilohm would not be good, but it would not blow a fuse.
    1. So what is your actual number?

    http://www.wellandpumpexperts.com/TroubleShootingPumps.htm has a method for testing the capacitor with an ohmmeter.

    Looking back to the original post where you say "Found one bad fuse out of two and when I replaced it there was a spark and another blown fuse."...
    2. Where was the spark? Was it inside the fuse and you viewed the spark through a clear window in the fuse?
    3. Are these screw-in fuses or what?
    4. How many amps are the fuses marked as?
    5. Do they say "delay"?
  19. blacky

    blacky New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Thanks for getting back to me guys...

    Yes, I viewed the spark thru the clear window of the screw-in 20 amp fuse. Don't believe they are delay. They are just regular screw in type fuses...

    The ohm reading from the ground to R, Y, and B wires was low. I was expecting an infinite reading but it was about 3 ohms.

    I will test the capacitor and see if I can do a diode check...
  20. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,672
    Location:
    IL
    Screw-in fuses are not so regular today. The come in standard quick blow and time delay versions. But your ohmmeter readings indicate that the fuse was only doing its job. I presume that both fuses powering the pump are unscrewed while you are taking ohmmeter readings.

    Let's examine those readings to ground. You will want to isolate where the short is. Ideally it would be above ground where it is easier and cheaper to fix. So if you could disconnect the wires at the well head, that would be useful. However that would need 4 splices to restore those wires. So let's hold up on that. The place I would start isolating wires is at the output of the control box. If you could open the 4 wires at the output of the box, your ohmmeter will tell you which side of the control box the short to ground is. Which side is it? From there you will decide where to check next.

    "About 3 ohms"... when dealing with such low resistances, it would be nice to have better low-range resolution. However what you have already may be sufficient.
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