No water - pumptec not shutting off

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by CindyM, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. CindyM

    CindyM New Member


    I am a true "newbie" - and quite confused at this point! I can't determine if we need a new well, or whether there may be another problem. I am sorry for the length of the post, but I wanted to include information that I have seen in other posts, that may, or may not be, relevant to my problem.

    I have been in my house for 6 years. At the time we purchased the house, the well failed the flow test. The sellers drilled the existing well deeper - I believe the well is around 400- 500 feet in rock, with a submersible 1 hp pump that was replaced in July, 2002. We also have a pumptec and a 202 well x-trol pressure tank. We do have a Culligan water conditioning system. When the tank is full of water, the pressure gauge reads 65 psi. I am told that the prior owners used to get sand in the water - we have never had that occur.

    For several years we had no problems with water supply. As little as 18 months ago, I could have the hose running for up to an hour without running out of water. Over time, water supply has become a problem. We thought, initially, that we needed a new well. However, the problem we have with the water supply is not consistent. There are times when we have no water after a single shower - other times I can do three loads of wash. I also noticed that when we do not have water, that shutting off the water supply to the toilets seemed to generate water quicker than not.

    Today I was determined to figure out the problem. I drained all the water from the tank, shut off the pump, and measured the pressure in the tank - it was zero. From what I have read, that seems to indicate a problem.

    We pressurized the tank to 38 psi - however, no water for at least a full hour. I measured the pressure again, and it held at 38 psi. However, as soon as I turn on the water, the pressure plummets and the tank empties and we are out of water again. My understanding is that this tank only holds a couple of gallons of water.

    Does my lack of supply of water have anything to do with the pressure in the tank? If not, then why is the pumptec is not shutting off the pump if we are, in fact, out of water? I thought that was the purpose of the pumptec.

    Our well driller was here about 8 weeks ago and "witched" for a good spot for a new well; the spot he chose was about twenty or thirty feet from the existing well on a downgrade. Given the expense of drilling a new well, I really want to make sure we need it. How do I know if there is water in my well??

    If anyone could point me in the right direction, it would be sooo appreciated!

    Cindy M
  2. I'm used to shallow wells, and don't know much about deep wells, but here are a couple of excellent tutorial sites on the subject until someone comes along who does:
    Good lucK!
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    Some Things to Test

    You need to do a lot of things before you contract with ANYONE to drill a new well.

    You can hire a well/pump person who can check out the pump and well. Or you can do some things yourself. I believe that people who have wells should learn how they work and have the means to at least diagnose problems. It will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars even if you have to hire someone to do the physical work, because you will be negotiating from knowledge.

    See if you can find the make and model of the pump and post it here. Do you have a manual or a tag posted somewhere near the electrical controls?

    A lot of what you need to do is electrical. Go to this link and download the manual. Look especially at the section on maintenance for 1-Phase and electronics.

    Get a volt-ohm meter, usually called a multimeter (or better yet, a friend with one who presumably knows how to use it). If you can find someone with a clamp-on ammeter that would be even better.

    First, you need to find out if there is water and if the pump is capable of pumping water. Some of the questions to be answered are (not necessarily in this order):

    Are you getting power to the pump?
    Do you have a 3-wire or a 2-wire pump? If it is a 3-wire you have a control box, you could have a control box failure.
    Is there water in your well?
    Is your pump capable of pumping it, or has the pump failed?
    Is there a broken or cracked pipe between the pump and the tank that is leaking water?

    You will start by finding out if you have power to the pump, and if the motor is shorted or burned out.

    Most 1 HP pumps are directly connected through a pressure switch. Find your pressure switch and measure the voltage across the input terminals. Verify that you have 230 Volts.

    Measure the voltage at the output wires at the pressure switch. If the pressure is low you should measure 230 Volts at the wires that go to the control box. Drain some water if necessary to cause the switch to actuate.

    If there is power at the output of the switch, there should be power at the input of the control box. Keep going down the line until you are measuring the voltage at the wires connected to the pump. If there is no voltage at the wires to the pump, then you know where to look for the problem.

    If there is power to the control box but the pump controller is shutting down, there are several possibilities. You could be out of water in the well. You could have a very leaky pipe in the well that is losing water. If it is losing too much water it is possible that it is overloading the pump and causing it to shut down.

    Here is where the clamp-on ammeter would be handy. If there is power to the pump, and presumably it is turning or it will shut down quickly, you should try to measure the current in the wires. Compare the current with the current that is appropriate for the 1 HP pump. If it is too low, the water may be too low or there may be a restriction in the pipe that is limiting flow. If the current is to high, you may have a failed pump or there may be a big leak which is losing water and also causing the pump to draw too much power.

    If the pump works at all, then it is not burned out or seriously shorted.

    If you get the pump running, try opening a hose or line and let it run into a big bucket to try to measure the flow rate. Determine how many gallons per minute you are getting. Then see if it will run long enough to pump 500 gallons of water.

    Now shut off the drain hose and see if you can pump to shut-off pressure. If you are getting good flow through an open hose but can't get to shut-off pressure then you probably have a pump failure of some kind. There are lots of possibilities, but you probably need to have the pump pulled. That is probably a professional job. You might try to contact the original driller and/or installer.

    The possibilities are too numerous to cover them all here without some indications of findings. See what you can discover and post back here.
  4. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Riverview, Fl.
    Hi Cindy,

    The WX-202 is rather a small tank but with the 38 lbs. it should fill up to more than 40 when the pump is running. From what you have said, you have never shut the pump off other than to check the tank. This could indicate the low yield well has nuked some of the impellers in the pump. This could be why your only getting 40 lbs. 40 psi. in a tank with a 38 lb. precharge would hold around a quart of water. That explains the quick drop to zero when opening a faucet.

    The amp meter is the best instrument to test the pump. A 1hp should be pulling 9.6 amps when running and pumping a good supply of water. Less amps when less or no water is being pumped.

    When you let the pump run for a while and it goes to 40 pretty quick then sits there for a while, that indicates impeller damage.

  5. rshackleford

    rshackleford New Member

    Eastern Montana (The Bakken)
    Wow...decades of pump knowledge in two posts. I bet this is overwhelming. The prior two posts pretty much cover everything you need to know. Excellent posts.

    A couple of my two cents. The company I work for drills a hundred or more wells a year. We have drilled just as many dry holes as good ones on witched wells. Don’t take water well witching as gospel. Also, without a little bit of experience this troubleshooting can be tough. If you feel up to the challenge then follow along with the other guys. If you don’t, there is no shame in calling a professional. Ask your neighbors. Word of mouth will lead you to the best well professional.

    Are the wells in your area cased or are they open bore holes? If they aren't cased this could lead to sediment filling up the water producing zone and you could have erratic water production.

    For the other guys here: does a pumptec have an automatic time reset function?
  6. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Riverview, Fl.
    You can set the Pumptec from manual to 90 minutes Shack. It has a little potentiometer on the circuit board that you set.

    I think Franklin could have done a better job in their design. I get a lot of questions about how they work, so I think they kind of dropped the ball on the Pumptec.

  7. rshackleford

    rshackleford New Member

    Eastern Montana (The Bakken)
    I kind of thought they had a time reset. I think I had picked on for use on a dewatering well once. The well would pump a few gallons per minute, run out of water, and then come back on in 90 minutes. I have not installed one though. Are there any indicators on the pumptech that it has goon through this off and reset cycle?
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    "I also noticed that when we do not have water, that shutting off the water supply to the toilets seemed to generate water quicker than not."

    I think you should check the water level in all toilets, it should be 1" below the top of the overflow tube. You may want to put a drop of food coloring in the tanks and stir it up and then 30-60 minutes later look for its color in the bowls. Any color in the bowl says a new flapper valve is needed. Water flowing down the overflow tubes, you need to adjust the height of the water to 1" below the top of the tube. If you have leaks, the total volume of water can be substantial and draw down the well to where the pump can't move any water or cause a dry well condition.

    Quality Water Associates
  9. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Riverview, Fl.
    Yes it does, it has a couple of diodes that indicate "Power on" and "Tripped". Not much help as to what happened, like some of the more expensive units out there.

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