Pump Going On and Off

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Kahless, May 25, 2006.

  1. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    I'm new to having a well and I just bought a house with one. Problem is our pressure switch keeps coming on and off really fast when we run some water. I knew the previous owner messed with the adjustments on it without knowing what they were doing. So I replaced the pressure switch and it still does the same thing. I checked the pressure tank and it didn't have any pressure. I put air in it up to about 30 lbs and waited a while and it didn't hold the air. So I bought a new pressure tank. Still having the problem. The moment I run water the switch just goes crazy on and off. Though according to my pressure gauge the pump shouldn't even be on. And the odd thing is when I put the new pressure gauge on it worked even worse then the one that had been adjusted. So I had to put the old one back on.
  2. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Here is a procedure to check things:

    1. Turn off the circuit breaker.
    2. Slowly run all of the water out of the tank while watching the water pressure gauge. At some point, the pressure will suddenly drop to zero. The pressure where it suddenly drops is the air pressure in the tank.
    3. If you have a tire gauge, check the air pressure in the tank.
    4. If the air pressure is low, add air to the tank until the pressure is about 3 psi LESS than where you want your pressure switch to start. With a water valve open, that should force all of the water out of the tank. If the pressure is too high, bleed the air down to 3 psi less than you want your pump to start.
    5. Try to "rock" the tank to make sure it is empty of water. If it has a lot of water after step 4 then the bladder has probably failed and you need a new tank.
    6. Close all water valves and run the pump for just a few seconds. The pressure should increase immediately to the air pressure, and then more slowly. Shut the pump off with the breaker and watch the gauge. It should hold steady. If it drops you have a leak, or an open valve, or a check valve failure.
    7. Runs some water slowly until the pressure has dropped to about 3 psi above the air pressure in the tank (from step 4). Use a flat screwdriver to lift the pressure plate near the base of the switch to turn the switch to the OFF position if it in not already off, and then release the pressure plate.
    8. If the switch stays OFF after step 7, then adjust the main screw/nut on the pressure switch to increase the pressure setting until its switch goes to ON. If the switch goes to ON when you release the pressure plate, then adjust the pressure switch to decrease the switch point until the it just operates when you release the plate.
    9. Run the pump and observe the pressure where it goes off. Use the secondary screw/nut to adjust the OFF point of the pressure switch without changing the ON point. There will be a minimum ON/OFF differential that you can achieve of 15 to 20 psi.

    I had a tank where the failure was not the bladder but the tank on the air side of the bladder. If your tank loses air pressure, then you must repalce the tank.
  3. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    I've done all that. Here's a little bit more info.

    My pressure tank is at 28-30 psi somewhere around there. My pressure switch is a 30-50 switch. My pressure gauge sets at 40 psi when no water is running. When I run water it bounces from 40 to 70 psi over and over again as the switch kicks on and off very fast.

    My water tends to be fairly rusty so someone put a hot water tank right off the pressure tank as a holding tank. It doesn't function as a hot water tank doesn't have any power to it. Then from that tank it goes to the rest of the house.
  4. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    If your switch is a 30/50, why is it coming on at 40 and going to 70???

    The water heater was a very poor idea as storage goes.

    You had better check the air pressure in that tank again. You did something wrong when testing it.

    Remember the pump has to be off and the system pressure has to be at zero.

    bob...
  5. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    The hot water tank acted as a settling tank for the iron. A water filtration person from culligan installed it as a settling tank. No idea why it was before I owned the place. Don't know why its coming on at 40 when the switch is a 30/50 switch i've had two experts on wells and plumbing out to look at the system and they all end up leaving completely baffled. I've tried 3 other 30/50 pressure switches thinkin it just might be a bad switch and they are all the same.
  6. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    "The hot water tank acted as a settling tank for the iron. A water filtration person from culligan installed it as a settling tank. No idea why it was before I owned the place. Don't know why its coming on at 40 when the switch is a 30/50 switch i've had two experts on wells and plumbing out to look at the system and they all end up leaving completely baffled. I've tried 3 other 30/50 pressure switches thinkin it just might be a bad switch and they are all the same."

    First the "settling tank". The iron in your water is colloidal, not like sand. It is virtually impossible to "settle" it. Did they know enough to install the tank horizontally. Effectiveness of a settling tank is proportional to "plan view" area. A vertical water heater is a lousy settling tank but you wouldn't really expect "A water filtration person from culligan" to know anything about settling particles in water.

    Your "experts" must be from the same school as the cullligan filtration person. An expert worthy of the title should be able to quickly diagnose a pump/tank/switch problem.

    Did anyone ever try to adjust the pressure switches. The 30/50 settings are common factory adjustments, but they are meant to be adjusted to the application.

    Sometimes there is a "snubber" in a pressure switch that can become plugged. Make sure there is no snubber in the switch or the gauge.

    How big is your pressure tank? Are you trying to make this work with a 10 gallon tank?
  7. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    Its a 55 gallon tank.

    Well it seems we have the problem figured out. I took a picture of the setup and went back to a plumbing person. He had originally asked me how far away the pressure switch was and I said about 6 inches. Which it physically is. But he saw in the picture that the pipe coming from outside (the well) into the house hits the pressure switch, goes out the pressure switch into several 90 degree turns, through two sediment filters then into the pressure tank. Like I said the switch is 5 inches from the tank but it goes through nearly 5 feet of pipe plus 2 filters before the water reaches the pressure tank then goes out to the "settling tank" and the house.

    He says we need to move the pressure switch so that there is only 5 or 6 inches of pipe between it and the pressure tank. That 5 feet and 2 filters is to much. Thats why it kicks on and off.

    Amazing though that his house was built in 1989 and its been setup just like this with the switch going on and off. That pump must have been built on planet krypton to keep running on and off like that for 17 years. I was just the first person to own it and say, "Hey this isn't right this has to be fixed"
    Last edited: May 26, 2006
  8. Pumpman

    Pumpman Pump Sales

    Messages:
    191
    Location:
    So. Cal
    There shouldn't be anything between the pump and pressure tank, except the piping, of course.
    I'm amazed that the pump/switch worked at all with filters between the two.
    Ron
  9. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    [​IMG]

    There's a link to my setup. The hot water tank you see to the left is the settling tank. The blue arrow in the picture I drew is where I was told to put the pressure switch.

    The plumber I showed the picture to said the settling tank is a good idea and he recommends them to people with rust issues. Also I talked to the previous owner who had the settling tank put in and he said after he put it in that his water always came out clear from faucets after that. He also didn't have to replace faucet fixtures frequently because they were rusting out. So maybe the settling tank is working somehow?
  10. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Not Done Yet!

    If anything is settling in the settling tank, then you should be able to put a hose on the drain and open it up full flow to get the settled iron out of the tank. You should run it until it is clear.

    I suggest you think through the total system before you cut pipe for the pressure switch. You will have two filters between the pump and the pressure switch. Where are the pressure gauges on the inlet and outlet of your filters. You should also have one between the filters so you will know which filter to change.

    What pressure drop are you allowing for across the filters before you change them. They are pretty small for "whole house" filters. Add that pressure drop to the shutoff pressure of the pressure switch and that is your pressure at the inlet side of the filters.

    Where is your relief valve? You should have a relief valve off a tee between the pump and the first filter. I suggest that you pipe that relief valve to a good drain, because it will be used when you forget to change the filters. The relief valve should be set to protect the filter housings and should be able to discharge the full flow of the pump at the relief pressure.

    I just put in a system for a lodge that had two pressure tanks. We put the filter between the tanks with the pressure switch on the first tank. You don't have to put the full pump flow through the filters and it results in longer filter life.
  11. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    I have to change the filters about every 3 weeks. When it says they are rated for a year. I know that the filters are innadequate. Would a water softner system help with the rust? I don't have any calcium or any other minerals that I know of in my water.

    I think lots of things need to be changed on my system.

    EDIT

    I did some research on settling tanks for iron. Iron will settle out when your water is at a certain PH if you inject a special chemical into your well that changes the ph of the water. Also I read that a softner will reduce iron if your levels are at a point that the softner can handle. According to a water test that was done on my water about 4 years ago my iron levels were 8/10. Whatever that means.
    Last edited: May 26, 2006
  12. vaplumber

    vaplumber Guest

    The settling tank is a good idea, provided the water heater was properly modified as a settling tank. On the inlet side of the water heater there is a tube which extends all of the way to the bottom. If that dip tube was not modified properly, then what ever settles get stirred up again each time the water is run. If the filters was put in at the same time as the tank then it could be the filters that are clearing up the water. I would check this out because if the settling tank were working at 100% effeciency then the filters should last a little longer than 3 weeks.
  13. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    How would I look for this dip tube?
  14. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Boy a picture is worth a million words. No wonder it is hammering on and off. I see what you mean by 5" now.

    I would get rid of the heater and those so called "whole house filters". If you really want to clean up your water, use the proper filtration. Not some big box's idea of filtering. Those filters will not catch anything that is harmful in your water and will only serve to make the manufacturer of the filters wealthier.

    If you have as much iron as you say, 8 or 10 or ppm. You have a serious iron problem and you will need someone that has worked with that amount of iron successfully in the past to help you. Maybe Gary will chime in here and give you some ideas.

    bob...
  15. Kahless

    Kahless New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Montana
    I really need to get my water tested again. That test was done 4 or 5 years ago by culligan by the previous owner and they were trying to sell him a $4000 dollar system.
  16. vaplumber

    vaplumber Guest

    I am not positive what a system would cost in your area. It will probably be expensive but I wouldnt thing it should be that high. The settling tank is useless except for suspended sediment in your water for which you really need a good filter to remove. The high iron will leave some sediment, but the bulk of the iron is dissolved in your water and will only settle out as the water evaporates, ie on your faucets, shower heads and such. If your pipes and fixtures are rusting you probably also have an acid water problem. Some one else will have to chime in here. I do some water treatment myself locally but my sons handle most of the water treatment end of things. The bulk of my service (what I do myself) is for hard water (limestone and calcium) and sand/gravel infiltration. I do not want to mislead or panick any one!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2006
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