pump switching on every 10 minutes

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by juddspaintballs, May 30, 2009.

  1. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    I have a 3/4 HP Goulds jet pump and a fairly small pressure tank. I just moved into this house on Wedsnesday and I don't know much about wells. I have no idea how deep the well is since records are unclear on this house's well. The house is ooooold (late 1800's)...the first well that I'm aware of was hand dug to 20' in '64. I think it has since been deepened, but that has not been confirmed.

    I can watch my pressure build to 60 psi as indicated on the gauge inline just in front of the pressure tank. The pump kicks off and over the course of about 10 minutes, the pressure drops to 40 psi and the pump cycles back on. I'm not losing my prime at all. This is a very regular occurrence. I shut the valve off after the pressure tank so no water would be on in the house and the pump still cycled like I mentioned. I shut the valve off prior to the pressure tank and the tank held pressure at 60 psi but the pump cycled on for a couple seconds, then off, then back on, and off again quickly so I turned it off.

    So what I think might be the problem is the footer valve is bad. That should be simple enough to fix since I've helped my father pull his lines a couple times in the past and we've built a tool to help.

    Does anyone have any insight into the problem and ways to fix it quickly? I don't want my pump to keep cycling for very long. I just bought a house and I'm not rich ;)
  2. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    I think you answered your own question. It sounds like the foot valve is leaking back.
    If you closed the valve after the tank, and it still fell, the foot valve is leaking, or there is a pressure crack in the drop pipe.
    As you pull the pipe to change the foot valve, keep a close eye on the pipe, as there may be a split or crack.

    The valve before the tank should never be closed. That will make for a very short life for your pump. Cycling like it did when you closed the valve before the tank will kill a pump.


    Travis
  3. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Thanks for the help. Looks like I have a project on my next day off. For now, I shut the pump off when I'm not home or during the night.
  4. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Besides the labor involved what would be the downside to just adding a check valve (spring check) to the pipe going to the pressure tank¿ And what is this pipe called in your field¿ Thx.
  5. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    With a check valve at the tank, the pump can lose it's prime. With the smallest of air leaks,it will allow the pump to drain back down the well. It may not happen with normal use, but say you are gone for the weekend. With that amount of time passing, the water in the pump can drain back, and cause it to lose it's prime. The tank may not lose any pressure, but the pump may.
    The pump should stay at the same pressure as the tank, that will help keep the pump primed. Even if the foot valve leaks, there may be pressure loss, but the pump will come back on and re-pressure the tank. With a check valve in between the pump and tank, that cant happen.
    It's just a better idea to fix what is wrong, than trying to patch it.



    Travis
  6. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Thanks dude.
  7. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    I still haven't yet had the time to pull the lines. I do have a foot valve in hand, however. Perhaps tomorrow I will find the time, even if it's raining. I've just been shutting the pump off when we're sleeping or not home. Although the pump and tank lose all pressure, the pump is able to pump back up and re-pressurize the system as soon as I flip it back on.

    I did, however, find the time to plumb water lines for my washing machine because I moved it from the basement to the first floor.
  8. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    I have a saga for you guys:

    I changed my foot valve on June 8th in the afternoon. The pipes down to my well are 60' deep. I put the pipes back in and went inside to prime the pump. I poured water in and put the screw back on, then flipped the pump on. No dice. It turns out my horizontal pipes actually runs uphill to my well pipe...120' from the pump. That really makes priming a pain in the rear but it explains why I never lost my prime when my pump was off since my foot valve was leaking (it actually was bad). My solution was to buy a utility pump, temporarily disconnect the vertical lines, and push water from the pump side up to the well pipe, thus filling both horizontal pipes. After I did that, I put the vertical lines back on and pushed some more water in with the utility pump. The pump took that and ran great!...until it wouldn't push past 40psi even while continuing to run. After much frustration, I fiddled with the pressure switch to change it to run the pump from 20-40psi for the night so at least I could shower and flush.

    Up in the morning on June 9th. I thought for sure the problem HAD to be the pressure switch so I changed that out and cleaned the tube running to it just in case it was clogged. I also bought two more pressure gauges because I thought the original one was incorrect, so I changed one out just to make sure. Nope. The pump still only pushed to 40psi and kept running away but not pushing past 40psi. I checked the air pressure in the pressure tank and it was to the tank's specified pressure.

    Now I'm stumped. My well isn't sucking low because I checked while the pump was running. I don't hear the pump sucking up any air at the well nor do I hear air running through the pump either. I figure my pump has to be bad by now and I've got to work June 10th for 24 hours. The last thing I need to do is leave my 38 week pregnant wife home alone without water for 24 hours. It's already 4 PM and I need to do something. I can buy a new impeller for the pump and hope that fixes the problem or I can take drastic measures.

    I went for the drastic measures. A quick stop at Home Depot and I came out with a 3/4 HP submersible pump (OVERKILL!), 250' of 12/2 UF wire, and various fittings and hose clamps and flexible pressure pipe. I enlist the help of my father-in-law and my wife's grandfather and we get to work around 5:30 PM. I dug up the outside of the well pipe to access the return line so I could disconnect it from the well pipe and use it to run my 120' of 12/2 wire as opposed to digging up my yard. At the time I didn't know the exact distance I was trying to draw the wire though, so I bought a 125' wire fish tape and thankfully it was just long enough. After I got the wire installed, I hooked up the pump to the 60' 1.25" plastic vertical pipe and a rope and the wire and was ready to drop it in the well. Before I did that, I wanted to get an idea how deep my well was. I dropped my old foot valve down in the well attached to fishing line. I hit water level around 30' down and after dropping over 100' more of fishing line in the water, I got tired of determining how deep my well was (especially since I only had 60' of pipe to work with for the time being). I was fairly convinced that my brand new submersible pump wasn't going to be sitting on the bottom of my well :rolleyes:

    A quick conversion inside my basement to switch from 120v which supplied the old pump to 240v to supply the new pump and some really quick simple plumbing to the pressure tank and pressure switch, and the pump was ready to go (so I thought). My father-in-law flipped the pump on and we watched it pump up to 50 psi and then my pressure switch shut the pump off. Perfect! It's a 30-50 switch. I drained air/water until the pump kicked on again and flew up to 50psi again. I love it! I don't hear my pump 120' away and 60' down but my pressure flies back up to 50psi in seconds. Ok, now I want it to operate 40-60psi. No big deal-I just fiddled with the pressure switch until it kicked on at 40 and off at 60. Around 52psi, the flexi tube I'm temporarily using inside the basement to go from the 1.25" black plastic supply pipe to the pressure tank manifold popped off of the fitting it was on and shot water at a high rate of speed down my rubber fire boots. Whoops. I guess rushing when you're near the end is a bad idea. I didn't tighten the two clamps down that well. Quick fix and all is well. The pump is extreme overkill for my application. It pumps me from 40 to 60 psi in about 10-15 seconds.

    I'm happy with my submersible pump and it cost me less than $500 to do the conversion, including the $40 wire fish tape I had to buy so I could feed the 12/2 down 120' of 1" plastic pipe.

    There may or may not have been anything actually wrong with my jet pump, but I didn't have time to mess with it any longer and I prefer the peace of mind knowing that the submersible pump should work well for a long time and I'll never have to prime 120' uphill again :) At least now I have a nice 3/4 HP 110v electric motor that I can use for some other project such as a large air compressor in the home. My wife is happy that she doesn't have to venture into our basement to flip the pump on and off anymore as well.
  9. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    That is a saga! Awesome how the relatives all pitched in to help out.
  10. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    You used house wire down the well? How did you splice the wires to the motor? Rope was a bad idea also. Now you have to watch your tank so it don't waterlog and burn up that new pump. If you want to protect it, get a good tank (not bought at big box stores) and a Cycle Stop Valve.
  11. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    I used UF wire in the well. The engine driver on my shift is also an electrician and he told me that would be fine for the pump as long as I sealed the connection to the motor with heat shrink tubing over the butt connectors. The butts and heat shrink was included with the pump. Should I really go spend the $100 on 150' of well pump wire to drop down the well? I haven't buttoned all of the small stuff up yet like refilling the dirt I dug up to get at the 1" return pipe from the jet system.


    What's wrong with the rope? It's a nylon rope tied to the loop on top of the pump made for retrieval rope to be tied to. I tied it off with a figure eight on a bight with an overhand safety. I'd rather not trust pulling up my pump with a plastic pipe that has the possibility of coming disconnected or by 2 wires that need to remain sealed from water. I'm not horribly keen on dropping a $350 pump into a watery abyss.


    Why would my tank waterlog and burn up the pump? This is the tank I have
    http://www.pumpagents.com/GouldsPumps/V60.html

    And how would a Cycle Stop valve help me? The pump isn't cycling on and off.
  12. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    The tank is one that we change out quite often because they don't hold up.

    Rope can fall into the well and prevent you from ever seeing your pump again. If you used the right pipe, fittings and clamps, that is ten times more able to pull the pump out than your nylon rope.

    If you want to use that wire, it's fine with me. We use sub cable that is meant to be underwater.
  13. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    I had to make a trip to Lowes today for some extra stuff to clean up the wiring for the pump inside the house (a new 20A switch and box and romex connectors, etc.) as well as some PVC pieces and parts to pipe the water from the intake line in the house to the pressure tank manifold. I had it temporarily plumbed with PVC flex pipe. I also picked up a heavy duty sediment filter for the whole house and some ball valves for other plumbing. While I was there I peeked at the submersible well wire (thinking to myself UF wire might not meet code if someone were to ever check). They had two already cut sections (54' and 22') that the electrical area worker marked for me as 45' and 18' and he reduced the price from $.91/ft. to $.50/ft. I bought a couple more butt connector and heat shrink kits and wired the submersible wire to the pump and all the way up to the top of the well pipe with the excess wire bundled up neatly inside the top of the pipe in case I want to extend my pump's depth another 15' or so.

    So now I have submersible wire down the well. All is now well with my well and pump with the exception of me finishing plumbing one small pipe to the pressure tank manifold because I forgot to buy one connector while I was at Lowes. If my pressure tank fails, I'll replace it. My rope is secured around the base of the outside of the well pipe. Since I used the proper pipe, fittings, and clamps, if my rope falls in, at least I'll be able to pull my rope out via the pipe :eek:

    What will a cycle stop valve do for me though, speedbump? I don't know how they work. If I need one, I'll put one in.
  14. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,248
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    The long-term problem is that your pump is oversized for the head and the tank is too small. At 40/60 using 5 gallons of water will cause the pump to cycle. With the oversized pump and low head, the pump will cycle rapidly when one is showering or running a hose.

    Also, if you are really worried about meeting code requirements, you definitely cannot run electrical wire inside of old water piping.
  15. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    So with a much larger tank, the pump wouldn't run as often. I get the idea.
  16. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    That's the problem. If you have a 4" well, and the rope falls, the more you pull on the pump, the more stuck the pump becomes trying to come through that ball of rope that is getting wedged down along side the bullet shaped end. It may even get you on a larger well.

    The Cycle Stop Valve keeps your pump running with the use of 1 gallon per minute or more. Then when you stop using water, it lets your tank fill up at 1 gpm.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2011
  17. juddspaintballs

    juddspaintballs New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Ok, so if I went with a larger pressure tank, what size would be appropriate for me? Right now it's just my wife and I and the baby soon.
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