Pumptec Pump Protector Tripping

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Atlasengineer, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    I posted this thread in the plumbers forum but they suggested I post it here so I will copy my posts over. Sorry for the length and I look forward to any thoughts you guys might have.


    Hello everyone. I am in the middle of troubleshooting a plumbing situation I am experiencing and have come looking for some help. Here is the story:

    After being on vacation for a week away from home we returned and at first everything seemed to work fine. We flushed a few toilets, washed some hands, cleaned some dishes, took a shower, started a load of laundry and all was well. Then, while running the kitchen faucet, the water pressure went away to where there was no water flow and the washing machine had also stopped. I headed over to have a look where the water pressure tank and electronics are located and immediately noticed the Pumptec box was indicating a tripped circuit and the water pressure gage was reading 0. I turned off the water pump breaker and turned it back on several times. Each time the tripped light would be off and the green light would be on indicating the pump was starting up/running. After several seconds and no pressure increase, the tripped light would come back on. I then removed the Pumptec cover and located the reset relay timer setting. This was set on 45min and I wanted to shorten this so I could see what would happen when it reset. I changed the setting to two minutes and waited two minutes. The tripped light went off, the green power light stayed on, the pump cut on just fine, and the water pressure began to rise as it should. Once the correct pressure was reached, the pump cut off. I then restarted the washing machine, flushed the toilet, and turned on a couple of faucets in order to get the water pressure to drop below the pump kick on pressure. The pressure dropped, the pump turned on as it should, and the water pressure rose again. At this point I thought I had gotten off easy and it was just an electrical problem that I had solved. I set the Pumptec reset timer to 15min and wrapped it up for the night and went to bed. Some more toilets were flushed, faucets ran, and more laundry started. My wife calls me at work the next morning to tell me that "the water quit working again." I took her through the steps over the phone to set the Pumptec reset timer back to two minutes to see if it would start working again when it reset itself. This did not help initially when she cut the pump back on it tripped again after the 2 minute reset. I had to get off the phone at this point but told her I would call back in a while. She called me back in about an hour to tell me it started working again and she started the washing machine back up. That is where we are at this point but I need to figure out what is causing this......................pump going bad, well drying up, Pumptec pump protector malfunctioning?

    A couple of notes: 1.) The power went out for several hours at some point while we were on vacation 2.) Five months ago, the check valve on my submersible pump went bad so our water pressure would slowly drop even when no water was being consumed. The pump was pulled and another check valve was added in series with the bad one as a solution to the problem. Everything had been working fine up until now.

    Thanks for any help anybody can provide.
  2. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    Since my last post, the Pumptec has not tripped but another issue has cropped up. When the water pressure nears/reaches the pump cut on pressure and the pump begins to start up, there is a sudden drop in water pressure resulting in a temporary loss of water flow to the house. I was able to check the current draw of the 3/4 hp submersible pump and it was reading around 9.4 amps. I was thinking this problem could be due to a drop in the precharged air pressure of the pressure tank especially since the temperature has dropped recently. I have not had a chance to check this yet. Looking forward to any thoughts anybody might have.
  3. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    Alright, the Pumptec tripped again today while I was at work but then started working again after an unknown number of reset attempts. When I got home it was still working fine. I checked the current draw again and it was the same (9.4 to 9.7). I went on about my business and started taking a shower. Toward the end of the shower the water cut out. The Pumptec had tripped again so I connected the meter to wait for a reset: When the reset kicks in and the red tripped light goes out leaving the green light on, the current draw jumps up to approximately 26 amps. There is then another click and current draw drops to 0.43 amps for several seconds. Then another click and current goes back up to 26 amps for a few seconds. Once again a click and amperage drops to 1.02 (this all while only the green light is on). One last click and the red tripped light comes on while current draw remains at 1.01 until the next reset. This has been going on for over an hour.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,001
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    No, it would be the exact opposite, too much air precharge leaving the tank empty at cut-in.
  5. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,472
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Sounds like the overload is tripping because your motor is bad. If you have a control box, check the capacitor and relay. If you have a two wire motor, all you can do is check to see if you have the correct voltage, and if you do, the motor is most likely the problem.
  6. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    I do have a control box and it is a three wire 3/4 hp motor. I checked the resistances across the capacitor and relay, they where slightly higher then the recommended replacement values. Whatever the problem is I think it has given out for good. The Pumptec has been resetting for about 24 hours now and the pump still hasn't turned on. We are without water. I have made an appointment to have a guy come out tomorrow but am hoping I can figure out the exact problem before then and cancel the appointment. If I could make it to the weekend I would certainly try and fix it myself but we can't go that long without water and I can't miss work at this particular time.
  7. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    948
    Location:
    ct
    A 3/4 hp pump won't pull 26 amps too many times before something fries. It could be the control box, but don't be surprised if you change the pump too...
  8. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    I removed the capacitor and discharged it ( though I don't believe it had a charge). It looks to be in bad shape with some leakage/corrosion. I tested it with a multi meter using the ohm setting and touching both poles and then reversing the leads. I didn't get any readings doing this (0L) so I'm thinking it is dead. I will try and find a replacement tomorrow. Would a capacitor going bad be consistent with the system working intermittently and then finally quitting for good? Why would this cause the pumptec to trip? Could this have caused damage to the pump motor allowing it to reset so many times with a bad capacitor?
  9. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,202
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Sounds like it may be open.

    Yes that could cause the problem you were having.

    The motor may be OK, But it is hard to tell from here.

    Maybe the protector protected it.



    Good Luck
  10. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    948
    Location:
    ct
    I have seen high amp draw due to bad control boxes plenty of times
  11. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,472
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Yep. Don't fix the pump until you have tried a control box you know is good.
  12. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    I replaced the capacitor, flipped the breaker, and the pump started right up with no trip. Seems to have been the problem. The pump is now drawing approx. 6.7 amps. Thanks for the input everyone!
  13. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,472
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    That would be the starting capacitor. A bad starting capacitor is one of the first signs that you are destroying the pump/motor from starting too many times. Cycling on and off is the biggest killer of pumps/motors, tanks, etc., and the first sign of a problem can be a burned pressure switch or bad capacitor.

    You got the patient breathing again, but you haven’t stopped the bleeding. Figure out how to stop the cycling if you don’t want the problem to be worse the next time.
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    Location:
    IL
    I am skeptical.
  15. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    948
    Location:
    ct
    Skeptical about what?

    If the capacitor is bad, it won't have the balls to start the pump and it will draw high amps.
  16. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    Location:
    IL
    That a failed capacitor is a sign that you have been doing a lot of pump starts.
  17. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,472
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    How else except too many starts could you wear out a STARTING capacitor? It is only in the circuit for about 1/10th of a second for each start.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  18. Atlasengineer

    Atlasengineer New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    virginia
    Indeed. If you will recall from my first post I informed everyone that a few months ago the pump had to be pulled to put a new check valve in. What happens when the check valve is bad? Pressure leakage, of course, leading to multiple starts in a short period of time. This is probably what lead to the bad capacitor. So hopefully I have addressed the cycling issue. Thoughts?
  19. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,472
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Cycling causes almost all problems with pump systems. Yes the “rapid” cycling that occurred from the bad check valve is most likely the cause of the bad capacitor. But the so-called “normal” cycling is what caused the bad check valve. Every time the pump shuts off, the check valve slams shut from the full open position. It is like beating on a rock with a small hammer (Shaw shank Redemption). The rock won’t break today, but keep pecking and soon the rock will break.

    Eliminating “normal” cycling, like the many on/off events that happen during a shower or when running a sprinkler, will greatly increase the life of every component in a pump system. “Normal” cycling will destroy the check valve, bladder in the tank, pressure switch, and soon it will get the starting capacitor and/or the starting relay. A bad check valve or busted bladder tank will then cause “rapid” cycling. If you are lucky it will take out a couple of control boxes before it gets the motor, but that is not always the case.
  20. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,296
    Location:
    IL
    In my searches, heat was most commonly cited as the biggest factor in the life. I also found references that Chinese capacitors tended to be much more prone to failure.

    I then found http://www.cde.com/catalogs/ETW.pdf which supports your statement of a wearout mechanism with number of starts. I am no longer skeptical of a significant wear-out mechanism during starts. Table A in that catalog shows an expected life of over 10,000 starts. It may be worthwhile seeking out higher quality capacitors such as CDE. It may be worthwhile replacing those capacitors at the first sign of any problem or every 10 years-- whichever comes first.
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