Subdrive 150 flashing red fault light.

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by whotheguy, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    I'm a new poster but was hoping the members here could help me out.

    Up until about 3:00p.m. today all was good as far as running water. Shortly after that I noticed no water flowing from the faucets. Went into the garage and immediately saw the red "fault" light flashing on my Subdrive 150. It's flashing red 5 times. I turned off the circuit, let it degenerize, flipped the circuit back on, same thing. Consulted the owners manual for what the 5 light flashes meant, it says open ciruit. I checked the well head, as well as all other wiring that isn't underground. I found nothing wrong. I also checked the connections at the pressure sensor, they seem okay. I was going to un-hook the wiring on it and check the ohm resistance but I found no reference for what it should be.

    The entire unit is about 4 years old and this is the first time I've experienced a problem.

    So, until I can get somebody out to check on it, or I actually can find the problem myself, is there anyway to bypass the system so I can get water going in the house? The wife is getting crankier by the second if you know what I mean. In case it matters, my heating is dependent on the water running as I have a geo-thermal system to heat the house...brrrrrr it's getting cold.

    Thanks all!!!

    Robert
  2. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    open circuit can either be in the wiring or the pump itself. I suspect the pump needs to come up.
  3. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I am sorry but, that is probably all the life you will get from a Sub Drive. The pressure sensor on a Sub Drive clicks on and off 45 times per minute when you are using water. That is a little over 64,000 times every 24 hours of use, or 2 million times per month. Every time that sensor clicks, the pump start up torque spins that motor to one side and back. This torque probably bent the wire at the pump back and forth until the wire broke. The wire could also be broke in the motor from the added voltage stress from the variable speed controller. Either way, if there is really an open circuit, there is nothing you can do but replace the motor.

    Now figure how much it cost you to replace that pump, divide it by 48, and add that cost to your monthly electric bill. As a heat pump owner myself, I know it is impossible to make a heat pump as efficient as it should be, unless the pump last a long time. I am sorry but, any of the variable speed pumps, including the Sub Drive were designed to make money for the manufacturer. This means "planned obsolescence" was designed into the pump so it would not last very long. Anybody who told you that the variable speed system would save energy was lying. Not only do they not save energy but, they are designed to fail in short order. Just look at all the pump and motor companies who are heavily promoting variable speed pumps. Then think about it. Would a pump or motor company spend a lot of money advertising something that would save you money, or something that would make them a lot of money?

    Many, like the Franklin Sub Drive go one step further. They started you out with a three phase motor, which meant they could sell you smaller wire. However, now you are stuck with going back with the same system, because the wire is too small for a standard single phase motor. If I were you, I would make them install a regular single phase motor, change out the wire to the correct size, and install a Cycle Stop Valve (CSV) to limit the cycling. Using a standard speed motor, running on standard power, and limiting the cycling with a CSV, will give you the same energy efficiency, and deliver the same "constant pressure" as a variable speed pump. The CSV has also proven to triple or quadruple the average life of a pump system. That is why pump and motor companies so adamantly discourage the use of a CSV. With variable speed systems they get to sell you a new pump about every three years, with a CSV they would only get to sell you a new pump about every 20 years. Now divide the cost of the pump system by 240 months, which is 20 years. Add that figure to the monthly electric bill and a heat pump is saving you a lot of money. Now you can see that the life of the pump system is the most important part of making a heat pump system efficient.
  4. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    This isn't looking good at all based on the responses. Although I know next to nothing about all this well pump stuff I do know electricity pretty well and in some way was hoping it was that.

    I guess there is no chance of it being the pressure sensor at this point?

    Valveman, I know you don't know what system I have but any thought on what it would take, money wise, to do you what you suggest? Also, I hear the pump is down about 150'. In your opinion, is getting the pump out of the ground a DIY project?

    I need to do something fast as the inside of the house is already down to 43 degrees, not to mention we got some snow last night.

    Thank you all so much, I really appreciate it.

    Robert
  5. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    If you know electricity then ohm out the wires going down hole. There should be no short to ground, and the three phases should all ohm the same. If the indicator light is correct, one or more of the lines down hole is open.

    The pressure sensor is just a switch. You can twist the two wires together and see if it will run.

    Pulling 150' is not a problem as long as it is plastic pipe. Steel pipe is a different matter.

    You might get lucky and it just be the wire that is bad. If it has an open leg down hole, you won’t know what it is for sure until you get it pulled.
  6. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    Well, I can't figure out how to get the pump out of the ground. I've dug down to where the line branches off the big well pipe that goes into the ground. It has some kind of copper/gasket connection that looks like it's a compression fit inside the well pipe. I've also looked into the wellhead pipe and can see a round thing and it looks as if the pvc pipe compined with an elbow sits on top of that round thing.

    Here is a couple pictures of the line that hooks into the well pipe.

    The other is a pic down inside the well pipe about 7 feet.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  7. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Sorry man, you didn't need to dig on the outside of the well. That is a standard pitless adapter. Looks like a 1". Just need a piece of 1" steel pipe about 8' or 10' long. Make a tee handle on one end, and screw the other end into the part of the pitless that is sticking up. It should have 1" female threads looking up. Just pull it up about 2" and you are free. If you can see below the brass pitless, you can tell what kind of pipe you have. If it is steel pipe, it is going to be heavy and 21' long sticks to take loose. If it is poly or PVC pipe, just don't bend it more than you have to and pull it all out in one piece. Don't let any of it hang up on the pitless on the way out.
  8. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    That's okay about the digging, Lord knows I needed the excercise. I'm just trying to wrap my head around what you said about pulling the pump/motor thing by using a pipe. I can tell the pipe in the well is pvc as I can see it. But how would the PVC pipe hook into the other pipe to send water to the house? Wouldn't it be a really sloppy fit and just leak?

    Sorry for all the questions but I appreciate it.

    Robert
  9. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    The pitless adapter makes everything fit. The PVC pipe is threaded into the bottom of that brass thing you see sticking up. Then the brass thing slides out of the flange that is attached to the well casing. When you pull up on the pitless half, it will slide out of the flange and you will be holding all the weight. 1.25" PVC full of water weighs 1.11 pounds per foot, plus the weight of the pump 35#, and the wire 30#, equals 232 pounds. You can pull it all out in 1 piece, just don't bend it much at the couplings.
  10. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,246
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Picture still worth a thousand words-

    T-handle pipe screws into top for pulling the whole works out=
    [​IMG]

    another view-
    [​IMG]

    More info-
    http://www.deanbennett.com/pitless-adapters.htm

    If you drop anything down the well, including the pipe & pump, you will be sorry.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  11. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    Thank you Valveman and cacher chick, your help is starting to make sense. I ohm'd out the wires in the garage at the drive box, of the three differerant combinations of wires to test, blk/red, red/wht, blk/wht. Only the red/wht combo would ohm out and it was within the parameters at 2.8ohms. 2.2 is the max but I'm running approximately 200ft not considering the depth of the well which is unknown. I then went to the well head, unhooked the wires from the drive to the pump and ohm'd out the wires heading back to the drive in the garage, I got the same result, only red/wht would ohm out. I then tested the wires at the wellhead leading to the pump/motor in the well. All three combinations, red/wht, blk/wht, red/blk ohm'd out within the allowed parameters. So, it appears at this point I did a bunch of unnecessary digging. I'm now trying to find the break between the drive in the garage and the wellhead. If it matters, we have a real problem with gophers in our area. Not sure if that could be a likely culpret. Tomorrow I'm going to buy a couple hundred feet of 10/3 wire and run a jumper between the drive and the wellhead and see what happens.

    I'm thinking the motor/pump is okay considering the ohm values I got.

    So, am I on the right path with my thoughts?

    Robert
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  12. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Gophers usually cause a short but, not an open leg. The problem was probably still caused by the voltage stress from the VFD. However, you are on the right track. Finding where it is broken is priority. Then replacing the broken wire should be the fix.
  13. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    Well I have good news and bad news. Good news is, the jumper wire I bought and put in today solved the problem and we have water and heat once again.:) Bad news is, I'm not even going to try and find the short in the one leg. Since the wire that was put into the ground when the house was built isn't in pvc or anything, just it's own white casing. So, come spring I'll be running all new wire in PVC. Sounds fun, but I'm happy and I get the wife off my back.:D
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Hopefully you have back filled the water line and closed up the well before the line etc. freezes.
  15. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    Yep, backfilled it yesterday before the temps dropped. Freezing/bursting lines is nothing I want to deal with right now, maybe April or so...:eek:
  16. whotheguy

    whotheguy New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Idaho
    Hey Valveman, is there a way I can install the CSV you mentioned? Granted I wont do it until spring, but what would it involve to do?
  17. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You can replace the pressure sensor with a standard pressure switch and install a CSV as per the attached drawing. The CSV will make the pump stay running steady when water is being used, instead of starting and stopping and torquing 45 times per minute, or 2 million times per month as it is now. The 40/60 switch will also allow you to use the water in the pressure tank instead of the pump having to start everytime you wash a toothbrush or the ice maker fills.

    Then when the Sub Drive controller or the pump is fried, you will have everything you need to replace it with a standard single phase motor, and then you will have a system that will last a long time.

    Attached Files:

  18. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    I am not a fan [yet] of vari drive well pump systems, but understand 3 phase systems quite well. With the proper controls, its almost impossible to kill a 3 phase motor with a soft start system that includes voltage monitors and back up protection. Fault indicators also reduce troubleshooting to a minimum [which led this guy to a gopher instead of a pump pull]

    I am confused by your posts about his getting 45 on-off cycles per minute. That would mean about 96 million cycles in his 4 year odd period, and its still up and running. I don't think the space shuttle has a switch rated for 96 million cycles on a 1.5 HP 240v motor. So if indeed Franklin gave this guy 96 million full voltage shutdowns, then they should get the Nobel electrical prize!

    I think his system varies the voltage, uses soft starts AND has a pressure adjustment, that if correctly set, [especially with geothermal] will work like the cycle stop valve. [NO start and stops when in range] I also notice on their fact sheet that Franklin uses "larger" rated motors - i.e. 3hp on 1.5 hp ratings and controls that understand that. It would decrease efficiency, but extend life.

    I understand your suspicion of the "constant pressure " control system, but I respectfully submit that his motor is definitely not jolting back and forth in the hole at 96 million bang per 4 years and winding the drop wires up. Soft starts, reduced voltage on a over-sized motor, and soft stops, do not a "clunk" make. The concept is perfect, the execution only suspect.

    If [when] his Franklin box dies, he could use your valve with a 3 phase converter and leave the pump in the hole - providing the converter costs less than the Franklin box.....

    Since this guy knows his ohmmeter, lets have him test the down hole voltage for a half hour while this geo is running and the wife is washing the kid. I would love to see how Franklin provides power to the pump.
  19. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,466
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Most VFD manufacturers use a pressure transducer. This causes the pump to lock in at the correct speed to produce the correct amount of water. The reaction time for a VFD with a transducer is fairly slow. This causes the pressure to dip when a demand is opened, and causes the pressure to spike when a demand is closed. This can cause the pressure relief valve to pop open or a pipe to blow, when a demand is closed and the pressure spikes.

    Franklin solves the slow reaction problem by using a switch instead of a transducer. This pressure switch has a bandwidth of 1 PSI between on and off. So this type system never locks into a certain speed. It continually bounces on and off 45 times per minute, or 96 million times in 4 years, to maintain the pressure. It is a soft start and it doesn’t go all the way to 0 RPM. It stalls at 1800 RPM when the switch is open, and it goes to full speed when the switch is closed. But is continues to ramp up and down between 1800 RPM and full speed 45 times per minute. The only way it will lock into a speed and stay there is when using maximum flow rate. If you are using enough water to keep the pressure below the setting of the switch, then the pump stays running. Any flow rate less than the maximum will cause the pump to cycle 45 times per minute. You can easily see this with an analog amp meter. Even though it doesn’t go to 0 RPM, this much cycling still torques the pump enough you can see it twist in the well, especially when on PVC pipe. 2 million of these torque events per month usually wears out the drop wire but, I have also heard several instances where the shafts are breaking.


    The reason they use larger motors is because they speed up the RPM of the pump from 3450 to 4700 RPM. This makes a 1.5 HP pump end pull a 3 HP load, so you need a 3 HP motor.

    Most of these type systems do not last 4 years, especially on a heat pump. The increased RPM and the 2 million cycles per month are designed to shorten the life of pumps and motors, so the manufacturer gets to sell you a new one every couple of years instead of every 20 years. You are right that not even NASA can make a switch that will survive 96 million cycles, and those switches usually need replacing several times as well.

    I predict the Franklin Sub Drive and Mono Drive will not be on the market very much longer. They are already obsolete. I see where several companies like Yaskawa have made some improvements that I am sure Franklin will soon try to match. Although no one will ever be able to solve the problems of VFD controls. The problems associated with the rapid switching required to produce variable frequency is inherent, and because of the laws of physics can never be solved. New VFD controls include better band-aids but, the problems can never be solved, because you can’t get around the laws of mother nature.

    We have been replacing VFD’s with CSV’s for over 17 years. They keep coming up with better band-aids for VFD’s but, the best solution is not to use a VFD when there are much better ways to control a pump system, like a CSV. Nearly all VFD’s are myth-applied. VFD’s do not save energy and do not make pumps last longer, like the manufacturers would like for you to believe. VFD’s are designed to make money for the manufacturers, and that money comes from consumers who are myth-informed about the benefits of VFD controls.
  20. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Intuition tells me that geo thermal systems for the homeowner would be an incredible complex headache with life cycle costs that would far exceed that of a 96% efficient natural gas furnace - especially with all the glut of gas on the market predicted for the next decade.

    Seems like a dedicated pump perfectly sized to the geo system with a simple on -off switch would be the best bet. Although that might mean 2 pumps in one hole, a prospect that many would not consider.

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