Troubleshooting Well Pump Electric

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by CHOLLA BOB, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,244
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    The water line needs to be below the frost line.
    The electrons flowing down the wire don't mind the cold at all.
  2. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    My wife is convinced we are devolving into the stone age. I am looking forward to wrapping this one up for the holidays.
  3. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    The two hots from the breaker box (with the third ground wire) to the well house are spliced twice from breaker 12ga to UF 10ga to Submersible 10ga. I get the idea that the hots have no particular order along the root. Does it matter which hot is connected to the two breaker water pump pressure switch terminals? From speaking with the Schneider people the only mistake that can happen is putting the two breaker hots on a connecting switch terminal, resulting in a short.

    Is there a way of finding the common wire on a 70 foot underground run? My multimeter test lines are not that long.

    Wire strand color is black, red, and green as the third wire is a ground from the bonded ground buss bar to the green terminals on the pressure switch. No neutral in the run as I am saving the sub-panel for latter.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    If there is no neutral, what do you call the common wire?
    Anyway... the common would show no potential between it and earth.
  5. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Common is the wrong word: the same wire. If I have a spliced underground wire, it there a way of finding out which wire at the end of a cable run corresponds to a wire at the beginning? Both 120 hots are the same: it most likely does not matter which hot is used. If the line was not long, a continuity test could be used to find the beginning and end of the same wire. What test is used on long runs?
  6. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    From each hot to the ground is 120 v from each hot to hot is 240v from the white or green to a ground or steel casing in the pump house your OHM meter will read close to 0.
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,932
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Three methods I use...

    1. I put a VM on the wire. Lift the other end off and see if the potential goes away.

    2. I put a ammeter on the near end and vary the current load on the far end. If the ammeter shows varying current, it's the same wire.

    3. I put a tone generator on the wire. The far end with the tone is the same wire. Most often, I verify it with 1 or 2 in case of a false reading.
  8. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Great info. I will use today and even have the tone generator from speaker building. Thanks!
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,932
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    The tone generator I use is purpose built to superimpose the tone over the normal voltage. It is used to identify circuits and to trace them through walls. It can even trace them through metal conduit.

    I also have a tone generator for tracing and ID'ing phone and network lines.

    I would not advise connecting an audio tone generator to high voltage lines.
  10. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Messages:
    4,003
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Pump Does Not Care

    To answer Your Question.

    It does not mater on the two HOT wires connected to your Pressure switch.
    It come Off the Transformer and is isolated from Neutral. 120-120 out of phase - 240V

    Only when you have a 120v pump does the Neutral come into play, The Neutral would then be your Common wire, Then you have 120-0-120.


    You are being confused for nothing...
  11. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Tone Generator: I had imagined some Tesla resonant frequency. Will leave the audio tone generator in storage.

    Neutral 10ga Wire: no neutral with the 240 water pump as had been stated. At the main breaker box, the ground is a white wire which runs into UF to the pressure switch ground terminals. It should be a green wire coming from the bonded ground buss bar. I had that moment of doubt at the Depot: green or white? Bought green.

    I bought a Harbor Freight disposable amp meter and if I get this pump running soon, I will test current through water pump wires. The electrician had said to replace the 240 2-pole 20 amp breaker with a 240 2-pole 30 amp. Everyone on the forums disagrees: stay with the 20 amp unless wiring a sub-panel. DonL started to figure out the possible amp draw. The drillers of this well (1970's) are out of business. I guess the only way to tell is with the amp meter/probe. I did not want to put a higher amp breaker in as it will give the pump more time to get damaged by any remaining or future problem.
  12. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

    Messages:
    329
    Location:
    USA
    we would dig tunnels underground in the old burned down vacant lots when I lived in Detroit when I was a kid. must have been 4 to 6 ft deep and at least as long. perfect hideaway.
  13. masterpumpman

    masterpumpman New Member

    Messages:
    729
    Location:
    Virginia Beach, VA
    It's simple, either you have a defective component to the pump control box or a short somewhere. Most electricians don't know how to trouble shoot submersible pumps. I'd disconnect all power then dicconnect the wires at the well head, then check each wires resistance to ground with a high reading Ohm meter. If you have any reading you have a short. If there is no short there, check each wire to ground with a high reading Ohm meter. If you get a reading you have a short in the drop cable, the splice near the pump motor or the motor it's self. Replace the component that has a reading to ground and everything should work normal again.
  14. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    With the control box face off (no connection to pressure switch), both the electrician and I had audio continuity readings indicating a short below. When I did resistance, meter was reading 11.5 to 15 ohms resistance in the three pump wires. The electrician thought the pump was shorted, but after his test, set the main breaker on and everything ran. Breaker flipped off a few hours latter. It would stay on in frozen ground and not stay on in thawed, wet ground. When the breaker tripped with the underground line disconnected, I assumed it was the line or the main breaker. There could be multiple problems. I stopped turning on the breaker a week ago in the hopes of not exposing the pump to anymore shorts. By the time this is over, I would not be surprised to lose 4 grand to pull and replace that pump, but hoping I get to a less expensive problem first.

    I was wondering if the audio continuity was from the Franklin box itself. The Franklin box has not been troubleshooted with relay and capacitor testing. I was trying to get the pump wires disconnected from the Franklin terminals for a better test when the electrician arrived. From Porky's post, it sounds like I have a short in the drop wire or pump or the control box. If the pump has to be pulled with a well service, I do want all these other issues resolved to protect the new pump. I am even thinking about getting a surge protector as country electric is dirty with spikes and surges.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  15. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Why scare the guy. He said the breaker tripped with the pump DISCONNECTED. that leaves the pump OUT.

    Right, electricians dont know squat about pumps. so go to the Franklin AIM manual online and get your drop wire readings parameters. In the mean time get some good wires to the pump and report back.
  16. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Houston, TX

    That is a shame, You would think that a Electrician would know how a motor should read.

    I would not call that shorted.
  17. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    And speaking of getting water, I would have rolled out a piece of NM any flavor cable onthe ground and had the pump running in 10 minutes. Do the detail and dirt work later.

    I have 160' of interior NM 14g cable laying on the ground for 9 years now, sending 9 volts thru it with a old cell pnone charger. The valve it actuates via a float is rated for 24 volts, but works fine on the 4 or 6 that make it back. So much for "thwm water resistant" cable!
  18. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Messages:
    4,003
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    Sounds like fun. I would have ran a 600 V extension cord, or had the generator connected to that bad boy.

    He must have a very pleasant wife.


    I Love it when a plan comes together, If it meets code or not...
  19. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Thanks! I shutdown for Christmas as I was shortchanging the holiday. Running a cord or surface UF line has been an idea since the beginning. I have my conduit/wire ready to go and could have done a temp splice, but if the pump is dead, I sure didn't want to know for this weekend. Once you get used to no water and get a system going, it isn't so bad. But I am half dust bowl Okie. The wife has been good about this, even though her nickname at work is Nasty. Will run conduit tomorrow and electrician probably for Friday. H A P P Y H O L I D A Y S ! ! !
  20. CHOLLA BOB

    CHOLLA BOB New Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I lived in a war zone in Brooklyn, but digging bunkers in Detroit; that is something.
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