Water looks like Alka Seltzer? What Gives?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by sc.homeowner, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Our well is over 20 years old. 350 deep. Have had no problems with the quality of the water until about 3 weeks ago. Water drawn from any faucet looks like a glass of Alka Seltzer at first, It will clear in a couple of minutes but it has never done this before. I think this is a high concentration of disolved air because sometimes the faucet will sputter a few times before flowing smoothly.
    Can anyone out there give me some guidance on what going on and how to correct it? Thanks!
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Do you have a softener etc.?

    Are you in a drought area? Any new wells in the area?

    Watch the pressure gauge on the pressure tank or pump over 10 minutes for a decrease in pressure when no water is used in the building. Did the pressure hold or fall? If it fell, shut off the main water shut off valve and repeat the pressure loss watch of the gauge. If the pressure fell and now didn't, you have a leak on the house side of the valve. If it still fell, you have a leak on the well side of the valve.

    You could have a well that just began 'producing methane. To test for it, use like a 2 liter soda bottle filled half full with your water, cap it tight and shake hard for a minute or more. Light a match/lighter and hold it close to the cap as you remove it and squeeze the bottle forcing air out of it through the flame. If the 'air' ignites, you have methane. That assumes you don't have any H2S gas odor in the water.
  3. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Gary, Thanks for the troubleshooting info. Yes, We are in a drought area. Last year and so far this year we are seeing ~ 16" deficit. (Usually about 42-48" is normal). The last well in the area was drilled about 2 years ago, but this problem is more recent. I will need to do the other checks you suggest this afternoon. Thanks!
  4. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Do you have a check valve up near the tank in the house?

    bob...
  5. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Yes, I have a check valve just inside the crawl space. The well is about 125' away.
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Do you have a softener etc.?

    That extra check valve will prevent you from seeing evidence of a leak between it and the well and a leak that is adding air to your water.
  7. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I have a chemical injector to increase the PH slightly. I checked it yesterday. The transparent tube going to the injection point had no air in it and I found no leaks there.
    I can remove the check valve if I need to check for the leak on the pump side, which poses the question, if the leak is on the pump side is there a way to isolate it's location without digging the entire 100' run from the crawlspace to the pump?
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    A leak on the well side is usually in the drop pipe the pump or foot valve is hung on.
  9. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    OK, I did the test for Methane. It's negative for Meth. The air coming out of the soda bottle actually blew out the match instead of igniting it. I guess that's good and now I need to plan an attack for eliminating the leak.

    You mention a foot valve. Being a valve is it possible that it is failing, allowing water to fall down out of the drop pipe? If I get the drop pipe pulled, would it be an ideal time to replace the pump, due to it's age. If so, what do you recommend for a replacement. I think the existing one is a General, but no idea of the specs.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    All submersible pumps have a check valve in or on the outlet of the pump. All jet pumps have a check valve on the end of the drop pipe in the well called a foot valve. Neither type of pump needs more than that one check/foot valve in the system. An extra check valve prevents you from seeing evidence of a leak from it back to the check/foot valve in the well and they are usually used as a band aid instead of fixing the cause of a problem (a leak in the well).

    Depending on the age and condition of the pump and the expense to pull the drop pipe, yes, you may want to replace the pump if you pull it, along with the cable and drop pipe in some cases but no one can tell you what size whatever until you provide a lot more info about the well depth, the static water depth, the pump depth, the maximum gpm the house requires etc. etc.. Usually you replace with the same gpm and hp.
  11. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Yes, I understand. Thanks to you and everyone else who responded to my questions. I am going to try and find a professional here to do that should I find that it's necessary. I will post the final result if the thread is still active.
    Thanks again!
  12. sc.homeowner

    sc.homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Problem Solved. Water no longer looks like Alka Seltzer.

    Well, several weeks ago, I had a bunch of questions, including why our looked like a glass of Alka Seltzer. This and all the other questions have now been answered by having the pump pulled and a new Franklin 1 HP installed.

    Gary was right about the check valve leaking back because when the well head to supply line coupling was loosened, you could head the air being sucked back down the drop pipe. I could have just replaced the check valve just above the pump, but being 15 years old, I opted to replace it.

    The new pump has the check valve built-in the the pump. I think this is good for the pump mfgr. but probably not good for the consumer (me).

    Good news though. Even after 2 years of moderate drought, I still have 180 ft. of water above the pump. Total depth is ~ 250' and the water is good except for the PH being a little low.

    The bad news is that we have $1300 less than before.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad the problem is solved.

    BTW, any other check valve than the one in/on the pump's outlet is not good. They hide evidence of problems like leaks and some of them can cause serious problems for yards, drive ways and around wells. A check valve allows the pump to start without being under load.
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