Water Pump Turning On and Off

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Jeffrey Bovee, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. Jeffrey Bovee

    Jeffrey Bovee New Member

    Messages:
    6
    It's about 0 degree here and out pipes tend to freeze in the cold whether. We try to keep the water running but sometimes they still freeze up. When we do, we put a hair dryer on them and it gets them going.

    The pipes froze this morning and when we heated the pipes and got them going again, the water pump started clicking on and off very fast (almost 4 times a second). As long as the pump is on, it keeps doing this. While it's on the water comes out of the faucets as if all is normal, but the pipes shake because of the constant on and off.

    I know almost nothing about water pumps and don't know what to do at this point. When it turns out and off, there's a spark in the switch, but I assume that's normal, but with the constant turning on and off, it just keeps sparking.

    Any idea what to do about this?

    Thanks
  2. Jeffrey Bovee

    Jeffrey Bovee New Member

    Messages:
    6
    More information:

    I took some clamps and locked the switch in the on position and turned on the pump. The pump started running, all the water in the house ran and everything appeared normal. The obvious problem here is that the pump was locked on.

    I let the pump run a while, turned off the pump and turned off the water in the house and moreved the clamp. When I turned the pump on, the switch was stopped in the off position. When we turned the water on and the pump clicked on, the switch started clicking on and off as it had before. Apparently the switch won't stay in the on position.

    I know next to nothing about water pumps. Can anybody give me and indication on what the problem might be?
  3. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    If the pump cycles on and off that rapidly it is normally a bad bladder tank but with frozen pipes it could be something else.

    You need to be sure all the pipes are thawed out and if they are, and the switch continues to cycle that fast, then it is most likely the bladder tank. You can check the 1/4" pressure tube the switch is attached to and be sure it is clear, if you replace the tank I would replace the switch also unless it was just replaced recently.

    I would not lock the switch in the on position, this could build up very high pressure with consequences that you my not be happy with.

    I would leave the pump off except for occasional use until the problem is resolved.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2008
  4. Jeffrey Bovee

    Jeffrey Bovee New Member

    Messages:
    6
    What is the bladder tank and the 1/4: pressure tube? I'm really lost on this.

    I understand locking the switch on is a bad thing. How long can I have it on at a time? If I have water running in a shower, for instance, will having the pump running all the time still give me too much pressure?
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    The bladder tank is what gives you pressure...the 1/4" tube is under the switch and connected to the water line.

    I would suggest that if you don't know or understand how all this works you call a qualified contractor to correct your problem.

    Find the breaker or switch that controls the pump and turn it off except for occasional use until the problem is resolved.
  6. Jeffrey Bovee

    Jeffrey Bovee New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Ok, now I can turn the pump on and it doesn't flicker. What's bothering me now is that what happens if the switch is bad and not turning off. If the pump continues to run, than I'm going to have serious problems.

    How long should the pump run without turning off? How long should I let it run before I know I have a problem?
  7. Jeffrey Bovee

    Jeffrey Bovee New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I turned the pump on again with water running and it ran a couple minutes and hte flicker came back. I'm going to keep warming up the area so I try to remove any ice from the picture here.
  8. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I agree with Cass, a contractor would be a good answer.

    The only thing I can think of beyond a bad tank, is a line almost frozen solid between the pressure switch and the tank. This could cause the problem your having but highly unlikely.

    bob...
  9. Jeffrey Bovee

    Jeffrey Bovee New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I guess I can wrap this up. I guess the problem was that the pipe going into the water tank was frozen and the switch flicked off because it couldn't pump into it. After heating the pipe, the pump performed normally.
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You should have a pressure gauge, the pressure should build to shut off of the pump and then decrease to cut in as you use water. If there is a frozen spot between the switch and back to the pump, and you decrease the water pressure by using water, the switch contacts close and turn on the pump.

    If the flow of water is reduced due to the freeze up (as it was) between the pump and switch, the pressure rises quickly and the switch opens and the cycle repeats until you stop using water. This is hard on the pump motor and the switch contacts.

    The cure is to prevent the freeze up by stopping all air drafts and heating the space with a light bulb or the water lines with a heat tape or install pipe insulation. You can search for more info on freeze prevention of water lines.
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