Well going dry?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by jtp, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. jtp

    jtp New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Great forum! Thanks for all the expert advice given here. I've been searching for a similar issue but haven't come across my exact problem, so I decided to ask directly.

    I moved into a 10 yr old house about 6 months ago and have just encountered a problem with my well water. I was running water from the hose for a few minutes and the water stopped flowing. The water came back a few minutes later. I can reproduce the problem at any time.

    I've been troubleshooting based on info read here, but I'm still confused as to the source of the issue.

    -By reading pressure gauge on tee, and testing, looks like a 40/60 pressure switch setup. (Square-D)
    -Well-X-Trol WX251 tank
    -I dont have data on the pump (i'm assuming submersible and deep well, common in this area)

    I duplicated the problem this morning and noticed a few things that seemed odd. Pressure was ~62, I turned water on at hose, fell to ~40 and pump kicked on and started to fill tank. Pump shut off at ~50 psi, I kept running the water. PSI fell to ~40 and stayed there for a while, then suddenly went to zero and no more water, I could hear the water draining back in the pipes, etc... (I turned spigot off) The pump came back on a few minutes later and brought psi back to ~62. I ran the water again to get back to 40psi and pump kicked on, I turned off water this time, but at ~50 psi pump shut off again. I kept water off and pump came back on a few minutes later to get to ~62 psi.

    So why would pump shut off before 60 psi? Am I running the well dry or could something else be shutting the pump off?

    Not sure what to check next...

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

    Best,
    JTP
  2. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Two possibilities.

    The well is going dry.

    The pump is going bad.

    Test 1.

    Is the pressure gauge still going up when the pump shuts off?

    Yes - the pump is going bad and the thermal overload switch is opening.

    No - the well is dry the pump is cavitating and the thermal overload switch is opening.
  3. jtp

    jtp New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Thanks for the quick reply!

    I'll need to pay closer attention to the gauge and run my test again.

    I believe the pressure was still going up when it shut off, but not 100% on that. Is 10 yrs an acceptable lifecycle for a submersible?

    Thanks again,
    JTP
  4. mrmedic

    mrmedic Junior Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Delaware
    Is the pressure switch not kicking in right a way when it dropped to 40lbs.? It could be if you have a small piece of pipe sticking up that the switch connects to you could have sand in the short piece of pipe and it doesn't always get the right pressure to the switch. To check it you have to turn off power, relieve pressure and take of the switch. It just unscrews. To see if there is a clog in the short pipe use a piece of coat hanger and put it thru the small pipe. Had this happen once and when I cleared the clog water shot up in the air about twenty feet out of the small pipe. Or the switch could be bad. Just a thought. I am not a plumber.........

    Ron
  5. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    7 years is the industry accepted average, some last 5 years some last 25 years, and it doesn't matter if it has a CSV or not.
  6. jtp

    jtp New Member

    Messages:
    7
    If I tested the output side of the switch with a multi-meter and it showed steady current over 40 psi but less than 60 psi, would that rule out a flaky switch?

    Thanks
  7. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Yes that rules out the switch.

    This problem was the result of the switch operating but the pump being in thremal overload shutoff so there was no water being pumped.
  8. mrmedic

    mrmedic Junior Member

    Messages:
    57
    Location:
    Delaware
    If you have the standard square-D switch you can pop the cover off and watch and also here the switch click on and off.
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Not all here are experts...

    You should run water until the switch shuts off the pump and shut off the water past the pressure tank - to the house. Then watch the guage and if the pressure falls, you have a leak from the tank back to the check valve in the pump outlet. Usually the check valve but it might be the drop pipe too. Either would cause the pump to run when no water is being used, and that could be every few minutes 24/7 for the last few whatever, eventually killing the motor.

    Possibilities... Thermal overload opens shutting off the pump motor due to a number of things like bad motor, problem (low volts) with power to pump, bad power cable (scuffed, shorted, bad/loose/shorted water proof splice etc.), bad motor, inlet screen plugged, etc..

    You should check the ohms of the motor windings and the amps.
    www.franklinelectric.com 4" residential troubleshooting.

    If bad then you usually have to pull the pump inspecting the cable etc..
  10. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Rancher,
    how does a pressure gauge keep going up when the pump shuts off? Little lost on that one. You might want to go back and do some of your magical editing.

    I would also suspect a low producing well or the motor is drawing high amps causing the motor to go into thermal over load.It could also be a clogged pressure switch like medic said.You could check the switch by waiting for the pump to come up to pressure and then try to push down on the plate that the small and big springs sit on. If its hard to push down then the nipple is clogged.Get an amp meter and see what the motor is drawing.You could also take the cap off the well while the pump is running and you might be able to hear the pump overpumping the well. Do you know how deep the well is or what horsepower motor you have?

    SAM
  11. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    Sonny, which part of that didn't you understand? jtp knew exactly what I said "Is the pressure gauge still going up when the pump shuts off?" Did I say after the pumps shuts off? Go back to that other forum that you someday hope to own.

    Rancher
  12. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Sounds like the same thing worded differently.

    SAM
  13. jtp

    jtp New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Thanks, I will continue to troubleshoot using some of the other suggestions made here.

    I need to look through some of the closing paperwork to find out more details on the pump and well, I think I saw it in there before. The house was vacant for about 8 months prior to us buying it, could that have an adverse affect on the well?

    For what it's worth, I called the well drilling outfit that had a sticker on the tank just to see what they would charge to come out and inspect the well and pump. The guy I spoke to said that if I needed to replace the pump it would be minimum $700 for the pump, plus labor, etc... The $700 for his least expensive pump seemed high to me, is that pretty standard for the business? I'm in northern MA and the company was from NH.

    Thanks,
    JTP
  14. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Call again and ask for a copy of the record for your well. That should tell you its size, depth, water level, pump-down, pump installed and so on.

    I paid less than half of that for a new submersible, but maybe that is his least expensive pump matching the particulars of your specific well.
  15. sammyhydro11

    sammyhydro11 Previous member

    Messages:
    709
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    If they quoted you on a goulds pump,i would say that is right on. The whole job is determined by the depth of the well.

    SAM
  16. jtp

    jtp New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Funny thing is he didn't have the info on my well, said he would have to look it up in his other files to see if they had it. I will call them back tomorrow for that. (Now that I know what to ask for..thnx) The $700 was just the least expensive pump they carried, that did not include the labor.

    I just took the cap off the well and it looks like it is between 50 and 70 feet down where I can see the water.
  17. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    But that doesn't tell you how deep the well is, or how deep the pump was placed.

    Wells are registered with your State, Google for it in your state, and ask them for the record.

    Rancher
  18. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Your local "permit palace" might also have a copy, and that also might have been one of the papers you say you saw at closing.
  19. jtp

    jtp New Member

    Messages:
    7
    OK, just finished up some more troubleshooting.

    The pressure switch looks to be working properly, opening and closing at proper pressure settings anyways.

    I checked for a leak as Gary suggested, pressure held well, so I'm assuming no leaks.

    I watched and listened with well cap off and I can see water at the bottom of the pipe, wasnt sure if I could actually see the pump. I heard the pump turn on, run and turn off. It would raise the pressure by about 5 to 7 psi per cycle. This was between 40 and 60 psi. The pressure switch finally opened at 62 psi.

    So now I need to find out why the pump is shutting off prematurely. I will look up the docs suggested here to see if I can find out the well and pump specs.

    One thing I just noticed is that I got some orange colored water out of the faucets after I made the pressure go down to zero. I did change the sediment filter as part of everything else I was doing yesterday. Is the dirty water a clue to anything else I should be looking at? It's only present for a few seconds.

    Thanks,
    JTP
  20. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

    Messages:
    798
    Location:
    Metro NYC
    Bingo! ~ Orange water is rust scum (others can explain it better) ~ What it means is that you are outpumping your well. You must limit your consumption, so that you don't draw down the water level enough for it to fall to the level of the pump intake.
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