Well problems, the saga and sanity check

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by spiral_72, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    South Carolina, 6" drilled well from 1985???, 3/4hp pump at 220ft deep 5yrs old, two 30micron filters in series, pressure switch at 38/50psi, 2 adults and a baby in the house. We use on average maybe 600gal per week which includes laundry days.

    Six months ago I had well troubles, no water, very little water regardless of how much we conserved, etc. I had a well guy come out who stated we only had 0.5gal/min recovery and that we needed to drill a new $10,000 well. I'm as frugal as they come, so in an effort to save money I did a LOT of research.

    I never realized wells require maintenance for the 9yrs I had been living here. That has rewarded me with what I now know as a serious case of iron bacteria with all the expected symptoms, two times worse than you can imagine and poor well performance in general.

    Then (eight months ago) I come to the conclusion that the bacteria colony I have had plugged the pump input, screen and the rock fissures feeding my well. I used 1.5gal (as I remember) of unscented bleach in a 220ft well then filled my well with water to the cap from the neighbor's well. The water bled out, I assume into the water table, then I repeated filling, without bleach, dumping a total of several thousand gallons of water into my well over several days. All was good for six months, I can't say that we conserved water really, just had no problems. When I change the filters I still had the brown slime filling them.

    This week we've had no water again. The pump runs without building pressure. I changed the filters, broke the filter housing so in the 5hrs it took to get a replacement installed I had water till it run out again after 12hrs. I did not detect any water with 125ft of string. We have had a crazy amount of rain this past 12 months. Yesterday the US Geological site says the water table is 49ft below here. I've done some more research, supposedly chlorine is 100% effective at 5.5ph (http://www.moravecwaterwells.com/) so I also dosed white vinegar. My PH kit states <6.0ph. I also dosed 1gal of chlorine into 300gal of water (filled to the well cap) and let it sit overnight. Tonight I added maybe another 150gal water to the well up to the cap and added another gallon of chlorine because there was no odor and my test key said <1ppm CL.

    If you are still reading.....Am I insane and these exercises are useless??? Do you suppose biofouling might be the problem here? I don't know yet if I have recovered the flow this time but if so is there something I can do to permanently fix this iron bacteria problem? If so I can't find the solution on the internet.

    Thank you for your time. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. VAWellDriller

    VAWellDriller New Member

    Messages:
    170
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Bio fouling can completely plug a pump, or the fractures, or both. You need to have the pump pulled, and then determine which is the problem, the pump, the well, or both. That's the first step. I've had good luck with a product called Boresaver plus. Its an iron bacteria treatment, that we brush and swab a well with, then airlift out...best left to professionals; but its probably cheaper than a new well. It's also very possible it's just the pump.
  3. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,383
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I am certainly not an expert on water quality issues, but this sounds like it might be a good candidate for a Sulfur Eliminator. You might want to talk to the guy who makes them at wellwaterstinks.com
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,839
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Do you have an opinion on the use of high pressure jetting to clean the borehole?
  5. VAWellDriller

    VAWellDriller New Member

    Messages:
    170
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I really can't say on a rock well, but we do it all the time on screened wells with good success. I might be a little concerned on a rock well with dislodging loose material around a fracture and possibly creating a cave in of sorts; but I don't know. I've used the bore saver on both screened and rock wells.
  6. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Could you expound briefly on how they would determine which problem is at fault? The pump would be easy to diagnose, the fractures I would assume a well guy would calculate recovery, but without a pump? Would they use a camera?

    I'll look into Boresaver. Thank you.



    I have not considered this, neither read any on it. Thank you, I'll research this so I have intelligent questions for wellwaterstinks.com


    I don't know how to ask this, but does anyone have any suggestions for finding a good well service? There are few I found here to choose from. The first gentleman I had come out, while he seemed to know his stuff, seemed set on drilling a new well regardless of how many other alternatives I proposed. Either he's right I need a new well, or he wasn't interested in troubleshooting, or he doesn't know about this condition, or he was playing on my ignorance to make himself a lot of money. I don't mind spending the money as long as I'm not wasting the money.
  7. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    FWIW:

    The well has been parked for 24hrs now with very little water use and a strong chlorine odor.

    You might say 48hrs, but I don't know what happened to the first gallon of chlorine I sent down there the day before....... I did cycled the water back into the well with the garden hose for 30minutes before checking it, but detected very little CL.

    On a side note, I learned I need to air up the bladder tank (or at least check it) periodically. It should come as no surprise it was completely deflated after 9+ years. The huge increase in water pressure has made the wife a little less frustrated since I appear to be making progress. Before that we had plenty of pressure for maybe five seconds, then it would bleed off to a heavy stream. Hopefully it holds air.
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Location:
    IL
    You did circulate that by running a hose into the top of the well enough to get the bleach to mix well, I presume.
  9. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Yessir I sure did for at least 30minutes plus another 15minutes to find the CL test kit and use it. There was just a hint, barely detectable, of bleach odor in the water out of the hose. From my one previous experience, it didn't take near that long to get bleach through the system.

    I had what I think was a good idea based on the high pressure jetting mentioned above by LLigetFA. 1/2" CPVC fits through the threaded plug hole nicely. I plugged the end of the CPVC and drilled twenty 5/64" holes radially around the capped end. The streams at 50psi were almost enough to sting your skin. I've been using this to spray down the casing tonight. In another 30 minutes I'll start dumping fresh water into my well from the neighbor's well to dilute..... drain my well and repeat. It's been sanitizing 24 - 48hrs now and I stink so I gotta get fresh water for a shower soon.

    UPDATE:

    I run 350 gallons of water out of the well into the yard, which is pretty amazing considering the trouble we've had. The water was well below the cap when I started though I didn't drop a string to measure level. The water was the color of tea throughout. I'm filling my well now from the neighbor's well. We'll see.

    Thank you for the help. I'll let you know....
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
  10. VAWellDriller

    VAWellDriller New Member

    Messages:
    170
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Location:
    IL
    I would circulate at maybe double the time it took to get 200 ppm chlorine coming back through the hose. The level below the pump might take a while to get the chlorine level up. The ability to detect chlorine levels by nose varies a lot. Cutting your test strips into smaller pieces can make the supply last longer.

    You might consider re-checking the pH on the recirculating water too.

    Nice idea on that homemade well bore scrubber. Maybe I will be able to replicate it, tho I don't know yet if I will have that big of a hole to work with.
  12. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Stagger the holes so there's some material left. I actually plugged the end with a 1/2" wood dowel I tapered on the lathe then rammed inside. An actual plumbing cap won't fit the hole... I'm not sure if they sell test caps for 1/2" CPVC but that would be an option too. I don't know where the idea come from, but it seemed to work pretty well.

    I'm still draining to rid the well of bleach. I drained, then flushed the system with clean water and my scrubber. I'll do it again in the morning.

    It looks like my pressure tank is shot. Another thing I didn't realize needed maintenance. I'm considering a Cycle stop valve from http://www.cyclestopvalves.com/index2.html to keep the pump running while using water for an extended period of time (shower, laundry etc.) I always thought it was stupid for the pump to cycle on and off, but I didn't know about CSV's until I started researching pressure tanks.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  13. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Location:
    IL
    That statement implies that water comes out when you try to check the pressure in the tank when there is pressure in the pipes, and that with the pressure off of the pipes (pump off, faucet open) you cannot build up the precharge pressure to 2 PSI below the pump turn-on pressure.
  14. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Well, yes :) The bladder pumps up fine to pump start pressure -2psi (I found several articles) which gives me glorious and sustained pressure for a time. The next night it was -10psi. I didn't check it last night, but today the water pressure is down to it's normal pathetic values, 60psi at first then trickles down to 40, then back up to 60psi, then 40, 60, 40. I have not had water come out the valve in the tank, however figured air leaks through a pin hole(s) into the water supply. Filling air and checking was by draining the water system empty with the pump off and leaving the plumbing open to rid any + or - air pressure in the lines.

    Which brings me to another point, maybe another post: Is there a brand or feature of a tank I should specifically look for? I'm fairly sure I'll be purchasing the cycle stop valve CSV1W. Since I think I need a new tank I'll get a smaller one to match the valve, according to what I've read.

    Maybe this one with a 3.75gal drawdown at 40-60psi??
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_424496-4127...llar|1&page=1&facetInfo=Water Worker|Vertical
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  15. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,383
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    The CSV1A is better. It is Stainless Steel and has ports where the smaller tank, pressure switch, etc., can screw directly into the CSV, which also saves space and a tank cross. See this link. http://cyclestopvalves.com/prod_psidekick.html
  16. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Thank you. It looks like you represent these products. I didn't find a phone number, chat is closed, I can still send an email:

    If both valves do the same thing and are equally as good the CSV1W would be a better fit with the current arrangement. I have a new tank cross, gauge and pressure switch. Aside from that the plumbing in this area will have to be reworked entirely to make room for the pressure tank underneath the valve.

    I can do it if the CSV1A is a much better valve, just didn't want the hassle where the CSV1W is a direct screw on replacement with all the components in the correct place. I'd would disconnect the HDPE pipe well output, screw on the valve, then reconnect the HDPE pipe. Everything is correct according to the product sheet.

    Another question: The pump supply is 3/4 HDPE to under the house, then to 3/4 steel pipe around the tank, switch, gauge, filters, all under the house.... then the rest is 3/4 plastic. There is a 1in to 3/4 adapter for the pressure tank. All this means the CSV will need to be reduced to 3/4 either side of the valve. Will this cause any problems considering the slight(?) pressure drop in the valve itself?


    I wish I had someone to ask questions instead of bugging y'all.... or knew someone I could trust to do the job. Thank you for all the help again.
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Location:
    IL
    Well-X-Trol is the most respected tank as far as I can tell. Premium price, however.

    A small tank with a CSV will reduce cycling for irrigation, but it will probably increase cycling for household use. This presumes that you use the toilet, brush your teeth with the faucet running, or wash your hands with the faucet running much more frequently than you take a shower.

    I don't know how the comparison would be with an automatic washer.

    Regarding the symptoms for the current pressure tank, the slow leak in the bladder would seem to make sense. However check for a leak on the schrader valve. It would be nice if you just needed a new valve insert.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2014
  18. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Very good sir. thank you for your help. I hadn't considered the valve leaking actually. That too would make sense. I drained the system a bit ago. The air pressure checked at 32psi though I'm sure I set it to 38 two nights ago. I don't know if that's a standard valve that can be acquired at the tire / auto parts store.

    I understand what you say about irrigation. Any heavy water use really. I know the pump cycles when we take a shower. This would be reduced with a working bladder tank of maybe 10gal bleeddown. The shower and laundry are really the only thing that a CSV would reduce cycle time like you mentioned. When I drain the well through the garden hose the pump runs constantly, however I'm assuming that's because I'm at or near the capacity of the pump.

    The CSV and small tank are pretty much the same cost as a new large tank. I dunno which I'm going to go with at this point.
  19. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,383
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I can’t argue with the few people who say they only use 50 gallons per day and a tank that holds 25 gallons (80 gallon actual size) will only cycle the pump twice a day. But hey, if you only use 50 gallons a day, you probably only touch a faucet or toilet 6 or 8 times a day to use that 50 gallons. So even if a CSV system with a small tank makes the pump come on every time you use water, the pump is only going to cycle 6 or 8 times per day, as compared to 2 times a day with a really large tank.

    The benefits of the CSV and smaller tank for houses that use very little water per day, still far outweigh a few extra cycles. An obvious benefit is the much smaller tank. The smaller tank cost less, takes up less space, requires less energy to heat, and is easier to install.

    A benefit that will quickly BECOME obvious, is the constant pressure supplied to the system while you are using water. Constant pressure from the CSV with a small tank will fill washing machines and toilets faster, maintain a steady flow to keep instant water heaters from shutting off, and make the pressure in the shower so strong you will no longer need soap to get the dirt off.

    The freshness of the water is another benefit of the CSV with a small tank that quickly becomes obvious. An 80 gallon tank holds 25 gallons of water, stored in a rubber bag, and warmed to room temperature. Not only does this waste energy warming water to room temperature, but the warmer water is not as palatable, and even accentuates the taste of the rubber bag it is stored in. If your house only uses 50 gallons per day, you get 2 bags of warm, rubber tasting water.

    A 4.5 gallon size tank commonly used with a CSV only holds 1 gallon of water. Only the first gallon that comes out of the faucet has been warmed to room temperature or had any time to take on the taste of the tanks interior liner. So your water is always straight from the well as fresh Mother Nature can supply it.

    Other benefits are just as important but harder to notice. The elimination of water hammer on pump start or stop is one such benefit. The mechanical soft start/soft start caused by the CSV being in the 1 GPM position, eliminates water hammer that stresses and shortens the life of faucets, check valves, fittings, pipe, and even the thrust bearing in the motor.

    A CSV eliminates destructive cycling by adjusting the flow from the pump, causing the motor to run at reduced amperage. This de-rates the load, making the motor run cooler, and requiring shorter run and off times. Increasing the life of the pump/motor is a benefit you won’t even think about for many years.

    The CSV only lets the pump cycle once for each water use, no matter how long that water usage last. The CSV also de-rates the motor, making it run cooler. The 1 gallon of draw down in a 4.5 gallons size tank, being filled by the 1 GPM bypass in the CSV, creates a mechanical timer that guarantees proper run and off times. So even if your pump cycles 20 to 50 times per day, there are still many benefits to the CSV and small tank as compared to supplying your house with a few big bags of warm, rubber tasting water from a large pressure tank.

    Many tests have been done comparing a “properly sized pressure tank” to a Cycle Stop Valve with a small tank. Depending on the household conditions the test was set up to simulate, the number of cycles varied.

    A company that manufactures tanks said, the CSV “does not significantly reduce the number of cycles compared to a properly sized pressure tank”. In other words, although they hate to admit it, the CSV and small tank cycled fewer times per day than a “properly sized pressure tank”. Another individuals test showed the CSV and small tank caused the pump to cycle 7% more than a “properly sized pressure tank”. Our own tests have shown basically no difference in the number of cycles between a CSV/small tank and a large pressure tank.

    The CSV will work with any size tank. Many will argue that a CSV with a large tank offers the best of both worlds. For intermittent uses of water like toilets and ice makers, a larger tank can reduce cycles by delivering more gallons before the pump has to start. Then when water is being used for extended periods of time like for heat pumps, sprinklers, and showers, a CSV will still maintain constant pressure and eliminate cycling.

    However, when all things are considered, there is basically no reason to continue wasting money or space on large pressure tanks for home water systems. The year 2014 will make it 21 years since the introduction of the Cycle Stop Valve. The CSV/smaller tank has been proven on hundreds of thousands of systems for longer than two decades. The few cycles a large tank can save for intermittent uses of water, will never outweigh the cycles a CSV can save on long term uses of water.

    A large CSV controlled pump system can use an 80 gallon size pressure tank to supply an entire city of 40,000 people. So there is no reason to use a tank any larger than 4.5 gallon size for a single home.

    A large tank maybe about the same cost, but it can't deliver the benefits of a CSV. 3/4" piping in and out of the CSV is OK. And the CSV1A comes with plugs so you can use it inline with a floor mounted tank.
  20. spiral_72

    spiral_72 New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    SC
    Ah, very good sir, I'm glad 3/4 pipe is ok. I read the rest on your website. I completely agree with the function of the valve, the one thing I can't argue with is constant pressure. Since a truly large tank is not an option under my house, or out of my wallet............
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