Well Pump Won't Stop Pumping After Dry Condition

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by JohnHaas, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. JohnHaas

    JohnHaas New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    About four night's ago the tank on one of our toilets failed to seal after a flush, and the water stayed running all night.

    In the morning, nothing came out of our faucets.

    I turned the breaker off for the well pump for a couple hours and then reset the breaker and we had water again shortly after that.

    The problem is, ever since, water pressure has remained pretty low, and gets even lower after much use at all. According to the Pumptec, the pump is continuing to run non-stop and intermittently "trips", which I believe means there is no water in the well to pump.

    Our system:
    WellMate WM-6 Tank
    Pumptec Model 5800020116

    The gauge on the WellMate is reading 37 PSI.

    A bit of History:
    The well was new in 2003. It's very deep, I was told 600 ft. It wasn't flowing very well at the time,so it was hydro-fractured. Even after that it hasn't been great. Over the years, the PUMPTEC does periodically trip, but it's been manageable, as long as we don't all take excessively long showers after multiple loads of laundry and watering the lawn, etc. The quality of the water is great!

    Also I should mention that we're in Vermont, so we have sub-freezing temperatures this time of year, if that might be an issue.

    Any idea how I might get the tank to pump up to full pressure?

    -John
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I assume by Pumptec, you mean a Franklin motor protector and that you don't say what pump you have. If the pump is barely capable of lifting water 600 feet and make pressure as well, it could dead-head when the water level drops. I don't know how well the Pumptec protects against a dead-head situation but it sounds like your pump is no longer capable of doing the job and needs replacement. Of course it would be good to know where the water level is at. If after you pull the pump, when you drop in a new one, tape a length of 1/4" poly pipe to it so that you can use it later to determine the height of the water.
  3. JohnHaas

    JohnHaas New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    Thanks for your reply - what you say makes sense to me. I assume there's no way to recover from the dead-head condition other than replacing the pump.

    You are correct about the Pumptec being the Franklin motor protector, but I have no information on the pump itself, so I can't help with that.

    Thanks again for your help,

    John
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I'm sorry to hear that you will likely incur such a high cost just 9 years in. One would hope for a longer run than that.

    A pump that dead-heads draws more current than a pump that sucks air, so the Pumptec needs to be much more sensitive to that condition. It sounds like you don't have enough pump for the well and/or the Pumptec was not calibrated well enough causing a dead-head situation to shorten its life.

    Here is an excerpt from Franklin's doucument.
    http://www.franklin-electric.com/media/documents/vol16no5.pdf
  5. JohnHaas

    JohnHaas New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    Thanks for the additional info (and your sympathy for my situation)! :)

    Nine years though - it's worse than that! We had the pump replaced just two or three years ago. They must have replaced the original pump with one equally insufficient. That first replacement was under warranty. I don't know if I'll be as fortunate this time.

    -John
  6. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Where is the evidence that this pump was 'dead headed' ? - running but not moving water? If the toilet was on, the pump drew down to air and the pumptek should have shut off. It still works, so its not dead, just low pressure.

    Where did the assumption that the pump is inadequate for the water depth come from?

    The guy needs a big storage tank and a flow into it that is a bit less than the wells production. He can still do that with 37 or even 1 psi at the surface, then another pump. I would not get ready for a pump pull for some time before better testing.
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    No evidence, just conjecture based on what info John provided. Without being there, conjecture is all we have.

    If the pump continues to run but the pressure does not reach cutoff and there is no water being consumed, it is essentially deadheaded. If the pump was set shallow enough to not deadhead, it should have sucked air and the Pumptec should have tripped out. When reset, if it again sucks air, it should trip out, not run deadheaded.

    If the pump was set deep enough to deadhead, then shame on the installer.
  8. JohnHaas

    JohnHaas New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    Maybe I should clarify. The Pumptec has two lights on it - Green "Power On" and Red "Tripped". Under normal operation, when the tank is fully pressurized, both lights are off. Since the "Toilet Incident", the green "Power On" light is on all the time, and the red "Tripped" light is on *most* of the time. It does go off periodically, and the comes back on. The green light now never goes out. I *assume* when the green light is on and the red is off the pump is running. We are getting some flow from the well, just not a lot. I plan to call the company who installed it, in the morning.

    Thanks again for the help.
  9. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    Your definition of dead head isn't the same as mine.


  10. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    A 1hp pump would (deadhead) at about 490'. That is from a water level of 490'
    At that depth the water would stop and not flow any higher or build anymore pressure at the well head.
    This is based on an 8gpm residential submersible.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Yet you don't offer your definition.
  12. JohnHaas

    JohnHaas New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    I found the invoice for the pump replacement back in 2006 (so the original was less than three years old at the time, and it was longer ago than I thought).

    1HP 320V, 2 Wire 1PH Franklin Pump Motor
    "Pump is set at 580 feet"

    So based on Waterwelldude's comments, it's not wonder these pumps are failing.
  13. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    It would be helpful to know the GPM of the pump.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    A worn pump can deadhead at a lower pressure than the same pump new. It could be a combination of wear and lower water level that is manifesting the problem now.
    Yes, the existing pump could provide a few more years of service pumping into a non-pressurized storage tank. 37 PSI of head is equal to about 86 feet of depth.

    Given that John said he waters his lawn with the well, it can't be too bad but then the water level may fluctuate. It would be good to know just how much the well can produce and what the water level is.
  15. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    We need to know the number of stages of the pump, thats the depth decider.

    Likely his well is low on water. What is the model# of the pump?
  16. JohnHaas

    JohnHaas New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Vermont
    Thanks again for the input guys.

    A guy from the company who installed the well came out to the house this morning. He said the pump motor is fine, and assured us that it is sufficient for the job. He said the well is very low on water and suspects we have a water leak somewhere in the house/system. We're going to try to systematically turn off things overnight that might be slow-leaking - toilets, etc., and see if we can narrow it down.

    The serial number of the pump motor is 02L18 15 3766. Does that help determine what model it is? It's listed on the invoice as "1PH", which I take to mean "one phase". Does "phase" equate to "stages" with these motors?

    Thanks again,

    John
  17. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    The gpm of the pump gives away the stages. For example, you may have a 1-HP pump, but they make anywhere from 5 GPM all the way up to 20 GPM pumps.

    The higher the GPM, the fewer the stages, and the less pressure it will do. The lower the GPM, the more stages and more pressure.
  18. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    These 5 gpm and 20 gpm ratings are about as useful as the 3 and 5 horsepower 120volt shop vac ratings.

    Must have been created so the average homeowner could "begin" to understand a pump. We all know you need a big calculator, water level standing and minimum if possible, and the pumps curve or production chart at various heads and pressure to discover the outlet flow at your pressure tank or cistern.

    I have a 13 stage 1/2 HP pump that outproduces the 6 stage 20 gpm 1HP pump at deeper depths.

    Wells are a funny business regarding submersibles. The installer rarely leaves notes or the 'book' for the pump in the pump house All you get is a HP -maybe, if its a 3 wire, and rarely a model# and brand of pump HEAD. Imagine having a water heater with no info label or size on it - or a furnace with no info tag. Very odd.
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