Well running out of water?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by F6Hawk, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    So I was chlorinating a well at my rental property the other day in an attempt to halt what I think is IRB. (red, slimy material on a cartridge filter that only lasts about 10 days before needing to be replaced)

    Afterwards, I intended to let the water run for 24-36 hours in order to clear out the well completely. To my surprise, I ran out of water and had air coming out of the lines after about 5 minutes of running. Was standing near the pump when I unplugged it, and I could hear air being sucked into the intake line where black plastic and barbed fittings were being used. Plus, I had a seal leaking on the Gould J5, and issues with pressure going over 45 psi (not sure if this is because of air leak or worn parts so I decided to rebuild it and get rid of some black plastic as well as 2 barbed fittings).

    So now I have a rebuilt pump (new ceramic seal, new diffuser/impeller, diaphragm and front seal), and one threaded barb going into black plastic, which goes out the house for about 15', then another barbed elbow with black plastic (all 3/4") down into the well (I tightened all clamps on the barb fittings to ensure they were tight, and not leaking air). Well is reported as 42' deep, with a static level of 7' and a 4" casing.

    So with all of that said, I can run the water for about 5 minutes, and the gauge on the pump/tank drops to zero, and I lose water flow. Shut off the water, and pressure slowly builds again. But it can take 20 minutes or more to go from near-zero to 45 psi. And it takes about 15 minutes to go from 45 to 50 psi.

    I am thinking I have an air leak somewhere between the house and a few feet down into the well. If the black plastic is split, and the water level drops to said split, would this cause what I am seeing? Would it be advisable to replace the black plastic with 3/4" PVC?

    With all the iron/rust I am seeing in the water, I am considering a reconditiong of the well, but hope to fix this supply issue before my renters get back in a week.

    TIA!
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Anytime you shock the well, you can expect a bunch of crud to come loose which could partially clog the injector. A clogged injector reduces the pump's ability to build good pressure. You may need to clean it out more than once.

    That however would not account for sucking air. Chlorine will attack metal and so if there is any metal pipe or hose clamps in the well, they could have been compromised. Assuming no top side checkvalve, if there is a suction side leak, it should become a pressure leak when the pump shuts off. I say should, because it is possible for a leak under suction tonot leak under pressure.

    Push down a poly pipe alongside the existing suction line and put a Tee at the top of it, leaving the bottom open. Put an air valve and a pressure gauge on the Tee and pump air into it. The pressure it reads will tell you where the top of the water is at the time.
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Oh, BTW... if the well does not produce enough to keep up with the pump but you want to run full bore to flush the lines, you can divert some of the flow back into the well to recirculate it.
  4. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    I'm not sure there is an injector, LL. I suspect just black pipe stuck down in the water. The pump is in the house, and the check valve is between the pump and the black plastic hose.

    The well is about 26 years old; that being said, the previous owner was a single guy, so not much water use. Now there is a family of three, with the associated larger usage probably unmasking a pre-existing problem. Before I try to do any hydro fracturing or "reconditioning" of the well, I was thinking I should replace all the black pipe with PVC to eliminate the possibility of a air leak.

    My goal is to flush the well, as in run as much water thru it in 2-3 days to see if shocking it got rid of the IRB issue before I take the softener out of bypass and try to go back to soft, drinkable water again. Local engineer recommended the shocking followed by at least 36 hours of steady flow to purge the well.
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    The injector is part of the shallow well package bolted onto the pump. You should not use a checkvalve topside but rather rely of the footvalve.
  6. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    Ahh, yes, I see it now. Didn't have that apart last night, so I guess I will disassemble it tonight and have a look see into the injector area.
  7. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    And, if I decide to stick with my replacement of the pipe in the well... is it better to use black poly, or SCH 40 PVC?
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I would use a continuous length of poly. Just make sure you don't overheat it when putting it onto barb fittings and use good quality all SS gear clamps.
  9. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    Well, if my injector/nozzle ISN'T clogged, then I am suspecting an air leak that is keeping the pressure from building (also, I get spurts of air at the faucets when running water). So either one of the three barbs (one straight adapter into the pump, and one elbow going down into the well) is leaking, or the down-tube is cracked somewhere, and when the water level drops as it is used, it allows air to be sucked in. Is there a good way to test this poly down-tube for leaks? Maybe a barb with a cap on one end, and a barb adapted to a standard garden hose on the other end? I hate to replace it if it isn't actually cracked, but don't really see an easier way to test it.

    I guess best case scenario, my injector is clogged, and I can fix it easily. On the cracked down-tube, it jsut came to mind that I could get the pump running, and start pulling the poly out of the well, listening for sucking air sounds.

    Man, I love this forum!!
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I suspect that the air leak is not in the well. As mentioned, if you remove the topside checkvalve a suction leak that also manifests as a pressure leak would show up right away.

    The problem is that cheap plastic barb fittings may deform under vacuum and leak but under pressure they swell and seal.
  11. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    Removing the check valve sounds good, except... when I shut off the pump, and the pressure is going back the other way, there is nothing to stop it from just shooting into the well. There is not a foot valve, to my knowledge. Guess I will just have to play around with these ideas tonight and see what I can see. Thanks for all the help, LL!!
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