Booster Pump Sucking Water Out of All Pumps

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by zmonet, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    I have an 11-zone irrigation system that runs on well water. The system uses a booster pump because I believe the system wasn't designed properly in the first place. Regardless, when the booster pump runs and irrigates the lawn, it sucks all of the water out of the rest of the house, leaving air in the pipes. When you go to turn on a faucet, shower, etc. there is a woosh of air and the faucet spits at you. Does anyone have an easy solution to stop the water from being sucked out? Would an anti-siphon or check valve someplace before the booster pump stop the spitting/air problem from happening?

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    When you are not using water in the house, but the booster has been running, what does the pressure gauge at your pressure tank indicate?
     
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  4. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    The pressure gauge reads 50 PSI before turning on the irrigation system and booster pump. Once it has been running for 5 minutes or so it drops to 40 PSI but then comes back to the 50 PSI. The problem of air/spitting is particularly bad after the system has been running for 2 hours, but I'm not sure what the PSI rating is after running that long as I haven't had occasion to do so yet this year.
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I suspect the air is from the well getting pumped down to the intake, and water getting sucked in. You can check that manually by watching the current to the pump motor with a clamp-around ammeter.

    There are devices that can detect that out-of-water condition, and shut down the pump for a while. Of course if you shut down the pump, you would also need to shut down the booster.

    You could also have your irrigation controller pump 1 hour periods with rest/recovery time between.

    I am not a pro.
     
  6. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    Thanks Reach. Even 10 minutes of running introduces a lot of air into the lines or else I would do intermittent breaks of watering. Ideally, I'd like to somehow stop the water from being pulled out.
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I would put a pressure gauge on the house plumbing during those conditions.

    Based on your expectations, the pressure would go lower than zero (a vacuum). The air would be admitted when you open a faucet, and then later that air would come back out of a faucet once the irrigation is off.

    So if the pressure stays up at the pressure tank, this would imply that there is a lot of pipe between the pressure tank and where the house and booster pump input lines tee. You might want to video the pressure gauge at the pressure tank to confirm the pressure gauge stays over 30 at the pressure tank.

    So anyway, in answer to your question, you could put a spring loaded check valve to feed water to the house after the tee. That means no water in the house during irrigation. A spring loaded check valve will knock maybe 2 psi off of the pressure to the house when you are using water in the house. If you add a check valve, you will also need to add a thermal expansion tank for the water heater.

    If the booster pump got its water from a different pipe, teed off at the pressure tank, this vacuum might never happen.

    If you use no water in the house, water for 2 hours, turn off irrigation, and then get air from the house faucets, then the pump is running the well dry and sucking air. If no air is coming into the pipes through the house faucets, it has to come in from somewhere. The pump intake is the only other possible source, unless you have a vacuum relief valve in your system. You might.
     
  8. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    "I believe the system wasn't designed properly in the first place." The irrigation system or your house well system?
    Are you the original owner?
    Your domestic water is the well with a pressure tank?
    When was the booster pump installed? Who installed it?
    What size booster pump?
    What size well pump do you have?
    What size is the well pipe?
    Is the pump for domestic water above ground jet pump, only the jet submersed with the motor at ground level, or submersible?
    How many sprinkler heads average per zone and what size yard?
    Where is the booster pump in relation to your well? Is it a pipe from the pressure tank to the irrigation?
    How does your irrigation system perform without the aid of a booster pump? What problem do you see?
    https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?threads/is-booster-pump-needed.69810/

    11 zones is a lot but with a low volume well for domestic water smaller zones is preferred for decent pressure and flow. However, it does allow long time running the pump to get coverage. This is not an easy solution and do not expect water flow from most wells for a domestic system to perform as if you're irrigating a golf course. If you have an above ground pump for your domestic water, tee off at the well. One end feeds your primary pump and pressure tank, the other end pumps directly from the well to the irrigation system, of course you'll need check valves and the irrigation pump should be a irrigation pump. What it sounds like to me is your making your well pump feed the booster pump. The booster pump is overwhelming the well pump or as other suggested you're sucking the well dry.

    If you're irrigating an acre or two with 11 zones, a separate well of the proper size and pump motor is really needed. Sure it is expensive but there are a lot of questions and variables to know.
     
  9. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    I'm coming back to this because I'm hoping I might have found a solution or at least a workaround. First, to answer some of WorthFlorida's questions:

    Are you the original owner? No. Second owner.
    Your domestic water is the well with a pressure tank? Yes.
    When was the booster pump installed? Who installed it? My understanding is that it was installed at the time the system was put in but regardless it was installed by the irrigation company.
    What size booster pump? It is a Davey HS-18 Booster Pump
    What size well pump do you have? Need to check.
    What size is the well pipe? Need to check.
    Is the pump for domestic water above ground jet pump, only the jet submersed with the motor at ground level, or submersible? Need to check.
    How many sprinkler heads average per zone and what size yard? About 1/4 acre is being irrigated. There are a lot of flower/tree beds, thus the large number of zones.
    Where is the booster pump in relation to your well? Is it a pipe from the pressure tank to the irrigation? Yes, pressure tank to irrigation.
    How does your irrigation system perform without the aid of a booster pump? What problem do you see? It provides about 90% coverage. It is almost good enough without but in a couple zones the last heads don't perform optimally.

    Now, on to my question. I don't think my well is being run dry because I've never had an issue where when I called for water I didn't get it. My question is if I installed a water circulator if it would recirculate water to the home pipes after the irrigation system sucked the water out? I'm thinking something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Watts-500800-Instant-Recirculating-Install/dp/B000E78XHG

    The idea would be to have the water recirculation turn on after the irrigation to get water back in the home pipes. FYI, the problem I'm trying to solve here is that the bathroom sink my wife uses at night/morning will shoot about 3-4 ounces of water at her if she turns on the water full blast. This is because of the air in the system. It gets water all over the floor and all over my wife. You know what they say about happy wife...Maybe there is a better solution for this issue (besides getting a new wife :))
     
  10. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    What your are saying the booster pumps more water than the well pump can deliver. There are 11 zones because the well pump could not deliver enough water therefore each zone has only a few sprinkler heads. A 1/4 acre would usually not be more than five zones.

    I think you need not to use your domestic well water for irrigation. Either the well or the well pump is undersized for your irrigation needs. A few things to consider some of which already have been suggested by Reach4.

    Try it without the booster pump. Is it possible to put it in bypass mode? See how the sprinklers perform and if your well pump can handle it. The zones in the established shrub beds generally do not need irrigation. If you plant flowers in the shrub beds consider replacing the sprinklers with a drip system or just not active those zones.

    Another is to consider installing a CSV, https://cyclestopvalves.com/. You can then reduce the size of the pressure tank but probably will still need to remove the booster pump. A moderator on this forum is "valveman" who designed it and builds them. You can call his company and ask about the booster pump.

    Another consideration and it depends on your well if it can provide the water volume is use an irrigation pump connected via a tee between the well and before the pressure tank. Installing check valves would be needed at the tee so one pump cannot suck water from the other. Then only run the irrigation pump perhaps between midnight and 6:00am.

    You need to get a read on your well and pump on how much water is being delivered without the pressure tank. If you have the budget get a well company to test what the well can deliver and you can size up a pump to match it.

    Getting another wife is cheap, it's getting rid of the one now is the expensive part.
     
  11. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    Thanks, WorthFlorida for the detailed response. I think the need for the booster is the amount of water pressure for some of the heads. You're definitely right that I can do a redesign of some of the zones and likely be able to lose the booster, which is something I will likely do. In the interim though, is there any reason the water recirculator linked above won't return water to the empty water lines?
     
  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    I don't see how a recirc system exhausts air. A check valve might do it, but we would need a diagram of your plumbing system to think about it. Air can only come from a limited number of places. I suspect using less water is needed to prevent the well from being sucked dry.

    This gadget would remove passing air from pipes air and release the air: https://terrylove.com/forums/index....system-after-air-injection-iron-filter.74384/
    #11 and #18.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
  13. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Reach is right, more info is needed. Most pumps, to some degree, need to be primed and water to pump. No water is pumped because of no pressure behind the little water remaining. Because of no pressure any check valves may remain closed. It's all speculation without able to see the actual setup. Good luck. If you ever get this situated, please update this post.
     
  14. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    Thanks. I'll admit I know zero, nothing, but I don't think the issue is that air is being introduced into the system but rather that the booster pump is so powerful it sucks the water from the house side of the system out to the irrigation system. When I call for water, at a sink for instance, there might be a little bit of water because the booster hasn't pulled everything out but there is a gap with air in it. So, water comes out the faucet and then air that shoots the water out...and then back to water again. I've attached a picture to give you a little better sense.[​IMG] The booster pump is in yellow at the bottom right of the picture.

    I'm about to have a new hot water heater put in so I'll ask the plumber that puts it in. This isn't your typical issue though so I'm not hopeful I'll get much of a response.
     

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  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    A spring-loaded check valve would prevent sucking air back toward the pump.
     
  16. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    Do you think air is being sucked back towards the booster pump, or is it water being pulled from the house side water pipes out to the irrigation system? Or would a sping-loaded check valve prevent that too?
     
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    A check valve would prevent air from being sucked in from upstream of the check valve. The booster pump only supplies the irrigation, right?

    So what is the real difference between "Do you think air is being sucked back towards the booster pump" and "water being pulled from the house side water pipes out to the irrigation system"? If I pull too much water out of the house pipes, I get a negative pressure vs atmosphere. An open valve would admit air if there was a negative pressure in the connected pipe. Are you asking if the check valve would be better being in line with the input of the pump or the output of the pump? I am not sure. I am tending toward input.

    What does your pressure gauge do while you are watering your highest-flow zone? If there is only a momentary drop to zero when the well pump turns on, you would probably want to lower your pressure tank air precharge a tad.

    What is that thing I pointed to with the red arrow? Is that a check valve in the pipe coming from the well? How about a photo of that. That would not cause a vacuum in your pipes, but it could contribute to air being introduced to your pipes
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
  18. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    From the picture I can't tell the pipe from the well is 1" or 3/4" but from the pressure tank its 3/4". Is that the booster pump?

    A 3/4" pipe will work not for most irrigation systems other than a spigot or two. You should be 1" from the water source to each irrigation zone, 1" at the zone valve and the feed pipe, then reduce down to 1/2" for each sprinkler. Most irrigation guys install 1" valves. 3/4" can be used if you have an unlimited supply and good pressure from a city water source.

    When the plumber changes out your water heater, have him remove the booster pump or install a bypass. It never should have been installed.
     
  19. zmonet

    zmonet New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm admittedly a bit lost as to where to put what on this system, or even what to tell a plumber. At the end of the day, yes, I don't want air in my house water pipes, which is why I thought a recirculator pump piped at my hot water heater might solve the issue (and get me faster delivery of hot water in the further parts of my house). And, yes, you're right that the booster pump only supplies water to the irrigation system. I can unplug it whenever I want if I don't want it to operate.

    Yes, it looks like it is a check vale (see attached).

    ANy thoughts of what to install and where are appreciated to at least give the plumber some direction. I'm happy to take more pics if that is helpful.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
  20. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    In a system with a submersible pump in the well, and a precharged pressure tank, you normally don't want a topside check valve like that. Sometimes they are needed to work around some problem, like a leak in the drop pipe or a failed check valve at the pump. If there is a leak, that check valve can let air in. There has been past discussion. Maybe try to read several of those.

    So watching the pressure gauge while irrigating would be a useful test. If that pressure gauge never goes to zero, air does not get sucked in at the faucet. Then a different theory about how air enters the system will be needed. That theory will involve air getting in before that Flomatic check valve.

    You could take a movie of your pressure gauge and watch that later.
     
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