Intermittent loss of water

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by sevenseas, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. sevenseas

    sevenseas New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Location:
    NY
    Hi everyone, new on the forum and would appreciate your advice. Since Memorial Day I've had 2 episodes of sudden loss of water. Pressure will decrease, water will stop entirely (to entire house)....but then within minutes to hours will return to normal.

    I had plumber out to check system after the first episode...he suspected was due to very old pressure tank/broken gauge (present when I bought house a year ago) so these were replaced. I also have a liquid chlorine injection system with a retention tank and carbon filter, which seems to be working normally. He told me if problem recurred then had to be my well pump.

    Question: is he correct in that there is no other possibility now but a well pump issue? Or could there be some other (less expensive!) cause? Can a carbon filter get clogged and cause this type of problem?

    I am new to life on well water so apologies if these are dumb questions! Really appreciate everyone's expertise and help!
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    It could be the pressure switch.

    [​IMG]

    If your switch is wired as in this diagram, expect to have 240 volts AC between terminals 1 and 4.

    When the pressure switch is asking for water, there will be 240 volts between 2 and 3. If the pump is not calling for water, expect about zero volts between 2 and 3.

    You might check to see which pair of terminals has power with the pump not running because there is enough pressure. Then during an outage measure the other two terminals. Measuring about zero while there is power on the incoming terminals and zero water pressure means a bad pressure switch.

    Hope the problem is the pressure switch. They are cheap and easy to replace compared to what else could be causing the problem.

    I presume that your pressure gauge reads zero during the outages and properly otherwise. The problem cannot be the carbon tank or anything else after the pressure tank and pressure gauge.

    I presume you have a submersible pump. I am presuming you don't have a control box, since you did not mention one.

    The problem could be a wire or connection to the pump, but that seems unlikely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  4. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    When the water goes off then miraculously comes back on by itself, it is nearly always the overload in the motor tripping. It has probably tripped several times that you didn't know about. Those automatic resetting overloads will just keep resetting themselves until the motor is toast. Use to be a button in the control box that needed to be pushed to reset the overload, so you knew you had a problem. Now they don't want you to know that you are cycling the pump to death until it is too late. That way they get to sell you a pump much sooner. Overload tripping is nearly always caused by the pump cycling on and off too much.
     
  5. sevenseas

    sevenseas New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Location:
    NY
    Thanks guys. Just talked to my service guy...he said the pressure switch is new (installed with new tank/gauge). He thinks it may be the safety tripping...is this the same thing that you mentioned valveman? Would this mean the pump is bad and needs replacing? He is going to come to try to see if he can replicate the problem by running a lot of water. I live alone so he said it may be that I just haven't noticed the issue more often because there is usually not a high water demand at any given moment. Any further suggestions would be most welcome.
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    1. How big is your pressure tank?
    2. How long is the minimum time for the pump to run when it cuts on, and you then stop using water?
    3. What is the diameter of your well casing?
     
  7. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    "Safety tripping?" It is a good thing you are doing some research because it sounds like your service guy may not know a lot. :)
    But yeah he is probably talking about the automatic overload in the motor. By the time an overload starts tripping most of the smoke has been let out of the motor and there is usually nothing that can be done but to replace the motor. Once you realize cycling on/off causes that problem, you will notice it clicking on and off and understand that is not a good thing.
     
  8. sevenseas

    sevenseas New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Location:
    NY
    Reach4: I apologize but I don't know the answer to most of your questions. The pressure tank is 20 gallons. I don't know the diameter of my well casing and don't understand your second question. :(

    I think my service guy is decent; my sense is that he just has a hard time explaining things to someone completely clueless about the mechanics of how a well system works (me). He came today and ran the water for 10 minutes (said that the "safety" never tripped), checked all the circuits, breaker panel, etc., and could not ID the problem. His theory is that it may be my well pump showing wear and tear (I am not sure how old it is but it may be at least 15 years old) and thinks it will eventually give out completely. He's a nice guy and didn't charge me for the visit today; said that if I wanted him to pull up and examine the well pump itself that there would be a labor charge involved and at that point it'd make sense just to replace the pump entirely, but he recommended that I just wait and see what happens over time.

    p.s. I am not positive but would guess I have a submersible pump, and no, there is no control box as far as I know....
     
  9. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I doubt that is trips the overload when running steady for ten minutes. Most likely it trips when the pump cycles on/off a few times. A 20 gallon tank only holds 5 gallons of water. Try running about 5 GPM and see what happens when the pump is cycling. Most pump guys are good people. Just most of them don't know pumps as well as they think they do. If they say that they are probably doing you a good job. It is the ones who think they know it all that you need to worry about. :)
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    1. With a 20 gallon tank, the pump would go on after you have used 5 gallons of water since the pump shut off. The pump turning on and off are the cycles that Valveman wrote about.
    2. Usually you would want the pump to be on for a minute or more. So if your pump delivers 5 gpm, your tank would be sized well. To measure the time, you could run water until the pump turns on. Note the time to the second, and stop water use. Note the time when it cuts off. That is the time. You don't need to do this, but it could be good to know.
    3. If you can see the casing, and if you don't have a suitable caliper, you could wrap a string around the casing. Mark the string. Measure how much string it took to go around the casing, and divide by pi=3.14. That gives the outer diameter. So if you measured 17 inches around, that would probably be a 5.5 OD casing or a 5 inch ID casing.
    I have read nothing to cause me to think he is not good. I think you were wanting to do a bit of study, but if you are ready to have him swap pumps, I think you have done enough extra study.
     
  11. sevenseas

    sevenseas New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Location:
    NY
    Okay, additional info as requested:
    1. Well casing diameter=6.69 inches
    2. Pump was on a total of 26 seconds.

    I am in fact trying to 1) learn more about how my system operates, 2) do my own due diligence in trying to determine the problem rather than putting blind faith in my service guy, so again really appreciate everyone's help!
     
  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    1. Probably a 6 inch casing. Search this forum for "flow inducer" for discussions.
    2. Next time you need to replace, go for a 44 gallon tank.
     
  13. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    A 44 gallon tank only holds 10 gallons of water. You would be much better off with a Cycle Stop Valve and a 4.5 gallon tank. I don't think a flow inducer is as important as reducing the cycling, but here is a pic of a shroud or flow inducer install.
    shroud 3 pics.jpg
     
  14. sevenseas

    sevenseas New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Location:
    NY
    OK bear with me guys, but what I think you are saying is 1) the short cycling of the pump is causing the motor to overheat which trips the overload, causing the pump to stop (no water), then restart after the overload resets itself (water restarts); 2) the immediate solution is to replace the pump motor (does this mean replacing the entire pump?), 3) to prevent this in future i.e. to extend the life of my new pump or pump motor, install flow inducer or CSV with smaller pressure tank, etc.
    Am I on the right track here?
     
  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You want a flow inducer with a CSV too. You could probably use a 3 GPM bypass CSV with your existing 20 gallon pressure tank. Not sure.
     
  16. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    No the 3 gpm bypass is for 3 and 5hp pumps. Still use the CSV1A and with a 20 gal tank and 40/60 switch just set the CSV at 55 psi.
     
  17. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Royal City, WA
    Starting a pump takes SIX times the normal running amperage. These extra amps are converted into heat. This IS the reason there are minimum run times for a submersible Pump motor. To allow enough tine for the heat created by starting the motor rotating to dissipate. Start the motor too often, or don’t have cooling water flow past the motor......heat builds up and trips the thermal overload on the Pump. This heat build up also shortens the life of the motor.
     
  18. sevenseas

    sevenseas New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2018
    Location:
    NY
    Thank you all SO very much for your responses...I can see that I have a lot of self-educating to do! Much obliged to you for taking the time to answer my dumb questions and provide such useful advice. :)
     
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