Just whispered "I hate you" to my well pump, how's your morning

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Katherine Straub

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Hey everyone! I'm a long-time lurker (typically when sitting on my kitchen counter by the sink with my laptop and wet socks) and some of your posts have been the difference between keeping and selling my house. I bought what I thought was just a fixer-upper about 18 months ago...it's should've been a level-outter because I cannot win with this place, haha. Everything waited for me to own it to start burning up/leaking/shorting out/exploding (just that one time), etc. Sometimes it gets too much and I begin to doubt my ability to handle it all, contemplate selling, and then I find the most clear, explanatory post online that makes me finally understand how to fix it myself (OR that this one, I actually can't fix it myself and I'm allowed- no, REQUIRED- to call a pro) and that clarity saves this house from the MLS another day. :) So thank you guys for not only sharing your knowledge the way you do but taking the time to do stuff like post videos/graphs when someone wants to know the "why?" after the first answer, for not being rude to people who ask dumb questions (remember that after you read my next paragraph!), and for basically being one of the more community-minded forums I read. It's refreshing!

Intro out of the way, the problem that brought me out of the shadows: this POS well pump. When this is all over, I'm going to hang it on a wall to remind myself "things could be worse" every time something fails in my house.

Problem: My well pump (Everbilt 1hp convertible jet pump) stopped working last week, when I was mid-shower, of course. The breaker (double pole 20) was tripped and would not reset as long as the pump wires were connected (but would after disconnect). The pump is currently the only thing run to that panel. Pressure switch showed signs of arcing on terminals 2 and 3, in the middle: the plastic sheathing was slightly melt-y and purple.

Addl info: It's 2-pipe system, if that matters. Not sure of exact well depth but the guys that installed this pump left over the parts that would've been used if it was a shallow well, leading me to believe it's a deep well (I'm basically Einstein). The pump had recently been losing prime more easily yet becoming harder to prime and also, noisier. I wasn't sure if it was cavitation (sp?) or bearings going bad, kind of had a "rocks in a can" sound others have described. A few weeks ago, the yard flooded and when I dug it up, a swing valve was leaking pretty badly at the seam in the middle. My neighbor informed me the valve wasn't necessary because my pump wasn't a submersible and that I should just replace that part with straight tubing instead to eliminate the possibility the leak would happen in the future, which I did, and now wonder about.

So far: Have left 4 voicemails with Everbilt's technical support/customer service line. No response. Called Home Depot, who transferred me to a warranty line, which did nothing for me: it is under the warranty but a tube (something to do with pressure sensing?) on top of the pump sprung a tiny hole about 6 weeks ago and sprayed for God knows how long before I noticed. Because of that, the pressure switch box lid definitely got wet, which I told the warranty line, because I'm an idiot, effectively voiding my warranty. (Seems a little stupid to be required to have a giant waterproof fake rock over the whole thing just to have it damaged by it's own parts inside said rock, but whatever.) I also called the previous company that installed it and, over the phone, he said I needed to replace the pump before I could even GET to the electrical issue. I called another pump service and they said they would also come out and inspect it for $100.

I need to know what questions to ask to ensure someone is looking at the different parts of this and not be taken for a ride. This was a $1,000 repair just a year ago and I don't really want to do it all over again because I just blindly following the instructions of some installer. These things typically last a little bit longer than just one year, supposedly, so I'm concerned there's another problem.

Things like: If the impeller failed, is it because I'm getting sediment in it? Why can't I see the impeller through the priming hole, like everyone says I should be able to? What am I missing? What if the pump is fine but I have a wiring problem somewhere else? Is there a way to know if my tank is bad without power to refill it after I've drained it? I've now read the swing valve I know I have should've been spring-loaded instead and what if THAT was the problem? What if the noise wasn't bearings but I primed it wrong and it was just air in there?
What if now I've burned up the pump but it's because my well is completely dry? What if my whole property is just scorched earth and my dogs and I just dehydrate to death here, all alone, in the middle of the city?! Worse yet, what if I pay $750 for something I could easily have done with this forum and a youtube video?!?!!?

See...

This type of thought process is pretty much how I end up on your site, swearing off home-ownership. It's a rough life for a girl out here, I tell ya. I can't believe Home Depot associates even ask me if they can help me anymore. Also...I know it varies by region (I'm NE Florida) but what's an acceptable price range for labor for installation? If I did end up replacing it, is it as easy as "remove old pump, connect new pump to existing wire/pipes and prime" or is it more complicated than that? I've only given up on fixing my own air conditioning (licenses, smlicenses) and tiling the shower ceiling (I had visions of paramedics finding me laying in the shower, naked with a head wound, buried under porcelain tile, weakly explaining I bet I know where I went wrong) and I'm hoping this stupid pump doesn't make it on that list.

Ugh. Thoughts? Warnings? Offers on a "fixer upper"? ;)
 

Valveman

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Gravel noise is usually from a loss of prime or a suction leak. But it should have nothing to do with the breaker tripping. The motor must be shorted for the breaker to trip. The bad condition of the pressure switch sounds like the pump was cycled on/off a lot, which could have shorted out the motor. The leak in the tube could have sprayed water into the motor, which will also short it out.

Those kind of pumps are not hard to replace, as long as the two pipes going down the well are OK. You may need to replace that check valve, but there should be a foot valve at the bottom of the two pipes below the ejector.

Disallowing warranty because the motor got wet from a tube that was part of the pump system is not right. The tube should be under warranty as well. Most HD people don't know enough to understand what caused the failure. They usually just hand you a new pump, even when there isn't anything wrong with the old one. I would be more forceful and demand a warranty, or I would be writing reviews left and right.
 

LLigetfa

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As Cary said, the sound of rocks is usually from an air leak or cavitation. The leaking buried check valve may have been the root cause for the noise.

Water and electrics are not good so the water may have lead to the pump's demise.

The tank can be superficially tested by checking the air pressure of the bladder/diaphragm while the water pressure is zero. If too low and added air does not hold, then it is bad. In some rare edge cases, the pressure could be too high. If the pump is under a fake rock, where is the tank? Where is the pressure switch? The switch and its sense line should be close to the tank. I infer that those are under the rock.

The check valve probably did not need to be there. Swing versus spring loaded would make no difference in that application. There should only be one check valve and that would be the foot valve at the bottom of the well.
 

Banjo Bud

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Katherine, I have no idea what the answers are to your pump problem, but I do know one thing. After coffee came out my nose several times while reading your post, you need to change careers and be a comedian. Unless you already are, and if that’s the case, when & where is your next show? I’ll be there.
 

Reach4

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kind of had a "rocks in a can" sound others have described.
To search out a vacuum leak, you can sop each joint with a wet rag to see if the pumping improves. Alternatively, you can cover each joint with shaving cream. If you see the shaving cream being sucked in on one joint, you have found your leak. That leak may be easily DIY fixed.
 

Hating well life

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Hey I SCREAM that to every faucet, toilet, & shower in my house every time I have to turn on/use cold water! The smell is absolutely repulsive & lingers around long after the water is turned off.
 

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Hey I SCREAM that to every faucet, toilet, & shower in my house every time I have to turn on/use cold water! The smell is absolutely repulsive & lingers around long after the water is turned off.

Hey it is your well system! You can just complain and put up with it, or you can do something about it. Rotten egg smell is usually sulfur. Aerating the water is usually all you have to do to get rid of the smell. There are several ways to do that. A Sulfur Eliminator aerates the water in the well. A Micronizer or bleeder orifice system will aerate the water in the pressure tank. Then there are water softeners with many different features to do many different things. And although I don't really care for them, a whole hose RO system will take everything out except pure H2O.

Most water supplied by a city comes from surface water like from lakes. This water smells bad and has everything in it from fish crap to protozoa. Just a matter of filtering out what you don't want and leaving what you do want.
 

Hating well life

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Hey it is your well system! You can just complain and put up with it, or you can do something about it. Rotten egg smell is usually sulfur. Aerating the water is usually all you have to do to get rid of the smell. There are several ways to do that. A Sulfur Eliminator aerates the water in the well. A Micronizer or bleeder orifice system will aerate the water in the pressure tank. Then there are water softeners with many different features to do many different things. And although I don't really care for them, a whole hose RO system will take everything out except pure H2O.

Most water supplied by a city comes from surface water like from lakes. This water smells bad and has everything in it from fish crap to protozoa. Just a matter of filtering out what you don't want and leaving what you do want.
I wish it were water from the city! I live in a city just voted as having the best tap water in the country. However, I just moved to 1 of the only rural parts of that city where everyone has their own well for water. We are considered part of the city for postal address purposes only I think...we don't get trash service or city water like the rest of the city does. Anyway to make matters more challenging, we are renting our house, which is a guest house on the homeowners' property. The homeowners have all the control & knowledge about the well & water & we're just left guessing. They live in the main house on the property, but are out of town 50% of the time, for weeks at a time. They have a peroxide injection system, which worked fine for the 1st couple of months we lived here, then all of a sudden, the cold water smelled bad every single time we turned it on or flushed the toilet. I don't know if it smells more like sewage or rotten eggs, I just know I could never bathe in it or wash dishes. Oddly, the hot water still smelled fine for the next several weeks. Then a few days ago the hot water started smelling bad like the cold water. I think the hot water smelling ok was what got us by the past several weeks but with both smelling so bad, well, the dishes are piling up& I'll be showering at my parents'house. The homeownes returned home yesterday after being gone for a month, & low & behold today the smell is clearing up. Is the stagnant water in their main house while they're out of town causing the bad smell in our house somehow? We are clueless as to how this all works! Seems the other possibility is that they're intentionally turning something off when they're gone to save $ on the peroxide solution &/or electricity. I refuse to believe that anyone could possibly live with this smell in their house, much less bathe in it or wash clothes & dishes with it, so that tells me either the problem is just in our house or something they're doing intentionally is causing the problems for us. any ideas?
 

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I am sorry you have sulfur in your water. Even the best city tap water is terrible when compared to my well water. There are lots of ways to clean up the sulfur, which is what makes the rotten egg smell. Usually the water heater gets hot enough to kill the sulfur, which is why you don't smell it on the hot side. Keeping the water heater turned up to about 140 will help with that. Peroxide injection is another way. My favorite is the Sulfur Eliminator, because it only uses air to kill the sulfur. Tell the landlord if he had a sulfur eliminator and a Cycle Stop Valve you both would have city like constant pressure and water that doesn't stink.
 

Reach4

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They have a peroxide injection system, which worked fine for the 1st couple of months we lived here, then all of a sudden, the cold water smelled bad every single time we turned it on or flushed the toilet. I don't know if it smells more like sewage or rotten eggs, I just know I could never bathe in it or wash dishes. Oddly, the hot water still smelled fine for the next several weeks. Then a few days ago the hot water started smelling bad like the cold water. I think the hot water smelling ok was what got us by the past several weeks but with both smelling so bad, well, the dishes are piling up& I'll be showering at my parents'house. The homeownes returned home yesterday after being gone for a month, & low & behold today the smell is clearing up. Is the stagnant water in their main house while they're out of town causing the bad smell in our house somehow? We are clueless as to how this all works! Seems the other possibility is that they're intentionally turning something off when they're gone to save $ on the peroxide solution &/or electricity.

It could be that the peroxide system needs some maintenance, that the peroxide is getting old, or even that the solution tank that holds the peroxide solution ran dry.

Those systems that use a peristaltic pump (Stenner is the lead brand) to do the pumping should have a tube replaced something like annually. Those systems that draw the solution with a venturi action during flow might have some cleaning chore.

I presume you have discussed this with the landlords, and they say it works fine?
 

Hating well life

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It could be that the peroxide system needs some maintenance, that the peroxide is getting old, or even that the solution tank that holds the peroxide solution ran dry.

Those systems that use a peristaltic pump (Stenner is the lead brand) to do the pumping should have a tube replaced something like annually. Those systems that draw the solution with a venturi action during flow might have some cleaning chore.

I presume you have discussed this with the landlords, and they say it works fine?

Peroxide isn't old but is kept in a hot garage (where the entire system is), which isn't ideal based on what I've read. Peroxide tank didn't run dry because they showed us where it is in case we need to add more while they're gone. Oddly, both times they were gone for a month, the level of peroxide solution in the tank looked like it didn't move AT ALL. We also tried adjusting the percentage on the tank, which I guess is the concentration of peroxide. It's usually set to 20-30%, & out of frustration & sheer desperation, we jacked it up to double that for several days...didn't seem to help & yet still the level didn't change...makes no sense. About ready to pull my hair out! There's no rhyme or reason to this nonsense, & it's extremely stressful! We even drained our water heater to see if that helped. Surprise surprise - it didn't! Every time we've mentioned water problems (smell, pitch black water filling toilet, etc) to landlords, they've said that a power outage caused the timer to malfunction or that they recently adjusted the timer or replaced a filter & that likely caused it. Made sense when water was ok the first 2 months with only 1 or 2 temporary hiccups in quality. After that, we've had 2 or 3 months of all shitty unusable water with 1 or 2 hiccups of water that seemed decent enough to wash a few dishes. That smell every time we flush the toilet...it just lingers throughout the house for almost an hour. Feels like we live in a port a potty. Also, it isn't ALWAYS the sulfur/sewage smell...sometimes the hot water smells like, well, the only way I can describe it is old hot urine. I mean, I can't say I've ever smelled old hot urine, but that's the best description I have. Put the water in a cup & smell it & it damn near gags me. The 3rd nasty smell is like lake water. When my boyfriend goes fishing & brings home a bucket of feeder fish for his turtles...the water that's left behind in the bucket smells exactly like our well water sometimes. Cold water has sulfur smell quite frequently, might have lake smell sometimes, but old urine smell only comes in the hot water sometimes. I turn on all the cold water in the house & run it for 5-10min when I get fed up with the smelly water. No idea if it helps...if it does, it isn't consistent. Also, this timer thing they talk about - could that mean that I'm only supposed to get good water during the day (or from 6am - midnight), for example? I would come unglued if I found out THAT'S the source of my problems...I sleep from 6am-2pm, so I'm unsuccessfully trying to use water ALL hours of the day & night. If there's a certain time for good water, somebody damn well shoulda mentioned that by now. Anyway, yes will be discussing with landlord when they return. Something isn't working properly & I can't live like this any longer.
 
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