No water and well pressure is at zero

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by Mcr217, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. Mcr217

    Mcr217 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2020
    Location:
    York, PA
    I just bought a home on a well and find that the water in the house frequently stops running, especially after doing laundry, but also several times throughout the day. I check the pressure gauge and it reads zero. I reset the pressure switch and I hear the water start to run as the pressure increases, then the pump comes on and I have water for a period of time. I hear the pump run as we use the water for some time but randomly it stops running and again no pressure at the gauge. It appears the tank is only 1/3rd full as I can see condensation on the outside of the tank to a point.
    This is inconvenient and I'm a bit worried there is a problem somewhere in the system as I've never had to deal with having to manually flip a switch to have the well keep up with the water demand in the house. We dont even use that much.
    Any ideas? I'm no plumber either so I could be missing something.
     
  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    This sounds backwards as the pump would need to be running for the pressure to increase.

    Perhaps your well pump fills a cistern so then a second pump takes water from the cistern to pressurize the home's plumbing lines? Perhaps post a diagram or photos of your setup.

    Do you know the depth and diameter of your well? If your well pump is submersible, do you know how deep the pump is located? What size is your pressure tank and what On & Off pressure is the pressure switch set to?
     
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  4. Mcr217

    Mcr217 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2020
    Location:
    York, PA
    Perhaps I didnt spell it out right. We run out of water, and I have to lift the lever at the switch in which the pump turns on and the pressure rises.
    As for the other info, I'll have to get that in the AM. I'll take a picture of my setup and see if I cant find out some more info on the well and post it. Ill be in touch soon. Thanks
     
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Semi-Retired
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    NW Ontario, Canada
    Low pressure cutoff switches are more of a nuisance then beneficial. I suggest you replace it with one that does not have a low cutoff. If your well is low producing and risks running low, then you need a real pump protector.

    Any time you draw water faster than the pump can supply it, the low cutoff will trip. You need to determine why the pump cannot keep up with the demand.
     
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    It is normal for two thirds to be air. That is how the tank stores pressure.
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Reading the title "No water and well pressure is at zero", I was sure hoping that the person had a lever on the side of the pressure switch.

    With a tire pressure gauge, while the water pressure gauge is at zero, check the air precharge pressure on the tank. With a submersible pump, that pressure should be 2 psi lower than the pressure that the water pressure falls to before the pressure switch clicks on. The reason for that lower pressure is to let the tank supply water between when the switch clicks on and the new water arrives.

    I suspect you have too much pressure. If you don't have a compressor avoid letting too much air out. Since the problem does not happen all of the time the pump runs, maybe just let out 1 psi of air. If the problem happens again, let out 1 more psi.

    LLigetfa's thoughts on troubleshooting makes sense, and putting in a pressure switch with no lever may be worthwhile, but you may cure it all by letting out 1 or 2 psi.

    The low-pressure cutoff switches have some merit, but they don't always trip when you wish they would. For example, the water level in the well could drop to the intake. The pump is pumping water and air both. The pressure stays above 20 psi on your 30/50 switch, and the pump keeps going. If you have a well that runs out of water, a more sophisticated detection and cutoff system could be warranted. For now, I would try the small drop in precharge air.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    I overlooked mentioning the precharge being set too close. Keep in mind that the air pressure gauge needs to be calibrated to the water pressure gauge.
    You mention that it has merit but did not say what merit. IMHO, the downside trumps and perceived upside. In the scenario you provided, the submersible could lose prime and the pressure not drop further resulting in a complete meltdown.

    IMHO, the low cutoff switch feature is sales a gimmick. I fell for it long ago thinking it has merit but ended up lobotomizing it.
     
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Certainly there is too much perceived upside. I expect there are times then there is a real upside. False tripping is not a real problem I don't think, but failure to trip when you would like it to is.

    In one scenario, the load could be taking 2.4 gpm and the well is providing 2.1 gpm of water continuously. No meltdown. Would a low pressure cut-out trip off in that situation? I don't think so.

    I don't think losing prime is the right term. I don't think a deep well submersible loses prime. It can certainly over-pump the well.
     
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    If you draw faster than the pump can supply, you get a nuisance trip. Only upside would be a burst pipe that overdraws will trip it and reduce flooding.

    Losing prime is a real and present danger. If the water draw ceases but the pump sucks air as it is trying to reach shut-off pressure, that air causes a loss of prime and subsequent meltdown. During meltdown, the steam generated causes more loss of prime.
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    We have a different view of terminology as to what prime means for a pump. We agree that purely sucking air is bad and can damage the pump.

    In my example in #8, the pump is pumping 2.1 gpm of water along with some amount of air. So I don't see the pump overheating. Nor do I expect I could rely on a low-pressure-cutoff switch to cut the pump off.
     
  12. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    All good advice here. Get rid of the low pressure cut off switch and replace it with one that does not have that lever. Then use a Cycle Sensor to protect your pump from running dry. The Cycle Sensor will not shut the pump off if you just open one too many faucets. it will only shut the pump off if it really pumps the well dry. Then the restart delay timer on the Cycle Sensor can be set for say 10 minutes. That way it lest the well recover for 10 minutes then automatically restarts the pump, so you don't have to go lift that lever on the pressure switch.

     
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