Pressure switch won't adjust.

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by TGinID, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    This has been an all day project since 8:00 this morning, and I'm posting this at 11:00PM. I give up and I'm out of ideas.

    The original problem I was trying to fix was that my system was falling all the way to zero psi with about a 10 sec time lag before the pressure switch would cut in and turn the pump on.

    After reading lots of the posts on here about this sort of thing, I ended up removing the pressure switch to see if the nipple was clogged. It wasn't clogged, but the water was kind of nasty. I flushed it out and decided to go ahead and replace the switch. It's at least 10 years old and the contacts were pretty fried.

    Brought home new 20-40 switch (same as old one) and installed it. The switch wouldn't cut in even after the pressure fell to zero. I could get it to cut in manually, but once started, it wouldn't cut out. It went up to almost 60lbs before I killed the breaker. I have a low pressure system. All the numbers on the pressure gauge are red above 40. I adjusted screw 2 for lower cut out pressure as far as it would go... still won't stop. Called the place I bought switch 1. Tried removing all of it again to make sure it wasn't plugged up. Water in the nipple was clean. "Must be a bad switch. Bring it back."

    2nd 40 mile round trip... installed new switch number 2. It's behaving the same way. I would have thought that if they were 20-40 switches they would at least be in the ball park.

    The pressure tank is only 3 years old. There's no water coming out of the air valve, and it's set for 18 lbs.

    I put a pressure gauge on a yard hydrant to see if the gauge by the pressure switch was way off. It's not.

    I do have some sand in my water, but not so bad that the whole house filter can't go 3 months between changes. The water coming out of the nipple is still clean... I've taken this thing apart like 5 times today and I am out of ideas.

    At this point it will eventually cut in at some point after the system pressure drops to zero. Sometimes after a few seconds, sometimes after a full minute or two. It isn't cutting out till between 55-60 lbs but that too is inconsistent. I have been killing the breaker at about 58 because I just don't want to risk letting it go any higher than that.

    Any suggestions I haven't tried would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and I have a houseful of out of town company arriving tomorrow night. Murphy is running amuck.

    Thanks.
     
  2. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Pressure switches are usually very dependable. It is very unlikely that you had several bad switches in a row. My guess is the pump doesn't start when the switch makes because the overload in the motor tripped when it tried to start. After a minute or so the overload will cool and reset itself, which is when the pump magically comes on. But why it won't stop when the switch opens doesn't make sense to me.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    How did you get the switch to cut in manually? Did you press the armature in the switch?

    Do your switches have levers on the side?
     
  5. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    Thanks for the replies.

    Valveman, I don't think it's the pump. I am watching the contacts on the switch and they are not opening and closing at the proper pressures. I've loosened the screw #2 which the instructions call the differential screw to lower the cut out pressure as far as it will go. It's not even touching the spring any more, yet it's letting the pressure go way up past 40lbs before it opens the contacts and cuts out (if it does). Most of the times I have tried it I have ended up killing the breaker because it just lets the system continue to pressurize way past 40.

    On the low end the contacts are just not closing until the pressure on the gauge is zero and the faucet is just dribbling. Sometimes it happens within 10 seconds or so, but it's taken up to 2-3 minutes before the contacts close, and then the pump starts immediately.

    Reach 4, it is a simple switch. There is no low pressure start switch on the side. The one time I started it manually I had the breaker off and put slight pressure on the footplate below adjustment screw #1 or range as they describe it in the instructions and the armature popped over instantly and made contact. I turned the breaker back on and it started the pump immediately. The instructions say to tighten screw #1 to raise both the cut in and cut out pressures, then loosen screw #2 to lower the cut out pressure if needed.

    I can't get it to come on at the bottom end, and I can't get it to cut out at the top end. I guess I could continue to tighten screw #1 to see if eventually the cut in pressure will get high enough for it to start when it needs to, but that simultaneously raises the cut out pressure, and I have already loosened screw #2 to lower the cut out pressure as far as that screw will allow and it's still going way too high.

    It just doesn't make any sense to me.
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    How is this switch connected? You checked the nipple, but is there another possible restriction?
    You want to flush out your pressure tank now and then too.

    How about putting a pressure gauge and pressure switch on the same nipple? That way, any path restriction would also show up in the gauge. Is your pressure switch nipple on a tank tee?
     
  7. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    Switch is on about a 8" tall nipple off the tank tee. The pressure gauge is next to it on the tank tee. After the water passes the pressure gauge it goes to the filter which was just cleaned out and replaced about a week ago.

    upload_2018-6-6_7-57-26.jpeg
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    It's hard to imagine a clog that is not in the nipple. How about replacing one of those plugs on the side of the tank tee with a drain valve, and use that to remove sediment?
     
  9. tvl

    tvl Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Location:
    South Carolina
    First, I'm not one of the experts on this site, but I do maintain my own system and have learned much over the past many years.

    You stated: The one time I started it manually I had the breaker off and put slight pressure on the footplate below adjustment screw #1 or range as they describe it in the instructions and the armature popped over instantly and made contact - what I deduct from this is either: A) you have purchased a couple of defective switches; which I feel is a very HIGHLY unlikely situation, but a slight possibility B) on the other-hand, I feel there has to be some sort of restriction at the switch. You stated the water coming out of the nipple was clean, BUT what about full flow. I would suggest removing the pressure switch and verifying water flow is adequate. As a mater of fact, I would go ahead and replace that old nipple while I was at it!

    Possibly a photo of you tank and pressure switch setup would be helpful for those trying to help.

    For now, and based on what you have described, I feel there is a restriction of some kind affecting the pressure switch. It is the only thing that makes sense!

    PS: After some additional thought, I have another idea. Although this may not make sense as to why I ask, when the tank did fill and you manually shut the system off with the breaker, did the tank HOLD pressure? Or did the pressure slowly decrease?
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
  10. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Royal City, WA
    Normally you NEVER touch screw #2, the pressure differential screw. It should have been preset to a 20 psi range between on and off. When you adjust this screw all you are changing is that differential.

    You should be adjusting screw #1. When you adjust it, BOTH the on and off are being adjusted at the same time.

    Adjust screw #2 back to where it was when you bought it. Then adjust screw #1 to the pressure you want the pump to shut off. Then see what pressure the pump is turning on at. If this needs adjusted, then and ONLY THEN, do you adjust the differential screw.
     
  11. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    That 1/4" nipple to the pressure switch looks like galvanized? Galve nipples are notorious for clogging. I agree with everyone else that the path the the pressure switch is restricted. Maybe just replace that galv nipple with a brass or Stainless one.
     
  12. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Royal City, WA
    Also replace the pressure gauge they are notorious for breaking or being inaccurate after a shot period of time, unless you are 100% sure that the gauge is still working correctly.

    It’s is almost automatic that we replace the pressure gauge on every service call.
     
  13. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    Thanks for all the input. I talked to a well company this morning who said if I touched screw#2 I might as well throw the switch in the trash. Ugh... why do they even put screw #2 on there if it's instant death?

    Tank holds pressure just fine. I think the pump and the electrical are just fine. They are doing exactly what the pressure switch is asking them to do. Everything seems to point back to the switch, or like you've said, a restriction to the switch.

    I'll try swapping out the nipple (it is currently galv.), pressure gauge, and pressure switch one more time, and I'll try to add a drain valve if I can figure out how to squeeze it in with the tight space I have.

    Thank you for all of your suggestions. For now I don't have time to make the 40 mile trip back to town before company shows up so I will probably put the old switch that I was trying to replace back on and see if it limps me through the weekend.

    If none of that does it I'm looking at almost $200 just to get someone to the front door, so again, I really appreciate everyone's input.

    I'll let you know how it turns out.
     
  14. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Messing with screw #2 doesn't make the switch go bad. If you just loosen all the way off, or even take off the nut to #2, it will just be 15-17 PSI between on and off. Then all your adjustment needs to be done with screw #1. Both on and off settings will then increase or decrease with the adjustment of screw #1.
     
  15. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

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    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    Thanks valveman. I tried Boycedrilling's suggestion to put everything back to where it was when I got it. I've been messing with it, and now it comes on pretty religiously at what the pressure gauge says is 20 lbs, but it's not shutting off till about 58lbs according to the gauge on the tank tee. That's a 40 lb spread, which is way out of line for what it's supposed to be doing, right?

    I am going to try replacing the pressure gauge tonight. I am wondering if it's giving me bad info.

    I pulled the nipple and it's totally clean after my running a chopstick through it and flushing from yesterday... makes me wonder about the gauge. At least the switch is kicking on consistently now... I just can't swear the pressure is what the gauge is saying it is, so that's next.
     
  16. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
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    Can't be sure of anything until you get a good gauge. Guess I need to get me a chopstick to put in my toolbox. :)
     
  17. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

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    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    valveman, heh heh... yah it's the best I could come up with at the time. I was trying to avoid taking the nipple completely off since it wasn't leaking... At least I figured if it was obstructed I would feel something and then have to take it apart. Guess I really didn't save myself any trouble.
     
  18. TGinID

    TGinID New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Location:
    Idaho
    So now, after replacing the pressure gauge, turns out the first one was spot on. Pressure switch kicks in at 20, but won't kick out till 60....

    I'm out of ideas...
     
  19. tvl

    tvl Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Again, I'm no expert, but I know what I would do:

    1- A pressure switch senses when to energize when it reaches the cut-in point set by the operator. Conversely, the pressure switch senses when to de-energize when it reaches the cut-out point set by the operator.

    2- Assuming the pressure switch has been set correctly, but yet will not operate as expected, I can only believe that there is a restriction of some type in the line feeding the pressure switch. I'm still of the belief the switch is not receiving adequate "flow" in order for it to operate as expected. I would therefore highly recommend the nipple be replaced. Once the nipple is removed, you would be able to see if the opening it screws into is also completely free of obstruction. This is an inexpensive and easy task and will rule out any concerns about a restriction.

    Just my 2 cents!
     
  20. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Feb 6, 2011
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    Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Yes, provided there is not sediment/mineral buildup under the diaphragm. If there is buildup, then adjusting it might not affect the kick-in setting as it should.
     
  21. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I use my air compressor to test pressure switches. Opening or closing a valve on the air line makes the pressure go up and down so I can check or set the pressure switch to the pressure I want.
     
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