Pump tripping breakers

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by Cheladamama, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. Cheladamama

    Cheladamama Country girl born and bred

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    Well pump is barely a year old. Last week it started blowing Breakers. When this happens the remaining items that I may have on are working at half capacity. This includes the refrigerator the coffee pot any lights or lamps. Any ideas?
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Tell us about the pump. Jet pump pulling water from a sand point? Submersible pump with a control box?

    Tell us about the breaker -- two-pole 15A, or what? Is it the breaker dedicated to the pump that blows, or the main breaker blows?

    How long does the pump pump before the breaker blows?
     
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  4. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    The pump should not be tripping a breaker, and even if it does it should only trip it's own breaker, which should have nothing to do with the other appliances. Have the main breaker panel checked out. Something is not right.
     
  5. Cheladamama

    Cheladamama Country girl born and bred

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    Its a submersible pump. Monitor and its got a single pole breaker either 15 or 20. When it trips it affects several other units as well. The fridge runs at diminished capacity- cycles frequently for short periods of time and light is very dim. Less than 10 min.
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Possible narrative:

    You reset the pump breaker, and the pump turns on. While the pump is pumping the lights dim and other things seem to run at reduced voltage. At some point, the pump clicks on and off several times, until the breaker trips. Water is being pumped as the pump runs. As the pump clicks on, lights dim. Pump clicks off, light comes back bright. That happens a few times, and then after maybe 10 seconds since the breaker was reset, the pump breaker opens (trips).

    When the breaker trips, the pump goes off, and everything else works fine.

    Correct my narrative to match what happens.
     
  7. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    Is your home equipped with an electric water heater, electric dryer, central A/C or other 240-volt appliances? If yes, after turning off the breaker to the pump, what will happen with the dim lights if you shut off each double pole breaker for the 240-volt appliances? Will there be no change, will the dim lights brighten, will they dim more, or will they stop working altogether?
     
  8. Cheladamama

    Cheladamama Country girl born and bred

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    No. After the pump trips and before breaker is reset is when other things appear to run at a diminished capacity. Dryer and AC unit are 240. I will try to check them tonight but I need to have the pump trip breaker to be a true test.
     
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    You should get the same effect by just turning off the breaker that usually trips.
     
  10. Chucky_ott

    Chucky_ott Member

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    "working at diminished capacity" is not a particularly helpful measure. If you have a voltmeter or perhaps a kill-a-watt meter, you might want to measure the voltage at one of those outlets before and after the breaker trips.
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Further, a multimeter with a wrap-around current reading ability would be very good to see the current through the pump hot in the seconds before the breaker trips.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Cheladamama

    Cheladamama Country girl born and bred

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    So what exactly am I trying to determine? Is this a pump issue or breaker issue or an electrical issue? I guess I would like to know who to contact to fix this problem.
     
  13. Cheladamama

    Cheladamama Country girl born and bred

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    Diminished capacity refers to dimmed lights, coffee maker shuts off if brewing at the time, and won't resume until pump breaker is reset. Refrigerator continues to come off and on (compressor I think) light is very dim inside. TV will shut off.
     
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    If the pump is pulling excess amps and the breaker is tripping as a consequence, measuring the current could determine that. That seems likely.

    Yes. That's it.

    Most likely the problem is the pump, and a pump service person/company would be ideal.

    But yet, those symptoms that you see cannot be explained by just a pump drawing extra current. If the pump is the only problem, maybe some dimming could be expected. But you should not got those fairly extreme symptoms that extends to other things. So an electrician who does pump work or a pump specialist who also does electrical work sounds like the deal.

    I would ask a neighbor or two for recommendations in both categories. I guess electrician would be my first call if you have water and you are not prepared to do electrical troubleshooting, and a well service person if you don't have water.
     
  15. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    Have you shut off the breakers for 240-volt circuits as suggested earlier? Shutoff and reactivate your main 2-pole breaker also to determine if there is any change afterward.
     
  16. Cheladamama

    Cheladamama Country girl born and bred

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    Alrighty then! I believe I have enough info to proceed! I will get on this on Monday as I do have water at this time. Thank you all for your insight. You have been very helpful!
     
  17. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

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    You definitely have an ELECTRICAL problem, you may also have a PUMP problem. A pump installer is not qualified to work on your electrical panel and a pump installer is not qualified to work on your electrical panel
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
    valveman likes this.
  18. drick

    drick In the Trades

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    As Boyce said this is definitely and electrical problem. Your 240 volt electrical service has two hot conductors. One of them is likely failing. Often times this problem originates at the transformer on the pole out in the street. This situation can be dangerous and I would recommend contacting your power company immediately.
     
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  19. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Lubbock, Texas
     
  20. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    I have seen weird things happen when only one hot feed is missing from 240 volt service. 120 volt devices plugged into the 'dead' side of the panel can provide an in-series path to neutral for 240-volt devices, thereby allowing in-series 120-volt devices to operate at reduced capacity that can vary depending on how many other 120-volt devices are also turned-on and which 240-volt appliances are also in operation at that time.

    To determine if there was possibly any initial change with the situation, I asked Cheladamama to report her findings after resetting each 240-volt 2-pole breaker including the panel's main breaker. Unfortunately, she did not do so.

    Sometimes one 240-volt breaker may trip but may not have sufficient force to also trip the joined non-overloaded breaker. Often a tripped breaker may not necessarily appear so in not having moved fully to the tripped position. By requesting she shut-off and reset each 240-volt breaker, was an attempt to ensure a tripped 240-volt breaker was not the cause of her issues. If resetting each breaker did not resolve the issue, then verifying the incoming power using a volt meter inside the panel will likely have been the next recommendation.
     
  21. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    I have seen odd things happen when the neutral return is open and an alternate return formed by the protection ground. The current carried on the neutral varies by how much the two loads are imbalanced so it is affected by what is running at the time. I had one site with intermittent issues and when I investigated, the neutral current was carried by the protection ground terminated on the copper water pipe. There was enough current to heat the water in the pipe.
     
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