Pump works then doesn't.

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by MusherDave, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
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    Minnesota
    Old StaRite HNC-I well pump. Lost water pressure the other day and heard the pump turn on and then after about 2-3 seconds turn off which it continued to do until I went to check it in a crawl space. Of course once I got there , when it actually ran successfully...running for upwards of 30 seconds and resupplying the pressure to the house. The next day though, it returned to the mode of only running for a couple seconds and never pressurizing the system. Today, I took the pump off (not fun) and cleaned up the switch a bit and also checked the pressure in the tank. It showed 20 psi which I then increased to 28 and it held (so I assumed the bladder was ok). I then put everything back together and turned things on discovered things were still the same...(i.e. had 3 false starts followed by in working correctly for the next few. Because I didn't trust it and had to leave for a bit, I turned the pump off...when I got back the false starts were at it again.

    Any help appreciated?
     
  2. RayMan

    RayMan Shared Well Services

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    Self Employed
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    You may have a Pressure Switch that has a Low Pressure cut-out safty feature built into it. If your pressure switch is a Square D the model number ends with M4 if the switch has a low pressure cut-out built into it. If the switch has a low pressure cut-out you need to hold the switch lever in the ON position until the pressure tank gauge reaches 30 psi before letting go of the switch lever. The switch should then stay ON until the pressure tank is fully charged and reaches 50 psi. Also be sure you are not pumping the water in the well casing down to the pump level and have a dry well condition. A Square D low pressure cut-out switch will trip at 10 psi below your cut-in pressure or at 20 psi if your switch cut-in pressure is set at 30 psi.
     
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  4. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    First, a dry well condition does not seem likely as when first checking it I started taking off the priming bolt and there was lots of water and pressure there. I am looking for a permanent solution and do not understand you your suggestion of holding the switch level (which I have not looked for yet) and how it would do anything but pressurize it the one time. As mentioned it will false start a number of times and then kick in and run fine.
    My unit has the switch right on the pump with pressure checking a small tube to the hull of the pump. Thinking a new switch if I can get one.
     
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    It sounds like the thermal overload might be tripping or failing. However, take the cover off the pressure switch and see if the contacts might be bouncing. Where does the switch take its pressure reading from?
     
  6. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    Thanks to both for the replys. The switch has a small tube that runs to the hull of the pump which is where I assume its determining the pressure. Both are quite old.
    Pretty much this one...
    http://www.lockewell.com/index.php?...MIo4q9s8PQ1gIVRLXACh3YJA_6EAYYASABEgLzU_D_BwE
     
  7. RayMan

    RayMan Shared Well Services

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    Could the tube have gotten some debris inside it that is making the switch pressure flucuate causing the false starts?
     
  8. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Lubbock, Texas
    Most likely the start capacitor on the motor is bad. Could also be the centrifugal switch in the back of the motor that turns the capacitor on and off.
     
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    That was next on my list. The centrifugal switch also switches out the start windings which draw a higher current to kick the motor over.

    If the switch contacts are bouncing, then the next question would be how far away is the tank from the pump? Having the pressure sensed at the pump is just a convenience for the manufacturer to be able to deliver an assembled unit. The best place to sense the pressure is as close as possible to the tank. Tank Tees have ports for pressure gauges and switches for that purpose.
     
  10. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    The pump is pretty much right next to the tank. I will take pic if I get a chance today. Currently thinking of replacing the switch and then then possibly the centrifugal switch. Trying to avoid shelling out $400 on a new pump. Would the centrifugal switch cause intermittent issues? (Although I have to say it is not working more than it was working.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  11. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Replace the capacitor first. That is probably the only problem.
     
  12. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    I don't want to challenge Cary's expert opinion, but I think if the pump actually runs for about 2-3 seconds, the start windings and the start cap has done its work already and it should be on the run windings. My guess is the thermal overload is tripping. You could try measuring the amps it is drawing.

    Granted, replacing a start cap might be easy and cheap. I say might cuz I don't know where it is on that model. Looking at a pic of that motor, it does not have the external "hump". Replacing the centrifugal switch is probably a little more work. Not sure where the thermal overload sensor is to get at to swap out in case it is faulty.
     
  13. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    Ok this will be a little disappointing to some but about a decade ago I had replaced another pump in my house and as it happens it is almost identical to the one I am working on and its internals look pretty much brand new. So instead of replacing the parts I grabbed the whole motor assembly and switched it in. Unfortunately the "Seal Plate Gasket" kind of came apart on both. Can I jerry-rig a replacement?
     
  14. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    You should be able to hammer a gasket out of a piece of paper gasket material like you can get at an auto parts store.

    Would have been much easier to steal the start cap out of the old motor.
     
  15. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    Started to do that but once I opened the problem pump it look like it had been submerged at some point in its 50 years of service and it looked rather crappy...so when I opened up the other old pump to grab the start cap...and it looked brand new inside...that is when I decided to grab the whole motor. Short of the plastic seal gasket falling apart...that was pretty easy too.
     
  16. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Sounds like the right thing to do, as the motor being submerged could have caused the problem.
     
  17. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    Yeah...not sure about when it had been submerged. Just that when I opened it up, anything that could rust was rusty.
    That said...

    Found a local pipe place that had the exact gasket and put it on, wrenched things back in place, fired it up and Voila!!!! Works exactly as it should.

    Thank you all for the education and help provided.
     
  18. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Well done. A photo of the pump, including the failed gasket, could be useful to somebody else in the future.
     
  19. MusherDave

    MusherDave New Member

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    You seemed to have not read the whole thread. The failed gasket was not the problem, but I imagine it is probably something that should be expected to be replaced anytime the motor is disconnected from an old pump body.
     
    craigpump likes this.
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