Replacement of Irrigation Pump

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Phoenix2099

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Hi everyone, I need some help/advice/guidance on my shallow well and irrigation pump set-up.
I purchased my house a few years ago, and was told by the sellers that there was a shallow well underneath a shed in the back yard. Knowing nothing about wells, I did not know what questions to ask. Similarly, never having irrigation before, when I called around to have sprinklers put in, I took the company at their word that what was being done was adequate.

Fast forward a few years, (and a several issues later), and here I am-needing to replace the pump (at a minimum), or re-do the entire setup (new well, plumbing, pump, etc.) Some of the issues included: losing prime frequently each season (from leaks in PVC connections); shallow well drying up/pump unable to pull any water; crack/complete disconnection of the PVC piping at the check valve; crack in the neck of electronic control panel.

Since I do not know much about the set-up, I am posting pictures of what things look like now. I will say that in the past when I have called around to companies that did well work, and sent them pictures, each of them said what a terrible set-up I had. But none were willing to do anything about it. So I need to figure out what exactly the issues are, and what, if anything, I can do about them.

What I know: there is a shallow well under the shed. (How deep it is, what the water table is, and how old the pipe is, are all things I do not know.)
What else I know: the shallow well is used solely for irrigation. There are four sprinkler zones, with varying heads in each zone, anywhere from 2-5. When it does operate properly, the pump kicks on when the irrigation is turned on, or when I open up the spigot (before the sprinklers).
The pump is a PD Water Systems PWSJS05 12G30P-A (0.5HP, 12GPM, 30PSI), with a Presflo Electronic Pump Controller # PCPF 16A16S.

So my questions are: what things are wrong with this set-up, and how can I remedy them? (Note that I have the filter removed, but there normally is one in place). Since the housing of the electronic pump controller is broken and needs to be replaced, should I get a different kind of electronic pump controller, or scrap that part all together, and if so, what should it be replaced with? Also, is this (or any) pump operational without an electronic control valve?

My initial plan was to just replace what I have with a newer version of the same set-up, since it is all I know. But after having companies tell me what a disaster everything is, I am thinking of basically starting over. Any advice is helpful at this point. I have reached out to tons of companies, and all have been too busy to come out to even give a quote on doing any work, so I am lost to say the least.
Thanks so much in advance everyone.
 

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WorthFlorida

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1) 1/2HP may have been a good fit because anything larger could overwhelm the well. For irrigation at least 1HP should be used. I prefer 1.5Hp as the best fit. Very large yards or able to draw from a lake 2HP is good.

2) Shallow well water table would be less than 20ft. After 24ft it is not possible to draw water with an above ground pump.

3) Well companies generally do not install the irrigation systems since they are licensed for well drilling only. Some states, like Florida, has a separate license for irrigation.

4) Since you have occasional dry well problems, redoing it will be a waste of resources. Did the well drillers give an estimate on how deep to go for a reliable water flow?

5) How large of an area for irrigation will determine pump size and how many zones would be needed.

6) A small yard may work with just one zone and then all you need is a simple mechanical timer. More than one zone a controller is needed using zone valves, however, there is an indexing valve still out there that only requires a mechanical timer. Each time the pump turns off, the index valve moves to the next zone. Using a mechanical timer, say with four zones, you need to remove a pin to turn off the pump (6 minutes usually) between irrigation zones.

7) What you're calling a controller looks like it's the pressure switch. Irrigation pumps do not use a pressure switch, nearly the same as a pool pump.
 
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Valveman

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First you need a well that can make enough water to irrigate with. But you won't know what you have for a well until you get a pump to test it with. From the pictures I can see the cause of many of the problems you mentioned, and some of them will even make you think the well is being pumped dry when it isn't. May not even be anything wrong with that pump. I looked up the specs and it looks OK. But the controls and plumbing need to be changed if you want it to work.

That Preflo controller thing is the biggest part of your problem. It is supposed to make a pressurized system where you can just open a faucet or turn on a sprinkler zone valve and the pump will start automatically. In doing so that type of controller causes lots of problems and even has problems of its own as you are having now.

If you only use the four zone valves and do not use garden hoses or hydrants a central irrigation controller with a pump start relay maybe all you need.

If a pump start relay is not an option, like when there are multiple timers, and/or you need a pressurized system to use hydrants and such, a pressure tank and pressure switch would be a much better option. Because you have varied size zones you would also need a very large pressure tank or a Cycle Stop Valve, which will work with a very small tank.

You will also need to change the suction to the pump. Either shorten the well pipe or raise the pump, so there is no high spot in the line prior to the pump. Move the filter to the discharge side of the pump. Plumbing PVC or plastic pipe of any kind to the suction side of the pump is not good. I would raise and move the pump so there is a 6"-12" metal nipple between the pump suction and the check valve. The check valve should be connected directly to the metal pipe coming from the well.

I think once you make these changes you will find the well itself is not the problem. But you have to solve the suction and control issues before you will know what the well can do.
 

Phoenix2099

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1) 1/2HP may have been a good fit because anything larger could overwhelm the well. For irrigation at least 1HP should be used. I prefer 1.5Hp as the best fit. Very large yards or able to draw from a lake 2HP is good.

2) Shallow well water table would be less than 20ft. After 24ft it is not possible to draw water with an above ground pump.

3) Well companies generally do not install the irrigation systems since they are licensed for well drilling only. Some states, like Florida, has a separate license for irrigation.

4) Since you have occasional dry well problems, redoing it will be a waste of resources. Did the well drillers give an estimate on how deep to go for a reliable water flow?

5) How large of an area for irrigation will determine pump size and how many zones would be needed.

6) A small yard may work with just one zone and then all you need is a simple mechanical timer. More than one zone a controller is needed using zone valves, however, there is an indexing valve still out there that only requires a mechanical timer. Each time the pump turns off, the index valve moves to the next zone. Using a mechanical timer, say with four zones, you need to remove a pin to turn off the pump (6 minutes usually) between irrigation zones.

7) What you're calling a controller looks like it's the pressure switch. Irrigation pumps do not use a pressure switch, nearly the same as a pool pump.
Thanks much. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the well, other than that its a shallow well-at least according to the sellers. I guess I could cut out a section around the pipe in the floor of the shed, and see if I could slide something down the pipe in an attempt to determine the depth, but not sure that would even work.
I did look at some examples online for determining well depth, and none of the examples showed a well pipe with a 90* bend in it. :rolleyes:
Thanks again for the reply and info.
 

Phoenix2099

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First you need a well that can make enough water to irrigate with. But you won't know what you have for a well until you get a pump to test it with. From the pictures I can see the cause of many of the problems you mentioned, and some of them will even make you think the well is being pumped dry when it isn't. May not even be anything wrong with that pump. I looked up the specs and it looks OK. But the controls and plumbing need to be changed if you want it to work.

That Preflo controller thing is the biggest part of your problem. It is supposed to make a pressurized system where you can just open a faucet or turn on a sprinkler zone valve and the pump will start automatically. In doing so that type of controller causes lots of problems and even has problems of its own as you are having now.

If you only use the four zone valves and do not use garden hoses or hydrants a central irrigation controller with a pump start relay maybe all you need.

If a pump start relay is not an option, like when there are multiple timers, and/or you need a pressurized system to use hydrants and such, a pressure tank and pressure switch would be a much better option. Because you have varied size zones you would also need a very large pressure tank or a Cycle Stop Valve, which will work with a very small tank.

You will also need to change the suction to the pump. Either shorten the well pipe or raise the pump, so there is no high spot in the line prior to the pump. Move the filter to the discharge side of the pump. Plumbing PVC or plastic pipe of any kind to the suction side of the pump is not good. I would raise and move the pump so there is a 6"-12" metal nipple between the pump suction and the check valve. The check valve should be connected directly to the metal pipe coming from the well.

I think once you make these changes you will find the well itself is not the problem. But you have to solve the suction and control issues before you will know what the well can do.
Hi Valveman, Thanks for the info. That makes it much more clear why people had such disdain when looking at pictures of the set-up. The interesting thing is that when this was first installed by the irrigation company, the filter was in fact on the discharge side of the pump. After the first year, and a few initial issues with the pump, the same company came back out and redid the piping, to the way it currently is in the picture above.

I did fail to mention that the pump is controlled by a Hunter Pro-C controller for the sprinklers. I am noting this now because it sounds like by having that, I may not need the Presflo electronic controller at the discharge of the pump. Instead, it sounds like I would be okay swapping that for a pump start relay?

And one other note: There is a spigot between the discharge and valve box. In years past, I have been using it in conjunction with a garden hose, on an Orbit timer, to run drip irrigation in the mornings for my front flower beds, before the sprinklers start. I mention this because that is one other use for the pump/well aside from the four zone sprinklers, and not sure if it changes anything.

Thanks again- I have a few new tasks for the weekend!
 
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