Shallow well foot pump broken?

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by John Manganaro, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. John Manganaro

    John Manganaro New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Location:
    Randolph, MA
    Ok guys, new problem. So I’ve been combing though the forum before posting to see if I could find my answer.



    Situation: I have a 3/4 shallow well jet pump that I use for lawn irrigation (see picture) that for the last year or so has intermittently cycled even without any lawn valves open. I just thought it was a slow leak somewhere between my pump and irrigation valves. The last 3 weeks Ive had the problem where my pump has run dry. Its not that the well has run dry because once I prime it and it pulls a vacuum, after a minute or so it’ll bring back water (clear) and I can run it for hours with no problem. On one occasion, I didn’t catch it and it burned up my impeller.



    I just installed a vacuum gauge on my suction side. When I first turn the pump on, the gauge will read around 7mg Hg and then after about a minute it will start to increase until about 23 mg of Hg and the water starts to flow. If I shut the pump off to see if the vacuum holds, it will start at 7mg of Hg and then slowly over 5/10 minites decrease in vacuum. I’m assuming thats the water going back down the well. Interestingly, it will only pull water if I have an irrigation valve open. It seems that if there isn’t a sufficient “load” of water being drawn from the well through an open irrigation valve, the pump will continue to run and never really pull a strong enough vacuum to pull water up the well. I think that it when my impeller burned up.



    What I think is happening is my foot valve in the bottom of the well has failed and the water is slowly going back down the well. So every time the pump starts, it has to pull that column of water up 25’. You might be able to see in the picture, I have a check valve right at the end of the suction line before it goes into the pump. I don’t think that is the part that’s failing. It wouldn’t have anything to do with water going back down into the well. I also don’t think I have a leak anywhere in my lines before the well. Ive replaced most of the 3/4” line by now. Is there a way to double check that I have a vacuum leak in the lines?



    I don’t know how the foot valve could have gone so quick, I “just” had this replaced about 5 years ago. A pump guy came and put a whole new pipe with the point in. I just want to make sure its the foot valve. I don’t think its that hard to pull the pipe up and replace the point, just seems time consuming. So I want to make absolutely sure that its that before I go ahead with the project.



    On a side note, because I live in Massachusetts… In the winter when I blow all the lines out … if my foot valve is working properly doesn’t that water just sit in my vacuum line and all the way down the well, waiting to freeze and crack my pipe? Is it possible that I don’t even have a foot valve down there (because of that logic)? Thanks in advance for the help.
     

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  2. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Florida
    Are you sure there is a foot valve in the shallow well as there is no reason for it. You have a check valve at the pump. My guess is the check valve is your problem.
     
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  4. John Manganaro

    John Manganaro New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Location:
    Randolph, MA
    Interesting, OK. Is there no need for a foot valve with a shallow well? If my check valve is the problem, does that mean that water is leaking from the check valve back down into the pipe? My other question is why is it taking so long for the pump to pull the vacuum and drag the water all the way up from the bottom of the pipe? Would that have to do with a foot valve to keep the water in the pipe?
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    If you can have a foot valve (check valve plus strainer), then there is no need to for an additional check valve at the input to the pump.

    Your vacuum readings seem low. 7 psi is 363 mmHg Maybe your 23 mmHg was 230 mmHG, which is still not much of a vacuum. Have you checked for vacuum leaks? Try putting the word img_shaving.png into the search box above. Another method is to use a sopping wet sponge or cloth on joints to see if the vacuum increases as you let water get sucked into a joint leak.
     
  6. John Manganaro

    John Manganaro New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Location:
    Randolph, MA
    When I get home in a half an hour I will check my reading. I think I got my millimeters of mercury and pounds per square inch mixed up. I hired a well guy who put in my set up five years ago. I am assuming he knew what he was doing, so if there is a check valve at the pump maybe there is no need for a foot valve. Thoughts? So it is either looking like there’s a bad check valve or a leak Somewhere
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    If that vertical pipe goes right into the ground, rather than into a casing, there will be no foot valve. In that case, you will need to have an above-ground check valve.
     
  8. John Manganaro

    John Manganaro New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Location:
    Randolph, MA
    Yeah the pump goes right to the ground, there is no teasing. That is music to my ears because that means I don’t have to lift the pipe up. So it looks like it’s a bad check valve or a week somewhere in the piping
     
  9. John Manganaro

    John Manganaro New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Location:
    Randolph, MA
    You guys are the best. I just got home with some shaving cream. I found a super tiny leak between the pump and the well. It is amazing a pinhole leak can stop a vacuum. This saves me such a huge amount of time and energy. I thought I was gonna have to pull up the pipe. I don’t even think I need to replace the valve next to the pump. All along it was just a small leak. The vacuum holds at seven or eight Inches of mercury. Not millimeters. Just checked on that
     
    valveman and Reach4 like this.
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