shallow well suction side leak

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myk3ha

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I have a relatively new shallow well in the Tampa Bay area with four 4 ft long 1-1/4" plastic points about 20 feet in the ground. I have water at 13 ft and I'm using a 2 horse Red Lyon irrigation pump and a 20-gal pressure tank.

It has been working okay for about a year until about a month ago when the pump lost its prime and I have been unable to get it going again. We did have a long dry spell here so I thought it might just be dry, but I have a test hole that I can bob and found water at 13 ft. I thought it might be the pump so I rebuild the pump and still couldn't get it to prime so I installed a trash pump, and it wouldn't pump anything either.

When I dug the well and laid the pipe, I installed a check valve at the top of each well point. I read that plastic check valves can get stuck closed over time, so I dug up the top of all the points and replaced them with a ball valve, a tee, and an adapter almost at ground level with a threaded plug.

A couple of the check valves were not working as freely as I would have wanted but I don’t believe that the check valves were causing a problem and I was not happy to remove them as I believed that they would serve the system better on each well point rather than having just one adjacent to the pump where I have it now.

I wondered if maybe the micro-slots in the well point were clogged so I did a perc test on all of them, and the water level returned to 13 ft almost immediately, so I concluded that they are not clogged.

Next, I started looking for a suction leak by shutting off the ball valves on all the points and pressurizing the suction side with air. The ball valves are the last thing on the suction side before the pipe that runs down to the point, and I am pressurizing just before the 2” line enters the pump minus the check valve and have found that starting with 10 pounds of air pressure, I’m losing a little less than 2 pounds of air every 5 minutes.

So finally, here’s my question--is any leak, no matter how small, enough to cause the problem I’m having getting the pump primed? I do have one more joint to check but I wanted to put this question the readers here before I break into my slab and stem wall to check it. Should I try the trash pump again to see if I can perhaps overwhelm the leak and conclude that I need a stronger irrigation pump which I’m not opposed to replacing if it means not opening the slab and stem wall?

My apologies for going on to such lengths here but I wanted to fully describe the current state of the system and everything that I’ve checked.

Thank you all in advance for your advice and comments.

Mike
 

Reach4

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Slather each accessible joint with shaving foam. Run the pump. Does any shaving foam get sucked in?
 

Valveman

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When a pump loses prime the pipe closest to the pump gets hot and causes suction leaks. Yes a small leak will cause a loss of prime, but you also need to make sure the pump is drawing a vacuum. Might test the pump drawing from a bucket.
 

myk3ha

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When a pump loses prime the pipe closest to the pump gets hot and causes suction leaks. Yes a small leak will cause a loss of prime, but you also need to make sure the pump is drawing a vacuum. Might test the pump drawing from a bucket.
I hadn't thought of testing the pump on a bucket of water, so thank you for that suggestion, Valveman. I have, since my original post definitely isolated the leak to an ell in my stem wall and under a slab that'll be messy to get to but could be worse and will be fixing that tomorrow and then if it still won't prime, try your suggestion and put it to a bucket of water. Thanks, Mike
 

myk3ha

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Slather each accessible joint with shaving foam. Run the pump. Does any shaving foam get sucked in?
Thank you for the suggestion, Reach4. I think I've already found my leak though with air pressure and bubble leak detector. Fixing it tomorrow and hoping for the best. Mike
 

Valveman

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I hadn't thought of testing the pump on a bucket of water, so thank you for that suggestion, Valveman. I have, since my original post definitely isolated the leak to an ell in my stem wall and under a slab that'll be messy to get to but could be worse and will be fixing that tomorrow and then if it still won't prime, try your suggestion and put it to a bucket of water. Thanks, Mike
If you put the discharge hose back in the bucket it will circulate the same water over and over and let you get a good test on the pump.
 
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