Submersible well and pump replacement questions....

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by PJW73NH, May 28, 2016.

  1. PJW73NH

    PJW73NH New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Greetings,

    Thanks to all for a great set of forums. I've learned a lot over the past few days lurking here. It's time to come out play. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post.

    I am contemplating replacing my well pump sometime this summer. Why? Because it's 32 years old, I'd like to do it myself and I DO NOT want to do it in the middle of a New Hampshire winter. It has served us well for all of this time. Never tripped a breaker or ran dry. No issues in 32 years. I bought the house new and it has 16 "fixtures". 3 toilets, 3 bath sinks, 1 bath, 1 shower, 1 kitchen sink, clothes washer, dishwasher, fridge with ice-maker and 4 garden hose bibs that are only used for an occasional lawn watering or car wash. No irrigation, or swimming pools etc.

    What I know. The well cap stamps say it was installed 4/84, casing 21 ft, GPM 5, Depth 2. Yes two. Did they leave off any zero(s)? Who knows. The well installer is out of business (retired and late) and the family company has no records. Nor does the state. In NH well drillers were not required to submit well details to the state until after 1986. The pump is a 3 wire plus bare copper ground from the well to the house. From the pitless to the well tank inside the basement is approx 50'. The Franklin controller is model 2801050103 1/2 hp.

    I have a very vague recollection that when we purchased the house there was some paperwork that indicated the well was around 175 feet. This is a very vague recollection and may not even be the case.

    Certainly cost is somewhat of a concern, but I am not interested in cheaping out/penny pinching for a few hundred dollars over the course of the whole project. I want to do this right.

    Because I'll most likely be doing this over a weekend, I'd like to have all my materials purchased ahead of time. Pump, electrical connectors, torque arrester, hose clamps, electrical tape etc. I'm going to add a safety rope while I have it up) I have access to an electric pump puller and a pitless puller.

    So the questions. How to find out the depth of the well and the set point? Can I do this without/before pulling the pump? DO I care how deep the well is? Which pump? Where the existing pump has served us well, is there a need to go bigger/better? (I'm guessing "they don't make them like they used to".) I have no future plans of "adding-on" to this house. My primary concern is that I get AT LEAST the same performance and the same reliability/longevity out of the new pump. I'm only doing this once. I am pretty sure I want a 3-wire if for no other reason that if any of the control components go bad, I don't have to pull the pump again, and it's already 3-wire. Why not?

    If I get the same size/rated pump, should I get a new controller? Is this a standard practice?

    I have "assisted" (loose term) in two residential and one commercial replacement, so this is not a totally foreign process to me. That said, neither had a pitless. The pipe came straight through the well cap. Is there any trick to getting the pitless of and/or on.

    I welcome any tips/tricks that may be helpful. Also any "gotcha's" to be aware of.

    Thanks again for such a great forum. I look forward to some informative replies.

    PW/NH.
    well pics.jpg
     
  2. craigpump

    craigpump In the Trades

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Occupation:
    Self employed water system tech
    Location:
    Connecticut
    No "safety rope"! The idea of "safety rope" is a con job to remove more money from your pocket, it does nothing to add to the overall quality of the job. You would be much better off investing in a better grade of pipe than using a flimsy rope that could settle down around the pump or break when you pull on it. Both could lead to the rope settling down on the pump trapping it in the well.

    In 30 years of pump service, the only time I've seen a pump come off the pipe is if it ran dry and melted/deformed the pipe. With 5 gpm, that is not a concern. Small domestic pumps simply won't unscrew off the pipe or adapters.

    As for the depth, I'm thinking its 200' deep with a pump @ 175-180'. You have a 1/2 control box, so it's more than likely a 1/2-7. Since you have a dedicated ground, you can use a 3 wire pump, but to meet code, the pump, casing & well cap have to be bonded/grounded back into the house to the breaker box.

    The pitless in mostly a slide type and is very user friendly.

    We would put at least 2 TA style torque arrestors on this job.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    How old is the house. If it was built earlier, the pitless could be something other than the common trapezoidal type. Look down to see what you see. The trapezoidal pitless normally gets lifted with a NPT pipe (1 inch is common but not always) with a tee at the top and enough pipe out the side of the tee to serve as a handle and make sure that the pitless cannot fall down the hole. So before going further, I would make sure I had a tool that fits.

    Below is a snip from a Franklin V-series pump document. Most other 5-GPM 1/2 pumps would have somewhat similar characteristics. You could measure the cutoff PSI and predict depth to water. You would not want to subject your pressure tank to that pressure. Cutoff PSI would be deadhead into a gauge, and you would only want the pump doing that for maybe 30 seconds or less.

    You could also drop a line to measure distance to water if you don't have torque arresters. Some recommend against torque arrestors, and other like them. What diameter is your casing? You may be able to look down the hole. If you direct the sunlight down the hole with a mirror, you may be able to estimate the water depth.


    It is the distance to water that determines what pump is appropriate. It takes pretty much the same pumping effort to pump water whose surface is at 80 ft whether the pump is at 120 or 180 ft. I guess the point is that except for replacing the drop pipe, it is not so important to know how deep the well is or the pump is.
    Which pump would last longer-- the current pump with a new start capacitor in the control box, or a new pump. I don't know. I am not a pro.

    If your drop pipe is threaded schedule 80 PVC, you could reuse that. If the couplers are PVC, should you replace with stainless? If you keep the PVC couplers, it is more important to not over-torque. If you have polyethylene, you can reuse that too.

    While things are out, you could clean the well. A big compressor (200 to 300 CFM) makes a really impressive geyser with sediment flying out. A home made air lift pump takes much longer but can work with just a few CFM.

    If you want to be able to monitor the water level later for some reason, you could run a tube down to near the pump taped to the drop pipe. The distance from the water surface to the bottom of the tube determines how much air pressure you can have. If you apply air and can only get the pressure to 21 PSI, that means there is 50 ft of water above the bottom of the tube. Most people don't do that. If you are not in an area where wells go dry, you probably don't want to bother with that.

    Your new pump could be a 1/2 HP 7 GPM pump or a 3/4 HP 7 GPM pump depending on how deep the water is. Or you could stay with another 1/2 HP 5 GPM pump, since that has been so successful.

    Scotch 33+ or 66 electrical tape are a couple of the suitable tapes. You don't want to cheap out on the tape.


    img_4.png
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  5. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

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    Owner of a Water Well and Pump Repair Business
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    I agree 100% with Craig pump. I would try to match the pump up to whatever you have now. Replace the wire and consider changing the drop pipe if it's not in good shape.
     
  6. ThirdGenPump

    ThirdGenPump In the Trades

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    Apr 8, 2016
    Location:
    MA
    I'm in the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' camp. A new pump is only warrantied for 5 years. The pump you have now could still last longer than that. I have a number of customers with installations from the 70's that are still running fine. A few from the 60's. Yeah your pump is old and could die any day but save the money and replace it when it dies a natural death.
     
  7. craigpump

    craigpump In the Trades

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    Apr 12, 2012
    Occupation:
    Self employed water system tech
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I like the way Third Gen thinks, but......pumps die at the worst possible time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays.... Being proactive, especially with a pump that's 32 yrs old isn't a bad idea.

    Whatever you do, don't but a second rate pump from a big box store! Buy a top of the line pump, I like Grundfos but you'll get differing opinions... Just don't buy some contractor grade or Home Depot POS and expect it to last.

    Food for thought, if the tank is 32 yrs old, I'd consider changing that as well.
     
  8. PJW73NH

    PJW73NH New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2016
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Thank you all for your time and effort replying. I certainly appreciate it.

    Answering your questions...

    Craig: OK. You've talked me out of a safety rope.

    <<<As for the depth, I'm thinking its 200' deep with a pump @ 175-180'. You have a 1/2 control box, so it's more than likely a 1/2-7. >>>

    Can I presume that 1/2 -7 is shorthand for a 1/2 HP 7GPM rated pump?

    <<<< Since you have a dedicated ground, you can use a 3 wire pump, but to meet code, the pump, casing & well cap have to be bonded/grounded back into the house to the breaker box.>>>

    Couple of questions on this. My main electrical panel has a double 20 breaker feeding the double 15 at the pump control box location via 12-2 Romex. The double 15 breaker feeds the well system. At the well cap, there are only the 3 wires. RYB. Could the copper ground be at the casing where I can't see it? It must go SOMEWHERE.... This is how it came with the house. See attached pic.

    Glad the pitless is user friendly.

    Are the TA style torque arresters you speak of, the "football" type that attach with a couple of stainless hose clamps and electrical tape? I presume there will be at least one on my current system. Any strategy as to where to place the second one?

    Reach: House was built in 1984. 32 years old. I am the original and only owner. I CAN see that the pitless is a trapezoidal slide type as you mention. I have access to a "T" type puller. Are the O-Rings a standard size? Should I replace it while I have it out? From what I can see, I am pretty sure the downpipe is 1.25" black poly. The casing is 6 inch ID.

    Can someone help me interpret the pump chart? I am kind of confused as to how to read it. Maybe use my "guestimated" info as an example. Pump at 170-180 ft. static water level at 20-30 ft down from cap. My pump cuts off at 55 psi. See attached pic.

    Thanks again for all the great tips and info.

    Paul.../NH
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 29, 2016
  9. craigpump

    craigpump In the Trades

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    Location:
    Connecticut
    Yep, 1/2-7 is a 1/2hp 7 gpm pump

    The ground could be clamped to the casing below grade, probably where the pitless is. Use new 12/3 plus ground pump cable and bond the ground to the casing with a grounding lug & 1/4" stainless bolt, run a jumper to the new well cap and you're done.

    We usually put 1 TA, the football type over the splices and then another about 50' above that.

    For a straight replacement, I wouldn't worry too much about the charts, it's really more info that you don't need. Replace what you have with a pump of the same specs.
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I don't know about the O-ring replacement. Replacing that does not seem common. I have never pulled a pitless.

    http://bakerwatersystems.com/products/water-well-products/pitless_adapters/brass_slide_adapters shows part numbers for their B-10X.

    Click inbox.
     
  11. craigpump

    craigpump In the Trades

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    Apr 12, 2012
    Occupation:
    Self employed water system tech
    Location:
    Connecticut
    O ring sizes vary, but a good automotive or hydraulic supply house should have replacements.
     
  12. Tory West

    Tory West New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2018
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    ,
    NOTE: Pitless adapters are not a guaranteed easy process. They can be hard to access and "stuck". Making a handle, generally w/ a 1" pvc standard OR Sch40 pipe glued to a 1" male adapter and threaded carefully into the pitless is first. I made, or found, a basic tool to loosen stuck pitless adapts., a simple "hook" of 1/2" galv or iron threaded pipe, 6' to 8' long; THREADED at each end only (which you will cut into two pieces later based on the short one for the hook:maybe 2.5 to 4 inches), and long enough to reach just under the pitless and a few feet above top of the casing for you to yank on. Use a threaded elbow and short threaded pipe - shorter than the well case inside width- to make the 90 degree angle "hook" which must fit easily inside the casing. Place this "hook" under the pitless in a proper place and yank up and down as needed to jar the pitless loose. As usual, things tend to fall so don't let that happen inside your well. It can surely happen, so...
     
  13. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I would never make a handle to pull a pitless with PVC pipe. Use steel pipe to screw into the pitless or you will drop the whole thing in the well.
     
    LLigetfa likes this.
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Those who do use PVC to pull a pitless would use at least schedule 80.
     
  15. Boycedrilling

    Boycedrilling In the Trades

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    Royal City, WA
    Nobody that does this for a living would use PVC of ANY schedule to screw into a pitless unit to pull it.
     
    LLigetfa and valveman like this.
  16. Tory West

    Tory West New Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2018
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Actually, it works fine. I've done lawn sprinkler service for over twenty years and encountered 1hp submersible pumps on a regular basis. I've pulled many pumps, often in my sleep.
    Dug a well in my backyard in '98 with sand bucket, etc. and got stuck at 30 feet. I think if I had let off on the constant weight of sandbags I could have went deeper. I had no knowledge of the precise method of using sandbucket and weight on the casing. However, the 3/4 hp pump at 28 ft waters my yard fine and fills my 15000 gallon pool. The water is clean and doesn't stink.
    BTW: IS this what some people might call the "Good Old Boys" network?
    If so, hope you have a great day, because there's nothing wrong with the words "good old boys". Not one bad word there.
    OR just have a good day, if you think "great" is a little over-the-top and you might end up singing and laughing like Liberace.
    Don't worry about it! That would be a gay day, and I don't think well diggers or sprinkler guys need to get that fresh, just dirty and sweaty.
    The last comment reminded me of the story of:
    A little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
    There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
    Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
    ... and so on.
    If true then I have been that Nobody ...or was I Somebody...
     
  17. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    With a shallow well it might work, but it is not safe. In a deep well or even a shallow well if the pitless sticks, you can break off a PVC pitless tool. Then what you gonna do? Much safer to use a galve steel pitless tool so it can't break off.
     
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