The Well Pump is Acting Up Again

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Dixon

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My last visit to the forum was about 3 years ago and was about the same well. We fixed it then, hopefully we can solve it now.

To recap:
The residential well is 33 years old, 27' deep, and in the Atlantic Coastal Plain Aquifer (sand/fine gravel). The well has a 2" casing with a 1 1/4" check valve between the casing and the pump. (I removed the drop pipe and plumbed into the well casing 10-15 years ago). The pump is a rebuilt 1hp SNE StaRite jet pump (pump's been in operation @ 3 years). It adequately supplied 6+ gpm for the house & seasonal lawn irrigation. Pressure switch adjusted 30/50, tank cut in 28 psi. The tank test is good.
In 2019 the rebuilt pump ran unloaded at 6.24 amps (discharge valve wide open)
It ran 6.72 amps loaded (valve nearly closed, 50 psi). Pump data plate shows 7.4 max amps (240v)

Three years ago the well's static water level was thirteen feet from the ground's surface. Today the water level is 16 feet down. The water table has dropped three feet. Presumably due to drought? We have recently endured moderate to severe drought after several years of being awash in rainfall following numerous hurricanes and two floods.

I tested my sprinkler system in May this year after it was shut down for the winter. I found out the well system was losing pressure & spitting air after 7-9 minutes of run time.
I indefinitely stopped watering the lawn, adjusted the pressure switch down to 20/40 & the pressure tank cut in to 18 psi. I decided to nurse the system as long as I could and monitor the situation until two weeks ago when it finally failed to build pressure. Naturally it got hot, melted fittings and lost prime. I came home to discover no water and a hot, running pump. I guessed the motor was @ 150° or more. I could place my hand on the motor casing but I wouldn't want to leave it there.

I took the pump apart, resealed it with new parts (impeller/diffuser/seals) and today saw 6.25 amps per leg while filling the pressure tank. The pump continues to erratically build pressure just as it did before the meltdown. The pump may or may not initially build pressure when the switch kicks in. It may just spin and no pressure builds. After a minute or so it may "catch" prime and build to the proper cut off pressure (40 psi). Or it may not. Incidentally, the old impeller and diffuser showed no damage. The pump rebuild really helped nothing.

The problem is frequent and occurs from one cycle to the next. It may run for a minute or more before it picks up the water column and begins pressurizing the system. It may fill to 40 psi and shutoff correctly or it may stall at 36-38 psi instead and run and run with no pressure building to the 40 psi cutoff.
Usually when this happens I can disconnect the pump's power & reconnect power a couple of minutes later and pressure will build to the 40 psi cut off as it should.
No way would the pump be able to reach a 50 or 60 psi cut off as it did three years ago when I had the switch adjusted to 30/50, even 40/60 for awhile.

For days there has been microscopic air bubbles in the water and for several days now a hint of sediment cloudiness could be seen in a glass of water.

Today I opened the well to have a look see and to measure the water table with a plumb bob. I depressurized (emptied) the system of water. I then disconnected the intake pipe/check valve from the pump and the well casing. Air sucked into the pump and air sucked into the well casing meaning the system had been properly sealed. Leaks apparently are not an issue.
One point of interest. The slightly cloudy water I mentioned earlier became significant today after I opened the system up. I would call the change almost sudden. Simply opening up the system caused the cloudiness?

What to do?
I now have 11+ feet of standing water instead of the 14 feet of standing water I used to have. Apparently the 11 feet I now have is not enough.

Is the well recharge too slow due to drought and or sediment building up around the sandpoint? Is the draw down exposing the top of well screen, allowing air in?

Do I install a drop pipe and foot valve at 25' to avoid sucking air from the top of what I am guessing is the 2" casing's sand screen?

Or should I reduce pump size from 1hp to 1/2 hp?
Or do both, add a drop pipe and reduce pump size?
What say you experts?
 

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Valveman

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Probably have a suction leak at the PVC union. They are bad about letting air in. I don't like a union of any kind on the suction. I just glue it back together. I also do not like plastic check valves. I would replumb with metal pipe from the pump to a metal check valve, then PVC down from there. It could also be sucking air from the screen that is above the water. But I would make sure there are no suction leaks before switching to a drop pipe and foot valve, which is the next thing to try.
 

Dixon

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Probably have a suction leak at the PVC union. They are bad about letting air in. I don't like a union of any kind on the suction. I just glue it back together. I also do not like plastic check valves. I would replumb with metal pipe from the pump to a metal check valve, then PVC down from there. It could also be sucking air from the screen that is above the water. But I would make sure there are no suction leaks before switching to a drop pipe and foot valve, which is the next thing to try.
Yesterday, when I separated the intake plumbing I of course started by first separating the union to disconnect the pump from the well. I could hear alot of air sucking into the pipe/pump as I slowly separated the union. Likewise, when I secondly unscrewed the check valve slowly from the casing air sucked into the well. The strong sucking sound of air on both sides of the check valve led me to believe the intake side was adequately sealed. Am I wrong?

Any ideas what is causing significant cloudiness of the water since yesterday?
 

Valveman

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If you heard air when taking the suction line apart the water was going down the well. That means the check valve isn't holding. It doesn't take much to cause a suction leak either. Cloudy water usually means air. If you don't have a suction leak the water level maybe drawing down close to 24' which will cause the pump to just pull air out of the water.
 

Dixon

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If you heard air when taking the suction line apart the water was going down the well. That means the check valve isn't holding. It doesn't take much to cause a suction leak either. Cloudy water usually means air. If you don't have a suction leak the water level maybe drawing down close to 24' which will cause the pump to just pull air out of the water.
I understand what you are saying and I want to make sure we are on the same sheet.
I heard air on two occasions. First event was when I broke the seal between the union and the pump and I heard air for a quick moment (either sucking or blowing).
Second event was a few minutes later when I broke the seal between the check valve and the well. The second event lasted a few seconds (the time it took for the water column to reach equilibrium).
The second event I reckoned was a fairly strong seal and the first event... the one when I initially cracked open the union, that sound of air I am speculating was residual pressure from the system's pressure being purged just moments before.

Either way is the end result the same? Air & silt is getting in the column and it is caused be either a suction leak in the intake or at 24' down the well where air is being pulled in.
Is that due to the pump's inability to lift beyond 25' or is it the result of drawdown lowering the water level below the top of the screen?

Is there a method or test to differentiate which problem I have (suction leak vs drawdown at 24'.?
 

Valveman

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There is no residual pressure from purging the system. If you heard air when you cracked the union the check valve is leaking back.

If you make sure there is no suction leak, air will be from the water level being too deep. It is best if you can measure the water level while pumping, but with a point well that isn't possible.
 

Dixon

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OK, so I expect my next move will be to setup another intake system, all glued, pump and see what happens.
Thanks for the input so far...
 
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