Water Stops then restarts

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LCH77

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I read the stickies and did not find a solution but I might have missed it.

Last week, the water from our well would just stop perhaps once or twice a day. This seemed to happen mostly during times of high water usage (long shower and washing machine, etc.). The kids (2) are visiting for the holidays so our water usage is up but this did not happen when they lived here full time. Also, we have had a fair amount of rain recently so I do not believe the well is dry.

Here is what I can tell you about the system:

Water softener doesn’t seem to be using enough salt so I put it into bypass. The water stopped while in bypass so the softener is the cause of the main problem.

The Pump is a Goulds 7EH with a ⅓ HP - 230 volt motor. It was installed in Feb., 1974 so it’s just about 40 years old. We have a WellX-Trol 251 Tank that, per their website, is a 62 gal size. The tank was replaced maybe 15-20 years ago. The switch is a 30/50 psi model. I have no idea how deep the well is but a neighbor once said that all of the wells in our neighborhood are at about 16 ft.

Yesterday, I checked the gauge at the switch and it read about 60 psi. I used a tire gauge and got a reading of 61 psi near the top of the tank.

Today, right after the toilet was flushed, the toilet started making loud banging noises. I then checked the gauge near the switch and it was at about 40 psi but the tank pressure was 67 psi.

What do you think is the cause of the problem:

Broken Bladder?
Clogged or broken Switch?
The Pump needs to be replaced?

Or how do I troubleshoot it to give you the info you need?
 

Tom Sawyer

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Start with the easy stuff. Shut the power off, drain the pressure down and remove the pressure switch. See if the pipe or the switch itself is plugged up.

If not, you need to get an amp meter and check start and running amps on the motor.

Pump is 40 years old so by some folks calculations it has outlived its usefulness by a bit over 5 times it's normal life lol
 

LLigetfa

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The water stopped while in bypass so the softener is the cause of the main problem.
I don't see how the softener is the cause.

First off, don't trust your gauges. At least one of them lied. If the toilet is making a banging noise then it most likely is air in the lines. If air is getting in the lines from a shallow well, it is most likely running out of water.

Why you are not losing prime, is a mystery. Does air sometimes spit out at the faucets?
 

LCH77

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Thanks for the advice. I'll report back on what I find. Not sure why I even mentioned the softener. It, too, might be in need of repair but is obviously not the cause of the current issues.

So far, no spurting. When it does die, the flow reduces, then stops. Then, if you wait a minute or two, it comes back.

One thing I forgot to say is when I did the testing today, I was able to easily tip the water tank as if there wasn't much water inside. Not sure if it was empty yesterday. Rechecked the gauge pressures and got 60 psig at the switch and 33 on the tank. That doesn't sound good.
 

LLigetfa

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See if the pipe or the switch itself is plugged up.

Plugged tube or sediment under the diaphragm are likely causes for the pressure to nose-dive and then recover. Too much precharge on the bladder is another.

I suspect that one or more of the gauges are not reading right. Whenever the water pressure is higher than the precharge on the bladder, both gauges should read the same. The only time they should read different is when pump is off and the tank is drained. In that case, the precharge should read higher.
 

Reach4

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Could the system have a controller that turns the pump off for a while if the well pickup runs dry?
 

LCH77

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You were right about the gauges. As I bled down the tank, the pressure gauge remained at 60 -even after the switch made. A tap brought it down to around 20. Tire gauge reads 21.5. Does that mean the tank needs more air?

Also, the pipe nipple between the switch and the main pipe was corroded almost all the way leaving only a pin hole. Is this just a plain nipple or is there some sort of a filter inside? I

I'd like to do a temporary fix while I get a replacement switch.
 

LCH77

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Thanks to all. You should feel proud to help those of us with these types of problems. We aren't always trying to get around hiring a professional, we just want to get an idea if the problem is simple enough to fix ourselves.

As for the toilet knocking loudly, it appears it was caused by the water inlet valve being almost closed, which then set off some sort of resonance with the tank valve. Opened it all the way, no more noise.

I cleaned out the nipple and reinstalled the switch and everything seems to be working but, the tank pressure is reading 92 psi. (I think it's counterintuitive but high pressure means you need to add air, correct?). Per your recommendations, it should be 28 psi when drained, correct? It was only 20 psi. I tried using a bicycle pump but it seemed to take forever. Keep pumping by hand or should I spend $30 on an electric pump?

Also, my daughter picked up a 30/50 pressure switch for $22. Should I install it or exchange it for one with a 10 psi cutoff for an extra $15? (The replacement brass 1/4" x 3" long nipple cost an outrageous $7.45!) I won't know the actual in/out pressure until I install the replacement gauge.

I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I'm an engineer with a background in pumps, valves and pipe. This just means I know enough to ask you, the experts for advice even when needed. My only advantage is that I'll probably understand your replies more easily than the average homeowner. I do really appreciate all of your help.

BTW, FYI, some of the pumps I sold ranged from a 2500 GPM at 2700 PSI with a 5,000 HP Motor to a 300,000 GPM pump at 110 psig.
 

Reach4

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I cleaned out the nipple and reinstalled the switch and everything seems to be working but, the tank pressure is reading 92 psi. (I think it's counterintuitive but high pressure means you need to add air, correct?). Per your recommendations, it should be 28 psi when drained, correct? It was only 20 psi. I tried using a bicycle pump but it seemed to take forever. Keep pumping by hand or should I spend $30 on an electric pump?
I think that the pressure tank rising to 92 can only mean that the water pressure is 92. That could blow something. Think about it... the bladder pressure can be greater than the water pressure, because the water has been pumped out. But if the water pressure is driving the air pressure higher, the water pressure needs to be pretty much the same as the air pressure if the air is to be compressed.

A low-pressure cutoff is more important if your well is in danger of running dry some time, although some broken pipes might be able to trigger that low pressure too.

As to whether to continue pumping by hand or to buy a pump, its up to you. I would avoid those cheap vibrator pumps that claim to be good up to 200 PSI or more. Volume (CFM) is good. I would look up reviews on the pumps you are considering, and be willing to spend more on one that could pump up a flat tire for a quick drive to the tire store.
 

LCH77

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You are correct. I replaced the water gauge and it also read around 90 psi. I never thought the water pressure could be that high, specially since the shower flow doesn't blast you away. Even though I had cleaned out the nipple, the switch itself didn't cut out at 50 psi, so I replaced it. Everything seems to be working fine now. However, the pre-charge pressure is still around 22 psi instead of the recommended 28 psi for my 30/50 psi switch setting. What is the consequence of that? Is this something that I must address right away or can I put it off a week or two?

Regarding the high the 92 psi air pressure: At first, I tried to convince myself that if the air volume were too low, it would compensate by increasing pressure. Then, I thought that maybe the bladder exerted additional force that would increase the pressure. Problem with that is any additional force exerted by the bladder, would increase the water pressure slightly, not the air pressure. If accurate, I suppose the water pressure gauge would read 1-2 psi higher due to the difference in static head. Thanks again for your help.
 

Valveman

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Glad you got it working. I could have sworn it would be an over-load. Good thing it is not. 22 PSI air in the tank isn't low enough to worry about. Just add some extra air next chance you get.
 
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