Well pump does not work

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esm

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Guys, my well pump just stopped working.
I checked the panel were the power line from the house is terminated in the well house.
When I disconnect the wires to the pressure switch I can measure 120V on the house side. As soon as I connect the pressure switch line, the voltage goes down to zero.
What is this?
 

Reach4

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Is this a 115 volt pump with a single pole breaker powering it, or is it a 230 volt pump with a 2-pole breaker powering it?

Show us a photo of where you measure 120 volts. Include the meter probes in your photo.

You may have a broken wire or a bad connection. Could be something else.
 

Reach4

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The breaker is a 2 pole one. Could the breaker be the problem?
So new tests.

index.php

This a typical wiring with the breaker hots going to terminals 1 and 4. Check that you have 240 volts between 1 and 4.
If the water pressure is low, you should also have 240 between terminals 2 and 3.

What do you measure?
 

Reach4

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Measuring Zero!
You measure 0 volts between terminals 1 and 4, and those wires appear to come from the breaker. That is good news IMO. Can't blame the pump for not running.

Next measure the voltage across the two hots on the breaker.
 

esm

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The wires that come in from the house: black to ground: 120V, white to ground: 120V
 

LLigetfa

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Measuring Zero!
Measured where, on the line side or the load side? Did you measure on the breaker? If zero on the pressure switch line side while 240V on the breaker, the wire is bad. Measure all three points and report. State whether the switch contacts are open or closed.
 

Reach4

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The wires that come in from the house: black to ground: 120V, white to ground: 120V
Common mistake.

I don't know how electrically knowledgeable you are, but imagine one hot wire was cut through 2 ft out of the breaker. Each hot will measure still measure 120v to ground. The cut leg will be energized through the not-cut hot wire, thru the pump, through the remaining part of the hot that has been cut. So everything will measure 120 volts to ground.
 

esm

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OK, I did another round of measurements:
The breaker box shows 120V each from white to ground/black to ground, 240V between black and white.
In the well house, the disconnected wires coming in from the house show 120V to ground on the white wire and zero to ground on the black wire. Between black and white wires it shows 120V. Sounds really bad to me.
 

Bannerman

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wires coming in from the house show 120V to ground on the white wire and zero to ground on the black wire.
This indicates a break in the Black wire somewhere between the electrical panel and the pump house. To determine the location of the broken wire, follow and inspect the cable backwards from the pump house to the electrical panel.

Although electricity doesn't care what color the wire insulation is, because it is a 240 volt circuit, the wiring should have rightly utilized Black and Red wires.
 

esm

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Inspecting the cable sounds good. Except for the fact that the well house is about 150 ft away from the breaker panel, the cable going most of the way underground through concrete!
 

Bannerman

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Hopefully, the wires are installed in a conduit so they maybe pulled out and replaced if necessary.

It is more likely the location of the break will be close to either end of the circuit so inspect the wiring within the electrical panel and out to where they exit the house, and also where they enter the pump house to feed the disconnect switch/breaker panel that is feeding the pump.
 

esm

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As I said, it's all buried in concrete.
How about if I install a small generator next to the well house to run the well pump (and nothing else)?
 

Reach4

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I presume the pressure switch and pressure tank are in the well house.

As I said, it's all buried in concrete.
How about if I install a small generator next to the well house to run the well pump (and nothing else)?
How about an extension cord above ground until you get this figured out. You may need help in getting that figured out. Talk to a local friend/neighbor who is electrically or even electronic hardware oriented. An electrician would be ideal. Water for your house is worth spending money on. Computer and software knowledge won't help.

Your friend may have an unconventional approach, and I don't want to try to talk you through an unconventional approach. I am not a pro, and I still don't feel comfortable with that. One thing that could make unconventional things safer: for some panels they sell ground fault two-pole breakers. Not cheap, but if something goes wrong, it avoids injury.

Longer term, there is more than one way to consider:
  1. search out the broken wire or connection, and fix it. You may be able to figure out where the break is electronically, but that hard.
  2. run another cable to bypass the failed connection, and use a new trench. See who can make a trench.
  3. Make a new trench, but since it is not a lot more work and expense, put in a subpanel in the well house. This gives you lights, outlets, and more out in the well house. You will run something like 6/3 cable to the well house. This is a non-minimal upgrade
Regarding a small generator, the smallest generators are probably not enough.
 

LLigetfa

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A cable locator might give clues where the break is in the wire. If it does not a TDR fault locator should. Might be time to hire a professional. If the wire is imbedded directly in the concrete, then the concrete should protect it from damage. Granted, a 150 foot run of concrete would probably have expansion joints. If there is a break somewhere in the concrete that is a likely place to expect the wire failure to be. Mind you, if there was damage to the insulation, moisture could cause the wire to arc and burn through without anything visible on the surface.
 

Reach4

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It doesn't matter if you power with a generator or an extension cord, if there is an open leg down hole it won't run.
Power does not make it from the house to the pressure switch in the well house.
 
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