Well pump intermittently struggling to refill pressure tank

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Ron Benchetrit

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Hi all,
We’ve recently done some work replacing the plumbing between our pressure tank, water softener, GE Filter and UV Filter with PEX lines. Pressure in all house faucets and shower are fine. The pressure switch looks ok turning the pump on at 45psi and off at 65psi. When all is good, the pressure tank fills in about 60seconds. I added an amp meter and see a consistent 12amps while running.

But occasionally, I’ll hear that the pump has been struggling, running at a lower pitch than I usually hear. I see the gauge stuck at 45psi with no movement. Pressure throughout the house is low, because the pressure tank isn’t filling. This stuck scenario can go for hours, all night even. The amp meter says 11amps instead of 12 and many kWh have been spent overnight. So I turn off power to the pump, count to 10 and turn it back on, and voila! I hear the pump running normal and the gauge climbs and holds happily to 65psi again. House faucets and shower are happy again.

Just speculating, it’s as if the check valve or tank tee are preventing any flow into the tank until I do the reset. Nothing else in the house is open. We've had bucket of rain recently and live around a lake so the well cannot be dry. Hopefully it's not a sign that my pump is failing?! It’s a shallow 35’ deep well with a Myers 4” - 115v, 12gpm at the bottom. No controller as it's only 115v.

Thanks for any thoughts or testing suggestions,

Ron
 

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Reach4

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1. Been getting air in your water? The reason I ask is that if you have sucked the water level down to the pump intake, you would draw in some air.
2. If you turn off the water with that shut off in the blue line during an episode, what happens?
3. If you turn off the black knob on the drain valve, does that let pressure raise more?

A. For now I would consider changing the pressure switch to 20/40 psi. 3.5 turns CCW on the nut on the big spring may do that without you having to buy a new pressure switch. If you reduce the pressure, you will also need to lower the air precharge.
B. If you pull your pump for any reason, I would get rid of the above ground check valve. The pump will often have one, and a backup right above the pump is good.
 

Ron Benchetrit

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Thanks for the feedback. We've gotten tons of rain lately, the issue even occurred during a rain storm, so I'm thinking that the well is plenty full. The black valve is normally closed, I only used it for testing/voiding the pressure tank. However there could be air trapped in the new plumbing work somewhere. I will test shutting off the water to the house during an episode. thanks!
 

Reach4

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However there could be air trapped in the new plumbing work somewhere.
I am not worried about trapped air. I only meant air coming out of faucets, and I think you are implying that is not happening. But yes, isolating the house during an event would be good.

Pump failing seems most probable to me, but then there is that reset thing. Weird. Do you have a pitless adapter, and the well is in the yard. You said you could hear your pump, and I cannot hear my pump, so got me wondering.

Another thing that could cause a symptom like this could be a big water leak in the well. Your above-ground check valve could hide this. What if the o-ring on the pitless -- before my wild speculation, do you have a pitless adapter?



If your casing is 5 inches or more, I suggest a flow inducer sleeve if you ever pull the pump.
 
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Bannerman

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Suggest eliminating the topside check-valve. It is not needed and will often cause issues such as you are experiencing.

I doubt the cause is a leak in the drop pipe since it is an intermitant issue. If there is a hole which is leaking water back into the well so as to cause lower pressure as a result, I would expect the problem to be continual, not intermitant.

Another possible cause is the well casing not filling with water fast enough to keep pace with the flow rate from the pump. Once the water level drops low enough to cause the pump to draw air, the pump will loose prime. Shutting off the pump even momentarily, will allow water to enter the pump impeller, restoring water flow again after the pump is reactivated.

Although the the pump motor at the bottom will be submerged in water, without water flow passing over the motor, the motor will typically overheat, thereby shortening it's usable life. You may wish to install a Cycle Sensor pump monitor to shut off the pump when it detects the pump is drawing lower amps, thereby signifying it is drawing air.

https://cyclestopvalves.com/pages/cycle-sensor-pump-monitor

If you wish to further upgrade your system to eliminate cycling and obtain constant pressure to your faucets, consider installing a Cycle Stop Valve. The PK1A kit includes a CSV, new pressure switch, pressure tank and brackets to allow the entire assembly to be wall mounted.

https://cyclestopvalves.com/

 
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Reach4

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I doubt the cause is a leak in the drop pipe since it is an intermitant issue. If there is a hole which is leaking water back into the well so as to cause lower pressure as a result, I would expect the problem to be continual, not intermitant.
I see your point, but I could not think of something else to fit the symptoms. Imagine the o-ring is not compressed well. Suppose it holds until at some point the o-ring lets water escape. And suppose that escape is faster than than the pump can keep up with at 60 psi. Pressure then gets removed, and o-ring settles back to where it seals again... far fetched? Yep. Got something better?
 

Ron Benchetrit

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Air - correct, the faucets are all water, no air sputtering at all.

Check valve - my plumber 3 yrs ago said it helped to protect the pump, but now I see how it can mask an issue below. I can run some testing without it.

Sound - right, I don’t hear the pump, what I hear is a low hum vibration in the check valve, pressure gauge and even in the spin down filter.

Pitless - yes, most likely, because my front yard well cap (8” diameter - see attached photo) has no water pipe coming out of it…am I right? The cap only has the 2 wire harness for power. My basement is about 12 feet away where a poly pipe and separate wire conduit come from the foundation wall right into the check valve/pressure tank tee and pressure switch respectively.

As for water flow, wouldn’t the amperage fluctuate along with a lack of water? It seems like it’s all or nothing, either I get full force constant water and amperage or I get the struggling behavior above. It never changes mid run. Also, when running well, the pump is powerful - it will even outpace the black faucet on the pressure tank tee fully open! Again, no hesitation or amperage drops when running well.
 

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Reach4

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The well is under the blue cap. The gray around is a sort of pit. Is that water standing in the pit?
 

Ron Benchetrit

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The well is under the blue cap. The gray around is a sort of pit. Is that water standing in the pit?
No pit, no water, just soil. My neighbor has a well pit, it's a huge 5'x5'x'5 concrete box with a jet-pump on the floor. What I have is a pipe with what is most likely a pitless adapter a few feet beneath the wellcap. I've never opened the wellcap in the 4 years I've lived here...although I'm very tempted to peek inside >:)
 

Reach4

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No pit, no water, just soil. My neighbor has a well pit, it's a huge 5'x5'x'5 concrete box with a jet-pump on the floor. What I have is a pipe with what is most likely a pitless adapter a few feet beneath the wellcap. I've never opened the wellcap in the 4 years I've lived here...although I'm very tempted to peek inside >:)
How does the altitude of the bottom of the blue compare to the altitude of the ground outside of the gray?

The blue thing is a well cap. Lifting that cap off is not a big deal, and is done during sanitizing as well as for well work involving lifting out the pump etc. The protrusion at the 5:30 position is where the conduit comes up and the wires go across and down the well.
 

Ron Benchetrit

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Thanks for the feedback,
The altitude of the blue well cap is unfortunately at grade, level with the ground outside of the gray hard plastic liner. I know it's supposed to be 18+" above grade. The only saving grace is that the surrounding gray liner gives it some space 18" below grade. Also, we have a decorative wishing well with a roof completely covering the liner and head. I have checked it numerous times over the years during rain storms and snow and have never seen water in the liner.

This past weekend, I disassembled the pressure tank tee, inspecting everything including the check valve which looked great, the spring is in great shape compared to a new valve I picked up just in case. Except for some sediment and rust, everything looks to be in working order. The pressure tank was at only 30psi so I raised it to 38psi. I then adjusted the pressure switch to get exactly 40/60. After re-assembly we unfortunately still have our intermittent problem. I will next examine the well cap after Thanksgiving.
 

Sarg

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Just to mention an item to check though it may not cause your described issues ............. check the 1/4 nipple between your pressure tank T and the switch. They become clogged with sediment and create erratic operation ....... I have replaced mine twice over the years.
 

LLigetfa

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Thanks for the feedback. We've gotten tons of rain lately, the issue even occurred during a rain storm, so I'm thinking that the well is plenty full.
My guess is the well recovery rate is not fast enough to keep up with the draw and so the pump is losing prime.
 

Valveman

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If you were pumping the well dry the amps would drop from 12 to 6. Only dropping to 11 amps makes me think there is a blockage, like the check valve is sticking. Turning the pump off and back on will sometimes un-stick the check valve. Sticking check valves are hard to diagnose. As with everything else in a pump system, cycling on and off too much is usually the cause of a sticking check valve.
 
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