Well & pump trouble shooting.

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BoJan

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Hello. I'm new here! I did read through some posts but as usual I wasn't able to find anyone with quite the same issues as I'm trying to resolve, or at least pinpoint. Please have patience with me. I'm sorry if my information seems disjointed, it's pieces together as is and I have a processing disorder and difficulty getting information out concisely.

I'm trying to assess what specs are needed for the pump set up in my parent's house. By most of my research, a 1/2 HP jet pump and a 6gallon (or even smaller) tank should be sufficient for the water needs, yet we have bigger/stronger and we aren't getting the amount of water (in a more reasonable time frame) we'd want. There is a history of the pump overheating/burning out so for years and years everyone who has lived here has developed work arounds for using water less water or spread out over longer time, instead of trying to assess or fix the issue.

The 3 bedroom, one bathroom, single story (+ full basement) house was built in 1979 or 1980, my parents bought it in '82. There are **2 sinks, 1 tub, 1 toilet, 1 dishwasher inlet (separate from kitchen sink), 1 washing machine, and the hose faucet (that's unused/turned off), 7 points in total for water, 6 in use. **edit to add these details as I originally accidentally deleted it from my post and it was a cliffhanger.
I'm not absolutely positive (and I don't know how to find out for sure), but I believe the well is a 25'(?) shallow well. The pump and/or tank has been replaced half a dozen or more times in that timeframe. It currently has a 3/4 HP convertible jet pump, and approx 20 gallon pressure tank that are at least 10 years old, so probably nearing time to be replaced to begin with. I don't know what the pressure switch & tank pressure should be set at (though I know the tank was factory charged to 28psi, so I assume the switch is a 30/50, but my dad has been known to "tweak" things) because it's missing the switch casing, not ideal and it's the first thing I intend to fix/replace - I just need to know what else to look for as well. I think the pressure gauge mounted on the pump needs to be swapped out as well, OR there is a obvious pump problem, because when I went to check this all out, the pump was not running (or recent water use) and the gauge was sitting around 25 psi. I know I need to test these, but I have yet to have the chance and the system is currently "functioning" as it always does.

What application would using a pump pressure switch with a low-pressure cut off not be applicable or helpful for? I know these help protect the pump from running dry/ burning out, but if you have low water level to begin with do these just cause issues with having to be manually restarted all the time? If I did get one and that happened, would that kind of answer my water level question?

If low water level is the issue, would a larger tank help get more water at a time without worrying about the pump? Does a bigger tank need a bigger pump? What other options are there?


The long story is: I don't know if my issues are related to the well or water level issues itself or if it's related to the pump configuration & settings not being optimal. The common denominator, since the components have changed over the years, is either the water level is too low (which it's been suggested by my dad is not the case), or the components aren't adjusted properly and/or suited to this application. Switching components over to a new part with the same specs is unfortunately not a given that they are appropriate for the usage, in this house. I don't own the home, but neither my senior parents or I are in the financial position currently to hire someone to come out and assess both the well and pump/plumbing. I am, however, just trying to assess the situation and fill in the gaps of information so that I can save up and work towards a good solution. My (very lovely, hardworking and now ailing) father has never brought in professional help, even when things are beyond his skillset, but he would unfortunately trust the word of any random non-professional guy giving tips for household fixes in passing. It has caused problems in the past with not-quite "good enough" quick fixes. I'm not sure if the issues arose out of something he was misinformed about (and therefore the pump configuration isn't working with what we have) or if there is just not sufficient water in the well to support the house without issues.

Unlike any other well pump I've experienced, or from talking to anyone that's had one, this one has always been odd, so I'm not entirely sure how it -should- work. The issues don't seem to align with other people's experiences with either low water levels OR just a pump failure. It seems most people don't even know their pump is running unless there is a problem, they just use water uninturrupted & freely as needed. That's not the case here and I'm not sure why.

I grew up in the house, and every time the pump kicked on, we had to turn OFF the water we were using. If we did not, the pump would burn out pretty quickly. It might cycle on and off a few times with the water running, but after that it would just run and run and run until it was shut off (they would turn it off at the electrical panel), and if they didn't get to it, it would burn out. Starting a load of laundry and walking away = burnt out pump. Hosting a gathering with 25 people indiscriminately flushing the toilet = burnt out pump. I know there is a limit to wells and pumps, but I've never come across anyone with this particular prolonged issue, that they can't start a load of laundry and walk away. It has been a long time since anyone has let the water run through the pump cycle, let along multiple, so I'm not even positive what technically happens when the pump has overheated/burnt out. I never remember turning on a faucet and not having water (except during power outages, obviously), but I can't be certain that is hasn't happened. My parent's & other family's memory is hazy about this as well.

What this means functionally, for example, filling the washing machine it's done in increments, filling and then stopping the water when the pump kicks on. At a certain point the pump will take much longer than usual to turn off, or needs to be manually turned off, this is the que to give it a break. So several hours later, using no or minimal water in the meantime, you'd come back and finish that load of laundry in the same incremental way. Showers work in the same way, off and on. Everything is scheduled to work around this. When starting to filling the washer with cold water, you get about 5 gallons in 4ish minutes, pump cycles for 2.5-ish minutes (water turned off at washer), and every time it cycles back on it adds about 30 seconds longer to the pump run time and the filling time decreases. A 20 gallon fill takes just over 15 minutes total with this process in an "ideal" situation.

Water pressure and quality is not a problem. There is sometimes a slight noticeable drop in pressure before the pump turns on, but it's very decent and usable. Aside when there has been actual pump failure, there is always water coming from the taps.

Should I just run the water and see what happens? At what point is the pump running too long?
 
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Valveman

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I am sorry for your problem. I feel really spoiled after reading that story. But it doesn't sound like you have a pump problem, you have a well problem. A 3/4HP jet pump and a 20 gallon pressure tank should supply you with all the water needed. But if there is no water to pump, you just keep burning up pumps.

If the well has a sand point, driving a new point may be what is needed, If the well has 4" or larger casing, there are other options. You may have to pull the pump to see what kind of well it is.

It sounds like your well is making maybe 1/3rd of a gallon per minute. That is actually about 500 gallons per day, and will supply a house. But you need a small well pump running 24 hours a day into a cistern to store the water. Then your jet pump can draw water from a cistern full of water and supply a decent shower or several loads of laundry as needed.
LOW YIELD WELL_ CENTRIFUGAL_PK1A.jpg
 

BoJan

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I am sorry for your problem. I feel really spoiled after reading that story. But it doesn't sound like you have a pump problem, you have a well problem. A 3/4HP jet pump and a 20 gallon pressure tank should supply you with all the water needed. But if there is no water to pump, you just keep burning up pumps.

If the well has a sand point, driving a new point may be what is needed, If the well has 4" or larger casing, there are other options. You may have to pull the pump to see what kind of well it is.

It sounds like your well is making maybe 1/3rd of a gallon per minute. That is actually about 500 gallons per day, and will supply a house. But you need a small well pump running 24 hours a day into a cistern to store the water. Then your jet pump can draw water from a cistern full of water and supply a decent shower or several loads of laundry as needed.
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Hello! Sorry for the late reply, I thought I'd get an email notification if someone were to reply and I didn't. I do appreciate the reply! I have a lot of questions, and appreciate any insight you or anyone may have on them.

I do hesitate to complain about this issue, because I have water and it's good drinkable water, and I know that's not the case for everyone. It is a major pain in my life, though. We've learned to live with it, but it's difficult to keep up and I often have to take laundry elsewhere to wash, do without things that require water, etc.

I don't know how to find out details about the well itself, is there a way to do so without having someone come out and assess? I live in Canada if that makes any difference, and as far as I can tell there's no documentations here with details about the well. I'd love to just have someone assess the well, but the homeowners/my parents aren't keen on it. They have always had a "don't fix what isn't broken" mentality, but they aren't the ones doing the laundry, dishes, etc. so it's an extra struggle.

Are cisterns doable in cold weather climates? or do they go inside the house? Would that require a new pump in the well itself? That is definitely something I'll look into for the long term. Would a smaller storage tank (like a hot water heater size?) work the same way? Could that work with my current setup?

Do you have any suggestions on how to better deal with the situation when inevitably replacing the pump, switch & tank inside the house? Do I replace with the same current specs? Would a larger tank help the situation or make it worse? On the flip side, would a smaller pump work better with less potential to run through the water available? The current tank seems to be the largest one we've had and I feel like we used to have to go a lot fewer intervals while doing basic things. I'm not sure if that's the cause or not. I do know none of my neighbors have these issues with their wells, even thought most of the houses in the immediate area were build around the same time and by the same person. One across the street does have some water quality issues, though, sulfur smelly water.

I'm having a very difficult time finding these answers online or elsewhere, given that our situation doesn't seem to completely align with other's experiences with either low producing wells or simple pump problems.

I did in the meantime since posting my original question purchase a compact more water efficient washing machine to help with the smaller laundry and make the big washes fewer and further in between. So hopefully that makes a noticeable impact.

Thanks, again!
 

Valveman

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If you want good water you will either need to learn how to fix it yourself, or pay someone to access and fix the problem. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" applies here, as the water system is broken and needs fixing.

Your 1/2HP jet pump in a 25' well should supply all the water a house needs. You should be able to use water like anyone in a city would, but you have to make it happen. Can't just sit there and expect it to get better.

If the well won't make enough water, it can be cleaned or replaced. But you should probably replace the pump system to test the well, as there may not be anything wrong with it. You can always still use the pump, even if you end up with a cistern. But you should not need a cistern if you have a decent well. And yes, a cistern and the required extra pump will need to be kept from freezing.
 
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