Well Troubleshooting

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by PSikes, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Hello All,

    I've been wondering why our water pressure hasn't been consistent lately, so I've been reading up on this forum, trying to better understand how my well system works, and look for potential problems. Over the years, I've learned that any drop in water pressure usually meant it was time to replace the Cuno Water Filter that sits inline for the home's water supply.

    The thing I fear is a full on well failure -- that is the incoming well water isn't replenishing fast enough.
    We've lived in this house for 24 years, and the water pump/system hasn't given us any problems. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. All I know is that it seems lately the water flow drops off dramatically once the tank is empty, and the pump is doing all the work.

    So, I've gone through the basic stuff listed. I've attached pics, to help identify the components that are in our system
    1. first thing I found was that my pressure gauge was pretty much rusted shut. I replaced it. (see pics)
    2. While doing the gauge replacement, I went ahead and re-pressurized the tank to 28psi (cutoff at 30). Reading the inside of the Square D FSG-2 indicates that it should be running at 30/50? (pic attached). Tank seems to be rated for 100psi max. (Amtrol Model WX-202) I should point out that there was no indication of water sloshing around in the tank.
    3. I can't identify the actual Grundfos pump I've got. I've posted a pic, hoping somebody might recognize it? All I know is that it's a Grundfos, it's stainless, and 1/2 HP. (see pic)
    4. What the heck is the little red, heart-shaped "Protector" attached to the cutoff switch? Made by Meyers? One of it's leads isn't attached to anything, and I'm wondering if I should reconnect it. (see pics)
    5. When I reconnected the power, the pump fired up, and stopped at about 62 psi. (much higher than the 50 I was expecting!) The pump is so darn quiet, I can't honestly tell when it kicks back on or off. I don't have an Amp probe. I do have a multimeter. Is there a way of monitoring the pump by measuring a voltage drop or something? If not, I'll pick up a clamp-on meter.

    6. I haven't done a water flow test yet, but I'm wondering the value in that. The water flow I really am interested in, is how quickly the well refills, when the water flow dwindles down to a trickle.

    Any and all suggestions gladly accepted. Forgive the quality of the pics. If there's something else that would be helpful, please let me know, and I'll post it.

    Thanks,
    Peter
     

    Attached Files:

  2. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Looks like a 7S05-11 Grundfos pump, and it is still making good pressure. Doesn't surprise me. I have a 1/2 HP Grundfos that is now 33 years old and still working fine. Wells last a long time as well. Not uncommon for 100 year old wells to still be fine. Don't know what that protector is, maybe a lightning arrestor. An amp meter while flow testing is the best way to figure out what is going on. If it will pump 8-10 GPM running wide open and pull 5 amps, the pump is fine. If the flow and amps drop off quickly while pumping, the well is not producing enough for the pump. (pumping air)

    If you can find any info on the depth of the well it would help. Flow dropping off when the tank is empty is not a good thing. It may mean that the pump and/or well is not putting out enough water. But even if you are pumping the well dry, it should produce good flow and amps for a minute or two first.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I see your pressure gauge is showing 65 pounds. Either the pressure switch is going bad, the gauge is bad, the pipe to the pressure switched is clogged or somebody adjusted the screws inside of the pressure switch.

    If the pipe to the pressure switch was mostly clogged, the pressure switch could be seeing a delayed version of what the actual pressure at the pressure gauge and pressure tank.

    The pressure adjustment is the nut on the bigger adjustment screw ( 3/8 inch nut IIRC). The differential is the smaller adjustment. Check for the click of the pump being turned off. You want to turn the bigger nut CCW so that the pump shuts off at 50 if you want to keep the 38 PSI precharge. You could try cleaning the nipple and the gauge connection, or you could replace/clean the nipple and put on a new 30/50 PSI pressure switch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  5. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Thank you. I'll pick up an amp meter to make the measurements. They can't be very expensive. I'll also ask around and see if I can learn more about the depth of wells in this area. I'm kind of surprised the installer didn't leave a business card or something taped to the tank. I'd guess the water table is still very good. Lots of woodlands surround us, with running streams, etc. I don't know of anyone nearby who has had to re-dig their well.

    I didn't understand the statement " But even if you are pumping the well dry, it should produce good flow and amps for a minute or two first." ? Can you explain?

    Best,
    Peter
     
  6. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Thanks, I'm puzzled as to why that pressure reading is so much higher. Do you think 65 is dangerously high? I can guarantee nobody's messed with the switch adjustment in 23 years. If I pumped up the tank to "pre-level" of 28PSI, I wonder where the pump will kick on? I thought it was supposed to be at 30. If the switch is engineered to automatically be +/- 20 PSI, and it's sitting at 62, then shouldn't the "kick on" occur at 42? I was going to wait till I get an amp meter to test, but maybe I'll just read the gauge for now. I honestly can't hear a click, or sense vibration in the pipes. Maybe I'll go pick up another gauge, just in case this one is badly calibrated.

    I think I can clean out those incoming pipes easily enough, if you think that might help. They seem to be flexible rubber, so I think I just have to deal with a couple of clamps? Perhaps to prevent the possibility of freezing? (We're in Connecticut)

    Best,
    Peter
     
  7. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    No the little 1/4" nipple the pressure switch is screwed to is not flexible. But it looks like brass so it is probably OK. If the gauge goes to zero when you turn off power to the pump and drain the water out of the tank, then the gauge is fine. With the top off the pressure switch, like in the picture, you can actually see the points open at high pressure and close at low pressure. You don't have to hear the click.

    What I meant was that after the pump has been off for a while the well should recover some. So the pump should supply good water for a short time, then drop off drastically when you pump the well dry. You should be able to see the abrupt drop in flow from a hose and on the amp meter.

    Nothing wrong with 40/60 pressure, you will even like it better. But you really need about 35 PSI air in the tank for a 40/60 switch setting.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    65 PSI is high if you have a 28 PSI precharge. It is not dangerous in the sense of hurting people, but it is bad for the life of the pressure tank.

    It would seem reasonable to me to replace your 23 year old pressure switch. Yes, you could try to check the on/off pressures on the old one, but they are not terribly expensive. I am wondering what that loose wire terminal in your pressure switch contacts photo is. Maybe that is a safety ground wire, which would normally go to under the green screw.

    When you replaced your pressure gauge, did you see gunk at the input of the old gauge? If so, I would clean or replace the nipple -- the 2- to 3-inch-long brass nipple that valveman describes.
     
  9. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Great points! Well, great, because I think I actually understand them. I'll pick up an amp meter tomorrow, and re-drain out the tank, and re-check the initial air PSI in that tank. If I can actually see the contacts open/close that would be terrific, but I'll back it up with the current readings. WE're looking for a draw of at least 5 amps? So any meter that can handle up to what? 20-30 Amps?

    What I meant by flexible piping occurs in the section immediately preceding the pressure switch, the meter, and pressure release valve (off to the right in the picture). It seems to turn into flexible piping out to the basement wall, and down (presumably) to the well? I'll take a better picture tomorrow. I thought maybe I could clean out the pipe from there forward to the switch? It's only about 2-3 feet max. I'm not expecting it to be clogged, though. There's a drain spigot just about 2 feet to the left of the meter, and the flow seems pretty strong there. Do these pressure switches go bad very often? Oh, and I'll bet you're right about that little heart-shaped red thing. It does look like a lightning arrestor. It's completely sealed.
     
  10. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Hi Reach,
    That's probably a good idea. I can stop by the supply house and pick up another pressure switch. Same model, or something else?
    The loose wire terminal goes to that weird heart shaped red thing, that we're guessing is a lightning arrestor/surge protector. If so, I should probably reconnect it. I did a google search for it, but didn't come up with anything.
    I do see the nipple that the switch screws into. I'll clean that out tomorrow. It is indeed brass.
    The input of the gauge was pretty clean. Some gunk, but not a lot. Which raises another question. How on earth did that original gauge get so wasted? Just condensation over the years?

    Again, thanks to both of you guys for your advice. I'm hoping that all this isn't going to eventually point to larger problems at the well itself, but first we have to make sure we know what we're looking at, I guess?

    Peter
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    The clamp-around ammeters are nice for this, because you can leave the wires connected.

    I don't know how often pressure switches fail, but I replaced mine probably before it was 23 years old. It would not adjust properly. Valveman will know what the typical life might be.

    Polyethylene tubing from the well pitless adapter underground and then through the basement wall is good. It does not rust.

    In figuring out my pressure switch settings, I found I could turn off the power to the well. Then I would flip the swinger that the contacts are mounted on. If the pressure was near midway between the high and low setting for the relay, the swinger would stay which ever way I moved it. I also sometimes prodded the swinger with an insulating stick while the power was on. But again, I ended up replacing my pressure switch.

    Same model of pressure switch is good. I don't know about the red thing.

    Here is a table of what a Grundfos 7S05-11 is expected to do. Numbers with gray background are in GPM. img_1.png
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  12. craigpump

    craigpump In the Trades

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    Apr 12, 2012
    Occupation:
    Self employed water system tech
    Location:
    Connecticut
    What part of Ct are you in?
     
  13. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut

    Reach,
    Thanks for the chart. Very helpful. I can take a flow measurement right at the tank, and record both psi and gpm. I got lazy and ordered an amp probe. Arriving tomorrow. I'm going to take that little red thing down to the local supply house, when I go to pick up a replacement switch (just in case this one isn't performing properly). Maybe they can identify it for us.

    I tried spraying the switch with some WD-40, but it didn't seem to make any difference. I'll post again tomorrow after I take measurements.

    Thanks again
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2015
  14. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Along the shoreline, in Madison?
     
  15. pinto

    pinto New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Illinois
    Valveman, my well caved in and it looks like I have to drill a new one, couldn't get drop line and pump out because the galv pipe broke & will probably continue to break if we fish it out. My question is my current system was a Goulds 3hp pump with and inline pressure tank. I have a slab on grade house where the water line comes into a small closet where the hot water tank & control box to the variable speed pump are. If I was to go with a standard system and a csv do I need to rewire from my breaker box to the well? Since the old system was a 3 phase and the standard system is single phase. Also I have little room to no room in the closet for a pressure tank. Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
  16. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Most likely you only have single phase power to the house. The VFD box is what converts single phase to three phase, so they can use a three phase motor. You may need a little larger wire in the well to switch to back to a normal single phase motor, but you shouldn't have to change any of the power wires from the breaker.

    Little to no room for a pressure tank is a good reason to go with a CSV. But that is just the first of many problems the CSV solves.
     
  17. pinto

    pinto New Member

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    Jun 2, 2015
    Location:
    Illinois
    So what would be the minimum size pressure tank that I would need? It's a 3 full bathroom home, sprinkler zone is 6 sprinklers per zone. Thanks
     
  18. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

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    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    When used with the proper CSV, A 3HP needs a minimum of a 20 gallon size tank, and a 44 gallon would be better. Or if it takes up less space you can use 2 of those 20 gallon tanks as well.
     
  19. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut

    Hello again,

    Here's where I am:

    1. replaced both the pressure switch with a new 30-50, and also replaced the 1/4 nipple ( it looked nasty, and it was easier to replace than disengage it from the old switch).
    2. I wanted a little better pressure, so I pumped up the tank to a preset of 39,and set the upper limit to 62.
    3. Went down to town hall and looked up the builder permits. This setup is way older than I'd thought, but there's no record on the depth of the well. Well was dug in 1967, house built in 1969. I'm guessing that'd be the age of the pump too. Is there a low-tech way of determined well depth. How about a weighted fishing line? down the shaft?
    4. I did some rudimentary flow checks, right at the tank, so I could watch the pressure valve:
    -With the power to the pump off, I filled a 5 gal bucket at a screaming 30 seconds! (wooo hoooo!)
    - at 0 PSI, I turned the pump back on, and measured again. 2 mins to fill the same 5 gal bucket. Pressure slowly building up to around 40 psi during the time to fill the bucket. Quickly climbed back up to the cutoff at 62.
    - I still don't have a way to measure the current draw of the pump. Should I still pursue that?
     
  20. valveman

    valveman Cary Austin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Occupation:
    Pump Controls Technician
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    If it is really that old, which I doubt, it probably all needs to be replaced anyway. And I might be interested in the old pump for a personal museum I started. But if you want to know if the pump is worn out or if it id just a hole in the pipe, an amp reading would tell you that.
    If it is a 3HP, there should be a control box hanging on the wall that would say 3HP, and it would also have a date code.
     
  21. PSikes

    PSikes New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2015
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Hi Valveman,

    The Sticker indicates it's a 1/2 HP Grundfos 7S05-11. No control box present. I guess it could have been replaced somewhere in the first 20 years. We've only been here 23. I guess I'll go buy an amp meter. I've never used one. Since you can only test one of the conductors at a time in one of those CT clamp meters, what do you do? Cut open the insulation, test, then tape it back up again?

    Thanks,
    Peter
     
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