Well water system, might not be a well problem

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pgw152

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Hi all,

Appreciate your time if you're reading this,

Using a very old hand dug well (circa 11 metres, maybe a bit deeper) with smallish submersible pump due to the long distance to plant room in 4yo house.

All working fine for 4 years, now getting 60-second-pause symptoms when showering or when toilet looks for refill water. It might not be 60 secs or always 60 secs, but seems to always be in that region.

In the plant room, the well pump switch was at 18 psi cut-in and 38 psi cut-out with expansion tank unburdened-charge of 18 psi, so I upped the cut-in/out to 20/40.

I probably could have left that at 18/38, because the outside tap (which is before the series of 5 micron filter - UV - softener) would run fine all the time with no pause in delivery of water at any point before / during / after expansion tank fills, and the pressure would always rise right away when the light [signifying pump is pumping] goes on.

After the softener, loads of water is stored in a very big blue tank, and I believe this supplies most of the house water, although 1 or 2 things seem to be on fresh water.

To my ear, it seems the pump that pumps out water from the big blue tank is kicking in late causing the 60 second delay when showering under fine pressure for a couple of minutes, then a 60 second pause with no water, then full pressure resumes for as long of a shower as needed. Similarly, the toilets can be flushed and sit waiting for refill water for 60 seconds, unless maybe the big demand for water has happened (e.g. shower) and the blue tank pump is happily pumping away.

While investigating pressure, I found 3 gauges, the one by the well expansion tank (which goes between 20 and 40 psi, previously 18 and 38), one on the "boiler" (not really a boiler as it's an air-to-water system) which reads around 1 bar (in the green "good" area) and one near the blue tank which reads around 2.6 bar.

I tried this. Turned the water off, unplugged the power going to the big blue tank, and turned on a hot tap until that ran dry, to go and check the unburdened-charge on the (HWET) Hot Water Expansion Tank. I'm not sure if this was a valid way to go checking that unburdened-charge, but the hot water had run out so I thought it might be, and the reading I got [presumably unburdened-charge] from the Schrader valve on the HWET was 18 psi which was the same as the (WWET) Well Water Expansion Tank unburdened-charge.

I was thinking, maybe that HWET unburdened-charge of 18 psi is low? After all, they generally come with 28 psi pre-charge. Does it have to match the WWET unburdened-charge or match the 2.6 bar reading discovered earlier on one of the pipes on the system near the blue tank? Would it be usual for a 20/40 WWET to be supplying around 2.6 bar to the system, as measured near the big blue water tank?

I tried increasing the HWET unburdened-charge to 20 psi and also 22 psi, and thought it was helping as when the hot water came back on, it ran for ages and ages, but now I think that's just because the blue tank got running to refill the system and kept running. Since then, it has gone back to the 60 second pause syndrome, so I thought I better just return the HWET unburdened-charge back to where I found it, after all, everything was working fine for 4 years...

The well occasionally runs dry in September, but it's been lashing rain here in Ireland for weeks now, there is no chance the well is dry and the WWET experience all seems fine as described earlier.

Any thoughts?...

Thanks in advance
 

Reach4

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The pump fed from the big blue tank is called a pressure pump. It can be outside the tank, and in which case you probably have a jet pump.

The delayed turn-on can be because the nipple or tube that sends water to the pressure switch is partially clogged. It could also be that the pressure switch is now defective itself.
The air precharge (which you call unburdened-charge) would often be set to 5 psi below the cut-in pressure for the switch when using a jet pump. If that precharge pressure is set high, it could cause a short drop in pressure as the pump turns on. But you get a many-second delay. So the air precharge is not the problem.

If you run 20/40 on the pressure switch to the house, you would set the air precharge in the water heater expansion tank to 40 psi. If your pressure switch were set to 40/60, you would set the WH thermal expansion tank to 60 psi. Most of us with wells don't have a thermal expansion tank, but that presumes there is no check valve between the pressure tank and the WH.
 
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pgw152

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The pump fed from the big blue tank is called a pressure pump. It can be outside the tank, and in which case you probably have a jet pump.

The delayed turn-on can be because the nipple or tube that sends water to the pressure switch is partially clogged. It could also be that the pressure switch is now defective itself.
The air precharge (which you call unburdened-charge) would often be set to 5 psi below the cut-in pressure for the switch when using a jet pump. If that precharge pressure is set high, it could cause a short drop in pressure as the pump turns on. But you get a many-second delay. So the air precharge is not the problem.

If you run 20/40 on the pressure switch to the house, you would set the air precharge in the water heater expansion tank to 40 psi. If your pressure switch were set to 40/60, you would set the WH thermal expansion tank to 60 psi. Most of us with wells don't have a thermal expansion tank, but that presumes there is no check valve between the pressure tank and the WH.
Thanks Reach4, the pump that handles / takes water out of the blue tank doesn't seem to be external. I can't see it outside the tank, so I guess it's submersed in the big blue tank? More a question for myself...

If my way of reading the air precharge in the WHET was valid and was reading 18 psi, and our well pump pressure switch has been working on the 20/40 range, then it sounds like it was set wrong i.e. it should have been 40 psi? And that psi does seem to more or less match the 2.6 bar reading that we have near the big blue tank.

Would running the WHET with 18 psi precharge for 4 years when it should have been 40 psi cause this problem of the 60 second delay? It doesn't seem so, more so just reduce the life of the WHET?

The pressure switch for the Well Water Expansion Tank was easy to find, it was right beside the Tank, I'm not sure where to look for the pressure switch for the big blue tank. I can't imagine what it could be clogged with, the water goes through 5 micron to take out metals, then UV, then water softener exchange.

I was thinking the pressure switch for the Well Water Expansion Tank could be clogged as it receives unfiltered water, but that part of the system seems fine

Thanks again
 

Reach4

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If the pump is in the water, then it would be a submersible pump. If your pump cuts on at 20 psi, then 18 psi of precharge would be just right.

The thing that would be set to 40 is the thermal expansion tank at the water heater, if you have one.
 

pgw152

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If the pump is in the water, then it would be a submersible pump. If your pump cuts on at 20 psi, then 18 psi of precharge would be just right.

The thing that would be set to 40 is the thermal expansion tank at the water heater, if you have one.
I've found another pressure pre-charge point, on top of the blue tank underneath a hitherto unknown cover

9 pix attached

1 - water coming up from well in to WWET (Well Water Expansion Tank), was set to 18 / 38 with precharge of 18 so upped the switch to 20 / 40 thinking I had hit upon the problem. But, alas no, I think the WWET was running fine on 18 / 38

2 - water then goes thru the sediment filter, then the UV, then the softener

3 - Then huge amounts of water is stored in the blue tank, note, suspected TET (Thermal Expansion Tank) up high

4 - The orange / black yoke at the bottom of blue tank (Multi Boost (MB) is the name of the tank) guides the water out of the bottom of the MB while it fills at the top

5 - This PRESFLOW Multi is on top of the MB, only seen it today for the first time

6 - It has a Schrader (precharge?) adjustment valve also, note, system pressure gauge

7 - close up of system pressure gauge from 6, reading 2.6 bar, seems good? And in line with the 20 / 40 WWET setup?

8 - pressure reading at bottom of "boiler" (usually between 1.0 - 1.1 bar). Air-To-Water system.

9 - Close up of what I think must be the TET (judging by the high location and mounting axis / direction). When I turn off the incoming water from WWET, and unplug the PRESFLOW, and run hot water until no more comes out, then I was getting 18 psi precharge reading from the Schrader valve at the bottom of that TET. I tried upping it to 20 psi and 22 psi, then I came to you!! Note, the installer did not write the number that they adjsted the precharge to... I beleive it is at 18 psi based on the way I measured it, but maybe that wasn't a valid way

Having discovered the PRESFLOW bit now, my inclination is to think that is where the kick-in delay is occurring... I'm going to look it up and see...

Any thoughts on testing it, and how to test the unladen precharge? For now, I hit the stop/resatrt button on it, but that won't do anything, as I've been effectively doing that by unpluggin it to measure the TET precharge psi
 

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Valveman

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Yes you have a submersible in the blue tank. The "presflow" thing is sitting directly above the pump. The "pressflo" thing is your problem. That is a copy of a Masscontrol which there are dozens of. Blows my mind they sell so many of those pieces of junk. The presflo is supposed to turn your pump on when flow is detected or when pressure drops to a certain point, and I don't know what point that is. 4 years is more than most people get from one of those type systems, which is why they sell so many. If you replace the presflow with a regular pressure switch and pressure tank, the system would work better and last much longer. If you added a Cycle Stop Valve to the regular pressure switch/pressure tank the pump system would deliver strong constant pressure to the house and last a lifetime, which is why you haven't heard of a CSV before. You probably can't even get one shipped to your country for a reasonable price as importing from the US is heavily regulated and taxed by most countries. You should just be glad the pump is still working because one failure usually leads to the other, which is also planned that way to cost you even more.
 

pgw152

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Yes you have a submersible in the blue tank. The "presflow" thing is sitting directly above the pump. The "pressflo" thing is your problem. That is a copy of a Masscontrol which there are dozens of. Blows my mind they sell so many of those pieces of junk. The presflo is supposed to turn your pump on when flow is detected or when pressure drops to a certain point, and I don't know what point that is. 4 years is more than most people get from one of those type systems, which is why they sell so many. If you replace the presflow with a regular pressure switch and pressure tank, the system would work better and last much longer. If you added a Cycle Stop Valve to the regular pressure switch/pressure tank the pump system would deliver strong constant pressure to the house and last a lifetime, which is why you haven't heard of a CSV before. You probably can't even get one shipped to your country for a reasonable price as importing from the US is heavily regulated and taxed by most countries. You should just be glad the pump is still working because one failure usually leads to the other, which is also planned that way to cost you even more.
Thanks valveman, glad that we've nailed it down to this device. I started "working on it" as per following description / photos

manual here: https://pumpexpress.co.uk/downloads/DG_Presflo-Multi-Instructions-Sheet.pdf

10 - it was seemingly set at 2.4 bar Running Pressure (I had moved it a bit in the photo) and 4 amps, which seems good on pressure as 0.2 to 0.3 bar below bar of the pressure generated by the column of water overlooking PRESFLO. I didn't understand that, but the nearby gauge from blue tank says 2.6 bar most the time, so thought 2.4 Running Pressure sounds ok to me

11 - it was reading 40 psi on the side of the PRESFLO

12 - I read in the manual that the precharge is 1.5 bar and it should be 0.5 bar below running Pressure, so I turned off water, turned off PRESFLO and ran hot tap dry, until 0 PSI was on the side of the PRESFLO, then I attached my Schrader psi reader and it reported 1.2 bar. Based on my little knowledge and the manual I pumped it up to 1.9 bar (0.5 below the Running Pressure setting)

13 - Now, it reports this pressure on the side of the PRESFO (60 psi), and I still don't think it's kicking in right, and when it's done it's pumping (seemingly still delayed, but will see over some hours) it flashes at me, manual says 1 blink flashing on the green lower light is "PRESFLO in temporary shut down due to “DRY RUNNING” due to lack of water". It seems to recover from that state to the Ready State, so I may leave it and see. Manual suggests "Wait for the automatic restart or press START to restart manually (See Operation, point 4a)", then "Replace the pump with one with more suitable characteristics"

14 - this pic shows some crud at the top of the pipe / coupling above the PRESFLO, and the red arrows point out some standing water (very little, just enough to get tip of finger nail wet when dipping it) and blue arrow shows some dried up drip.

15 - blurb from PRESFLO cylinder label, bit different to the manual info I found at link above

If increasing the precharge from 1.2 to 1.9 bar has not changed much, pumping up the TET (from 18 psi to 40 psi) is neither here nor there is it? Have I even got a TET judging from photos 3 and 9?
 

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Valveman

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Those things don't control or care about the pressure. The pressure is the max the pump can build all the time. It does not build up to shut off. There is a flow switch that falls when flow stops, and a few seconds later the pump goes off. Then when a tap is open and if there is enough flow to lift the flow switch, the flow switch starts the pump. But if the tap is not open enough to cause flow that can lift the flow switch, there is a pressure switch that should turn on the pump at like 27 PSI.

Reducing the air charge in the tank will give you more water while the pump is delaying to start. More air charge will make the delay longer.
 
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