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  #1  
Old 07/30/07, 09:59 AM
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Holding tank / pressure tank questions

Hi all. Well, we thought our water problems were solved when the owners had a 2500 gallon holding tank installed. That, combined with the small pressure tank, should keep us in water even if the well is between 1/2-1 gallon per minute. They even put in 1800 gallons of water from a truck to get us started.

That was Wednesday, and things have seemed fine, until this morning. We went camping over the weekend, and came home last night, and there was water, and pressure, but I did notice that it seemed like the 2nd load of laundry took a LONG time to finish.

This morning, I went to do a load of laundry, and very little water coming out. Checked the sink, and low, to no pressure, and little water.

Out to the pumphouse, and pressure tank is reading 20psi, instead of 45 psi.

I went and checked all the hoses and automatic waterers, nothing appeared to be leaking, but I turned them all off just to be safe. The raised beds in the garden do appear to have been very well watered, but I'm pretty sure I had that timer set to go on at 6am for 15 minutes.

Anyway, spent about 20 minutes walking around, messing with hoses and stuff, and when I was done, pressure still at only 20psi. I'm giving it a while, then will check again, but here's my questions:

1. As long as there's water in the holding tank, would I be losing pressure at all? (I know that a pressure tank will go down to a preset level before cranking up again, but I think ours is 30/50.)

2. How do you tell how much water is in your holding tank? I felt the sides, but I can't tell any difference (ours is sitting above ground). (I would think, being gone 2 days, that without a major leak somewhere, it should be between half-full and full)

I'm feeling panicky, and thinking about calling out the water truck guys again. I just do not have time to be out of water (or pressure) any MORE! I lost so much time these last 4 weeks dealing with this thing, I HAVE to get my watering, planting, and canning done!!

Thanks for any input!!

Tracey Mouse

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  #2  
Old 07/30/07, 10:29 AM
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Did you check the breakers to see if the pump has power?

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Old 07/30/07, 10:57 AM
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Yes, pump has power, because you can hear it (or something mechanical in there!) running. I got smart, and thumped on the tank, top to bottom, and it is as hollow and empty as can be. Called the water truck - they're bringing 2000 gallons out sometime today.

I am going to have to try and track all the water we use. I couldn't find any leaks anywhere, but from here on out, outside faucet will be closed and automatic waterers turned off. I will manually water everyone, and write down when, how much, how long, etc. It will be a pain, but I just can't figure out any other way.

Will also keep working on the blankety-blank-blank spring. Two miles of old, leaky hose, and a nightmare - but lots of water at the end of the ordeal, if I can make it that far!

Off to try and get some seedlings in before it gets hot.

Tracey Mouse

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  #4  
Old 07/30/07, 12:14 PM
 
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Your frustration is understandable.

You now have 2 seperate water systems, and you will need to identify which one is causing problems.

Your well pump will slowly fill the big holding tank. How does it operate? Was it ever turned on???? Does it run on a float? It might be off, or it might have run out of water, or burned up the pump, or.....

Your pressure pump takes water from the holding tank & pressurizes your water system. If it has been running, trying to make pressure with an empty holding tank, I think that is bad news for the pump.... Oh boy.


On a new setup like this, someone needs to see that all parts of it are working as designed. Looks like no one was paying any attention, and now someone will have to pay.....

Please keep us informed on what you find out. Your story has been interesting to follow here. Working with less than a gallon output well is a real challenge. Takes some effort & attention for sure.

It sounds like you used up the hauled in water, & no one checked to see that the well was delivering any water to the holding tank to replentish it.

If you just have another tankload of water delivered, that won't solve the problem.

Need to find out why the tank went empty - is the well pump not working properly, or are you still using more water in a day than the well can deliver?

--->Paul

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  #5  
Old 07/30/07, 01:03 PM
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The well guys said they will come by some time in the next few days, just to give things the once-over. The well drilling company is local, has been in their family since I was a little girl, they are top notch at what they do, and honest as the day is long. I have no doubt that they checked, and double-checked everything last wednesday when they finished installing the tank.

I have to assume that it's me or a leak that's STILL using more water than the well can deliver. Last wednesday, I had about 1800 gallons of water in the holding tank. We did the usual minimum household things Wednesday - Saturday - 3 showers per day, dishes by hand, a few gallons from the sink to water the seedlings on the porch, a gallon per day for the rabbits, and the automatic waterers for the chickens (abt. 30 chickens - from chicks to fatties) and the goats (10 goats, from kids to adults). I didn't do any laundry, just because I was lazy, LOL! I would estimate that the chickens waterer delivers less than 2 gallons per day, and the goats between 5 and 10 gallons per day. I also did open up one of the garden hoses on thursday for about an hour maybe 90 min. to one of the fruit trees.

Saturday we took off camping, so no water usage other than automatic waterers for that whole day and night and all day sunday. Came home sunday night, did one load of laundry, and then the 2nd load took an awfully long time to run. I didn't look, but now that I think back on it, I know that the water tank had to have been empty at that point. This morning, first thing, lots of air mixed in with water in the lines and no pressure.

SO- even if I had emptied the tank dry by saturday morning, my logic (or lack thereof, LOL!) tells me that the well didn't pump up enough into the tank by sunday night (30-36 hours) to do more than one load of laundry. THAT'S not even 1/2 gallon per minute. THEN, we let 'er sit all night again, another 8-10 hours, and we still don't have any water to speak of, nor pressure.

But, here's what gets me - I turn off the outside faucet this morning, from whence all hoses and auto waterers run, and within 2 hours I have pressure again, and enough water to do a good job on the garden for about 10 minutes (little tiny sprinkler). SO, even though I can't see any leaks in my hoses, I'm guessing that's where my water loss is coming from, right? Or does shutting that valve just somehow enable the pressure tank to actually build up the pressure again, but not have any bearing on my water loss / missing water?

But, if after, say, 30 hours, of no activity whatsoever except for the hoses (turned off at the far ends) and the automatic waterers, with no water to speak of built up in the tank, wouldn't I have to have a MASSIVE amount of water loss somewhere - something REALLY noticeable?

My math says 30 hours at 1/2 gallon per minute is 900 gallons pumped up into the tank while we were gone camping. That's a lot of water to go missing when I can't find any leaks in the hoses.

ARGH, the more I try to reason my way through this, the more confused I make myself!! I know good and well there's no 900 gallons of water leaked out somewhere between the well and the barn!!! There's NO WAY 900 gallons of water came up into that tank while we were gone, is there? So, that must point to the pump. Dang, I hope the pump isn't shot. My poor landlords are having to make payments on this tank as it is. A new pump might send them over the edge.

But here's another thought - could I really have run through 1800 gallons from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday morning, especially with no laundry being done???? Where's all the water that they initially put into that tank???

Thanks for any help you guys can give me thinking this through. I'm just mostly confusing myself at this point!

Tracey Mouse

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  #6  
Old 07/30/07, 02:10 PM
 
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"I also did open up one of the garden hoses on thursday for about an hour maybe 90 min. to one of the fruit trees. "

This is your loss of water. At 50 Psi you can pump lots of water out of a hose in 90 minutes.

I have 28,000 gallons of rain water stored. 10 tanks are in use. I never have more than one tank on line at a time to guard against someone leaving a faucet open.

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  #7  
Old 07/30/07, 03:04 PM
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Well, I could see that using a lot of water, but it was only on for like I said, an hour to 90 minutes, one time, and there was still 2/3 of the tank full when I finished. That also wouldn't explain why there's no water in the tank after us being away from home for 30-36 hours, nor after all night. I don't know what to think ,except that maybe there's multiple problems going on here.

Just tried to walk up to the freaking spring, and wherever it was that my husband saw water, is NOT where we left the hose apart. There's no water anywhere near the road, and I have no idea where my husband was at when they found it.

To be honest, I am 100% frustrated and p.o.'d. I am just sick and flippin' tired of dealing with water issues. I have too many things going on to troubleshoot and diagnose this crap all by myself, and still manage the ranch while it's screwed up.

Going to gather up the laundry to take to town again, and hope that the water people get here before I have to go to the city for my son's homeschooling testing.

ARGH!!!!

TraceyMouse

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  #8  
Old 07/30/07, 03:13 PM
 
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Do you have a submersible or jet pump on the low yielding well?
Elaborate on the setup with the well pump.
How do you control the output from the well to prevent over pumping?
Is there any safety devices to shut down the well pump?
Is there a check valve between the well pump and the storage tank?
Does the inlet pipe from the well dump into the top or bottom of the storage tank?

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Last edited by agmantoo; 07/30/07 at 03:17 PM.
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  #9  
Old 07/30/07, 04:33 PM
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I don't know everything but here's what I do know:

there is a submersible pump in the well that shuts off automatically when there is no water

there is a pipe going from the well to the holding tank, pipe goes in at the top

there is a pipe going from the bottom of the holding tank to another pump that goes into the pressure tank. it goes on whenever the pressure tank drops down below 20 or 30 psi

there is a controller on the well pump that turns it on every so-many minutes, and it runs for a set period of time, unless the well runs out of water before that

they were just out there messing with the settings on the controller, and when set to come on every 6 minutes, it has enough water in there to pump for about 10 seconds. the pump is capable of pumping 15gpm if the water is available. when they had it set to come on every 3 minutes, the well only had enough water to run the pump for about 5 seconds

they were going to re-calibrate the controller, but I'm not sure what that means. They did it and left while I was on the phone talking to my husband.

I don't know what a check valve is, but there are a couple of shut-off valves - one is outside, between the holding tank and the pressure tank, and there is one inside the pumphouse, but I didn't look closely enough to see which line it's on.

Tracey Mouse

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  #10  
Old 07/30/07, 05:01 PM
 
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You have done an excellent job at describing the setup. I have no idea as to why anyone would install such a high output pump on such a low yielding well. Actually I do have an opinion that it could be associated with the price of the high output pump. The manufacturer of the motor on the pump would want you to limit the output of the pump to better match the well to prolong the life of motor. The motor will not be efficient as to power consumption and the motor will be abused with frequent start/stopping. Otherwise your setup should work once the well people get it calibrated. What is the depth of the well, what depth is the pump and at what level is the water table? Have the most technical person around you to read about low yielding wells here and compare to what you have. Maybe ask the well man to read it and comment.
http://www.pumpsonline.com/FAQ.htm#L...ump%20settings

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Last edited by agmantoo; 07/30/07 at 05:17 PM.
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  #11  
Old 07/30/07, 05:17 PM
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Apparently when drilled 10 or 15 years ago, this well put out more than it is now - probably 3-5 gpm, maybe 8 at the most. I know that this is the original pump, because the property owners were adament about leaving in there, even though the well guys said it was likely to die soon anyways, and they could swap it out while they were doing all this.

This well is about 150 ft. deep, and the pump is set pretty far into the water table (don't remember where the static water level was when the well was drilled- I looked up the well log at one point though). Now, just literally a minute or two (or less) of pump action drops the water down below the pump.

The rest of the wells around us (very close around us!) are having to go 280-340 ft. deep to get 3-4 gpm. We are just in a bad water area here, and this summer seems to be taking a toll on even wells that have always been good.

I'll go read that link you gave me! Thanks for trying to help me with this! I am feeling like I have massive ADD these days.

Tracey Mouse

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Old 07/30/07, 07:23 PM
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We had a one inch by 1/16th inch cut in the liner of our swimming pool. The pool would lose about 1500 gallons in 24 hours. 3000 gallons in two days. Evaporation would account for about 200 to 300 gallons or more per day, so 1200 gallons went through that little gap in the liner.

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  #13  
Old 07/30/07, 07:32 PM
 
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Unless the price jumps dramatically in the next short while here is IMO a good pump for your application
http://cgi.ebay.com/NIB-Goulds-1-2-H...QQcmdZViewItem

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  #14  
Old 07/30/07, 07:43 PM
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Okay, the water truck just came, and gave me about 1800 gallons of water. I've got the outside faucet turned off at the bib, and I will hand water everything except the garden for the next 3 days. The garden, I will turn on by hand, and write down exactly how long I left it on.

We were hoping to borrow one of those flow meter things from the well guys, but they left while I was on the phone with my hubby (cordless died, of course, so I was sitting in my bedroom on the corded phone and didn't hear them!). Couldn't get through to the plumbing store in the city, and what I saw online was over $100, which is way too much for a troubleshooting mission. Oh well.

Any way to estimate how many gallons go through a simple sprinkler? If I wanted to get really technical, I guess I could put it in a kiddie pool and cover it with a tarp and pour the resulting water into a 5 gallon bucket, but that sounds like a lot of work, LOL!!

I'm going to take some notes right now on the time, and how much water's there, etc.

Tracey Mouse

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Old 07/30/07, 07:48 PM
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agmantoo - I would be totally up for having a new pump put in, and obviously checking the water levels while they have things opened up - maybe even drilling further down to where everyone else is at with their wells, but this isn't our place, we're just renting. The owners are totally broke (had to borrow the money to put in the holding tank) and they just can't afford to do anything more than what's absolutely required to get by right now. They have the place up for sale, and they're trying to float their boat in their new town until this sells. They're really in a tough place, so I don't fault them for holding back until there's no other option. They simply don't have the cash.

From what the well guys said, the pump that's in there (the original pump to this well, about 10 yrs old) is still functioning okay. At this age, it could go anytime, but for now it's okay.

It took about 15 minutes for the water truck to put in the 1800 gallons, but even during that time, that pressure hadn't come all the way back up in the pressure tank. Does that sound normal?

Off to take notes, read that page, and get ready for hubby to come home after a greuling 12 hr day in the heat.

Thanks for all the thoughts and help, keep it coming!!

Tracey Mouse

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Old 07/30/07, 09:31 PM
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Update - pressure tank came back up to 55psi after about 45-60min. I sat out there and waited to see how often they had the well pump coming on. It wasn't on when I first got out there, and I waited 17 minutes - so the interval is something longer than that. It only came on for about 5-10 seconds though, so even after letting the well refill that long, there wasn't much water in it.

So, theoretically, if the well is capable of putting out 1/2 gpm, it *could* pump 360 gallons into that holding tank between 6pm tonight and 6am tomorrow.

But, if that controller is having the pump come on somewhere between 17-30 min intervals (or maybe longer?), and it only comes on for 5-10 seconds each time, that's quite a bit less water pumped out over a 12 hr. period. I guess the pump puts out 15gpm until the water supply is gone, then shuts off. So, the output under that scenario is more like 15 gallons per hour, and then that would be 180 gallons over a 12hr period.

But, if after 17 minutes, the pump only pumps for 10 seconds before there's no more water to take up, and that particular pump is capable of 15gpm, then I'm not even getting 1/2 gpm from the well, right?? (I think I'm close to understanding things, but I"m also on edge of confusing myself permanently and running off screaming into the woods!) I'm thinking our well output is more like 1/5 gallon per minute?!!

I will definately be checking the water tank in the morning to get a rough idea of how full it is, and how many gallons got pumped into it overnight.

If someone understands the calibration process on that controller, and could explain it to me, that would be awesome! I'm having trouble understanding the difference between what a well *can* put out (1/2 gpm or 1gpm) vs. what the pump can pump, and how that translates into how many gallons get pumped into that holding tank in a certain period of time.

THANK YOU!!!

Tracey Mouse


How does the calibration process work? I guess I should go sit out there and time the interval exactly, and exactly how long it stays going.

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Old 07/31/07, 01:25 AM
 
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Thank you for the updates & hanging in with all of us on this.

It sounds like you have things pretty well figured out.

Seems your well is possibly 1/2 gal a minute on a good day, but you are in dry times now, not a good day, so it is very low output.

A garden hose running for 90 minutes - there went your water. You took out more water with that hose than what you/we think your well can put back in in 24 hours.... A 3-4 gallon per minute pump will about keep up with a regular garden hose at what we consider 'normal' flow.

I'd also guess your goats drink a bit more than you think they do.

Tiny leaks on the garden hoses are added together. Any little damp spot - several gallons a day per damp spot. When you are maybe getting 250 - 300 gallons per day from your well....... That is a big chunk.

Three showers & 2 loads of laundry - that plus what the critters drink & spill is probably close to the 250 gallons right there......

That pump with that well output is not a good combination, as Agman says. We understand the situation, so no fix for it, but you are paying more electric, and such short bursts of pump activity with a big pump just aren't the best deal.

It sounds like they are about on a dry well there, and lucky if they get the place sold before you suck it totally dry. Not your fault, but that well barely handles a house any more, and you are trying to do a ranch...... Input & output don't match.

You really explained what you have very well. Nice. I wish there were better answers, but - dry well & a lot of needs for water.

--->Paul

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Old 07/31/07, 05:54 AM
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If I were in your shoes, I'd be giving some serious thought to alternate water sources (short- and long-term) in case that pump burns up, or the well runs dry. That spring you mentioned is a possibility, as is a rainwater catchment system (can be as simple as a barrel under a downspout if the house has eave troughs!).

At the very least, you need to amass some large water storage containers, and find a place (neighbor's, etc.) where you can fill them in the event of an emergency. Also a way to haul them ... do you have a truck?

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Old 07/31/07, 11:03 AM
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Just a thought..
I had a slow return well and about the same situation. I allowed the caseing fill up to the highest level it could before cycling the pump. This saved the pump from constant on/off cycles..

Also, I brought the well back somewhat by pulling the pump, poured 10 gal. of muratic acid down there and let it set over nite, reinstalled the pump the following morning and pumped it dry untill it cleaned itself out. (bypassing the storage tank system. of course)

This increased the output of the well almost 3 times of what it was prior to the treatment. Didn't hurt the neighbors wells any at all and they were kinda close togather..
~Don

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Old 07/31/07, 12:23 PM
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I have given thought to various althernative water supplies, and I agree that this property needs them. There's advantages and disadvantages to each, but the bottom line is that my husband doesn't think we should (or even can) devote the time necessary to set things up and utilize them (if it comes to that) when this isn't our place.

We've offered to buy a smaller section of the ranch, and they're willing to subdivide, but they still want WAAAY too much for it. (That's why none of the property has sold so far, their asking prices are just tremendously high for the declining values around here.) SO, as much as we like them, and feel empathy for their situation, this is ultimately their problem, not ours.

The spring was represented to us as the irrigation source for the north pasture - about 20 acres that would be a great hayfield - and since we're not *irrigating*, and not doing anything with the north pasture - we don't feel obligated to use or maintain the spring. They bred and raised horses here (they had over 20 when they left) plus goats, chickens, dogs, etc. They had extensive garden areas and all the fruit trees. We were told, repeatedly, that everything got watered off of "hoses". I repeatedly clarified that all those hoses were hooked up to the one (and only!!) outside faucet by the house, and was told over and over again - yes. Now, we're being told that pretty much ALL outside watering was done via the spring - which obviously doesn't come out that single outside faucet.

There's just been a lot of miscommunication here I think, not out and out misleading, but I think they're just REALLY distracted trying to make things fly in their new town with no cash. I think they expected this place to sell really fast, went ahead and moved into a rental down there, and then their savings ran out and they thought to rent this place out for some cash flow. Prior to all this they were full time breeders and farmers, now they've both had to take low-paying jobs just to make the bills.

There are other faucets on this property (at the barn and greenhouse for example) but I was told that they were intending *one of these days* to hook those in, and never got around to it, so they don't work. Seemed really odd to me to install and set into place faucets with no pipes leading to them, but that's what they said, and I just don't have time or really the ability to dig up all the land looking for pipes they say don't exist. It's stuff like this that we've been dealing with all these months. Really nice people, just never been landlords before, and they're too busy with their new situation to deal with things out here.

Had we been informed that the well woudn't support the house and garden and a few animals, we either wouldn't have taken this place on, or we would have sunk money into alternative water sources months ago. On the contrary, we asked and were told that it was a great well - even when we started having troubles and worries back in May, they told us that it was a 12gpm well.

At this point, if the well goes completely dry, or if we keep having to add water to it from the water truck, maybe we will have to start taking it off the rent. It looks like my husband is going to end up getting transferred to another jobsite within the next 3-6 months or so (we were supposed to be here for 3 years), so it's probably not worth moving again (we've moved like 6 or 8 times in the last 2 years) until we go up north. We've got probably 8 more weeks of hot weather, so we'll just get by until then.

My main focus now (I think!) is trying to document the water usage and what's coming in from that well, so we don't end up with trouble between us and the property owners. They're really nice, but they just don't seem to really accept the fact that they NEVER had a 12gpm well, that somebody lied to them or really misled them, and that in fact, this well is the problem, not our usage. I don't want it implied at some point that we "ran the well dry" or something like that.

In light of everything that happened, and with the upcoming transfer, it's probably a good thing we didn't buy this place, and can just walk away from it when the time comes. I have learned a very valuable lesson about land and water, and how important the latter is to the value of the former!!!

Tracey Mouse

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