Air in water lines

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Christiaan, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Yesterday morning had air in the water lines, same again this morning. Can't see anything wrong at the well, tank looks good, pump runs normally, pressure is the same as always.
    Any ideas?
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    The presence of air indicates a vacuum leak internally some where in the system. Check all visible joints with soap suds to detect if the leak is accessible. The bubbles will be drawn inward while the pump is running.

    Second thing if no leak is found is to install an 'air hammer', its just a piece of pipe that mounts upward, a place for the air to accumulate and be drained off periodically. Install at the pump or anywhere convenient before the water enters the house.

    It could also be the air bladder inside of the tank slow leaking, a more constant cycling of the pump will indicate that. Most tanks now days have a replaceable bladder, access is through the bottom of the tank.
     

  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What type of pressure tank do you have, bladder or non-bladder? As mentioned, it can be a spource of air into the pipes. Will show up eventually as less air cushion in the tank.


    Otherwise, typically air is being sucked into the pipe somewhere between the pump and where the water level is. Your well could be low, or a tiny rust pit hole could have formed in that drop pipe.

    For me, the screen at the bottom of the well coated up with magneese. Water couldn't get through the fine sand screen it was so full of mineral. So the pump would draw 60 gallons of water, but after that I'd get low flow & air bubbles.

    A $1400 acid treatment took care of the problem.

    So, there are a number of things that can go wrong, but likely a pin-hole. We are assuming you have a shallow well pump on the surface, since you didn't say....

    --->Paul
     
  4. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Is this a jet or submersible pump?
     
  5. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Sorry, I always forget the details.
    I have a surface pump. The tank was installed in November after the old one died. I'll check the exposed pipes tomorrow, but there isn't much there to work on. The pressure is holding steady (gauge new in Nov also) and the pump is not cycling anymore than before the air problem started.
    The joys of the simple life!
     
  6. Jim S.

    Jim S. Well-Known Member

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    All things being "normal," the most common causes:

    -- the bladder in the pressure tank has likely burst

    -- your foot valve is not completely submerged in the well water (low water level)

    -- your suction line between foot valve and pump has a leak, likely in a joint.
     
  7. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

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    Our tank (no bladder - 60 year old tank in a pit) has a float valve that releases air when the water level is low in the tank and holds pressure when the water level is high. Sure causes air problems when iron sludge keeps the valve from releasing air. The resulting hammer would make the water run red for minutes before it would clear up. Replacing this float valve took care of the problem.
     
  8. OkieDavid

    OkieDavid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With the pump turned off and the pressure completely relieved, what should the "air pressure" within the bladder be? I think the neighbor kids last summer decided to "bleed" some of it off. Now I'm having a noticeable drop when the pump kicks in....didn't have that before I caught them messing around the well and noticed the valve cap off the stem.....grrrrrrr

    Thanks,
    David
     
  9. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    This is called an air volume control, and would be my first guess as to the problem. There is a tiny needle valve inside that releases the air, and they get clogged very easily. We have a lot of rust in the water here, and I have to change it out at least once a year because of the same problem.
     
  10. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    The problem has decreased alot but not gone away completely. DW also noticed the toilet in her bathroom was running funny. Could a toilet fixture leak air into the system?
    Couldn't find any leaks in the pipes I could reach, will have to check on the pipe down into the well somehow. Far as I can tell the pressure tank seems to be OK. I love the simple life!
     
  11. DJ in WA

    DJ in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I posted the same question last year, but I couldn’t find the thread on a search. My story is that after having a new well system installed, there was a joint between pipes going down the well that wasn’t tight and allowed air to come in. Now for that to happen, you have to have negative pressure (sucking, vacuum).

    We had a check valve installed near the top of the well which keeps water from backflowing from the pressure tank when pump is off. The leak was below that check valve. So, when pump shut off, water drained slightly out the bottom where submersible pump was. Then above, below check valve, air was sucked in.

    Think of a drinking straw full of water with your thumb over the top (thumb represents the check valve). If there is a small hole in the straw just below the top, air will suck in while water goes out the bottom.

    Some of the explanations I had didn’t make sense until this was explained to me, as it seemed to me that any leaks would shoot water OUT, not suck air in. If you have pressure on your pressure gauge, water will shoot out wherever there’s a leak under that pressure. Any check valves in the system going back toward the pump will be a barrier to that pressure, so beyond the check valve is where vacuum can happen to get air in the line.

    In order for water to go out the bottom of the system (as with the straw), there has to be a bad foot valve. Apparently my submersible pump, at the bottom of well, has a built in check/foot valve, but the ones in the pumps aren’t that great, allowing for slight drainage of water.

    I finally got the well pump guy out and he pulled up the piping and tightened the joints. While taking the pipe apart, we saw there was a foot of air on the top of the joint just below the check valve. This fixed the problem.

    So, your system may be different, but you might consider these ideas when diagnosing. I’ve had pressure tanks with holes in bladders, but never got noticeable air in the lines. Rather the water with positive pressure would shoot through the bladder and fill up the air space over time causing more frequent pump on and off cycling.

    Don’t think about toilet fixtures, as any water there should be under positive pressure.

    Figure out where you have a check valve. Is there one around the surface pump or does it have a built in one?

    This is all assuming as others mentioned, that for some reason your water table hasn’t dropped and you’re starting to suck air.

    By the way, with my problem, there was more air the less often you used the water, as that allowed more time between the pump coming on, for water to drain out and for air to be collected. Then when you turned water on, say in the morning, we’d get sometimes a good blast of air. Then the rest of day not much, because pump coming on and off kept the air cleaned out.
     
  12. pgmr

    pgmr Member

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    It's usually two pounds below the turn on pressure. If you have a 40/60 setup your air pressure should be 38psi.
     
  13. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Will look into the check valve issue. The problem seems to be intermittent. No problem with low water, in fact the opposite. Two major rainstorms this week. I think the water table is about 6 inches above ground level.
     
  14. OkieDavid

    OkieDavid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pgmr- Thanks!!

    David
     
  15. boonieman

    boonieman Well-Known Member

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    Some things to check:

    -Are there two lines going down into your well, or just one? If two lines there is a jet in the bottom of your well that helps the pump pull the water up. There are typically on deeper wells. This style is a lot less suceptible to sucking in air if there's a leak in the suction piping. If there is one line, then the pump is simply pulling the water up out of the well and is more prone to pulling in air if there's a leak somewhere. Both styles definitely have a foot valve (check valve) at the very bottom of the piping or the pump wont stay primed.
    -If there's a leak somewhere in the suction piping, or the check valve is leaking thru, the pump will kick off and on occasionally even when you aren't using water in the house. You can let the pump build up pressure, then turn it off and close the valve to the house. See if the pressure stays up on your system. If it does, a leak anywhere within the piping from the pump down into the well is unlikely.
    -Since it started when you changed pumps, I would most likely suspect a leaking pump seal. Look at the shaft from the motor where it goes into the pump. Any leaks or drips whatsover? The slightest leak here will suck air into your system when the pump runs. Most of these pumps have double faced seals. basically, one side seals pressure and the other side seals vacuum. Sometimes you can suck air in while the pump is running, and then show no evidence at all of a leak when the pump is down. And, they can do this intermittently. One thing you can try is to put a heavy coat of grease around the shaft right next to the seal where it goes into the pump. Sometimes this will seal a vacuum leak.
    -Also, if your pump is still under warranty, you might think about telling them you think it's sucking air in the seal and get it replaced. Again, everything was fine til you changed pumps, right? That's where my focus would be. Good luck.
     
  16. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    boonieman has your problem identified