Well Pump/Pressure Tank

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Laura, May 15, 2005.

  1. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    My well has a 35 year old Berkley submersible pump and 3 large Medalist posi-pressure tanks. The entire thing is on the fritz. Middle tank lost its air, probably blown diaphram, so we have it turned off, DH added air to the other two tanks. The pump refuses to build up enough pressure to turn itself off, hovering between 20-40 pounds pressure with 60 pounds needed to shut off, so I am checking it every hour.

    I have water, but there are 5 families on the well. Those at the end of the line do not have water.

    Tomorrow morning, these guys are going to try to troubleshoot the problems. The problem with this, none of them have done this before or know what they are doing. DH admittedly knows nothing about pulling and fixing a pump. He wants me to ask you guys for advice. See, he IS a smart guy!

    Okay, what advice can you guys give me in the way of detailed guy instructions or links to manuals or whatever?
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    The pump should be able to pump pressure if it is not worn or if the inlet is not restricted and there is no line ruptured in the discharge side of the tanks.
    Properly plumbed systems should have adequate ball valves to permit isolating the various components. Few do however. I suggest the following
    Verify the pressure gauge is OK
    Close the line(s) leaving the storage tanks.
    Start the pump. Watch for the gauge to start to rise, it will take some time with all the tanks you have.
    If the pump cannot increase pressure with all the discharge lines closed then you have either a clogged pump inlet or a worn out pump. If the pressure increases then you have a major leak in the lines leaving the tanks.

    The air pressure in the tanks affect the cut in pressure and not the high end pressure. The pressure switch will control the cutout pressure with a properly pumping pump.
     

  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I will agree, adding air to the 2 remaining tanks likely did not help anything, & could have messed up the cut-out pressure of the system. Agmantoo has some good stuff, need to check the parts to see what is happening.

    Hole in a pipe or a bad pump is likely the problem, at 35 years I'd be researching a new pump a whole lot...... Check pipes for corrosion on the way up & back down, don't want to put an old pipe back in with a pinhole ready to rust out on you...

    --->Paul
     
  4. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    May be a groken pipe on the drop pipe after 35 years of twisting anything is possible. I had to change my drop pipe a few years ago because of the same symptoms and the water was real dirty because it was washing down the inside of the well caseing.


    mikell
     
  5. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Well-Known Member

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    I agree with mikell. I had the same issue you folks are dealing with years ago. The metal pipe going to the pump had a series of pin holes and even larger in it, so the pump could never build enough pressure to break the pressure switch contacts..

    i would shuit off the water at the exit of the entire system. Fire up the pump and see if it builds pressure. if so, you have a pretty good leak downstream of the well and pressure tanks. If it does not come up to pressure (and it can even with a blown out bladder in one of the pressure tanks, or all 3 for that maTTER) The problem is in the pipe to your pump or the pump itself. Also listen at the top of the well casing, you may hear the sound of water spraying out of aleak and falling to the water table
     
  6. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    Okay. The pump is literally dead in the water. It will not start whatsoever, just a click when I pull the lever and nothing else.

    Neighbors stopping by all day, each with their own opinion of what went wrong. Switch, pump, pipe and I dunno.

    The hardware store assured me they have all the parts we may need, the water fund has enough to cover it. Might as well put a new pipe in while we're at it, it's as old as the pump, and replace the switch, too. May even go for the tanks.

    I get to watch 5 guys figure it all out tomorrow. I think I'll stay on the porch!
     
  7. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Well-Known Member

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    GOOD LUCK! USE PVC FOR THE PIPE IF ITS NOT TOO DEEP, AND RUN NEW WIRE. ALSO INSTALL A NEWPRESSURE SWITCH AND STARTER. MAKE SURE THAT YOU SEAL THE ELECRICAL CONNECTIONS TO THE NEW PUMP REALLY GOOD WITH ELECTRICAL TAPE ( I USE 2M SUPUER 33) AND PUT A CHECK VALVE IN BETWEEN TYHE PUMP / PRESSURE SWITCH AND THE PRESSURE TANKS. THAT WILL ALLOW THE FOOT VALVLE TO FAIL IN THE PUMP, AND NOT LET THE WATER PRESSURE DROP IN THE SYSTEM. SEEN A LOT OF FOOT VALVES FAIL, SORRY IF THIS IS WORDED STRANGE, THE WHISKEY IS TALKIN!!!!!!!
     
  8. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .................Better replace ....Everything.....including the pump or you'll be pulling all that new pipe outta the hole to replace a wornout pump . You need to use Schedule 80 , thickwall PVC pipe with galvanized pipe collars to connect the pvc pipe joints together . Also , you should install a check valve immediately , ON Top of the Pump , then start screwing the pvc pipe joints together , fordy.. :)
     
  9. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Just guessing but if you have 5 people on one system your water is hard to come by .How deep is the well?? You may not be able to pull it very easy or at all. If it has been down 35 years the best plan would be let the pro's do it in case the any number of things that can go wrong do. You said you have a well fund with money and no one with experence.

    mikell
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Great advise, but like me on a lot of things, the fellows will need to try first & really mess it up.... ;)

    A pro can really find things to replace that one doesn't see; and see things that are perfectly good & save money on stuff that doesn't need to be replaced. I'm lucky to have a really good well company, they are real pros & do great work. It's sad to read all the problems with wells on this site, & the lack of good pros to turn to in some regions. When our deep well went bad, pipe was good, wire was good, everything taped down right & put together good for the torque on 260 feet of pipe. Son of the guy who dug the well when I was 4 did the job. He knew the depth of this well, & the previous 2 that were on the place & filled in....

    --->Paul
     
  11. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    DH got the pump started last night when he got home. It ran briefly and immediately seized up and started smoking.

    The guys have been out there for an hour and a half, milling around with their hands in the pockets. They decided everything needs to be replaced and it needs to be done by a professional. Good choice!

    I'm glad I have water barrels. I'm the only one on the system that has them. I've been trying to talk these guys into a 2,000-5,000 storage tank to save wear and tear on the pump and generator and buy us time when things go wrong.

    We have plenty of water, this IS the rain forest. Most the parcels around here are only 5 acres, so wells and septics on every parcel would NOT be a good idea. Our wells are 120 feet deep and most of them support 3 to 5 families each.
     
  12. JustinThyme

    JustinThyme Active Member

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    I had to pull my pump last year ,I made a post in 'shop talk' with some advice
     
  13. BobK

    BobK Well-Known Member

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    If DH can see the pump it isn't the submersible that's the immediate problem. It sounds like you have some jet pumps or other distribution pumps set up to the pressure tanks. These should not be too hard to replace. Can you isolate the submersible and see if it is pumping water? Have you looked at the pump controls....it might just be a bad capacitor that's fried.....about $7-15. While 35 years is a long time and there may be a number of things wrong with the system it still might be OK.
     
  14. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I pulled my pump a couple of years ago to replace the check valve on the bottom, and decided to put in a new smaller pump (easier on my inverter, etc., to have it run a bit longer rether than draw more power.)
    I did most of it myself (140 feet to water, 170 feet to pump) with a tripod of 16 foot 2x6s and a come-along, and 3 pipe wrenches. One of my sons stood by to lend a hand when needed. Got it all done in a day.

    Jim
     
  15. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Rambler, for reminding me to come back and update this thread.
    Yes, the pump seized and it was the electrical parts that started smoking.

    While I referred to DH and the neighbors working on this as the 5 Stooges, they each had their useful set of skills and tools. I broke my rule of staying on the porch and helped them improvise and figure some things out. I earned that right by providing non-stop good food and hot coffee.

    The most useful tool was the telephone. The old time homesteaders are well connected to other old time homesteaders and we had an old guy who knew what to do and how to do it advising us the entire step of the way by phone, loaning us the right tools, and even went to the pump supply place with the guys to make sure they got everything they needed at wholesale price. This saved us a lot of time and money and everything got replaced.

    3 ruptured pressure tanks, galvanized well pipe with plenty of rusted out holes, a seized pump and old crunchy electrical stuff were replaced with new tanks, plastic well pipe, a stronger, better pump, new control panel, switch, wiring and fittings, pipe stabilizers and a good rope on the pump to make pulling it out easier next time. We were dang lucky they didn't lose the old pump down the well. We will all be in our 60s and 80s next time we have to pull the pump.

    After this experience, I can really appreciate the value of a shared well. It means shared labor, expenses, responsibility and motivation. We never could have done it on our own, finacially or laborwise. It also provided an opportunity for the guys to bond, get to know and appreciate each other and know they have neighbors that can help each other out in a pinch. We restablished old friendships and made new ones. Being without water for a few days was a major pain, but it was a valuable experience for everyone.
     
  16. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    I would still look into the adding a concrete holding tank of 5-8000 gallon capacity with auxillery pump to go to all the houses... so the pump doesnt have to kick on and off all the time..... have a 500-1000 gallon depletion for the kick on to happen depending uon the number of gallons per minute you have that replenishes our well, with such a system even simple irrigation can be done for everyones garden without hurting the well system, allowing it to rest between starts and stops.

    An added plus is with an above ground holding tank you can effectively have small fire protection serving the houses as it can be used to fill a tank that has a pump on it..... or allowing the rural fire department to replenish the water in their truck without having to go to someones pond...... just a thought.

    And thanks for updating what was done!

    William
     
  17. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    Yup, I brought up the above ground tank again and these guys all think it is a good idea and woulda' been REAL handy during this water outage. At least they are taking me seriously.

    Unfortunately, if I want one, I'll have to put it in myself, as they are ready to fall back asleep and ignore the water for another 35 years, or until the power goes out and they want me to start the generator. I resent the 5 am phone call because someone wants to flush.
     
  18. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    A fela here in central idaho that sprays concrete water tanks, nuclear fallout shelters, and dome housing, quoted me $1800 for a 2500 gallon tank with a 2x2 opening for pump installation, and just the hardware cost of adding the outlet for hooking up a firetruck ...... and if i wanted biger it would really be to awful much more expense except i would have to buy him a different size bag for spraying.....and add the cost of the mud and flyash.

    So i guess what i am trying to get at, cal around and get a quote from the guys who spray concrete.... they are all over the palce now.. a few years ago you had to use solid forms to get what you wanted, or buy a polytank..... which is really spendy @ a buck per gallon plus delivery costs.

    A well informed quote for several variables should recieve more than just a half hearted grunt from those who want to flush at midnight..... and the added coverage for fire protection can be thrown in to sway a vote or open a pocket book too.

    If getting a tank for firefighting isnt enough and it starts to plauge your mind now that i brought it up then these 2 pages might help

    http://www.barricadegel.com/residential.asp
    http://www.thermo-gel.com/index.html

    both are great for the home owner who doesnt have a pond, or a tank to keep a wild fire off the house or outbuildings.... and i believe they even sell the pumps and tanks for fire suppression that are built for pushing high volume water at higher pressures too.... nothing is perfect, but peace of mind can be had.... I live in the heart of the wild fire country in central Idaho.... in 1919 the fire at redriver gave the river its name for the red clay that was washed out after the fire came through and nothing was left on several hundred thousand acres... which are all primed to burn again, cause the environmentalists have stopped the taking of timber, and especiallly the dead timeber off the ground..... so i have great concerns.... it will burn one day again.

    William
     
  19. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Blu3duk for the advice. I will check into spray method of concrete to get a tank put in. In many high risk fire areas, a large water storage tank is mandatory if you want to build on your property. Here, it is a foreign concept.

    I am on the western edge of the rain forest near the ocean and we get 13 feet of rain a year. Historically, there have been some dandy wildfires, but it is not a part of daily thinking for the residents here. Since I grew up in and around highly volatile national forests, watched the trees crowning on the next ridge, cut miles of firebreak along side my neighbors and worked for CDF and attended Fire Academy when I was young, it is still a big part of my country living mentality. I guess last year, a wildfire burned into the backyard of my former home in Montana and stopped at the firebreak I dug.

    That gel seems to be some pretty awesome stuff, has a lot more potential than borade. You should start a thread on the Homesteading forum about fire protection. I don't think many people think about it or view it as a personal responsibility, as they should.