Forum Thread

Does anyone here know anything about well pumps/systems?

Dr. J 25,032 3,353 August 5, 2016 at 06:31 AM
As I've said in some other threads, I've been away from home for about a month. I asked the FIL to watch the house, mow the lawn, and water the garden for me while I've been gone.

He mentioned that the fan sprayer I had in the garden didn't work well (it worked fine for me before I left) and I also notice that the water pressure in the house seems to be low at times. Doing some more inspection, it seems the pressure stays low for a long time after the water has been used for awhile. For example, if someone is taking a shower, the pressure will go down to the 20's (PSI) and pretty much stay there or perhaps gain a bit to ~30. When it's turned on after awhile of not being on (say overnight or after a long day), the pressure seems OK.

After DW took a shower last night, I watched the pressure gauge and it rose from ~ 30 to ~64 over the course of about 6-8 minutes or so. The pressure switch says it's a 40/60 - at least the 60 seems right by my observation of the cutoff point (64 by the gauge) but I'd have to watch it again to see where the cut-in is set.

This AM after several hours of not using water it was about 62 PSI. It may be that I've been spoiled after living in hotels with super water pressure for a month, too.

How long should "recovery" of the pressure take, all things considered (yeah I realize it depends on the GPM and HP of the pump)?

Also - if water is used continuously - as in a shower - with a 40/60, after the pressure hits 40, how low should the pressure go? Can a pump really maintain 40+ PSI?

The well people should be in in the next few weeks for routine stuff (water softener) and I will ask them too.

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#2
A buddy's cabin has no problem bringing pressure up to 60. I sent him an email with your info.
All his cabins are well/pumps or storage tanks
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#3
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
As I've said in some other threads, I've been away from home for about a month. I asked the FIL to watch the house, mow the lawn, and water the garden for me while I've been gone.

He mentioned that the fan sprayer I had in the garden didn't work well (it worked fine for me before I left) and I also notice that the water pressure in the house seems to be low at times. Doing some more inspection, it seems the pressure stays low for a long time after the water has been used for awhile. For example, if someone is taking a shower, the pressure will go down to the 20's (PSI) and pretty much stay there or perhaps gain a bit to ~30. When it's turned on after awhile of not being on (say overnight or after a long day), the pressure seems OK.

After DW took a shower last night, I watched the pressure gauge and it rose from ~ 30 to ~64 over the course of about 6-8 minutes or so. The pressure switch says it's a 40/60 - at least the 60 seems right by my observation of the cutoff point (64 by the gauge) but I'd have to watch it again to see where the cut-in is set.

This AM after several hours of not using water it was about 62 PSI. It may be that I've been spoiled after living in hotels with super water pressure for a month, too.

How long should "recovery" of the pressure take, all things considered (yeah I realize it depends on the GPM and HP of the pump)?

Also - if water is used continuously - as in a shower - with a 40/60, after the pressure hits 40, how low should the pressure go? Can a pump really maintain 40+ PSI?

The well people should be in in the next few weeks for routine stuff (water softener) and I will ask them too.
He thinks your well isn't producing enough.
His has a secondary pressure switch to turn off the well pump when it drops below 20psi. to keep it from burning up.
A buddy of his had to install a 1500gal tank and add a shallow well pump so he didn't run out of water anymore.
Filter clog if there is a filter
bad pump or no water
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#4
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
Also - if water is used continuously - as in a shower - with a 40/60, after the pressure hits 40, how low should the pressure go? Can a pump really maintain 40+ PSI?
It depends on the flow rate of your shower head and the flow rate of your well which may not be constant.


Low pressure / seemingly slow recovery could be caused by a few things:
-the well's running low / dry or the filter is clogged
-something's wrong with the pressure tank
-something's wrong with the pressure switch


I like to add a pumpsaver to well systems. http://www.thepumpwarehouse.com/p...cific=2381
(may not be the right model for you) It's helpful to diagnose and prevent situations that could result in damage.
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#5
Quote from stufine View Post :
He thinks your well isn't producing enough.
His has a secondary pressure switch to turn off the well pump when it drops below 20psi. to keep it from burning up.
A buddy of his had to install a 1500gal tank and add a shallow well pump so he didn't run out of water anymore.
Filter clog if there is a filter
bad pump or no water
Quote from jkee View Post :
It depends on the flow rate of your shower head and the flow rate of your well which may not be constant.


Low pressure / seemingly slow recovery could be caused by a few things:
-the well's running low / dry or the filter is clogged
-something's wrong with the pressure tank
-something's wrong with the pressure switch


I like to add a pumpsaver to well systems. http://www.thepumpwarehouse.com/p...cific=2381
(may not be the right model for you) It's helpful to diagnose and prevent situations that could result in damage.
When I said:

"For example, if someone is taking a shower, the pressure will go down to the 20's (PSI) and pretty much stay there or perhaps gain a bit to ~30. When it's turned on after awhile of not being on (say overnight or after a long day), the pressure seems OK."

I don't know if it was clear but the pressure was in the 20's (maybe climbing slowly) while the water continued to run - it's not like the pressure didn't go up while there was no water being used. The pressure went from 30's to 64 over the course of <10 minutes. I'm not sure what the recovery time should be or what it generally is - seconds, minutes?

Also, the system is about 12 yo now, FWIW. How long do pumps typically last? Do they typically fail in stages/gradually?

FWIW I have a report from when we bought the house that evaluated the pump flow rate and pressure although not recovery. I wonder if somehow the original test can be used as a basis for followup to determine if the system's performance has changed? Also as I recall the inspector mentioned that I must have had a very good well pump... not sure what made him say that, perhaps the GPM. What's interesting in the jpg is that the pressure does swing over the course of the 1+ hr run... he only recorded it every 15-20 mins or so, so it may have dipped lower in that time.
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Last edited by Dr. J August 5, 2016 at 12:59 PM
#6
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
When I said:

"For example, if someone is taking a shower, the pressure will go down to the 20's (PSI) and pretty much stay there or perhaps gain a bit to ~30. When it's turned on after awhile of not being on (say overnight or after a long day), the pressure seems OK."

I don't know if it was clear but the pressure was in the 20's (maybe climbing slowly) while the water continued to run - it's not like the pressure didn't go up while there was no water being used. The pressure went from 30's to 64 over the course of <10 minutes. I'm not sure what the recovery time should be or what it generally is - seconds, minutes?

Also, the system is about 12 yo now, FWIW. How long do pumps typically last? Do they typically fail in stages/gradually?
8-10, 15yrs not uncommon

New pump before they sold to you?
lookup deep well pumps on grainger to get ratings. how deep @psi and GPM
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Last edited by stufine August 5, 2016 at 01:15 PM
#7
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
When I said:

"For example, if someone is taking a shower, the pressure will go down to the 20's (PSI) and pretty much stay there or perhaps gain a bit to ~30. When it's turned on after awhile of not being on (say overnight or after a long day), the pressure seems OK."

I don't know if it was clear but the pressure was in the 20's (maybe climbing slowly) while the water continued to run - it's not like the pressure didn't go up while there was no water being used. The pressure went from 30's to 64 over the course of <10 minutes. I'm not sure what the recovery time should be or what it generally is - seconds, minutes?

Also, the system is about 12 yo now, FWIW. How long do pumps typically last? Do they typically fail in stages/gradually?

FWIW I have a report from when we bought the house that evaluated the pump flow rate and pressure although not recovery. I wonder if somehow the original test can be used as a basis for followup to determine if the system's performance has changed? Also as I recall the inspector mentioned that I must have had a very good well pump... not sure what made him say that, perhaps the GPM. What's interesting in the jpg is that the pressure does swing over the course of the 1+ hr run... he only recorded it every 15-20 mins or so, so it may have dipped lower in that time.
Recovery time would vary depending on how much water was used, how much is re-entering the tank, and the size of the tank. On a fairly small tank it would generally be within a couple minutes after the water inside is shut off.


You should also be able to look some specs for your well on the original well permit including pump model, depth, and flow rate.


As to pump life, there are a lot a variables that come into play. It could be anywhere from 15-50 years. I'm pretty sure my Aunt's well still has the original pump from the 1940's. I don't think you're looking at pump failure.


Can you post a picture of your pressure tank?
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#8
Quote from jkee View Post :
Recovery time would vary depending on how much water was used, how much is re-entering the tank, and the size of the tank. On a fairly small tank it would generally be within a couple minutes after the water inside is shut off.


You should also be able to look some specs for your well on the original well permit including pump model, depth, and flow rate.


As to pump life, there are a lot a variables that come into play. It could be anywhere from 15-50 years. I'm pretty sure my Aunt's well still has the original pump from the 1940's. I don't think you're looking at pump failure.


Can you post a picture of your pressure tank?
I'll get that later - I was thinking - could a larger pressure tank help pressure longevity or does it really only help the pump come on longer but less frequently? The tanks aren't that expensive and appear to be relatively easy to replace.
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#9
Buddy told me you basically run the well out of water. It'll start to pulsate , that's when you measure what the well can produce.

I can PM his number to you if you want to hear what he has to say and things to check/test

He has a few wells and storage tanks down in KY at the Red River Gorge

He changed his settings. on@50 off@60

To me it can only be couple things. Reduced flow (filter/blockage/no water) or bad pump
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#10
Quote from jkee View Post :
Recovery time would vary depending on how much water was used, how much is re-entering the tank, and the size of the tank. On a fairly small tank it would generally be within a couple minutes after the water inside is shut off.


You should also be able to look some specs for your well on the original well permit including pump model, depth, and flow rate.


As to pump life, there are a lot a variables that come into play. It could be anywhere from 15-50 years. I'm pretty sure my Aunt's well still has the original pump from the 1940's. I don't think you're looking at pump failure.


Can you post a picture of your pressure tank?

Tank is CH4202 by Amtro [supplyhouse.com]l (Similar to this but mine says "Champion by Amtrol but with the same model #). 20 gal according to the interwebz. Tank looks fine, no rust (actually if I wiped it down it would look new). "Knocking" the tank there is a clear difference between the upper (air) and lower (water) parts. Pressure tap at the top reads about 2-3 PSI below system pressure, as it should (again by interwebz).

20 gal seems low.... but I'm not a well/pump guy either. Googling I find:

Q. How big of a tank do I need?
A. When it comes to pressure tanks, bigger is better. Period. The whole idea of having a tank is to store water under pressure so it's ready to use in the house. It prevents the pump from having to turn on every time a little water is needed. One of the biggest factors in shortening a pump's life is frequent starts. Having a big pressure tank means that you have that much more water stored. It means the pump will not have to turn on for a longer period of time. That helps prevent the pump from having to start often. In short, when it comes to choosing a pressure tank, you want to buy as big a tank as you can afford and have room for.

Which basically agrees with what I said before.
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#11
My cousins drill and install wells, I've helped with several. I have 3 submersibles on my property (plus windmills, etc.).

What everyone said is true, it varies a lot, can't really say what's normal there without knowing "everything", but that does sound slow, and especially if that isn't the way it was acting before you left. Nobody around has any filtration or treatment systems, not needed, so I can't guess on any of that. Guessing, I'd suggest what the others said. Only other thing I could think of, if the pump would be ok, have a length of pipe above it, then a check valve. Length of pipe could have a leak (leak below the check valve), so not all water would pump up, some would recirculate in the well, but system would still hold pressure. I had that happen on the house well, it got bad enough that it wouldn't shut off, pump kept running, got hot, cold water from the tap was steaming.... Happened rather quickly. Pump was 50 years old anyway. Also, did not have a cable on it other than the electric wire, almost rusted off the end of the pipe when I pulled it up. If the tank goes, it fills with water, and the pump would cycle on/off quickly.

I like big pressure tanks.... They also have constant pressure pumps, on demand, whatever you call them. You set the pressure, pump varies the speed to provide constant flow. It just requires a very small tank. BUT, the guys say they haven't been as reliable for them. I've only seen a couple work, been a couple years since I've heard much about them

They install a lot of Grundfos pumps, can't say what's best. I got a couple for like $50 when an ag supply store was changing owners, generic. Replaced the stock well with it and it's been working for 10 years. Pumps only hang 30 feet down, very easy to change, I work on all my own, don't have issues often.
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#12
All well pumps have some kind of filter, but in many areas what's built into the well head or the well casing is enough.

Pressure tank sounds fine.


http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/wwg412
[gov.ab.ca]

Inspectapedia has some sections of wells:
http://www.inspectapedia.com/wate..._Guide.php
http://www.inspectapedia.com/wate..._Table.php
http://www.inspectapedia.com/wate...able_2.php
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#13
Well update - I did all the debugging I could so I called the same place that services our softener system - I originally asked them if they could do something more quantitative when they come to do the annual service next week.

Instead, they came out today. He determined that there is a short somewhere in the line from the pressure switch to the pump (maybe an abrasive short in the wire) but that the pump motor seems OK. He agreed that clearly the pump is not providing enough flow, so there may be a crack in the piping or the wet end (pump itself) may be faulty. He pulled the cap off the well and checked the static head - it was about 30 feet which more or less agrees with the 20 feet that was measured back in 2004 when the well was drilled.

I spoke with the driller and they said the well was drilled to 400 feet, the pump set at 300 feet, 1/2 HP 5GPM Jacuzzi pump - with (300-20=)280 feet of water head (@1.5 G/lf that's 420 gallons of water on top of the pump in the well), and 10 gpm yield (well recovery).

So the pump system is 12 yo and he indicated that an avg lifespan is about 15. We both agreed that it doesn't make much sense to pull out the pump for inspection then put it back, if it's found the pump is OK. He's going to get back to me with a quote this PM.
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#14
Quote from jkee View Post :
All well pumps have some kind of filter, but in many areas what's built into the well head or the well casing is enough.
Here there are like "slits/holes" in the lowest plastic well casing, and then a screen on the pump itself (can see in most pictures of them). Basically just keeps sand and gravel out, but that is the only "treatment" or "filtration" water receives or needs here.

Quote from Dr. J View Post :
Well update - I did all the debugging I could so I called the same place that services our softener system - I originally asked them if they could do something more quantitative when they come to do the annual service next week.

Instead, they came out today. He determined that there is a short somewhere in the line from the pressure switch to the pump (maybe an abrasive short in the wire) but that the pump motor seems OK. He agreed that clearly the pump is not providing enough flow, so there may be a crack in the piping or the wet end (pump itself) may be faulty. He pulled the cap off the well and checked the static head - it was about 30 feet which more or less agrees with the 20 feet that was measured back in 2004 when the well was drilled.

I spoke with the driller and they said the well was drilled to 400 feet, the pump set at 300 feet, 1/2 HP 5GPM Jacuzzi pump - with (300-20=)280 feet of water head (@1.5 G/lf that's 420 gallons of water on top of the pump in the well), and 10 gpm yield (well recovery).

So the pump system is 12 yo and he indicated that an avg lifespan is about 15. We both agreed that it doesn't make much sense to pull out the pump for inspection then put it back, if it's found the pump is OK. He's going to get back to me with a quote this PM.
About 50 miles east of me, wells are drilled 200-300' plus and the water isn't as good. Some have issues with algae (occasionally treat with tablets/whatever dropped in the well). I agree, they are a pain to pull and would likely change the pump "just because" if it's pulled. I've never been in on the specifics of deciding how much hp of a pump to put in, but I know in deeper ones they put in 3/4, 1 hp etc. Around me, it's 1/2. Might be common for that size there, but my thought is that is a pretty small pump that deep.... Maybe more efficient than the kind I've been around....

Here, wells are 100', drilling takes less than an hour, pumps set about 30', static is maybe 5 to 6' in my yard. On one of my west meadows I could probably put in a flowing well (artesian), lots of those around, drill, pipe, water comes out on its own. School bus drives by one, back in the day on hot days, after riding the bus for close to an hour, it was common for the driver to stop and let us get a drink.
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#15
Quote from 1two3 View Post :
Here there are like "slits/holes" in the lowest plastic well casing, and then a screen on the pump itself (can see in most pictures of them). Basically just keeps sand and gravel out, but that is the only "treatment" or "filtration" water receives or needs here.



About 50 miles east of me, wells are drilled 200-300' plus and the water isn't as good. Some have issues with algae (occasionally treat with tablets/whatever dropped in the well). I agree, they are a pain to pull and would likely change the pump "just because" if it's pulled. I've never been in on the specifics of deciding how much hp of a pump to put in, but I know in deeper ones they put in 3/4, 1 hp etc. Around me, it's 1/2. Might be common for that size there, but my thought is that is a pretty small pump that deep.... Maybe more efficient than the kind I've been around....

Here, wells are 100', drilling takes less than an hour, pumps set about 30', static is maybe 5 to 6' in my yard. On one of my west meadows I could probably put in a flowing well (artesian), lots of those around, drill, pipe, water comes out on its own. School bus drives by one, back in the day on hot days, after riding the bus for close to an hour, it was common for the driver to stop and let us get a drink.
After reading up on it more, sizing pumps has more to do with what the well is capable of and how hard it needs to pump vs what the homeowner wants - e.g. it's not a good thing to capitulate to someone that wants "more pressure" by putting a larger pump in. Around here at least, to be kosher with the ordinances and such, a well needs to be able to provide a certain capacity as well as a certain yield (GPM recovery). So, when a particular well is drilled, they check periodically for the water table and recovery and stop when the two criteria above are satisfied (probably plus some correction factor). Well depth varies from house to house even in the same subdivision, just like water quality does. The HP of the pump depends largely on how deep it's set - the deeper and the lower the water table, the higher the pump HP needs to be to get the water out to the house. To give an idea of how much the water table makes a difference, the pump guy out here the other day said that if my water table was instead at 100 ft below the surface, the pump would need to produce like 160 PSI at the pump to get 40PSI at the house, whereas at 30 feet, it would only need to produce 90 PSI. Of course as pump HP gets bigger, the pump is longer and more expensive, and wiring might need to be upsized, etc etc.
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