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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
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WATER FILTERS, HOME USE
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Water pump switch replacement: this article describes how to replace a water pressure control switch which is not working properly or perhaps is not working at all. We describe and illustrate how to find the pump switch, then we detail how to identify, remove, and replace the water pump pressure control switch for both above-ground pump and submersible well pump systems.
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In the sketch at page top the water pump pressure control switch is item #4 - we show this switch in more details in photographs provided below.
How to Remove and Replace a Water Pump Pressure Control Switch
This article explains the detailed steps to follow in removing and replacing a water pump pressure control switch. If you want to take apart, inspect, and try cleaning up an old pump control, use the directions here to remove or reinstall it, use the information at PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL REPAIR to inspect and clean the control.
Here are a few tips that will make removing and replacing the water pump control switch easier, and which will reduce the water spillage (or spray) into the room during this operation.
we like to prepare the new replacement parts with pipe dope or teflon tape before taking apart the old ones - that makes it quicker and neater in reassembling the pump pressure control switch with minimum water spillage.
Reconnect the electrical wiring to the water pump control just as the previous control was wired.
For a 120V circuit, there will be four electrical wires, two line-in wires (hot and neutral wires) from the power source are connected to two screws which may be indicated as "Line" by markings on the switch, and two line-out wires (hot and neutral wires) bringing power out of the control and on to the water pump.
If your pump pressure control switch is controlling a higher capacity submersible well pump, the electrical wires leaving the control may feed a separate heavy duty pump relay switch rather than going directly to the water pump. Well pump relays are discussed at WATER PUMP RELAY SWITCH.
Wipe dry any wet parts, especially around the bottom of the pump control and where the pump control mounting pipe or fitting mounts into the water pump or water tank fitting.
Inspect your plumbing connections closely for water seeping out - if you have leaks go back to step 1 or 2 and re-make your connections with better preparation of the threads with pipe dope or teflon tape.
IF the well pump is still not turning on and off properly you probably have another or a different problem. See the other water pressure and water pump control diagnostic articles listed at the left of these pages.
A Guide to Building Water Pressure by Adjusting or Repairing the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch
Reader Question: how do I replace the well pump pressure control switch shown in this photo?
There is no such tubing [visible] on my system (see the photo at left), yet switches I looked at, at HomeDepot.com mention "1/4 in. pressure connection".
Am I going to run into a problem if I don't have this tubing? Can I still use such a switch? Here is a picture of back of the pressure control switch.
Reply: You'll be fine with a new pressure control switch, a close nipple (iron pipe thread) of brass or galvanized steel, and some teflon pipe tape or pipe sealant.
It looks like your switch a 1/4" rather than 1/8" diameter iron pipe though I'm not quite sure from just the photo. Larger diameter gauge and pressure switch mounting pipe means less likely for the pipe itself to clog with sediment, rust, debris. But the principle is the same.
The reason you don't see a "tube' or mounting pipe is that your pressure switch connecting base (red arrow in photo above) is screwed directly into that galvanized iron tee (green arrow), almost certainly using a "close nipple". See our brass close-nipple photo at left and see the white marking line in photo above showing where that part is hidden.
A close nipple is nothing more than a very short section of threaded pipe. (photo at left). For comparison, here is a photo of a standard pipe nipple, also made of brass in this case. You can see another close nipple in your photo above - between the galvanized pipe tee and the metal to plastic bushing that adapts the whole setup to fit into that white plastic fitting (between the green and yellow arrows in our annotated photo).
When you unscrew the pressure control switch from the pipe tee shown in your photo, the close nipple will either come out with and remain attached to the switch bottom or it will remain screwed into the tee. If the close nipple remains screwed into the tee and does not move at all, you may be able to screw the new switch right onto it.
Watch out. If the close pipe nipple moves in the tee but you try just leaving it in place you may have a leak when you repressurize the system.
To change out the pressure switch shown in the photo above, you'd turn off power, remove wiring from the switch, drain pressure off of the water pressure tank to reduce the spillage when you remove the switch, then carefully unscrew the switch (attach a wrench to the fitting on the bottom of the switch) from the pipe. I'd probably use a small pipe wrench or Vise-Grip™ tool to remove the old close nipple from whichever side of the fittings it remained, and I'd install a new one to be sure my installation didn't leak.
Your plumbing supplier can supply you with both a threaded pipe nipple of the proper diameter and a new pressure switch (whose bottom typically includes a mounting fitting sporting a female NPT threaded fitting intended to screw onto a pipe, tube, or close nipple). (Some pressure switches might be supplied with a male threaded bottom fitting instead of female - check the parts before you leave the supplier so you have what you need to make the new connection.)
Watch out: because your whole setup of switch and gauge are mounted in a larger diameter PVC plastic pipe fitting (yellow arrow in photo above), if the switch is hard to unscrew you risk breaking that plastic part - which would mean more work to repair the system. Avoid this problem by using two wrenches, one holding the metal pipe tee into which the switch base is screwed, and the other turning the switch base against the tee. That will avoid stressing and breaking the plastic.
Use a bit of teflon tape or pipe dope when mounting the new switch but don't blob pipe dope or tape into the switch bottom where it might block the sensing switch diaphragm orifice.
Is a Pressure Control Switch Required in Water Pump Installations?
Reader Question: the switch that turns my pump on and off broke off: can I just wire the pump directly?
Hi I have a sta rite well pump that I had to pull up to replace the foot valve in but after replacing it and putting the pump back in my switch that turns it on and off broke and the pump wouldn't turn on. So my father in law has the same pump but doesn't have a switch it's just wired in with the 4 screw diagram in this tutorial so my question is how would I wire this so it will come on and just just by pass the switch and let the breaker control on\off? Thanx for any help - R.V. 10/17/2013
Reply: Yes. Where to find Pentair's Sta-Rite well pump installation guides & wiring instructions:
I'll be glad to help,R.V., but to do so I need to know which pump you have installed (there are several Sta Rite models); we'll review the manufacturer's installation and wiring instructions. Since I'm not sure what's going on at your pump or what you meant by "this tutorial", and not knowing just what broke, I describe two possible cases:
Watch out: in general we would not want to wire up a well water pump to simply be "always on" nor would we wire a home water pump to run without a pressure control switch for several reasons:
Certainly a review of typical installation instructions for a Sta-Rite deep-well jet pump makes amply clear that the company expects the pump to be powered and controlled through a pressure control switch.
In an emergency I would not hesitate to wire a pump to be turned on and off manually provided that a competent person were standing by the power switch to turn the pump on and off as needed; I would never leave such an emergency hookup in the "ON" Position for the reasons cited above.
Send me some sharp photos of the pump, its identifying labels, and also photos from a distance so I can see how the pump is hooked up and wired presently. When I have seen which pump you have, we can figure this out together.
If you want to contact the company directly, Sta Rite well pumps are provided by Pentair under the brand Sta-Rite - their website is at http://www.sta-rite.com/ and their page on water pumps and systems is at http://www.sta-rite.com/
Continue reading at WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: add a switch to protect water pump from damage?
(Apr 25, 2012) Ernie Parsons said:
I live in the North (Nunavut) and our water is supplied by truck and held in a 700 gal. tank. Sometimes when it storms and the trucks fall behind schedule and we run out of water. The problem is when this happens the pump continues to run and if we don't catch it quickly it heats up and ruins the impeller centre or the bearing. My question: is there a shut off I can install on the pump or water line that will shut the pump off when the tank is empty.
Certainly, Ernie. Take a look at the controls described at WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH
Question: what's the right air charge for a bladderless water pressure tank?
(June 14, 2012) Mack said:
Replacing pressure switch on bladder-less tank. After I drain tank and replace switch, should I add some pressure to the the tank a few pounds below cut in (28 for a 30)as one would do with bladder tank or is this unnecessary? Thanks
Mack, for a bladderless water tank if you empty the tank completely of water then most likely you won't have to add more pressure for the tank to work just fine when the pump is turned back on.
Question: pump won't come on
Aug 21, 2012) Dawn said:
When I turn on the watering system the pump does not come on but the relay switch box clicks and it clicks when I turn it off as well. I was told it could be this. New to this so I just wanted your opinion
(Jan 15, 2013) Stacy V. said:
I replaced the switch and rewired everything correct. I can't get any spark or anything. I have power coming to the switch, but still nothing??? HELP!!! I have no water...
Dawn and Stacey V:
take a look at WATER PUMP PROBLEM DIAGNOSTIC TABLE and let us know if that doesn't solve the problem you describe.
Questions & answers or comments about the steps in replacing a well pump pressure control switch.
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