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Diagnose & fix water pump problems:
Here we explain how to diagnose and repair no water pressure, low water pressure, water system noises, or just about any other well pump trouble diagnosis & repair, including: how to diagnose lost water pressure, how to fix pressure control switch problems or adjust the pressure control, & how to diagnos & fix problems with the well pump itself: well pumps that run too often, won't stop, won't start
This article series describes how to diagnose and repair all types of well water pump problems and includes questions and answers from and to homeowners who lost well water pressure. We outline how to diagnose and fix bad water pressure (and link to articles in greater depth). We describe tracing a water pressure problem to the pump pressure control switch or to a bad water pressure tank (and what to do about it).
And we list common water quantity (run out of water) or flow (pressure) problems and solutions Page top illustration of a water pump, tank, controls & water well is used with permission of Carson Dunlop Associates.
In this article and in more depth in arrticles linked-to, the basics process of diagnosis and the costs of the repair are explained. Consumer advice on saving money on well repair costs includes a review of the parts and labor costs of a typical well pump and pressure tank replacement case.
The well pump, in turn, could have been damaged or hastened to the end of its life by a bad water pressure tank which has caused well pump short-cycling. Short cycling of the pump motor can burn up the pump relay control.
Readers should also
see WATER PIPE CLOG DIAGNOSIS
Readers of this document should also
see WATER PRESSURE TANKS - how to diagnose the need for air, how to add air, stop water pump short cycling to avoid damage - water storage water pressure tank safety.
The following is an actual case of a correspondent who lost water pressure and called a well and plumbing contractor who made several repairs. At the end of the repair water pressure and supply were restored but the owner had a bit of "sticker shock" when he saw the bill.
He wrote to ask our opinion. Our reply, which follows the owner's note below, reviews the diagnosis, repair, and repair costs for this well pump and water tank replacement project.
We have a private well with the same components shown on your diagram (well pump, pressure tank, pressure switch etc..) We recently experienced loss of water pressure and actually a lack of any water flow at all from our faucets in our house. As we waited 30 min to 1 hr, the water would return and run normal for several hours, only to return to no water again. This went on for about 24 hours.
We contacted the well contractor shown on our well cap. He quickly determine the bladder in the pressure tank was ruptured by just shaking the water tank.
After installing a new $600 dollar tank, the well contractor waited for the water pump to come on. It didn't. Then the contractor sold us a new well pump.
The total bill: $2000 and some change.
1. Is this a fair price for repair of a water pressure tank or pump or both? Did the contractor make the right repair? Was we overcharged?
2. Can we check his prognosis by inspecting the replaced tank and pump?
-- This question is answered in detail
About Well Water Pump and Tank Pressure, Flow, or Water Supply Equipment & Piping Repair or Replacement
We have sorted reader questions and their answers about how to diagnose problems with private water supply systems into the following rough categories:
(Mar 13, 2015) Quin said:
How do I test my pump still in the well with a volt meter. What do I put meter on and what wires
A clamp-on ammeter, in the hands of someone who knows how to use it safely - as there are electrocution, shock, death hazards when working with electricity - can measure the current drawn by a submersible pump when it's running.
See ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE - inspectapedia.com/electric/Electric_Motor_Diagnosis.php
That's as far as I can safely go in giving advice. First we don't have any information whatsoever about what you have installed, controls, switches, fuses, type of pump, location, etc, and second, I worry that if you are not familiar with using a volt meter you could be injured.
It's worth noting that well pump control companies sell pump pressure controls that include diagnostic circuitry.
Typically these controls monitor the current draw of the pump and can often determine that a submersible well pump is running dry (well is running out of water) or has failing bearings (running hot) or has other defects.
Those same principles are what an expert well service company or electrician will use to interpret the voltage draw of your pump.
A Guide to Building Water Pressure by Adjusting or Repairing the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch or the Water Pressure Tank
I am not sure how to adjust the well pump pressure control switch - what are those two adjustment nuts and which way do I turn them to change the water pressure settings?
How to Adjust Water Pump Pressure: The detailed, step by step procedure for inspecting and adjusting the water pressure control switch is
discussed in detail
at WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT.
We had an issue with water pressure ( water would stop flowing for 20 sec at a time) in a house we are renting. The owner called the local well drilling co. They replaced the pressure switch which was clogged with iron. Is this a wear and tear issue or a water quality issue or something else. - Sue460@ptd.net 9/7/2012
Sue, thanks for the important question - it gives us a chance to clarify the problem with debris clogging at well pump pressure control switches and pressure gauges.
Debris in the water supply or sometimes rust in water piping can clog the small pressure sensor port on the bottom of a pressure control switch, causing it to fail to operate properly - that is, the debris prevents accurate sensing of actual water pressure so the switch may fail to turn a pump on or off as it should. In the "turn-off" case the result could be very dangerous as over pressurizing the water system could burst a pipe or even a pressure tank, injuring a bystander and flooding a building.
Similarly, the same problem can cause a water pressure gauge to fail to properly register water pressure accurately.
Often we can detect this by tapping the gauge and seeing its pressure reading suddenly change, after observing that the gauge reads an abnormally low pressure or when the gauge pressure reading simply doesn't change.
While these problems can be repaired by replacing the clogged pressure control switch or pressure gauge, the root problem is debris or rust in the system - a problem that can be addressed by installing water filtration ahead of these components.
So in response to your question, the underlying problem is inadequate water filtration, not a wear and tear issue - in my OPINION
When pressure in the tank drops to a set point, well kicks on and supply to the house is via well...or so that is my understanding. In the past, when this occurred you would notice a very brief fluctuation in the flow of water at any given outlet,
I. e for about a second you could tell something had changed but water was always flowing. Over time this has changed gradually... To the point that now water stops flowing for a good 5 seconds, but then continues just fine.
It's not a huge deal...but clearly something needs maintenance or repair. would prefer to do this now. - David Hicks 5/20/12
David, there may be a different problem in the case you describe, but I'd start by replacing the pressure control switch. If the pressure sensor port on the switch is debris or rust clogged, an early symptom is a delay in the switch's ability to respond to a drop in water pressure.
If the water tank is not waterlogged then try replacing the pressure switch and any pipe or tubing supplying water to its bottom sensor port.
Just a question to educate myself with the operation of a residential well pump/tank system:
My tank is about 7 years old, was set to cut in at 40 psi and cut out at 60 psi, it cuts in at 2 psi below 40, so I'm OK there, but I noticed that it's cutting out at around 55-57 psi and then after a minute or so, settles at around 52 psi.
I had thought originally that it was cutting out at 60 psi after it was installed. Now, I was also wondering if excessive water usage for a period of time (ex: watering plants, or the grass) would contribute to what I'm seeing, or if I have an other issue to look at. The pump is about 10 years old, and we do have hard water (dissolved rust, manganese) with a whole house filter installed after the well tank. Thanks for any help with this. - Tony 7/10/12
Typical cut-in and cut-out are 20/40 or 30/50 psi for a pump pressure control switch. Tony if you set the pressure too high the risk is that the pump never turns off and burns up the pump motor, or at high pressures, say over 70 psi, faucets are likely to leak.
Hard water clogs pipes and can clog valves or other controls, but I'm not sure how it would change the pump on/off pressure. If you're in doubt about the switch itself I'd just replace it - it's not a costly part.
For article access speed we've moved this discussion to a new article
We moved these FAQs
to NO WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - please go there to diagnose complete loss of building water supply.
Also take a look
at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE for a list of no-water diagnostics
We've moved this discussion to
Well pump diagnostic FAQs at WATER PUMP DIAGNOSTIC FAQs to help sort out the direction of well pump problem investigation and repair
Please see WELL PIPING REPAIRS - we moved this discussion to speed up page loading.
For web page speed improvements we moved this section to a separate article
Please see WATER TANK DIAGNOSTIC FAQs for a discussion of problems with the water pressure tank or well water tank that might actually explain problems blamed on the well pump.
Continue reading at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE for table listing causes & cures for well pump or water pressure problems, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see WATER PUMP REPAIR FAQs - questions and answers posted originally on this page.
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