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Photograph of  a modern steel well casing and cap extending properly above grade level and properly capped. You can see from
the gray plastic conduit that electrical wires enter the well, informing you that this well is served by an in-well submersible well pump.Water, Wells, Pumps & Water Test FAQs
Questions & answers troubleshoot water supply systems, wells, tanks, pumps, pipes, water pressure, water contaminants

  • WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM FAQs - CONTENTS: frequently-asked questions & answers help diagnose trouble with water pressure, water flow, water pumps, water tanks, wells, well piping, well & pump controls
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Diagnostic questions & answers for water supply systems, well pumps, water tanks, pump controls, wells, well pumps:

These water, well, and water supply equipment frequently-asked questions answer inspection, diagnosis, and repair questions about the building water supply sources and equipment including water testing, water piping, water pumps, water wells, & water tanks.



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Water System Questions & Answers - FAQs

These questions & answers were posted originally at WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS

Question: low yielding shallow well troubleshooting

(Mar 16, 2012) Anonymous said:

washing machine fills half way, water stops for about a mintue then comes back on full force why

(Apr 16, 2014) Angela Green said:

I know very little about the actual well components I have. I do know that we have a shallow (57 ft) well that may also be low yielding. Our well pump is less than a year old and we have two sediment filters, a ph balance tank and water softner attached to our pressure tank. This is the issue. Over the last few months we've been losing water pressure. We figured out that our filters were getting clogged. So, we would change the main sediment filter and backwash the big one and it cleared everything up and we would have pretty good pressure again for a week at a time. Over the last 3 weeks our pressure tank has been dropping to zero, for no apparant reason and with no warning. I replaced the pressure switch (40/60 which was there before) and everything seemed to work ok for about three days. Then, the pressure started to drop completely to zero again.

Now, when we need water, we have to turn on a faucet, almost like we're "calling" the water. we shut it the faucet back off, and wait about 15-30 minutes. When we turn the faucet back on, we get water but it's only enough to fill a bath tub and a little air sputters from the pipes, right before the water comes through. Does this sound like a pressure tank issue, or is our well running out of water? Thank you in advance for the help! If you prefer to talk about the issue via email, I can be reached at: ang.green@ymail.com

Reply:

Angela, before we start speculating all over the place, check this old sore point: if your water system suffers from a lot of debris or sediment, often the crud will clog the tiny opening in the bottom of a pump pressure control switch, the small diameter tubing that conducts water (and pressure) to the switch, or both. It may also clog the sensor port in the bottom of a pressure gauge.

Replace those, and keep the old ones so that together we can do some exploring for clogging. And let me know if that works.

Question: cavitating well pump

(May 5, 2014) ray said:

I have a deep water well 90 ft.
Ive replace the foot valve , pump and check valve.
the pumps builds pressure very slowly 15 to 20 minutes cuts off at 50 psi
open a tap very poor flow and pressure
pump drops off to 10 psi and sounds like it is cavitation
BLADDER set at 28 psi cut in set at 30 psi
Any help at this point would be greatly appreciated

Reply:

Ray, in the more reading links just above see the article WATER PRESURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS&REPAIR

You may have a low water in well or low flow rate problem or a well piping leak. Also check line voltage and wiring for damage. A VOM on the pump circuit can determine if the pump is running dry by noting current draw.

Question: repair a collapsed well casing

(May 11, 2014) Brett Wells said:

I have a well that was 100' sudennly my jet pump pulled alot of sand in then quit pumping water. I pulled out the 60' of pipe felling a tug on the pipes for about 8' I cleaned the check valve of the sand that was packed in it I checked the depth of the well it is now at 52' so I lowered 40' of pipe in it pulled the water out to 40' and quit. Do you think my well collapsed ? or can it be repaied ? thanks

Reply:

Brett, possibly there is a casing collapse or more likely partial damage and a leak that allowed soil into the well - which means that groundwater leaks in too which means the well may not be sanitary.

Call around among well repair companies in your area to ask for a diagnostic inspection. If the damage is localized (as it often is) the well casing may be repairable using a sleeve insert.

Question: leak from a t-connection that looks like a water hammer problem

(May 30, 2014) Hugh said:

My house was built in the 1960s. I have a small water leak coming from a t-connection that connects to a vertical pipe, about 3" in diameter and about 5' high that is capped. I think its galvanized steel and it is heavy. I wanted to know what it is and is it needed? I've seen it in some homes but not in others. If its not needed, I just want to remove it.

Reply:

Hugh, I can only guess from just your note, but possibly someone was dealing with a water hammer problem. Certainly if it's clear that the top of the "Tee" was never connected to anything else that could be it.

See inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Water_Hammer_Noise.php

Question: pump shuts off for a few seconds then resumes normal flow

(July 8, 2014) RDB said:

Water from home deep well pump shuts off periodically for a few seconds then resumes normal flow. It's not a pressure tank or switch problem as this also happens when running an outdoor spigot which is upstream from the pressure tank and switch.

Reply:

RDB I'm not sure you should rule out a debris clogged pressure switch.

Question:

(July 24, 2014) Abe said:

Hello all, I just purchased a 23 years old house and I found a small ugly shade attached to the house, this shade was used to store the well water filtering system but I didn't like the shade so I removed it, I moved the filtering system about 115 feet away from the house (inside my shop) since I moved the filtering system my pump start acting up, it cannot cut ON or OFF like it used to, it clicks multiple times before it will cut ON or OFF,

I try to adjust the pressure from the pump, electrical pressure switch and the air tank, I even added smaller pressure tank to the pump but nothing seem to be working, I am thinking about getting larger pump but not sure if that will help. When I moved the filtering system the pump now need to do twice as much job as it used to because the supply line too have to go 115 feet to the filter and come back to the house.

(July 25, 2014) Bob said:

I have a 500 ft. well that pumps 1 gallon per minute > the well and pressure pump are located down a steep hill about a 1000 ft. from my house. The pressure tank pumps water to two 150 gallon storage tanks and then another pump into another pressure tank and on demand into the house. The problem is air is somehow getting into the line that prevents the two storage tanks from filling.

I have no idea how the air gets into the system .I have been venting the tanks with a manual valve to solve the prblem .. I am looking for a air relieve valve that will not leak water ? I wonder if anyone else might have had experience with this issue.

Reply:

Bob

Do you think the well flow could be low enough that air is entering at the pump?

Or else look for a well piping leak or a bad snifter valve system.

Question: frequent loss of water pressure, water leaks into a hole in the ground

(Aug 8, 2014) Banner said:

My home water well loses pressure frequently. At times, water leaks into a hole in the ground which surrounds the well casing. At other times it empties the water in the tank by blowing it out from a valve in the front center of the tank. When I empty the tank and repressurize the system it works for a while then repeats actions described above. I would sincerely appreciate any help.

Reply:

Banner,

Keying from the visible water leaks around the well casing, I'd start diagnosing this problem at our article on well piping leaks.

See

inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Well_Pipe_Leaks.php

and keep us posted.

Question: no water from submersible pump

(Aug 13, 2014) Robert said:

My problem this morning was no water from submersible pump in the ground when we bought the home 20 years ago.

I have a Franklyn solid state switch control on the wall with automatic thermal motor protection (relay?) between the pressure switch and breaker panel.
I uncovered the square D pressure switch and found power is at all 4 wires (2-blk, 2-white(screws) inside the switch, contacts are together but nothing happens when contacts are separated. Any idea what the likely issue is? The solid state controller, pressure switch or wiring to pump or YIKES the pump?

Rob
< streetdoctor2012@gmail.com >
any help would be greatly appreciated
No clicking heard,the pressure gauge is zero

Reply:

Robert

It sounds as if your pressure switch is calling for the pump to run but perphaps the separate wall relay is not turning on the pump, or it may have shut down if the pump was not finding water.

Question: clicking water pressure control switch, banging noise when pump starts

(Sept 4, 2014) Anonymous said:

switch is clisking but water is not running stedily

(Sept 17, 2014) TJ said:

Hello,
Way back in June/July I indicated I was having a problem with a 'banging' noise when my well pump kicked in. This is a submersible pump.

I had replaced the check valve inside the house just before the pressure tank, thinking it was bad.
That didn't fix it.

I finally caved and called a well guy (and probably the wrong one, cause it cost a bunch :( )

He did however correctly diagnose the issue as being the check valve that is down in the well, just above the pump.

Of course, the piping from the pitless adapter down to the pump was the old PVC /white SCH40, which he said had to be replaced with the newer,flexible black tubing.
he also replaced the pump, as it was 30+ years old and he showed me it was drawing at MAX amperage while running.

But the problem was the check valve , just above the pump down in the well.

In case anyone is interested....

days labor for two guys,
160 feet of that black tubing
new Gould 1/2 HP Submersible pump, check valve and new wire, etc,etc. $2500

Reply:

See the diagnostic suggestions and repair procedures at WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE

Question: choosing well pump size

(Sept 22, 2014) rich said:

Hi,
I plan to put a dug well in 27 ft deep plus elevation grade of 20 ft with a distance away from house of 1000 ft how big of a pump is needed? and wire size needed? along with pipe diameter size? submersible pump single phase 230 volt

Reply:

Rich

Well pump sizing information is found at

inspectapedia.com/water/Well_Pump_Capacity.php

Question: air in plumbing lines

(Oct 13, 2014) ray said:

Looking to buy a property so I can use the water well. Well has not been used in 30 years. I had it tested. It was 110' deep. The water level was full to the top of the well head. It took 20 minutes to pump the well dry. They checked for recovery time and the well recovered at 3 1/2 gallons an hour. What could be done to correct the recovery time to a useable rate? Someone told me oldtimers used different technigues such as shooting a high powered rifle into well or dropping a 1/4 stick of dynamite, m80, etc. Are any of these legit or another technigue?

(Oct 13, 2014) vicky said:

My son went to take a shower and the water was real slow. went and checked the points and they were fine. we replaced them in may of 2014 but the pressuer in the tank reads 70 psi but you can hear the pump running. we lifted the points up to see if the well would shut off with the outside faucet on. Well the water stopped flowing and sounded like it was going back into the ground like there was air in the pipes.As soon as we released the points the water started running again slowly. any ideas what it could be. waiting on the well guy to get here.

(Oct 23, 2014) Valerie said:

I have a 400' Well with a 5HP 3 Phase Sub Pump which pumps water into a 750 gallon holding tank. Ever since the pump was pulled and replace 2x this last year, I now get air in my plumbing lines in the house. As the weeks go by, it becomes worse to the point where I do the following:
1. Turn off well
2. Unplug Water Heaters
3. Turn cold water off to water heaters
4. Drain the entire house and holding tank of all water
5. Fill Holding tank and house back up.

This process works fine, but I start getting air in again within a few days and as the days turns into weeks, the problem gets worse and worse until I can't stand it anymore.

Toilets rattle when flushed (from air)
Shower sputters when you first turn it on
Sinks sputter when you first turn them on
Cloudy water in downstairs sinks that turns clear after sitting for a few minutes

Where do I start for diagnosing? Do I call a well person or a plumber?

I am a single mom working my tail off to support my children, so any help is appreciated.

Reply:

Please see the diagnosis and repair procedures
at AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES

Question: loud bellowing noise each morning at 2AM

(Nov 5, 2014) Alice said:

The is this loud bellowing noise that last approx. 2 min and start each morning between 2:00-2:30. I don't know if it is the water conditioner, the well/pump, the water heater (which was replace 2 yrs ago)or the septic system. This has been going on for a good 4-6 months. Can you please help me.

Reply:

Alice if the noise you cite is predictable by time as you describe one should be looking for a timer-operated appliance or an occupant on a regular schedule - or something else on a timer or schedule that would thus help pinpoint the plumbing system use or the turning on or off of a plumbing appliance. Try turning off the water softener.

Question: reader likes hydrogen peroxide for water treatment

(Nov 11, 2014) Jay19482000@yahoo.com said:

Wells have several contaminents,many can be corrected by an automatic feed of
H202 fron uv light giving a liter a day for 10 cents killing virus,bacteria and
oxidizing As,Fe and all metals oxidizable.

Reply:

Hydrogen peroxide + UV may handle some but absolutely not all contaminants that may be in a water supply. It is important to test water for contaminants and to select appropriate treatment.

Question: when to adjust tank pressure by releasing excess air?

(Dec 17, 2014) Anonymous said:

I did not release enough air from new pre-charged tank. I need to lower pressure by 10 psi. do I need to empty drain tank to lower charged pressure?

Reply:

NO anon

As long as the air valve is on the tank at a point above any water line you can safely discharge air. But do so at the END of the draw down cycle so that you can accurately gauge the pre-charge pressure.

Question: sticking check valve on water supply

(Dec 20, 2014) Anonymous said:

We have a captive air tank system with submersible pump. A few days ago the check valve just before the tank stuck open allowing the water to flow back into the well. We first realized a problem when we got a lot of air when flushing an upstairs toilet at night. The following morning it took me about a half hour to discover the water flowing back after the pump stopped.

I rapped on the valve and it then closed. Since then it seems to be working properly with pressure holding steady at 60 psi after the pumps stops. However, now when the pumps starts you can hear air entering the tank and sometimes it seems like a larger bolus of air comes through and we now have air in all the supply lines in the house with some occasional hard knocks. When we get water from a tap into a glass it appears really foggy in the glass until the air dissipates and then the water is crystal clear. Prior to the check valve sticking open we had no problems with the system. What could have been caused by the sticking valve that would result in the problem we now have?

Reply:

A check valve can stick from debris entering the valve or from wear and aging. I'd replace it.

(Dec 21, 2014) Anonymous said:

DanJoe- The problem I have is not with the check valve at the tank which now is operating properly. The problem is with the abundance of air we now have which seems to be coming into the system every time the pump starts. My question is why is there air being pushed into the tank ahead of the water? I'm looking for possible causes for the air. As I stated we had no problem with the system up until a few days ago when the check valve at the tank stuck open. That valve is now working, but I'm wondering what,if anything, could have happened in the well as a result of that valve being stuck open for a short time, that is now causing air in the system.

Reply:

Anon typically there is a leak in water or well piping; the pump operation creates a vacuum or suction pressure in the line that can draw air in. Lke fictional detectives, I'm not an enthusiast of coincidences, but it'll take some thinking or looking to determine a connection between a check valve failure and air entry. If a pump is losing prime it might indeed send a bolus of air into the water piping or tank system during the next on-cycle. The risk is that repeated running of a pump dry, even if it is ultimately able to re-prime itself, damages the bearings or impeller assembly.

(Dec 22, 2014) Anonymous said:

DanJoe- Air was getting really bad so resorted to calling the well guys this morning. They pulled the pump and found a hole in the supply line about 10' above the water level. While they had the pump out they also replaced the check valve at the pump as it didn't look like it was in very good shape. After that we opened up some faucets to drain the tank and after the water drained we had a whole lot of air blow out. Closed everything back up and turned power back on to the pump. Don't hear any more air coming in now. Still have a little spitting at the faucet but hopefully over the next few hours things will stabilize. Thanks for your replies.

Reply:

Anon

Thanks for the follow-up;

When pulling a well pump or foot valve, given that most of the cost is in that job itself, it makes perfect sense to replace the foot valve as well as any other questionable parts.

When you find a hole in well piping it's important to understand why. Sometimes torque-twisting at pump on-off cycling or other movement in plastic well piping causes leaks - something to find and fix.

Question: does building elevation affect water pressure?

(Dec 27, 2014) Brandon said:

My wife and I are looking at purchasing a home in the lower mountains. The water pressure according to a previous inspection is at 35psi. My question is does elevation effect water pressure? Is 35psi still considered low at approximately 3800ft of elevation. What are some ways to increase the water pressure? Thank you all in advance

Reply: no. Height yes, elevation no.

Brandon:

Converting 3800 ft to pressure, at 3800ft, the standard barometric pressure is 89 kPa

1 kilopascal = 0.145037738 pounds per square inch - making your 89 kPa about 12 psi.

At sea level or 0 ft. of altitude, we see 101.4 kPa or about 14.6 psi.

So at your altitude you are losing about 2 psi - not significant in water pump or water system pressure operations.

If we're talking about the elevation of the property, since the pump, pressure tank, and well will all be (usually) at the same elevation, normal pump pressure and control settings will be adequate.

If the building itself were unusually tall then we'd need to put a water tank on the roof top, use booster pumps, or take similar measures to assure adequate water pressure on upper building floors.

(Dec 31, 2014) Brandon said:

Thanks you DanDoeFriedman for the response. Its great to know that we would lose little psi and nothing much to worry about.

Reply:

Yes you should be ok.

In the pressure tank installation instructions from several companies I haven't noticed any reference to altitude but I'll look again. Perhaps at much higher altitude there are adjustment suggestions.

Question: flooded basement after replacing a water pressure tank

(Dec 29, 2014) Dennis said:

About 2 weeks ago, I had my pressure tank replaced to a larger size. No more then 3 days later we had some rain, and basement flooded. A company to help pump up some of the water kept asking us, what's different? Well here we are still pumping water from a French drain that fills back up within hours of not using pump. The water is coming from the corner of the house where the well line is buried. Is it possible that my line was damaged when they installed the new tank. There is no puddles or sopping ground. Any advice will help. Thanks

Reply:

Dennis

Installing a pressure tank in a building basement, by itself, would not normally disturb outdoor piping nor soils, but I have certainly traced wet basements to ground water or roof spillage water finding a piping trench that directs water into a building where the pipe enters the structure.

I'd start inspecting outdoors, looking for what might direct water towards the building or towards the well trench.

I'd also look for a leak in the well piping.

Question:

(Jan 13, 2015) Anonymous said:

geothermal heat pumps using 30-well drawing 8gpm. water level is 4 feet from sur. previous well stopped up strainer with iron oxide. dug second well. sucking whole 2 inch well with no drop pipe, only 1 1/2 inch check valve in pump house. this should keep air out of the well but I still have problem every two yrs with iron oxide in the pipes and condenser coil and have to acidize and soda. Deeper well or coiled loop system?

Comment:

(Feb 10, 2015) oman okelo said:

The method you use is very helpful.

Question: Frozen Well Line troubleshooting & repair: Role of the Snifter Valve

20 Feb 2015 Anonymous said:

FROZEN WELL LINE: I am trying to diagnose why my well line intake has frozen twice in the last year. I have a submersible pump well system and at the inlet end of my air over water pressure tank, I have a check valve installed along with a snifter valve on the inlet side of the check valve.

As I understand it, once the pump completes its cycle and the check valve closes, the snifter valve is supposed to allow air to bleed into the pipe, so the excess water drains back to the well.

For the [well] line to freeze, I suppose the water has not been able to drain back, or perhaps my check valve is allowing water to leak back to the well slowly and its freezing up? I know I can add a heat trace line to prevent freezing , but I wonder if anyone has suggestions as to what may be faulty in the first place?

Reply:

Anon:

I was wrong in my original reply to you. According to suppliers of drain-back valves, snifter valves, and dill valves, a properly-working drain-back valve and snifter valve should leave the well piping empty and protected from freezing.

At SNIFTER & DRAIN BACK VALVES I have clarified our text to make this point more clear, and I repeat your question with some additional suggestions on troubleshooting the freezing well pipes.

22 Feb 2015 Anonymous said:

my well line is for sure above the frost line for at least 20 feet. The install is 20 years old, but I am a new owner so I don't have a lot of history, but if the heat line was the only solution,I would have thought it would have been installed by now.. the pipe has some slope, but not much.I think the snifter valve was added to let some air in and aide drainback to the well, but in extreme cold, maybe its not draining back very quick and freezing? ps..I do have an ACV valve on the pressure tank to regulate air volume in the tank.

Reply:

Generally when we convert from a bladder less steel tank to an internal bladder tank we remove the air inducing snifter valve from the well Line lest the tank become overloaded with air. The air induced by the snifter valve is pushed up into the well line and water tank at subsequent pump on cycles. On those older system the well line snifter was designed to add air to the tank but required working with not only a suitable AVC but also with an air bleeder valve on the well piping near the pressure tank.

See SNIFTER & DRAIN BACK VALVES for an explanation of these devices, how they work, where and why they are used on wells with submersible pumps and bladderless water pressure tanks.

Often a shallow well line works well for years without freezing, until in particular we find a very cold winter combined with low snow cover, or until the drain-back valve sticks or becomes clogged.

I didn't intend to suggest that heat tapes are the only fix, just a common one. Beginning
with WINTERIZE A BUILDING, this article series discusses various approaches to freeze protecting for water piping and supply equipment systems.

Question: broken pipes connected to water pressure tank, freeze damage

(Feb 2, 2014) Courtney said:

My husband and I have been living in a home that was his moms and have nothing but issue after issue. The most important one I want to take care of is the broken pipes connected to the pressure tank. I need to find out how easy it is to replace the pipe coming from the bottom of our pressure tank (needless to say we got some super cold weather down to 9 degrees overnight and our pipes froze and burst, which is why we are having to replace them) to the rest of the pipes leading to the house and also the pipe on the top that is attached to the well pump. We have a jet pump and a shallow well if that will help at all with an answer.

Also we have a 1500 gallon holding tank that we had hooked up temp to the pipes leading into the house itself and were able to get water so I'm assuming the only pipes that froze and burst are the ones from the pressure tank itself. I am pretty sure we just need to get some pvc pipe and fittings to replace the ones that broke during the freeze, but would like some advice on how to replace them myself and if there is anything complicated on the ones at the bottom of the pressure tank. I want to just remove the rest of the broken pieces and replace them to get the water back into the house.

Reply:

Courtney, installing plastic piping, especially where you are following the routing and bends of an existing installation, is a cut and glue operation. There are some steps to properly clean and prime the pipe ends and fittings before gluing - as you will read on the product label for the bonding glue.

Also if you search InspectApedia for these two articles you'll see some specific help

Installation Specifications, Inspection & Testing Plastic Plumbing Piping & Connectors

and

Plastic Water Piping Leak Causes & Symptoms

Question: solutions for intermittent or irregular water pump cycling on and off

(Feb 4, 2014) Anonymous said:

I have a submersible pump feeding a bladder tank. The bladder tank outlet is connected
to a culligan water softening system which feeds the house. The bladder tank is slowly losing
pressure and kicks on every 15/20 minutes or so. I checked all of the water outlets and found nothing leaking.

When I turn off the bladder tank outlet and stop the flow to the house the pressure in the tank remains stable.
Could there still be problem with my tank, pump or the check valve? Or,is my problem somewhere in the house?

thanks,

--john

(Mar 12, 2014) Mark said:

The pressure switch is set at about 30-60. Normally it takes about 30 sec to cycle, (I haven't timed it). but recently the pump has also been cycling for 5 sec, when no water is being used, as at night. Is this a likely to be a defect in the pressure switch? I recently re-pressurized the bladder tank.

Reply:

John we have a diagnostic procedure for this:
see WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING for details.

Mark,

If you search InspectApedia for

Intermittent water pump cycling -

you'll find our article titled

Intermittent Water Pump Cycling When No Water is Running, Diagnose & Cure you'll find the Intermittent pump cycling article whose link I also give above for John.

I suspect you've got water running somewhere - hopefully just a running toilet.

I don't suspect the pressure switch itself.

Question: well pump runs continuously after conversion from shallow well to deep well pump

(Jan 28, 2014) Judy said:

So my plumber replaced the well pump two days ago. We had a shallow well pump that had been with the house when we bought it. He replaced it with a deep well pump something about our elevation. We get the water from a tank that collects the spring water on our property. It works great when we use a small amount of water such as for flushing but when taking a shower or washing dishes the pump runs and runs never getting above 30 on the gauge.

The first couple times it happened I turned the power off to the pump afraid it would overheat and the pump would stay shut off when I turned the breaker back on. When we flush the pump comes on at 20 and shuts off at 36. He is coming over to make adjustments after the snow storm but I would appreciate any suggestions you could give me. Could it be a pressure adjustment in the pressure tank?

Reply: slow recovery rate wells vs. pressure switch setting

Judy,

When a pump runs continuously as you describe, my first guess is that the water usage rate exceeds the pump's pumping rate - which is not uncommon.

A second and different problem can be a limit in the water flow rate in the source: some pumps include a feature that will limit or even stop pump output if water level falls so low that the pump would be damaged if it continued running.

If a pressure control switch for a water pump is set above the pump's pressure capacity or too close to it, that too can cause the pump to run-on.

If you did not have these symptoms with the previous pump I would also be looking for a leak or blockage in well piping and connections.

Reader follow-up:

Thank you for answering. I did not have these symptoms with the last pump. It just took a dump with the Polar freeze we had a few weeks ago in TN. Of course now we have had this snow storm and he couldn't come over yesterday or today. I did turn the pump off last night because it would not stop running and would not get up to the cut-off, I should say I was getting water in the house while the pump was on.

Then attempted to keep the pump house above freezing so as to hopefully not have to buy another pump. It will be off again tonight. If the water usage rate would exceed the pumping rate, would it not eventually catch up? And if it was a pipe leaking, am I correct that I would lose pressure in the pump while it was shut off? The gauge was still about 30 this morning where it was last night.

Reply:

Smart to turn off the pump - you may thus save the motor.

If a pipe is frozen the pressure switch calls for water and turns on the pump but with a frozen well line or water pipe anywhere between well and pressure tank the pump switch is never satisfied and the pump just keeps running.

What's odd is that you are getting some water - which argues against a frozen well line.

That in turn suggests:

- damaged pump
- low voltage to the pump
- well piping leak
- water supply piping leak somewhere in or outside the building that nobody has noticed

If you think no water is running in the home and then shut off the pump and see water pressure continue to fall, either water is turned on somewhere (a running toilet for eg) or there is a leak in piping somewhere.

If you shut off water into the house and the pump keeps running but never reaches cut-off pressure, then the problem is between house and well.

Reader follow-up:

Ok now I am really confused. I shut the pump because it was running and it had been probably 20-30 minutes after taking a shower and the gauge was not going above 30. Left it off all day while I was at work, heat lamp on it as usual. It was sunny but not above freezing. I came home, went to flush the toilet and fill the back with bottled water, and started getting water from the fill line instead.

Went out to pump house and turned the thing on just to see what would happen. The pump came on, ran and cut out at 36-38. I immediately came back in and started dripping faucet water as it is supposed to get cold again tonight. Should it take longer than 30 minutes to come back to pressure after a shower or doing dishes? Got my fingers crossed that I can at least flush the toilets till the plumber gets here, but it would be nice to be able to take a shower too.

...

update: still doing ok coming on and going off between dripping faucet and flushing. I don't know if this would make a difference but I did notice the cut off valve was only halfway open. I did open it all the way.

Reply:

You feel confused? Geez. Imagine sitting in our lab, remote, with no view of what's going on. Invariably an expert on-site will see useful diagnostic clues or can provide information that is not obvious to a less-experienced homeowner..

But IF you seem to have gotten water running, I'd run both hot and cold at each fixture at a good clip until water runs normally - making me think we've melted partial ice that may have been in a pipe or two.

About leaving faucets dripping, it's conventional wisdom and might help, with the WARNING that a slow trickle of water down a drain can cause a building main drain to freeze, back-up or even burst if it's not below the frost line.

Operating normally, when you shut off all water in the building, the pump continues to run until the tank pressure reaches the cut-off (typically around 40 psi or 50 psi on some systems). Then it should stop. With a typical (small) home pressure tank that's just a few minutes of running, 2-4, not 30.

When a pump runs without stopping for longer, either water is on somewhere or a pipe is leaking, or the pump is damaged, or has low voltage, or the water level in the well is low, or a line is frozen or a control is jammed or a pressure sensor is not properly sensing pressure, or something else I've forgotten.

Search InspectApedia for

Water Pump Won't Stop Running Diagnosis, & Repair

to read about that problem.

Reader follow-up:

(Jan 29, 2014) Judy said:

I think we are narrowed down to something with the hot water. It was running and shutting off properly till I went and tried to turn on the hot water. Nothing! I did have hot water earlier this week. So either a frozen line or bad heater? The gauge did maintain pressure last night when I shut it off that's what made me think no leaks. Would I still get cold water out of the hot water taps if heater was bad and not a frozen line? It' an electric one in the corner of the kitchen.

Reply: freezing water system components

If the water heater is not working but still connected and not leaking you'd get cold water out of the hot water tap at your sinks.

If the water heater is frozen you'd probably get nothing. And I'd be inspecting for burst pipes or tank and for leaks.

Watch out: exposing any tank to freezing conditions, be it a well water pressure tank, a water heater tank, or even a hot water heating system expansion tank, can damage the tank and make it unsafe.

Question: intermittent well contamination after snow-melt

(Feb 2, 2013) Carolyn said:

Is it possible that my pump is emerged to deep into the Aqua fir ? We have good clean cold water until there's a major snow melt or heavy rains.We do live within 25 feet of a natural run off for rain water. The water will clean itself up in a week or so if we drain and flush the tanks.

Reply: find and fix well casing or cap or pitless adapter leak points

Carolyn,

Finding debris in your wellwater when there is a lot of snowmelt suggests that your well casing is not sealed against surface water runoff. The result may be more than a debris problem- it may also be unsanitary. You need a well driller or repair expert to inspect the well casing for rust damage, holes, cracks, or leaks due to a poor seal, starting at the well cap, passing over the pitless adapter, and inspecting the whole system for groundwater or surface water leak entry points. Usually those are repairable.

Question: rain catchment system combines with underground well at the pump - which valves do what?

(Jan 24, 2014) Dawn Ryan said:

We bought a house that has a rain catchment system as well as a underground well. They are ran together at the pump but we don't know what valves to turn on and off to switch from one to the other. Can u help? Or show a diagram?

Reply:

Dawn if you use the CONTACT link at page bottom to send us a sketch or photos of the system we can comment further.

Watch out: I'd be concerned about the potability and sanitation of a water supply system that mixes well water with cistern water from rain catchment. Rainwater running over a roof, for example, picks up whatever is in the dust and dirt that's settled on the rooftop. Our friends David and Linn in Guanajuato designed their rooftop rainwater collection system to divert the initial rainfall until rooftop dust had been washed off. You may need a water treatment system to assure potability.

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