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Diagnostic Q&A about weak or lost water pressure #2

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Water pressure problem diagnostic FAQs:

This set of well pump & bad water pressure diagnosis & repair questions or water pressure FAQs help to diagnose poor water pressure or total loss of water pressure.

This article series explains how and why to distinguish among intermittent water pressure loss, total water pressure loss, and poor water pressure or flow in a building. We give diagnostic and repair procedures for both municipal water supply problems and well water supply problems.



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>Poor Water or Pump Water Pressure or Flow FAQs

One Line Jet Pump (C) Daniel Friedman

These questions & answers on troubleshooting water pressure and flow problems were posted originally at WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS, PRIVATE WELL - topic home.

Reader Comments:

(Dec 3, 2011) Tambi Rosendahl said: This information has been very helpful, thanks so much!

(May 29, 2012) tony said: well water system

On 2017-08-27 by Frank - replaced old water pump, wiring, piping to address problem of intermittent pump failure to run

Since the well had been opened-up, yes, the pump and all of the wiring and all of the piping in the well were all replaced. The underground wiring to the house was not.

The piping was replaced because the original was flexible black-plastic piping that was, obviously, 31 years old, and the new piping is rigid white-plastic piping in 20-foot sections.

As the problem was intermittent, and indeed we went through the whole month of July without incident after the well-pump switch was replaced in late June, I'll let you know in a month or two if the new pump has solved everything.

On 2017-08-27 by (mod) - diagnosing intermittent well pump failures

Frank,

Thanks for the follow-up. I acknowledge that remote diagnostic by e-text involves guessing and probabilities.

No, normally a wrong tank pressure wouldn't cause an intermittent problem, unless the pressure was right at a pressure-switch cut-in threshold that fouled up the sensor switch operation. In that uncommon case, even temperature variations or simple mechanical disturbance could turn the problem on and off.

Intermittents can often be
- a bad electrical connection, loose screw or connector, damaged wiring enroute to pump
- a damaged winding in a pump motor

Both of those should disappear if both pump and wiring and all connectors were renewed. Let's hope that was the situation here. I agree that I wouldn't gripe about replacing a 31 year old pump. Without more expert testing of the pump motor, one understands why a plumber would just put in a new one.

But if the problem recurs then there's probably a wiring or control problem not yet found. Do let me know.

On 2017-08-26 by Frank - intermittent pump failures

I don't know. If the pressure tank's pre-charge pressure were not adjusted properly, would we have had this very-intermittent problem?

It appears the matter is moot now, as we changed the well pump yesterday. Over 2 months, our well-service guy couldn't get the failure to occur while he was there, but ultimately his best theory was that the starter switch within the pump was intermittently having problems, but eventually starting the pump within a 30-second period after being switched-on.

The well pump was 31 years old, so I guess it didn't owe us anything. Being an integral part of the pump, a failing starter switch meant getting a new pump.

The new pump is working fine. I had the impression that this was the first time our well-service guy has seen a symptom like this. His electrical measurements of the pump were completely normal.

He said pumps usually fail completely and suddenly, so it was nice that we had a warning and were able to replace it at a good time of the year in good weather.

Thanks very much for this consultation.

On 2017-08-25 by (mod) - - intermittent pump failures

Are we sure that the water pressure tank's air pre-charge pressure is 2 psi BELOW the pump control's cut-in pressure ?

If your cut in pressure is 38 the tank pressure, with power off to the pump and all pressure drained from the system, should be 36 psi.

On 2017-08-24 by Frank

Oh, yes, the pump is certainly turning on, or we wouldn't still have water. When the pump turns on, I can watch the pressure build on the gauge next to the pump switch.

The problem seems to be getting marginally worse, in that, for the past several days, this (having no water immediately after the pump switch turns on for about 30 seconds, and then water resumes) has been happening about once per day.

Of course, the pump goes through numerous on/off cycles each day, and all of the other times, everything functions normally.

On 2017-08-23 by (mod) - intermittent pump failures

Frank,

Are you sure that "when the pump cuts-in" the pump is actually turning on? If it's a submersible you won't hear it, just a relay click. If there's no relay click below the cut-in then I suspect the pressure control switch isn't responding to the drop in water pressure. So I'd have replaced the switch, just as you did.

Like you I wouldn't expect the pressure switch to fail quickly unless there were
- a lot of debris in the water
or
- when you replaced the switch you did not replace nor clear a debris-clogged pipe nipple or tube that conducts water pressure to the control switch. Check that for clogging.

Let me know what you see.

On 2017-08-17 1 by Frank

I have a deep (360') private well. When the pump cuts-in at 38 psi, the pressure sometimes, but really rarely, drops to zero, with no water available in the house. Between 5 and 30 seconds later (it varies), water pressure returns and, at 58 psi, the pump cuts-out. I have only seen this happen when the toilet tank is filling. The tank draws a lot of water quickly. Other less-intense fixtures have not caused this problem when the pump cuts-in.

Replacing the well-pump switch seemed to fix the problem for about a month. Now it's back, but again, for only a small percentage of the pump cycles and only when the toilet tank is filling.

Has the pump switch failed already?

On 2017-08-14 by Shelly

We are on city water and on our main level of the home we have low water pressure at the kitchen sink and low pressure in a restroom. The pressure upstairs in restroom is fine. Also, in basement full pressure there as well. I called our town and they reported a small leak inside our home. We fixed the leaking toilet on main level. Please HELP

On 2017-05-30 by (mod) - new pump delivers poor water pressure & smells hot

Jane:

I would start right at the well, having your plumber check the water level and flow rate. None of the pump adjustments will improve the situation if there is no water to pump. And running the pump dry is very likely to cause overheating and pump burn-up.

The low water delivery rate you see may also be set by pump protection device that is intended to avoid the problem I just gave: if the water level falls too low in the well some types of protection devices will simply reduce the pump's output so that it doesn't run dry.

Diagnostic clue: if you run no water for 4-24 hours and see that the water returns we know the well is running low - (I know this is difficult so also just check in the AM after no water use overnight)

On 2017-05-30 by Jane

Over the past 5 years we have had a new shallow well pump, new pressure tank and a new pipe to draw the water from our well. All was well until a few months ago when I noticed the washer taking longer to fill. We did a little research and cleaned all the faucet filters. This didn't help, we noticed the pressure dropped to nothing while taking showers for 30-60 seconds.

We did more research and decided to adjust the pressure settings. This helped marginally, so we kept tweaking. It was never as good as before but we could live with it, until it blew the pipe to the pressure tank off. When it cooled we re-attached it, turned the pressure back down but a couple of days later it did it again, this time seizing the motor.

We called in a plumber who told us to replace the pump, which we did. We kept it at factory settings, we still have terrible water pressure, I can't use my washer and my dishwasher has just started to overheat due to no water getting through!

Plus is it normal for a new pump to smell hot, just like the old one did when it overheated! We are waiting for the plumber to return,

On 2016-07-30 by (mod) - well pump runs continuously - diagnose and fix

IF a pump runs continuously but cannot reach shutoff pressure AND you confirm by pressure measurement that indeed the actual pressure is below the CUT OUT pressure set on the pressure control switch, AND no water is being run in the building THEN the common causes (as in the table above) are detailed at http://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Pump_Runs_On.php WATER PUMP WON'T STOP RUNNING.

IF water is running in the building you may be using water faster than the pump can supply it, so the pump can never get ahead of the usage enough to reach cutoff pressure.

On 2016-07-28 by Tony

Will the well water level be too low or running out even though when I shut the pump and restart it immediately after noticing that the pump is continuously running and the tank fills up within 5 minutes or less (good recovery time or not)? I never run out of water completely, only lose water pressure.

The pump is a deep well two line jet pump that tops at 50psi and a 35 gallon tank set to 38 psi at drop down. So it may be that the recovery time is fine only when I use 1 spigot or faucet but not 2 at the same time because now its withdrawing water much quicker from the tank and the pump recovery is slow?

I would like to state that I never get any smell or sediments from the well. What should I look for as indicators for a low water well other then what I am encountering? Which process would be better to check the condition of the well? Sorry for all the questions. I have tried finding FAQ's with similar problems as my issues but there are none. Thanks, Tony

On 2016-07-28 by (mod) - sounds as if well water flow rate is poor

Tony it sounds as if your well water level is low or running out;

Since the pump can sometimes reach cutoff pressure I don't blame the pump itself.

I'd check out the condition of the well itself before thinking about replacing equipment.

On 2016-07-28 by Tony lost pressure to my well tank down to 10psi and the pump continuously runs

Question: In the past week I have lost pressure to my well tank down to 10psi and the pump continuously runs and pressure does not seem to increase and I have very low water pressure until I shut the pump off and turn back on.

It seems that it is not low well water because once I turn pump back on it continues to fill the tank to full within 5 minutes with no further problems until I start using 2 outside hoses to water the plants and within 15 minutes same thing happens and I shut off and turn on the water pump to refill the tank. Both the tank and the pump are old.

Should I replace both or find cause of problem, resolve and continue using until they completely fail?

On 2016-06-16 by (mod) - I may need a new pressure control switch.

Especially if your water supply has silt or debris or rust it's easy to clog the tiny pressure sensor port on the bottom of the pressure control switch; there are switch rebuild kits but generally it's not much more costly, it's faster, and easier to just replace the switch.

On 2016-06-15 by Scott

I shut everything down and took a look. When I put things back together, I heard the pressure control switch kick on after running some water. I think you are correct. I may need a new pressure control switch.

Thanks again for your expertise.

On 2016-06-15 by (mod) -

Click may be the pressure control switch turning on the pump? Or delaying in turning it on. I'd replace the switch.

On 2016-06-15 by Scott

Thank you for your response. I did bypass the softener while using the outdoor faucet. One thing I did notice, is when I run water in the house, I can hear a click when the pressure drops then the pressure recovers. I don't hear this click anymore. I think something is not working correctly. It takes a lot more time for the pressure to build again.

On 2016-06-15 by (mod) - Whenever I use my outdoor faucets, the water pressure drops in the house

Scott:
For using water outdoors where it doesn't need to be softened it makes perfect sense to take off that water supply from a point in the water supply piping ahead of (before) the water softener. That reduces unnecessary work by the water softener, reduces salt usage &c.

But that won't explain the pressure drop you cite. More likely it's pretty normal that you can get a high flow rater from an outdoor hose bibb or sill cock (outdoor spigot) - that in turn slows indoor flow rate.

On 2016-06-15 by Scott

I have well water. Whenever I use my outdoor faucets, the water pressure drops in the house. Is it a good idea to bypass my water softener when I use the outdoor faucets?

I don't think the softener is connected to the outside faucets but I'm not sure. I also notice that when I am away from home for a week or more and not using any water during that time, that the water pressure is low. I recharge my water softener and the pressure returns to normal. Any thoughts please.

Question: how do we do a water test if no water pressure?

(May 22, 2012) HUD foreclosed home said:

we're in process of purchasing a foreclosed HUD owned home using a 203k renovation loan. HUD appraisal says:

plumbing system failed to hold pressure. When our contractor went out to evaluate/estimate, found out wire from main breaker to points was missing. we're being told we need a well water test but no work can be done on home. how can we do the water test

Reply:

HUD foreclosed

You really cannot do a valid water potability test without working well and pump system - even if you tried a temporary independent pump to draw water from the well the test would not be valid nor reliable.

Especially when a home has been "shut down" for some time, it's important to flush the well, water tank, and piping before collecting a water sample; else it's not representative of what you will actually be drinking. This is by no means a new nor unique problem. Take it back to your lender for advice.

Question: low water pressure at just some fixtures

(May 29, 2012) Tony said:

HI I have odd problem ..ok,,low pressure in kitchen,,sink,very low in shower and very good in bathroom sink,,Help?

Reply:

Check for a partly closed supply valve or clogged faucet strainer or clogged piping between where pressure is good and where it's bad.

See WATER PIPE CLOG DIAGNOSIS

Question: lost all water pressure

(June 3, 2012) amber phillips @amberphillips@li said:

our kitchen faucet has lost ALL pressure down to less than a trickle while other fixtures in the home have great water pressure, we had the problem once before but it was resolved with a new filter.

This time even after several filter changes it still is messed up. could the water pipes immediatly under the sink be causing this or something else? Any advice is greatly appreciated and all methods will be exhausted

Reply:

When all water pressure is lost in a building the problem is more likely to be at the well, well piping, pump, tank, and controls right there. That's where I'd start.

See NO WATER PRESSURE

Question: lightning strike, lost well pump

(July 3, 2012) mickey said:

I have a plumbing problem in my house that won't go away. A couple of years ago, out house was hit by lightning, and it knocked out our well pump.

After replacing the pump, the black roll pipe, the 40/60 switch, and some minor piping at the well head, we are still losing water pressure every so often.

Usually, if we wash a load of clothes, take 2 showers, and wash some dishes, the house is without water for hours. The pressure reading at the bladder is 0, and the pump is not engaged.

The we have opened up the well, and there is still water available. We have changed the regulator switch to a 30/50 instead of a 40/60, but there is no change in water pressure loss. I have noticed that some of the faucets leak a t their base, but only when the water is turned on.

What could be going on? The only thing we haven't changed are our faucets, bladder, and piping.

Reply:

Mickey: check your well pump pressure control switch for dirt clogging at its sensor port or just try replacing it.

Question: loss of pressure when running watering system

(July 24, 2012) Lee said:

My 1hp sta-rite jet pump was replaced after 2 yrs. Well is maybe 90ft. and used for lawn irrigation. We discovered a foot/check valve problem and that valve was replaced. Now pressure falls when outflow value is open. I replaced my irrigation values to rule out leaks. I ran the pump (30-40 min) with and without city water support to the pump (priming). Still, when outflow valve is opened pressure continues to fall to 0.

Pump will maintain prime when outflow value is closed. Open any value - 0 pressure after water in pump is pushed through. Is this pump pulling water? How to check? If not, then what to do next on a brand new pump?

Reply:

Lee: It's normal for pressure in a watering system to drop when we change from static pressure (nothing is flowing) to flowing pressure (water is running) - but if pressure falls to zero it sounds as if there is a pump damage, pipe leak. You indicate that the pump is running; but it may not be able to develop pressure if an internal part is broken.

Question: lightning strike damage to well, casing, pump, piping

(Aug 10, 2012) Dawna said:

We have 2 wells on our property operating independently with submersible pumps plus 1 additional pump in our 3000 gal sistern.

Our property was hit by lightning and now all in- ground pumps are fried. Well #1 (7 GPM) went dry instantly. We have had our professional pump folks out.

They have replaced all electrical componets in the pump house plus the submersible pump on the 7 gmp well, well #1.

We have replaced all electrical componets in the pump house but not yet the pump on well #2 and still no water from either.

We are hopeful that our insurance will cover the cost of the electrical componets, pump truck and operator time, and drilling a new well(s). Please let me know what your experiences are with lightning killing a well. It's like fracting only by mother nature.

Reply:

Dawna

Lightning strikes can damage or destroy a well pump motor, wiring, controls, even piping or the casing. It depends... We've also seen damaged or split well casing and well piping.

Question: poor water pressure when running sprinklers

(Aug 26, 2012) Patti Morris said:

well pump all of a sudden does not allow as much watering. Used to be able to run 4 sprinklers at a time now 2 is all. runs at 70psi where used to run at 80.

What's up?

Reply:

Patti, the well yield may have deteriorated, or there could be something easier such as a piping leak or a damaged pump, even low voltage. See

WATER PRESSURE TOO LOW, DIAGNOSTIC FAQs

Or see

WATER PRESSURE VARIATION CAUSES

Question: weak water pressure upstairs

(Oct 17, 2012) David c said:

I have a deep well pump and pressure tank. I get decent pressure and water flow downstairs like nothings wrong but upstairs I get absolutly nothing at all. All the pluming is new from the pump to the tank and ran into the existing plumbing. No leaks at all but still get no wated flow at all! Can anyone help me with ideas!!!! Email is BCDC09@gmail.com!

Reply:

David, try the diagnostic suggestions at WELL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENT

Question: high pitched whistle, now no water pressure

(Nov 19, 2012) Jennifer said:

Last night water pressure and flow was great. Although when I flushed the toilet in the middle of the night I heard a high pitched sound, kinda like a whistle. Now this morning our water only has a small stream of water that flows from all our faucets. And not enough water pressure to flush toilets. Where do I been, common since (I hope) tells me it a pressure issue. What do I look for? Where do I begin?

Reply:

The whistle may have indicated a failing control, pump, or something else, I can't guess from just that comment. But diagnostics that tell you what to check in what order are at NO WATER PRESSURE

Or for a more succinct sequence of diagnostic steps in lost water pressure see

WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE

Question: bad well water pressure in the UK traced to a clogged foot valve

(Mar 1, 2013) n said:

being new to private wells *never seen or heard of a private well in the UK its all city water* ive been on a steep learning curve, some of problems ive had and the fixes maybe of help to others , someone left the garden hose on twice , both time the well appeared to run out , 2nd time i couldnt reprime the pump , we replaced the pump and well pipes only to find the foot valve had a bit of poop that stopped it fully closing a new foot valve was put in but still wouldnt prime ,

we found out the foot valve was sitting in the sediment , so if you replace the pipes make sure they are exacltly the same length,(was only a fot difference in lenght) ive also had a cycle problem that despite a ok pressure check on the water tank the bladder was shot ( maybe the lighting strikes could be a fried bladder maybe worth a check). also had two pumps both same hp but one was far worse than the other at pulling water , hope this helps some of you out there

Reply:

Thanks N. Details about foot valves are at

WELL PIPING FOOT VALVE

Question: bad water pressure: should we test the tank bladder?

(Mar 11, 2013) jennifer said:

My well is six years old and I now keep losing water pressure I've replaced the filters. Does anyone have an idea what u have to do to test the bladder??

Reply:

Its not likely to be the bladder, at least not directly. The bladder and pressure tank don't give water pressure. maybe well, pump, Foot valve, or a pressure control switch problem.

Question: bad city pressure

(Mar 19, 2013) Zee said:

Hi Elaine,
I have the same problem.I get city/municipal water,not well water. Did you find a solution.
Thanks

Reply:

Zee,

Either your incoming water pressure is very poor or there is a clog in your piping; start by checking and cleaning fixture strainers; if that makes no difference, it's time to ask for help from a plumber.

If incoming pressure from your municipal supply is poor see WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP

Question:

(Mar 16, 2014) sue tucker said:

i have a 60-80 ft well with a submersible pump--my water pressure has never been real strong or lasts real long it kind of goes down to nothing i can only wash small loads and showers can't be long but this has been like this since i bought the house 12 yrs ago

in last 2 weeks my water pressure has gotten pretty weak and in my washer it has almost stopped til i turn it off then a little bit later i try again but it doesn't seem to be like it was when it runs it goes down to almost nothing then comes back on but not strong

my toliet has also started not flushing well--i just had a new pressure tank and regulator put in in october of last year

i checked for leaks in basement--i do have a leak in drain line that has been there for over a year and another one on far side in drain do you have any ideas that might help me figure out what is wrong? thanks you

Reply:

Sue,

IT sounds as if you have a well with marginal flow rate that has continued to deteriorate. Search InspectApedia for

how to increase well yield

for some suggestions.

The drain line leak is unsanitary and may indicate a broken line and partial clog that could separately cause poor toilet flushing.

Poor toilet flushes also occur if the toilet tank or cistern is not properly filled or the flush valve closes early.

Question: good water pressure until run one or two fixtures - shallow well jet pump system

(Mar 21, 2014) Samantha said:

I have a 25 ft well with a jet pump. My pressure is great up until you flush a toilet or run two sinks at the same time. We replaced the foot valve in August and there are no leaks present. Also we replaced the expansion tank because the bladder in our old one had holes in it. Our plumber came out and even after he charged us $600 we still have the same problem. what could this possibly be?

Reply:

Samantha, I would start by checking two different problem areas:

1. hard water, scale or other deposits that may have clogged the water piping system. A common diagnostic clue is that when you first open a faucet water flows with great pressure but quickly falls off to a much lower flow rate.
2. the actual flow rate capacity of the well

Question: how to fix at Hubbell Industrial Controls, Inc. Class 69ES Pressure Switch

(Mar 30, 2014) drkm02 said:

I have a Hubbell Industrial Controls, Inc. Class 69ES Pressure Switch. Three day ago, I was adjusting the number 2 screw, and the screw came out. I panic, and I put the screw back in. I did not see a spring or any other components from the number 2 screw. My question, did I screw up the setting on Number 2 screw. And if I did, Can you tell me how to fix it?

Reply:

DRK

On the Hubbel Class 69ES pump pressure control switch the large hex nut over a large spring is the main pressure range adjustment and the smaller, separate bolt-like hex nut adjusts the differential

by pushing on what looks to me like a plate in the switch base. I don't see any illustration of a spring on that adjuster in the installation manual. You can also contact the company directly to ask for an installation and adjustment manual for your switch.

Hubbell Industrial Controls, Inc.
a subsidiary of Hubbell Incorporated
4301 Cheyenne Drive, Archdale, NC 27263
Phone (336) 434-2800 | Fax (336) 434-2801
www.hubbell-icd.com
sales@hubbell-icd.com

Question: new pump doesn't pump water

(Apr 2, 2014) Anonymous said:

i put in a new sumersable well pump but its not pumping any water. its a 100ft deep and the casing is wet from about 50ft on down. the pump is running, it pumped enough to fill the back of the toilet then stoped, that was after about 2hrs of waiting. pleas help!

Reply:

Please check out PRIME the PUMP, HOW TO - through the pump body, or see PRIME the PUMP using a GARDEN HOSE

Question: replaced pipe, now no water pressure

(Apr 12, 2014) bill said:

my electric well was coming on about every 5 minutes i think there is a leak so i replaced a pipe . now the water will not come on. there was no pressure on the gauge so i put air in and it still want come on. what can be the cause?

Reply:

Bill,

If a water pump was short-cycling and then you have no water after replacing a well pipe I suspect your system has lost prime, or still has a piping leak.

start by checking the pump priming articles listed just above

Question: erratic initial pressure loss when pump kicks on

(May 16, 2014) Tim L. said:

I have a private well and when the pump kicks on at 30 psi the pressure gauge goes to zero for a second and then goes right back up til it cuts off at 50 psi. You can see the water pressure drop in the house when you are running water and the pump kicks on. Any ideas?

Reply:

Tim
what an interesting question - I've got to think a bit.

Is this a 2 line jet pump? If so the system sends some water down the well in order to get more water back up; so the "sending down" water might explain a loss of house pressure if at the same time there's a problem with the well pipe water pick-up venturi

(May 17, 2014) Tim L. said:

No, it is a single line in a 200 ft. deep well. I checked the pressure tank pressure empty and it has the correct pressure.

Tim I might try first connecting an external water pressure monitoring gauge to see what's really going on with the system. Sometimes debris can clog a gauge port confusing its readings. Take a look at the gauge attachement shown at the top of this article

WATER PRESSURE MEASUREMENT

Question: signs of loss of well prime

(May 22, 2014) Tim L. said:

I put a new gauge and pressure switch on and it seemed fine for a little but then returned to the way it was. Could it be the check valve at the bottom of the well? I was running water for a lot when I replaced the switch . Maybe that's why it seemed fine at first.After it sits a little it might be loosing some water or prime.

Reply:

Tim that's a reasonable guess; If you are not running any water and watch the pressure gauge and see pressure falling there's a leak somewhere.

...


Continue reading at WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS, PRIVATE WELL or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS FAQs - set 1 of diagnostic questions for bad water pressure or pumps that won't shut off

Or see WELL WATER PRESSSURE DIAGNOSIS FAQs - more water pressure troubleshooting questions & answers

Or see WELL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENT - steps to improve water pressure & flow from a private well water supply

Or see WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE

Suggested citation for this web page

WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSTIC FAQs-2 at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to WATER SUPPLY, PUMPS TANKS WELLS

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