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Author: grungeboater Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 127328  
Subject: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 7:41 PM
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My house is on a rural well. I have one of those blue tanks with the air bladder to keep the house water pressurized. For ten years of the homes life the pump has turned on after using roughly 10 - 20 gallons of water. (I dont know the amount since I have never measured it.) But in the past 3 months the pump has been kicking in for every gallon I use. I flush the toilet and the pump activates. I flush again and the pump activates again. While it used to activate 2-3 times to fill the bath tub it now activates numerous times and it always runs for just a brief, short period as if it only needs to replace that one gallon it activated for. I am believing the cause is in the bladder tank or I need a new pressure activated switch. Anyone have any experience on this. Thanks
gb
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Author: Goofyhoofy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95746 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 7:47 PM
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Totally different, but I had this problem in our RV. I had it fixed at the dealer, but in the interim I remember reading some of this site and found it instructive:

http://www.inspect-ny.com/water/pumprepair.htm

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95748 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 8:05 PM
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<<While it used to activate 2-3 times to fill the bath tub it now activates numerous times and it always runs for just a brief, short period as if it only needs to replace that one gallon it activated for. I am believing the cause is in the bladder tank or I need a new pressure activated switch. Anyone have any experience on this. Thanks
gb
>>


The bladder separates the water from a charge of air that keeps the water pressurized. Often the symptoms you describe happen when the bladder fails and allows water into the portion that should have the air, or the air charge need to be renewed, usually by pumping air through an available schrader valve.

So I'd inspect and repair the tank as the likely problem.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: anniesdad Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95749 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 8:10 PM
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gb,

Sounds like you ned a new pressure tank. Check the pressure gage during a recycle to see if the bladder is leaking.

Scott

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Author: tpault Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95751 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 8:37 PM
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Is there an air valve like what is found on a bycicle tire, on your bladder tank?

I'm not sure what psi you should have there but air loss in the bladder is the most common cause of short cycling of your pump. If you manage to get more air back into the bladder (and the right amount of psi), you may want to check the valve for leaking with soapy water.

I would only put air into the bladder if you know how much is suppose to be in there. A simple tire pressure guage will work to determine how much is in there.

Paul T.

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Author: grungeboater Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95752 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 9:15 PM
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Sounds like you ned a new pressure tank. Check the pressure gage during a recycle to see if the bladder is leaking.

Without running water the gauge reads 50 psi. Same as it always has. You all have the similar answer. I will have to wait til the son is home this week to run some water while I watch the guage. Thanks

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Author: wolferd1 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95753 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 10:01 PM
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Without running water the gauge reads 50 psi. Same as it always has.

The following is based on my experience which consists of a total of 4 wells. Take with the appropriate amount of salt.

If it switches off at 50psi is probably kicks back on at 30psi. Pressure switches come in several varieties but most home systems I've seen have 20 pounds of pressure differential between the turn on/switch off settings.

So, turn off your pump and drain the water out of the tank. Best way to drain is to switch off the pump, open a faucet in the house, then draing the tank with a water hose attached to the drain bib on the tank.

Once it is empty close the faucet and drain valve. Then pump the tank up with air pressure to about 25psi. Then turn your pump back on. It should fill until the pressure reaches 50psi then switch off. Once you start using the water the pressure will slowly drop until it reaches about 30psi, when the pump will come back on.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95754 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/26/2008 11:18 PM
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<<Sounds like you ned a new pressure tank. Check the pressure gage during a recycle to see if the bladder is leaking.

Without running water the gauge reads 50 psi. Same as it always has. You all have the similar answer. I will have to wait til the son is home this week to run some water while I watch the guage. Thanks
>>


The static pressure test you describe only tells you that the pressure switch is working.

You need to run water through the system and observe the pressure and spedd with which the pump cycles on and off. What you will probably see is that when you turn a tap on, the pressure rapidly declines to 30 PSI or so, at which point the pressure switch turns on the pump, which rapidly raises the pressure up to 50 PSI, causing the pump to shut off. This short cycling will probably continue as long as you have a significant flow of water through the system.

The pressure tank is supposed to even out those pressure surges. Water should flood into the pressure tank, perhaps taking several gallons of water into it before getting full and allowing the pressure to rise to 50 PSI or so. Once the pump shuts off, you have that several gallon reservoir at 50 PSI that can be used up before the pump needs to turn on again. The force exerted by the internal rubber bladder helps maintain that pressure by stretching.


Is there a valve leading to the pressure tank that could be shut off, blocking it's functioning?

And you need to measure the air pressure at the schrader valve that's usually on the pressure tank, making sure it's properly charged with air and not filled with water dur to a hole in the bladder.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: tpault Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95755 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/27/2008 6:21 AM
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Without running water the gauge reads 50 psi. Same as it always has. You all have the similar answer. I will have to wait til the son is home this week to run some water while I watch the guage. Thanks

Your guages will probably read just fine, it sounds like your pump and pressure switch are operating properly.

By far the most common cause of short cycling is loss of air in the bladder (if you have a bladder system).

You are getting alot of advice, none of it bad, but since the most common cause of short cycling is loss of air in the bladder, that's where you should check first. You need a tire pressure guage and the psi recommendation, which is usually around the low pressure setting of your switch (28 psi)

Once you've shot a little air into the bladder and tested how much it has using a tire guage, put a little soapy water around the fill (schrader) valve to see if it shows a leak. If it is leaking, you can go to any bike shop and get a schrader valve tightner.

Don't replace your bladder tank as your first method of diagnosis. Do the above.

Paul T.

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Author: grungeboater Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95766 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/27/2008 5:16 PM
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OK, Ive emptied the bladder tank. Looks like it had NO air in it. I am in process of pumping it up but How do I know what my cut in point is? Should I just guess its 30?

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Author: anniesdad Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95769 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/27/2008 6:28 PM
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gb, here's a good explanation, better than I can do.

Step two - is the most important step - adjusting the tank air pressure BEFORE installing the tank. Standard diaphragm or bladder pressure tanks come with a factory precharge pressure of 28 lbs psi - in small and medium sized tanks, 38 lbs psi - in larger tanks. In any case - THE TANK PRESSURE MUST BE ADJUSTED TO CONFORM WITH YOUR PRESSURE SWITCH SETTING BEFORE TURNING ON YOUR PUMP.

REPEAT - TANK PRESSURE MUST BE ADJUSTED BEFORE INSTALLATION!

Your tank pressure should be adjusted to conform with your pressure switch. Pressure should be set about 2-4 lbs psi LESS than the CUT-IN pressure of your pressure switch. Pressure switches generally come in three variations; 20-40 lbs psi, 30-50 lbs psi and 40-60 lbs psi. Pressure switches usually have their factory set pressure setting printed on the inside of the pressure switch cover. The CUT-IN pressure setting on a 20-40 switch is 20 lbs psi, on a 30-50 swich it's 30 lbs psi and on a 40-60 switch it's 40 lbs psi. Your "cut-in" pressure is the point at which your pressure switch will activate the pump as pressure drops due to water use. The "cut-off" pressure is the point at which the pressure switch is set to turn the pump off after water use ends.

So, 2-4 lbs LESS than your CUT-IN pressure; This means your tank bladder or diaphragm pressure setting (measured using a bicycle tire pressure gauge) on the tank air valve (usually on top of the tank) should be set at 16-18 lbs for a 20-40 pressure switch, 26-28 lbs for a 30-50 pressure switch and 36-38 lbs for a 40-60 pressure switch. You will need an inexpensive bicycle tire gauge (generally less than $2 at Walmart). Correct pressure is "set" by letting air out of the tank.

This would be a ball park setting that can be fine tuned after tank installation and testing. Of course you "set" the pressure simply by letting air out of the air valve just like letting air out of an over-inflated car tire. To fine tune later, you absolutely need to have a working pressure gauge on your pump set-up.

If the pressure setting printed inside your pressure switch cover is no longer readable, there are other ways to ball park your installation pressure. Submersible pumps usually use either 30-50 or 40-60 switches, jet type above-ground pumps usually use 30-50 switches and regular centrifugal above-ground pumps usually use 20-40 switches. You can temporarily assume and set a 27 lb (27 lbs in the tank) setting for an above ground pump, or you can use a 37 lb (37 lbs in the tank) setting for a sub pump, then be sure to properly readjust tank pressure (by letting air out) once you activate system and are able to determine the actual cut-in point of your pressure switch. Remember you must TURN OFF power to pump and drain system in order to check tank pressure.

After setting your tank bladder pressure the next step is to install the tank and turn on the pump. Determine your true bladder or diaphragm pressure setting requirement by turning on a faucet and take note of what the well pressure gauge reads when the pump actually kicks on; that is the actual CUT-IN pressure setting of your pressure switch. Your tank pressure setting (read with tire gauge) should read 2-4 lbs less than that cut-in point.

Make sure your tank is set at 2-4 lbs LESS than your pressure switch CUT-IN point. BUT STOP! Remember you must turn off the electric to the pump and drain out all water from the tank BEFORE reading your tank bladder or diaphragm pressure.

Note - we don't recommend trying to determine pressure switch settings by running the pump before changing out the tank because most people are changing out the tank because it's waterlogged and as soon as they turn on a hose faucet the pump begins rapidly cycling on and off. Rapid cycling off and on can damage the pump and a pressure gauge is impossible to read properly with the needle bouncing wildly back and forth.

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Author: grungeboater Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95772 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/27/2008 7:34 PM
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Everyone has been an immense help here. Anniesdad, you had everything I needed in your last post but about the time you were posting it I just had everything figured out. I did find the cut in and cut off numbers were under the switch cover which is 40/60; so using the electrical bicycle pump I put in 38# of air. (after I properly drained everything) Things seem to be back to normal, so far. I couldnt detect any broken bladder so I will assume the air just leaked out slowly over time. Thanks a million everyone...well thanks a few hundred bucks worth of plumbing work, at least.

One other note, the pressure switch has adjustments inside to regulate and fine tune the cutin/cutoff amounts, but I am not sure I want to mess with those at this point.

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Author: tpault Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95773 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/27/2008 7:39 PM
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Should I just guess its 30?

That'll do. You said your pressure is maintained at 50 normally. That would put your switch into the 30 cut in, 50 cut out category.

Just a note... I recommend always saving every manual that comes with each piece of equipment installed in your home. It takes about 30 seconds to look up this type of information if you keep good records.

You'll know right away if it is set ok, just by running some water afterwards.

It isn't super critical as some of the advice columns say. You probably had been steadily losing air for some time.

Even if the bladder is bad inside the tank, it will probably work. Systems use to not have the bladder and it was just air over water. The air sometimes mixed with the water though and made it where you had to occasionally add more air. But if your schrader valve is bad and it is losing air to the room, of course you'll have the same short cycling again.

Paul T.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 95778 of 127328
Subject: Re: Well pump runs too often Date: 5/28/2008 12:09 AM
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<<Just a note... I recommend always saving every manual that comes with each piece of equipment installed in your home. It takes about 30 seconds to look up this type of information if you keep good records.
>>


I have a hanging file I use to save the manuals and purchase receipts for a lot of equipment that doesn't merit it's own separate file. When I need something, I can find it easily by flipping through the manuals, and often I'll throw out manuals for discarded equipment at the same time.

Earlier this year I had a ten year olf bicycle frame fail. The manual contained a lifetime guarantee --- and the sales receipt. After checking to make sure I still had a pulse, I took the bike back to Recreational Equipment (REI), and they gave me a full refund for the amount listed on the sales receipt.


Ka-ching!



Seattle Pioneer

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