Cycle Stop Valve for Well - questions.
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    RetiredDoc's Avatar
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    Cycle Stop Valve for Well - questions.

    I'm experiencing having a well for the first time. It has a cycle stop valve, which the well installer adjusted to maintain 50 psi from my 1.5hp well pump whenever water is running. The reason for the CSV, as I was told, is to limit the on-off cycling of the well pump to prolong its life. However, in reading about CSVs, it seems that if the water draw from the pump, when less than the pump's capacity, results in the pump working against higher pressure, and therefore the pump draws more amps and works harder, and potentially gets hotter.

    So assuming that I've gotten the above info correct, prolonged pump life comes from reducing the number of stop-start cycles. The accumulation of start-stop cycles is worse for pump life than the pump working harder against back pressure from a CSV? Is that right?

    Second question is about how much water to draw during irrigation of pastures and yard. It seems to me that running a maximum number of sprinklers at a total flow which just equals the well pump maximum output would stress the pump less than running fewer sprinklers/less volume? Am I right about this?

    And, if that is right, how can I go about determining the irrigation flow which will give the longest pump life?
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    sennister's Avatar
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    I am not an expert on wells but I have one in the house we have been in for the last 12 years. It is my first experience with a well though.

    First off there are lots of differences with wells. Some of the main differences are going to be with well depth and pump location for instance. Our well is about 160' deep or so I was told. The well pump being down in the bottom of the well. I don't know if your setup is along these lines or if you are talking about a new well or one that has been in use for a while.

    So with my well design down at the bottom of the well is the pump as I mentioned. Coming out of the well is a check valve. The idea is the well runs water up the well pipe. When the well shuts off the check valve holds the water in that pipe by plugging the bottom. The problem is check valves go bad. Not that often and knock on wood but mine has been fine. If that check valve failed then the pump would have to come up to replace a $10 part. If you do that and have a pump that is 15 years old or more, you might as well put a new pump on because of the cost in doing the work. The other option that some people do is put a check valve up on the top end of the well or as it comes into the house. This can help but it can also shorten the life of the pump. That said it is mainly seen as a bandaid from what I have read to delay from pulling the pump to replace a $10 part which often leads to a new pump at the same time. Why not do a bandaid for a while knowing that a new pump is in the near future.

    Personally I don't like the idea of a check valve up on top but lets say it is the middle of winter and you would rather delay a check valve/pump replacement until summer. It is a good idea then in my book. A better way to prevent cycling of the pump has been a pressure tank. Go with the biggest one you can. My well relay is a 40/60 so it kicks the pump in at 40psi and off at 60psi. The pressure tank is a large tank which is where the water goes. There is a bladder in there that is pressurized to 38psi (2 psi below your cut on pressure). This bladder moves allowing water into it until you hit 60 psi. As you use water that bladder is in there pressing down on the water providing pressure for usage until your pressure drops to 40 and the well kicks in. Think of it kind of like having a big tank on an air compressor vs trying to use a small compressor with no tank. I went with the biggest tank I could fit in. I think it is a 50 gallon tank but not all of it is usable. If the bladder ever fails which does happen, then you will notice the well cycling a lot more often and it needs to be replaced. We had to do that once.

    As far as the irrigation stuff. Do your sprinklers or whatever you are using have a GPM rating on them? Sometimes they do. I guess I would add them all up to get your flow rate. We don't irrigate anything other than I have one of those automatic drip watering systems on my hops. If I watered the grass I would have to cut it more often.
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    Additional info for what it's worth. Well was drilled and pump installed 2 years old. Pump is a 1.5hp model. It is 127 feet underground. There is a 40-60psi relay. I have a tank but do not know the size since it is buried. I do not know the GPM rating or brand of the pump. I do know the GPM ratings of all the sprinkler heads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredDoc View Post
    Additional info for what it's worth. Well was drilled and pump installed 2 years old. Pump is a 1.5hp model. It is 127 feet underground. There is a 40-60psi relay. I have a tank but do not know the size since it is buried. I do not know the GPM rating or brand of the pump. I do know the GPM ratings of all the sprinkler heads.
    That seems to be a lot of pump for only 127 ft.
    Cycle time is directly related to the GPM of the pump used and usage of water. The faster (more times) the pump cycles the shorter the life.
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    The accumulator or pressure tank also has a large affect on cycle times. I added an extra one on my previous house to smooth out pressure delivery and extend cycle times. Pump would be off considerably longer and run longer when it was called for. It's a cheap and easy upgrade.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieselshadow View Post
    The accumulator or pressure tank also has a large affect on cycle times. I added an extra one on my previous house to smooth out pressure delivery and extend cycle times. Pump would be off considerably longer and run longer when it was called for. It's a cheap and easy upgrade.
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    Sennister has explained the operation very well and DS is correct that the larger tank will reduce cycling. In the last 25 years I have replaced 2 pumps, the first because the nipple coming out of the pitiless adapter that hooks to the hose going to the house sprung a leak the second about five years later because the check valve failed. It was a good thing I was younger when the nipple went bad, 6' down through straight clay.

    I don't think anybody has answered the question though about max flow or multiple starts being hard on it. I have never heard of the CSV valve or know anyone that uses one. Usually they just cycle through the range (30-50) or (40-60) I have not heard of this valve that kicks the well on to maintain a constant pressure. Something seems strange because to maintain a constant pressure it would have to have a variable flow pump or some type of relief system which I have never seen in a well. Of course I am only familiar with the inline jet pumps and ours are much shallower here. There are pumps that sit at the top with 2 hoses, one up and one down and since this does have a return I could see you were you could have a valve that maintains a pressure. I just do not know anything about that style.

    With most motors starting them is harder than running. I am not sure that it makes a difference whether it is pumping less gpm at a higher pressure or high gpm at low pressure. Either way a similar amount of work is being done or actual horse power being used.

    I suppose you could put in that meter on one of the leads and see if the load drastically changes but I am not sure if it's worth the effort even though that effort is minimal. Everyone around us has well's and since most of our homes are the same age we see similar problems. I do not know of any that the motor has failed, except in the case of lightening, it is usually the pipe coming up, the nipple getting a hole or the check valve.

    Just my .02
    Last edited by Herminator; 08-27-2017 at 09:00 AM.
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    Here's my take on this discussion, I also don't have a lot of experience with wells and pumps, other than my first house which had one (I only lived there 4 years) and my work place uses well water with a pump.

    Regarding your tank, I have never heard of it being buried. They do go bad, and you have to replace them, I have always seen them INSIDE the house, usually where the well water pipe enters the building/house. Electric box and connections going out the the well are usually close by. The tank has to be in a location that will not allow it to freeze too.

    As for your "sprinkler capacity", if you want to run your pump at 100% ON, I would go old school method. Add sprinklers until you see a pressure drop below your lower set point, and then remove 1 at a time until you can maintain as high a pressure as you can below your cut out set point. At that pressure/flow, your pump is running full time and maintaining as high a pressure as your pump can supply. If you're cycling, add another sprinkler. It may be difficult to find that "sweet spot", 1 more sprinkler may drop pressure to an unacceptable level, and 1 less my cause cycling.

    One word of caution, drawing a lot of water from you well can lead to other issues, such as cloudy water with silt from "opening" new veins that are normally not used, or running your well dry, which can damage your pump. It all depends on how much water your well can supply. Proceed with caution.

    Just my 2 cents.
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    I guess I have a couple more questions. Since the system roughly sounds the same as what we use here at our house, I pretty much understand it at least in a rough manner.

    You said your tank is underground so you don't know the size. That seems odd to me but it is because how our system is installed and I have been over to other people's homes in our area and seen a setup very much like what we have. Of course regional codes and systems might differ. So with our system it is in our house. I am working off the assumption that this is the case with you. We have a basement. I know basements are not common in all parts of the country. For instant a basement in much of Florida would become a under house swimming pool. With a well 125' feet deep I would imagine this isn't the case but maybe you are in a rocky area or just don't have a basement. So the well comes up the basement floor and goes through a T to where the 40/60 pressure switch is and then on to the pressure tank. The other part of the T goes to the house. Now if that check valve were mounted before the pressure switch and tank, then I would agree with your assumption that the pump is fighting against the 50PSI limit as it sounds like it is a pressure regulator/check valve in one. If the cycle stop valve is after the pressure switch and tank, basically between that and the house plumbing then the pump wouldn't fight against it. The pump is moving the volume of water to the pressure tank. The pressure tank is then providing water capacity and pressure to take some of the work off the pump. Though in that position, I don't see how it would help stop cycles. It would just be a pressure regulator.

    I find it odd that they would put the tank underground. Is this not in your house? Some places they use a separate pump house where the plumbing stuff is for the well. That isn't as common here in MN because you would have to be concerned about heating it or everything would freeze up. Which is why it goes in our basements around here. You were talking irrigation but I don't know if you are just talking about watering a residential yard and garden. It doesn't sound bigger than that since you are talking a 1.5hp pump which is about right for residential. Gizmo2 said it sounded like a lot of pump but with the depth over 100' depending on flow rate, it is probably about right. If I were to replace my pump which is a bit deeper, I would go with at least a 1.5hp. Personally I also want to bump my pressure from a 40/60 to 60/80 as well when it comes time to replace. I just don't want to run that pressure now and shorten the life of my already old pump. I am not a plumber or well expert but the HP required does go up the deeper the well gets.

    That brings up another point. I have seen where some people run a pressure regulator after the pump and because they don't want that high of a pressure going to all of their house. Since you are running irrigation, it can make sense to run higher pressure to those runs then drop the pressure with a regulator going to the rest of the house. The nice thing about these regulators is it evens out the pressure. Lets say you run a 60/80 switch with a regulator on the house to 50. Well no matter what the well and pressure tank is doing you always have 50psi to all your points of use. I don't think I can tell the difference in 40psi vs 60 psi water from my shower head as I go through a pump cycle but some people are fussy and maybe they grew up on city water and are used to the consistency of pressure.
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    I have a well (200 feet) and an engineering degree.

    I feel like a cycle stop valve is snake oil,,,

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    Surely $200-$400 spent on a large bladder tank would be the best use of to protect a pump.

    If I was concerned about my pump,,
    I would keep adding bladder tanks until my concern went away,,,

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