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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all.

I figure with all the knowledgeable folks and varied backgrounds, someone here can help.
I am having some issues and not sure where to start, so Ill try to describe whats going on.

Info I know about the system. If Im missing something, let me know and Ill find it.
Well is 70' deep
20 gallon pressure tank, in crawl
30-50 pressure switch
Pump is original as far as I know, from 1992

We've been in this house a bit over 5 years.
Initially, we had great water pressure. Actually, its been great until just the last several months. Started just before Winter Id guess.
Its not bad, but not near what it used to be, judging only by water flow at faucets.
Getting to the tank is a bit of a process, as its in the crawl, and while the access is in the house, its in a closet, and said closet is in constant use, so it has to be cleared out first.
I had concerns initially because the pump/system is noisy. Id never heard much from wells Id been around before moving here, other than a slight hum when the pump was running. This one, you hear a louder hum when running, and a clunk when it shuts off.
From what Ive read, that clunk could be a bad check valve. No idea about the louder sound of the pump.

I had planned initially to replace everything in the crawl but the incoming 1" line from the well, and go to a 40-60 switch, 20gal tank, either fiberglass or steel, and a cycle stop valve to keep the pressure steady at 50psi while its running. Those are really cool by the way if anyone runs water more than just showers and such.

Now Im a bit concerned that the lower pressure could be the pump failing.
It could also be the pressure tank, or even the pressure switch.

Any way to tell for sure?
I dont really mind replacing the pump, as I can likely pull it myself from 70' down, and at nearly 30 years, its probably getting close to the end of its life anyway, but Id like to know for sure whats going on.
 

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For us when we notice lower pressure it means it is time to change the whole house water filter. I didn't see one mentioned but that is where to start if you have one.

The pressure tank typically has a schrader valve (like a bike/car tire). You can check the pressure in there. The pressure should be 2psi below your cut in pressure. With a 30-50 pressure switch it should be 28PSI. When these fail, typically what happens is the bladder will rupture or leak. The most common symptom is that the pressure tank isn't working so the pump will cycle a lot. This can burn up the pump. A test is to check the pressure, should be 28. Also turn off the pump and vent some of the air and see if water comes out of the valve. If it does the tank is shot. I had a really strange issue where I didn't get water but my pressure was too high. I vented it down, a couple days later it was over pressure. This isn't a common failure but also a sign of a pinhole leak in the bladder. I don't think a pressure tank will really cause low pressure at the tap because it is just a buffer to provide some volume so the well pump runs less.

The check valve is normally down at the bottom of the well. This prevents the water from draining back down from the house to the well when the pump isn't running. A normal symptom of this is the well pump kicking on when there is no water being used. The only real fix for that is pulling the pump and replacing it but I wouldn't put an old pump back down there at that point. Some people will "fix" it by putting a check valve up top after the pressure switch as a budget bandaid but it isn't fixing it right. It would probably get you by for a couple years but the pump is likely going to be getting pretty old at that point.

Another issue I have seen is there is a 1/4" pipe going up into the pressure switch. I have had that get all corroded and clogged over time to where the pressure switch wasn't sensing the pressure right. That is an easy fix. Just need a 4"x1/4" nipple. I think that was causing low pressure in the house.

My setup has a pressure gauge next to the pressure switch. Do you have one? If so what are your readings. It is hard to diagnose with just it feels like less than normal pressure. Actually hitting your 30-50 numbers (or not) are more accurate in diagnosing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No water filter present.

Ill try to get down there tomorrow to check the pressure.
If I recall, my setup sounds like yours, pressure gauge next to the switch.
 

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Sennister covered it well.

A couple things I would add.

When you check the pressure in the holding tank the 28 psi example used should be when everything is drained and the well is off. If you do not have a water pressure gauge in the system you can hold your air gauge on the tank and it will read what the pumped pressure is at. In his example it should then kick on at 30. If your tank is to high it will drain down too much before kicking on and cause a pulse in the water.

I prefer to use the air pressure gauge instead of a water pressure gauge because then the same gauge is being used for both checks.

I wouldn’t worry to much about the clunk, some do this all the time and some once in a while. If the check valve is bad your well will cycle often.
 

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Sennister covered it well.

A couple things I would add.

When you check the pressure in the holding tank the 28 psi example used should be when everything is drained and the well is off. If you do not have a water pressure gauge in the system you can hold your air gauge on the tank and it will read what the pumped pressure is at. In his example it should then kick on at 30. If your tank is to high it will drain down too much before kicking on and cause a pulse in the water.

I prefer to use the air pressure gauge instead of a water pressure gauge because then the same gauge is being used for both checks.

I wouldn’t worry to much about the clunk, some do this all the time and some once in a while. If the check valve is bad your well will cycle often.
Yes, I did forget that step. Turn off the pump and open a valve to drain off the pressure.

I really don't think it would be the pressure tank though. Typically that will cause a short cycle issue. The normally fail one of two ways. The tank rots out or more common is that internal bladder ruptures or has a leak. Feel free to check it since it is easy but if the pressure is low it likely isn't it.

Yep agree on not worrying about the clunk.

Another thing it could be is the pressure switch. You can use the insulated part of the handle of a screwdriver to push down on the contacts and run the pressure up a bit higher. I run a 40/60 switch on my system so we have a bit more pressure. I had my well pump replaced about 3 or 4 years ago now. We are at about 165' and had a well guy do it. I asked about running even higher pressures as we have a run pretty far away in the back yard with not a lot of pressure. He said we could go a bit higher but would start to run into problems with toilets not liking that much pressure. So we left it and upgraded the water line to the back yard from 1/2 to 3/4 which helped.

As far as our failure when our pump went out it was strange. I have two whole house filters. The first is a spindown sediment filter and then a regular filter. I was getting what looked like cotton in my spindown filter. Here is a pic.



I couldn't figure out what it was but the plumber that came out said it was the impeller coming apart.

Old Pump



New pump going down.



Here is my pressure switch with that 4" nipple and pressure gauge.

 

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I don't have anything to add to the diagnosing, but if you end up replacing your pump, you should look into a variable speed constant pressure pump and controller, my well contractor set me up with one after talking me out of the cycle stop valve which he called a band aid. I don't know enough about it to say whether that's true, but what they setup for me has been very nice. No cycling once water useage starts, it just changes the pump speed to match demand and only shuts it down when demand stops.
 

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I don't have anything to add to the diagnosing, but if you end up replacing your pump, you should look into a variable speed constant pressure pump and controller, my well contractor set me up with one after talking me out of the cycle stop valve which he called a band aid. I don't know enough about it to say whether that's true, but what they setup for me has been very nice. No cycling once water useage starts, it just changes the pump speed to match demand and only shuts it down when demand stops.
When we had our pump replaced I asked about that conversion as well. As it turned out it came down to cost and amount of work. He had a pump with him but to do what you mentioned would have been a lot more equipment he didn't have and cost on top of time. If I was doing a complete new system for instance new construction I would go that route. In our case the well was running and not stopping so it was going to burn out. I initially thought the cotton material was plugging the pressure switch but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from because the pressure switch should always be before any filters so while it looked like a filter coming apart it didn't make sense. In our case it came down to I want the water back on so go with what we have. I want to say the well pump was 20+ years old and 20-30 years is pretty common on the life of them. I am trying to remember what it cost. This was a few years ago like I said but I think $1200 sounds right. Not bad being I called them and he was there in about 2 hrs. He did ask if he could get the truck to the well head. I said at the time there was about 2' of snow but I will take care of it. Put the loader on the tractor and had a path cleared for him by the time he got there. It is much faster if they can use the well trucks.

We really don't notice pressure drop offs as we are using it and we just have a basic well and pressure tank. Nothing too special. Heck I have a 1" hot water line going to our shower with a cloud shower head and a regular shower head. It sure isn't low flow.

It is always good to check your options. Our house was built in the early 60s and those variable pumps were not an option back then.

One thing I saw him do that I had never seen before was when he was splicing the pump to the wires going down to the well pump. Rather than use traditional butt splices he had some of that copper fridge water line that is what about 1/4" or so and he cut it into 1/2" segments. He then stripped off 1/2" or so of the wire on each side. I am standing there watching him and I asked "Butt Splices?". He laughed and said yeah. He slid each wire in along side each other one on each end of the 1/2" tubing then crimped along the tubing with a Klein Crimper like this.




He said you can use a regular butt splice but it only gets a crimp in a spot or two. By using this tubing he can crimp the entire length of the stripped wire. I still don't know how it doesn't short out down there in the water. He said it holds a lot stronger and the last thing you want to do is have to pull the pump again because the butt splice failed.
He then just used electrical tape to tape it to the riser pipe. I asked if it needed to be insulated better and he said no.
 

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Here is the thread on the issue which is where I was digging up the pics.

 

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So it sounds like the only problematic symptom is low pressure? It sounds like your pump is running and cycling normally. If your pump was not able to produce the pressure needed, the pump would never turn off because the pressure switch would never be satisfied. So I don't think the pump is the problem. The air bladder could need a little air, but that's not going to cause low pressure. If the bladder was ruptured holding no air at all, your tank wouldn't pressurize and the pump would be wham-bam-slam short cycling every time you run water. It would produce very very obvious water hammer rattling all the pipes. So I don't think that's the problem either. You don't have filters, so nothing is clogged and that's not the problem.

This really leaves only one thing that I would bet is the problem. Your pressure switch is probably just set too low. This could have vibrated over time, or the springs are just showing age. Either way, I'd bet the gauge will be reading more like 25-35 or something lower than you'd want. If it is the adjustable type of switch, just adjust the screws to obtain the pressure range you want. All will be well again. haha. See what I did there?

I run 45-65 on mine. I like high volume water. I recommend against 70+ since the cheap flush float valves in toilet tanks tend to start getting unhappy after that.
 

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When we bought this place the jet pump had burned out a couple times. The toilet didn't shut off and there was only a 1 gallon storage tank. When they fixed it they removed the tank as well. The 2nd new pump lasted maybe a week. I told them to quit fixing things as they always made it worse. They replaced the pump again with a used one but didn't fix the toilet. On an inspection I turned off the pump before it died.
When I moved in I removed all the old stuff and put in a submerged pump. The well was only about 31 feet deep and this was overkill. I knew it then. I also put in a 50 gallon tank and new plumbing throughout the house. Heck, the well didn't even have a cap on it (it was an odd size but I got one) and it was about 15' from the dry well which was centered under the garage. Since the previous owner liked chemicals, the well water foamed coming out. I wouldn't let the dogs drink it. On the horizon was public water so I waited and imported drinking water. 6 months after we moved in the public water was ready so we hooked up. Since we were early we had a whopping 95 psi. Talk about a great shower. Only had to resweat 2 fittings to be tight. That was almost 12 years ago (time flies faster as you get older) and we are down to about 40 psi now. I am thinking about adding a pump and tank to bring me back up to at least 75 psi.
If I had to go back to a well, I would make sure it was at least 300 ft from anything else. Clay makes a fine, but slow, water filter.
 
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