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Pump problem

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by snowleopard, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard New Member

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    Falling in the `it's always something' category, my pump decided to act up yesterday. We ran our holding tank dry last week, so this may be related--more than likely is my guess.

    I have a small Goulds pump in my utility room, with no pressure tank. I assume it's original equipment in a 27 y.o. house, so may be coming the end of its natural lifespan. I am getting a new boiler (or so the plan goes) this winter, and will be having considerable work done in the utility room in support of that. I think the course of wisdom will be to bite the bullet and replace the pump and include a pressure tank this time. (Will also be getting the hot water tank moved into a more convenient spot, clean it out, see what shape its in, and replace that if its time has come as well. Gulp.) I trust the boiler repair guy as a plumber and a workman, so may as well get it all done right.

    Meanwhile, my pump's current problem is that it will not turn off. Without a pressure tank, it's always come on very frequently, but turns off after a few minutes, and repeats that frequently. Yesterday or so, it just kept running, and it won't turn off by itself anymore. It's not wired in (PO did some things very well, and some things he just did strangely), so it's very easy to just plug it in and unplug it. We're just letting the pump run while we run the water for a shower, or when we need to flush, run air out of the lines to the sink, and so on, and then unplug the pump. It's a temporary measure, and will probably hasten the approaching end for this pump, but at least we have water enough to get us through the work/school week.

    I'm wondering if there's a quick fix with Goulds for something like this--some kind of a reset switch or clean-out valve that might be blocked, or a pressure switch that has failed. It's possible that when we ran the tank dry, we pulled some detritus up into it that is blocking things. Any suggestions? Sure would appreciate the help.

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  2. Later

    Later New Member

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    The nipple to the pressure switch or the switch itself could be clogged. Do you have a pressure gauge on the holding tank? If the tank isn't holding pressure you could have a leak after the tank or the check valve at the pump is letting the pressurized water flow back through the pump when it is off. Do you live in a drought area?
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard New Member

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    Thanks for your response, RG. No, I live in a `400'-down-to-water' area, so I have a holding tank that is refilled by me (when the starter motor on the F250 is working) or by a delivery truck when my truck isn't running.

    My house is built into a hillside, with a covered porch running the length of the house on the uphill side. The holding tank is buried under that porch, and is filled through a port that sticks up flush with the porch floor. The pump is inside in a utility closet under the stairs. The stairs run along the north wall, so the pump is located right on the other side of the concrete-block north wall from the tank. It's essentially gravity fed, and the function of the pump is to send the water up to the plumbing.

    The tank is just that, no more. Any specifics about what the pressure switch looks like, and how to get in there and clean it out?

    Thanks for the sharing your ideas.
  4. Later

    Later New Member

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    Here is a pressure switch. It should be either mounted on the pump or on a pipe one the outlet of the pump. Sometimes that have a small tube connecting them to the outlet of the pump. The tube is about the size of a automobile brake line.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggn0hyGI2AU
  5. snowleopard

    snowleopard New Member

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    So what do I do with it to unclog it? Take it off? Thanks.
  6. Later

    Later New Member

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    If you have a switch that looks like that, it may be painted the same color as he pump, disconnect the tubing at the switch and make sure that it is clear - may need to disconnect it from the pump itself. Pictures of the setup would help.
  7. snowleopard

    snowleopard New Member

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    I'll be honest with you, I'd be embarrassed to post pictures of my pump. Or my utility closet, for that matter. POs or their contractor did one of the most ridiculous Joe-Homeowner rig jobs I've ever seen. The tubes that carry the glycol into the house through the utilidor emerge on a curve from the concrete floor, stick up thigh-high, and are plumbed into the system with a couple of runs of copper pipe with valves sticking out of the top. To access the water pump, I have to hop over this while bending down under the slanting ceiling (stairs above).

    This is where I found myself last night, sitting on a pile of tile that had been left over from the sunroom floor, brushing away ancient cobwebs and contemplating the valve pressure switch that was dangling off the side of this pump that had seen better days. The pump had no model specified, but the motor was labeled 1/3 hp. The wiring in the switch had also seen better days.

    I am planning/hoping to replace my boiler this fall/winter. Sitting under the stairs and looking at this Rube Goldberg tangled mess, I realized that there will never be a better time to just take the plumbing back to the walls and do it right. Feed those tubes off to the side so they parallel a wall and I don't have to climb over them. New pump and this time, include a pressure tank. Empty water tank and replace if needed, clean it out if it's in good shape, and move it back under the stairs next to the water pump. Then the rest of the closet is available for the zone valves and plumbing and pressure tank for the boiler connections, with room left over for a designated set of tool shelves.

    I realize this is much more easily said than done.

    Meanwhile, thank you, I now have a clue as to how to get that pressure switch working again, and hopefully, this will allow me to limp along until the day when I can get the whole thing done right by someone who knows what they're doing. I'm reluctant to take on the switching-out of the pump myself because the plumbing going to it looks a little shady--better to nurse this along than to risk having one of those back-back-back-yet-further-back plumbing nightmares. And my plumbing usually is not a thing of beauty. Although now that I think about it, I could probably get away with some of those Shark-bite attachments if I have to. So all is not completely lost.

    Thanks for the link. I was afraid of the pump burning out if I left it running, but I did last night while I handwashed all the dishes that had accumulated, and we run it during showers, and the water in it seems to keep it cool. It'll get us through to the weekend, I hope, and by then I'll have figured out my course of action. And maybe even have my truck up and running.

    It's been an interesting week--struts failed on my car--and it needs a new fan belt--just heard yesterday that my son needs his wisdom teeth pulled--septic system needs pumping because the pumper doesn't want to schedule after this week because he is afraid he'd have to chain up--my wood delivery has been delayed, and delayed, and delayed yet again--I know it's coming, but I'll feel better when it's stacked and under shelter---so I really should have seen this coming with the pump, right? :smirk:

    Anyway, I read somewhere that there's a switch that can be set up to a pump to turn it off if the water supply is insufficent. Do you know what that's called? I think it would be the course of wisdom to protect the theoretical new pump with one of these.

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