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water well / foot valve problems

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by chrisasst, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    I have lived in my hose for 9 years now. I have pulled up ( and dug up) my water well line about 6 times now. Reason why is my water pump will run all the time. After the first couple of times, we replaced all the piping and the foot valve. It was fine for about a year. Pump started to run again, found a different foot valve to use, that lasted maybe another year. We did this again late last summer, it lasted a few months. We pulled it up again 2 weeks ago, cleaned the foot valve put it back in, and it was fine for 2 weeks. The foot valve had a very very tiny spec of dirt in it which was causing it not to seal. We pulled it up again yesterday, cleaned the foot valve, put a very fine mesh screen around the foot valve to try and keep the dirt out of it better, that lasted about 4 hours. We really don't know what else to do with this. I know we need a submersible pump but a) those are expensive for us, b) we have a 3" well pipe, which means we need a 2 or 2 1/2 inch pump which are very hard to find it seems.

    So have any of you been through something like this? We are trying to find another foot valve that might be more "forgiving", if you will, if it gets a tiny spec of dirt in it.
    The pump is eating alive with the electric use. Any ideas?

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  2. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Two thoughts; if you have a small leak in the line somewhere, the pump won't maintain pressure and will run continously. How deep is your well? Try raising the foot valve a foot or so, maybe it's too close to the bottom.

    Ehouse
  3. FanMan

    FanMan Feeling the Heat

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    Sometimes it's useful to have another check valve right below the pump.
  4. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    Is this an indoor mounted jet pump pulling water from a shallow well? Maybe its time to clean out and inspect the expansion tank.
  5. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    What is the pressure set to? If it can't come up to the cut off pressure, it will not shut off. Could have a slight air leak at pump housing not allowing it to come up to pressure as well.
  6. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    1.) What is your cut-out pressure?
    2.) Does your pressure switch work properly? (Pump turns on & off at proper pressures)
    3.) Does the system reach the cut-out pressure in a reasonable amount of time? If it never reaches that pressure or takes a long time to do so then you either have a leak somewhere (pressure side) or the pump is failing.
  7. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Yes, it is an indoor shallow well jet pump. The leak has always been, 100% sure, at the foot valve. Yesterday, we pulled it again. We put a check valve on it as well. So at the bottom it has the foot valve, then the check valve. So if / when the foot valve fails, the hope is the check valve will hold it and hopefully and debris that gets in the foot valve will wash away. SO FAR KNOCK ON WOOD, it is working good.
  8. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Sometimes high pressure compressed air can be introduced into the very bottom of the well with the pickup tube removed. This blows accumulated grit out the top of the well. They call it "developing" a well.
  9. Morgan

    Morgan Member

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    Hopefully things are still going alright for you, but if not a couple tips I could pass on are, make sure your foot valve is a few feet of the bottom of the well. You also want to make sure it is dead center in your well and not up against the side of your well. You can buy a torque arrester and install in on your suction line. Its intended application is to prevent torque rotation of submersible pumps when they start, but it your case would help to keep your foot valve from laying against the side of your well where it is likely picking up dirt. They are cheap and should be available at any big box hardware store, they are also simple to install and I think they will help resolve your problem if you haven't done so already.
  10. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    Since replacing/cleaning footvalves seems to be "fixing" the problem for a time, and you seem to be finding them fouled when you service them; I think you are on track in assessing the problem.

    Of course the best way to solve the problem is to prevent the sand and grit from getting sucked up into the water line to begin with. To do this you'll need to know where the sand/grit is coming from. Is it coming from the bottom of the well, or someplace below the intake? Or is it dropping in from above the intake and getting sucked in as it is sinking past the intake?

    If your intake is too close to the bottom raising it up can be the most simple. If the well bottom is gradually filling in - this will only be a temporary fix. To remedy it for long term you need to A) clean out the bottom of sediment and/or B) cement off or line off whatever layer is letting in the sediment.

    Some wells are constructed into sand and gravel and are simply a pipe with a piece of perforated or slotted screen on the end to keep the sand out. If the slots are too large they will let sand in. Replacing the screen can fix this.

    Some wells are drilled into bedrock. These usually have a quantity of solid steel pipe seated into or on the bedrock and then just an open hole in the bedrock. Depending on the nature of the rock you could be getting sand in from cracks in the rock or the rock itself could be poorly cemented sandstone. In these cases if the sand is falling in from above the intake a liner or sleeve might be placed to seal off that layer. Seeing as you've only got 3 inches of diameter to work with you'd have to go with a 2" liner. See if you can modify a Fernco adapter to fill the gap between the 2" liner pipe and the 3" casing. Put that adapter on the bottom of the liner pipe, the sand will eventually build up on top of this sometimes locking it in place. The drawback to this solution is sometimes the layer providing the sand/grit is also the same layer providing the bulk of the water.
  11. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Well, my pump is kicking on and off every so often again. Although it is not running all the time, yet. Just on off, (like a slow leak). Usually after a week or two of this it starts running all the time. So I dont know. My bathtub does drip, but I don't think it is enough to make the pump kick on as often as it does.
    We did raise the pipe up some the first or second year of dealing with this. Not really sure what kind of "construction" the well is.
  12. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    We always put the check valve within a few feet of the jet pump.
  13. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    The water will still flow with it that close to the pump.?
  14. 250psd

    250psd New Member

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    What type of well pipe is it? "Golden jet?" the black plastic stuff? Are you using a heat gun to soften the pipe when installing your barbed fittings? Even though your fittings on the well pipe may not be leaking, they could be sucking air, causing the pump to short cycle/run. I use a heat gun to soften the tubing and 2 hose clamps for each barbed joint. Another option is to pull the pipe again and do an air test on the whole system.
  15. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Its the black pipe. We used a torch to soften it so we could tighten the clamps more.
  16. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    HERE IS AN UPDATE:
    So frustrated. My pump for weeks now have been kicking on/off every 7 seconds. It is eating my electric bill up like crazy. I just don't know what to do next. Since the pump is shutting off, I am guessing there must be a leak somewhere in the line going into the ground. If it was the foot valve/ check valve I don't think the pump would shut off.
    I don't even know who I could call to look at it. I can't get a submersible because they don't make them small enough for my pipe. I called the major well company in my area last time, but they don't seem interested in looking at it because the system is so old,
  17. ROVERT

    ROVERT Member

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    If it's kicking on and off every 7 seconds, it is likely that your tank is water logged. When you run water does the pump switch constantly click on and off?
    heat seeker likes this.
  18. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    When I run water, the pump will constantly run until I turn the water off. If I have too many things running water at once( shower, washing machine, sink faucet) I loose complete pressure.
  19. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    What pressure does the guage read when it shuts off?

    What pressure does the gauge read when it turns on?

    It should be set to turn on (cut in) something like 30 , and shut off (cut out) around 45 or so.

    To check and set tank pressure, turn off pump, and run water until water stops. The reading on an air pressure gauge on the tire valve on the tank should be a pound or two below cut in pressure. This has to be correct before trouble shooting can be done. Once set to this pressure, turn on pump to check operation.
  20. ROVERT

    ROVERT Member

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    20 on/40 off and 30 on/50 off are the most common pressure settings. These can be adjusted to just about anything you like within reason. If the pump comes on at 20 psi, your tank should have about 18 psi air pressure. If it comes on at 30 psi, you should have about 28 psi air pressure. This is especially important with a low water pressure switch. If the air pressure in the tank is higher than the cut in pressure, the tank (water side) can lose pressure too quickly before the pump comes on and the low water switch will shut off.
  21. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the correction, that makes a big difference.

    It's hard to tell what it's doing without knowing any pressures.
  22. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    It is set to that exactly, 30 /45. we tried 50, but it just wouldn't shut off at the time.
    I don't have a pressure gauge on the holding tank. The spot that I could put one is so rusted that I get no reading.
    Also, if I shut off the water between the pump and the holding tank, the pump still kicks on and off like it does. So it has to be on the well side correct..
  23. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Maybe your well doesn't have a fast enough recovery rate to keep up with the pump. With only a 3' pipe, you don't have much of a reservoir and you could be drawing it down to the foot valve before it can shut off the pressure switch. Just a stab, but try lowering the foot valve in the well, or lowering the pressure setting. ?

    Ehouse
  24. ROVERT

    ROVERT Member

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    Actually, that points to the tank. When you do that it takes away the air buffer completely. If it cycles exactly the same when you close the valve between the pump and the tank I would say it is definitely water logged as the presence of the tank is not making a difference. You may also have a small leak down the well or under ground, but I think your big issue is the tank.
  25. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    ok, makes some sense to me. Why would the system work for a week or two correctly after we pulled the pipe out of the well and put it back in? Would it be because all the water and air was completely gone and we filled it back up causing some air to go back in the holding tank and then it slowly escapes? Is my thinking correct? ( I am trying to google search "trouble shoot water holding tank")
    but also I am thinking, where is the water going from the holding tank which is making the pump kick on/off so fast?
    Sorry, my know it all father in law usually has "fixed" this, which he obviously has not. I know how the well side of it works, just not the inside part works..

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