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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kent, Ohio
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    Default Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    Hello all,

    My wife and I bought a 50 year old house about 6 months ago and only recently have we started having problems with our water pressure.

    We have a sears hydro-glass 1/2hp convertable jet pump paired with a well x-trol pressure tank. The pressure tank gives no indication of its capacity but it does say the max pressure is 100psi. These both are located in a well pit about 5 feet deep so that the cold Ohio winter doesn't hamper their performance.

    Our problem stems from a rapid loss of pressure at all locations after turning on either cold or hot water. The trickle that comes out is barely enough to take a shower with.

    I've noticed that the well pump has remained on constantly and does get hot to the touch. The pressure gauge reads 70psi and stays on constantly. This was not the norm prior to our problem. Usually the pump turns on at 40PSI and cuts off at 60PSI. For fear of burning the pump up, I've been shutting off the circuit breaker to the well pump when we don't need water. The well pump and pressure tank are approximately 30 years old.

    I'm fairly convinced that this is a pump/pressure tank problem because the problem isn't localized and it happens with cold and hot water. Is there a way to tell if the problem is with one component vs the other? I'm sure that both pump and p tank have not been serviced in a long time as the woman who we bought the property from was handicapped and elderly.

    Thanks,
    Brian in Ohio

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,558

    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    To start with it sounds like your pressure switch is bad or has frozen and has ice in in the pressure tube. If it has frozen you may also have ice in the pressure tank. The single digit temps we had may have done it in. The gage may also have been damaged. It is also possible that the bladder tank is bad or water logged. With the water off and the system drained check the pressure of the bladder tank. There should be a valve on the top, the pressure should be 38 Lbs. if the pressure switch is set for 40 Lbs. on.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    1,131

    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    If the pump only exhibits this behavior while you are using water........then I'm gonna agree with Jack about the possibilities he's mentioned. (pressure switch, frozen tank, water-logged tank)

    However, if the pump does this whether or not you're using any water....it's also possible that the foot-valve (at bottom end of pipe in well) has gone bad/is malfunctioning... or you might even have a split in a pipe down there.........as well as a faulty pressure switch. Or....... the split could conceivably be on the underground run to the well pit.

    I *think*.....try what Jack said first (replace pressure switch, etc) and cross your fingers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kent, Ohio
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    I also have a water softner installed in our house. When the Water softner is in the bypass mode, we have normal pressure. Regardless however, the well pump will not shut off whether we are using water or not. I spoke with the Water softner manufacturer (Kenmore) and they suggested that I clean the venturi. I'm in the process of cleaning that now. The well pump still won't shut off however. On the top of the well (we have a deep well) there are two pipes coming out. The well seems to be all rusty as well. There is a hole in the cap just smaller than the size of a dime. Is this hole supposed to be here or is possible that this hole was caused by rusting? I'll try to attach some pictures shortly of my setup.

    Thanks,
    Brian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kent, Ohio
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    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure










  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kent, Ohio
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    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    Forgot to mention, I also checked the pressure in the pressure tank. It read 50 PSI. It also sounded hollow in the top 1/3 of the tank.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    1,131

    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    josh,

    I'm gonna assume that your pressure switch is tucked behind the pump in the pics cause we can't see, but since the electrical wires lead down that way.......it must be there.

    The "normal" guess (as already mentioned) is that you need a pressure switch when the pumnp wont' shut off cause it is "hanging" and therefore never shutting the power to the pump off when it should. $20 part or so.

    For the moment....you could also try rapping lightly on the cover of the pressure switch with something semi-soft like a rubber mallet or the heel of your shoe. *Might* work for the moment(cause it to stop pumping), but if the switch is hanging repeatedly ......the next time there's a call for water...it may hang again.

    If you get a new PS, get one of the same range - 40-60 psi. Turn the power off to the pump before you do anything else. Swap the old one with the new one and make sure you get all the wires in the same location as on the old one.

    All that being said.......the symptoms you describe *might* be indicative of one problem........or maybe more. IOW, replacing the pressure switch may not resolve all the problems......or it may not solve anything because it may not be the problem. The reason I say this is because you state that the pump won't shut off AND that there is a rapid loss in pressure to boot. (I'm gonna guess that the water in the pressure tank is not frozen cause I can see standing water on the floor of the well pit) A faulty pressure switch would account for the failure of the pump to shut off, but the rapid loss of pressure when you open a faucet in the house kinda indicates other problems. A couple of possibilites come to mind off hand .... 1 - There may be a screen on the bottom end of one of those pipes and it may be clogged with gunk. This would limit how much water the pump can get a hold of to pump up to the pressure tank. 2- There may be a fairly large leak in the underground pipe from the pressure tank to the house. If large enough, the pump can't move enough water to ever satisfy the pressure switch because it's leaking out as fast as it can move it up from the well....and when you open a faucet, it only exacerbates that situation. End result - little or no water pressure/flow in the house. 3-If the pump froze internally, it may be damaged such that it cannot pump water like it used to. There are other possibilites (like foot-valves,etc), but we won't go into those yet.

    There might be an easy way to determine if there is an underground leak in the pipe to the house....and maybe whether your pressure switch is faulty. I see a valve on the vertical pipe coming from the pressure tank. I suspect this pipe is the supply pipe to the house. Try closing that valve and see if the pump then shuts off. If it does........you gots a leak in the pipe to the house somewhere underground....and your pressure switch is probably working okay.

    Report back if you will and we'll go from there if that isn't the problem.....or doesn't seem to be. (If simply shutting that valve doesn't make the pump stop........try rapping the pressure switch cover also while the valve is yet closed. Not absolutely conclusive as to having a bad PS, but *might* tell us if it is.)


    When you are manually shutting this pump off..is it via a single-pole breaker, a double-pole breaker, one fuse, two fuses, a lever on a dedicated power box....or ???? IOW, do you know whether this is a 120 volt pump or a 240 volt pump?

    BTW- That's a two-pipe deep well jet pump you have there. Since you are now the owner of a private well.....you're gonna need to edumacate yourself as to how these systems work so you can troubleshoot and fix 'em yourself to save the cost of a plumber everytime something goes awry. Will try to find a good educational site and post back with a link to that or several of them.
    Last edited by goldhiller; 01-28-2009 at 10:54 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kent, Ohio
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    10

    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    Since the well pump was 30 years old and I'd tryed repairing it before (you can see the gasket maker sealant in the pics), I decided to replace the entire pump last night. Fortunately Sears had an identical model, except they upped their horsepower to 1hp from the 1/2 hp version. The old pump and the new are set to 110 volts. After a few hours in the worst snowstorm of the season, it's installed correctly and starting/shutting off at the right pressure.

    Sears did offer a replacement pressure switch, but I wasn't sure if it would bolt right on considering it looked different.

    The problem must be with the water softner. Now that the pump situation has been handled, I went inside to test everything. Low pressure just like before even with the new pump installed. Then I put the Softner in its bypass mode. Normal pressure restored! Everytime I put the softner in service, pressure drops off. Since I installed it only 6 months ago, its still in warranty. Kenmore hotline talked me through backflushing the resin tank, but no luck.

    A technician is coming out in about a week to see what the deal is, free of charge since the softner is only 6 months old. Below are some pictures of the softner and bypass valve to provoke some thoughts on the problem.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Kent, Ohio
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    10

    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure








    Kenmore 350 series Water Softner
    Last edited by ksuaviator; 01-29-2009 at 10:16 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Well pump won't shut off, rapid loss in water pressure

    SWAG concerning the water softener being the low-pressure/flow culprit - There is a valve hung up (or o-ring out of place) inside the softener head which is allowing large volumes of water to continuously circulate thru the machine and then down the drain.......more or less as if the machine were in regeneration mode.


    *If* this is happening, then you will see/detect/have water coming out the discharge hose of said softener all the time.........instead of just when the machine is actually doing its regeneration thing.


    It could also be that the little motor responsible for revolving the machine thru the various stages of regeneration either died during the regen cycle......or that a drive gear got stripped.

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