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Old 01-13-2014, 11:44 PM   #1
KickForward
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Default Days Without Water: 5

Hello All -

Long story short: My family is without water completely now and I'm a bit at a loss for next steps.

We bought our home a year ago. It sits on top a small mountain (knob as they call them down here) and the water has never been working that great. We have city water, but the meter is roughly 250' below the house. There has always been air coming out of our lines and the pressure was never that good. Our last plumber, of which we've had three now, removed the old pump and bladder tank under the house and installed a 1/2hp pump & pressure tank from Tractor Supply. I'm pretty sure it's this one:

http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/stor...re-tank-1-2-hp

The air in the lines persisted and actually got worse. Within a couple weeks, the new tank started leaking around the seals at the motor. They came back and replaced it, but then it started happening again. They thought about installing a holding tank before the pump that would slowly fill up so that the pump wouldn't have to work so hard. The thought was that the pump had to work too hard and was burning out the seals. I could never get them to return to test their hypothesis so now I'm with a tank that I think is completely burnt out. It runs, but makes a lot of racket and leaks like crazy.

Almost a week ago now we've not been able to get water out of our setup at all. I checked the meter yesterday and it's not moving and the ground is soaking wet about 15 feet before it. I called the water company out here today to take a look but they assured me the meter is fine and there's water coming out. They 'broke the nut' on the line attached to the meter and water started shooting out. The water line feeding my pump under the house has no water in it. I'm starting to wonder if the water pressure I have at the meter is not even enough to reach my house. I guess the problem could just be my pump is completely done and I need a fourth one now.

There's a spigot in the front yard that's connected in-line to our supply line to the house that I dug up today to see if it was causing the line to freeze but it seems fine. I unscrewed a cover at the base and some water poured out, but then settled and there was mostly air. I had the pump running but there seemed to be no water that was able to make it to there, let alone the house.

Short of digging up my entire line and inspecting it, what do you all think I should do next? My thought is to get a reading somehow off the meter at the bottom of our property to find out how much pressure is there. From there I can find exactly if I should be getting the water to the house on it's own, or if indeed I'll need a pump, and what size. I could also try connecting an air pump at the meter and see if I can get air to come out at the house and that might give me a good idea as to whether or not I should just get a better pump or if I'll need to replace the line with possibly a bigger diameter.

This is a view from our house to the basic elevation change below:



The line wraps around the house (from what I believe) and is about 600' in length.



I tried not to ramble much, but I fear I went on longer than most will read. I should've been more on top of this during this last year, but with moving 600 miles from home, managing 20+ acres, and having our first child in the Spring, I feel like I'm always behind the 8 ball.

I'm sure you'll have many questions for me and I'll do my best to answer right away. I'm feeling a little desperate right now and am thankful for any and all suggestions I can get.

- Josh



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Old 01-14-2014, 12:05 AM   #2
phishfood
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Is that 250' in elevation difference, or 250' in length? Water loses .434 PSI per foot it goes upward, plus whatever friction loss. So if it really is 250' higher, than you need roughly 110 PSI at the bottom of the hill just to get water to the top of the hill.

The air in the lines sounds to me like there is a leak somewhere in the supply line, and the pump is sucking air through it. That would fit in with the wet spot you mentioned. Have you tried digging in that area to see if you can locate your supply line?

I am going to send a PM to one of our members who is more experienced than I am (by far) with pumps, hopefully he will check in.



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Old 01-14-2014, 12:14 AM   #3
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Thanks so much man. My father-in-law is good friends with a plumber back in PA who has done a lot of work on his farm. It seems it's hard to find someone knowledgable enough for my situation.

The elevation change is about 250' and I'm guessing the line is about 600' from the house (pump) to the meter. So it's 250' over 600'. Obviously I'd like to know better. The meter is a 1" meter so I have all 1" line running on my property.

The wet spot was before the meter so that's why I called the water company since it would be their responsibility. It's winter now and just a soaking mess outside with the weather we've been having. Trying to track down a wet spot that looks like i should inspect more is pretty impossible right now.

I asked the guy from the water company if he could test the pressure at the meter, but he couldn't for whatever reason. He estimated it to look like around 150psi from the way it was coming out after he disconnected my line from the meter. I highly doubt that's accurate. If so, I've done the math (as best as I could figure out) and that would be plenty to push the water up the hill to my house.

Another option I have is to have the meter changed to a 2" meter and run all 2" piping up to the house. I know I still need a pump, but I could also be looking at a volume issue as well that's causing the pumps to burn out.

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Old 01-14-2014, 12:28 AM   #4
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The 1" meter will provide plenty of water. You might consider having the line running up to your house increased in size, so as to cut down on the friction loss. At 600', I would definitely want something bigger than 1" pipe.

Is the meter turning, even though you aren't using water?

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Old 01-14-2014, 12:42 AM   #5
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The meter is not running. Along with the water running along the ground before the meter made me think there may be a line problem before my property so i called the water company to investigate.

I didnt know you could put a larger pipe onto a meter. My soil is obviously rocky and there's places where we have exposed 'bedrock'. It's a good possibility the line isn't buried that well in areas, but it shouldn't be frozen at the moment. I know the spigot out in the front yard was only birdied to a depth of about a foot and half.

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Old 01-14-2014, 03:03 AM   #6
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The fact that you were getting alot of air and the wet area near the meter makes me think that you have a broken line. I know you said the wet area was before the meter, but that doesnt mean that the break is right there.

Also, if the spigot you mentioned is only 1-1/2 ft deep, you could very possibly have a frozen line. I dont know where you are or what the weather is like, but here in Cincinnati, we have to have the waterlines at a minimum of 42". Of course, if you were in Florida, that would be a different matter entirely.

I definitely wouldnt trust the 150psi estimation you were quoted from the guy at the water dept. He told you it "looked like about 150psi"? Wow...wish I could tell what the pressure was just by looking.


If the meter isnt turning at all, I'd turn it off, break it loose on the house side of the meter then turn it back on slowly. It goes without saying that you should have water through the meter. To get an measurement on your pressure out of the meter, you'll need to do some reconfiguring of your supply line. You'll need to put in a tee and female adapter, screw in a boiler drain then put a pressure gauge on that. (There are other configurations that would work...that's just one way to do it).

One last thing. I know this sounds nuts, but I've actually seen this happen. Are you sure the supply from the meter is piped to the inlet of the pump and not the outlet? Got a call a couple of years ago from a customer who installed his own pump and had no water. He had piped it backwards. It happens.

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Old 01-14-2014, 03:22 AM   #7
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haha, well the plumber hooked up the pump so I'm sure it's connected right, but yeah I guess that's another thing to check into. thanks!

I'm in Kentucky, about 40 mins south of Lexington. I really don't think the line is frozen at this point, but it's a good possibility it did this past week. Our water troubles seemed to have subsided a bit during the warmer parts of last year, and as the cold came back, so did our water problems.

Why do you mention turning the water off, draining the pipe, and then turning it back on?

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Old 01-14-2014, 02:05 PM   #8
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I got the PM and read up on your post.

If you have a leak before the meter, it almost has to be the water departments problem. I agree, larger pipe will help a lot. Your plumber couldn't have bought a cheaper pump without trying real hard. That is a Bic Pump.

When people don't have enough pressure (which is unknown) they sometimes have to put a booster pump at a halfway point to boost the pressure up to the house. Or just to fill a cistern large enough to be pumped out of to feed the home.

I would get all over the city water dept and have them prove to you what the pressure actually is. You pay them for the water, so they should give you some satisfaction.

If you want a good pump, look at mine: Jet Pumps
I would also recommend instead of a pump and tank go with a pump and flow switch. The flow switch will turn the pump on when you open a faucet and let it turn off when you close it. If you go with the cistern, then a tank is necessary. If you go with a cistern, I would recommend a submersible pump in the cistern over a jet pump.

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Old 01-14-2014, 02:46 PM   #9
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The water company is going to send a tech out to take a reading of my pressure at the meter.

I've considered installing a cistern and even collecting rain water when we could. Like I said we have 20+ acres of which about 8 are fenced in pasture. We have a small pond but I'd like to eventually run more lines out their so we can water cattle or sheep. We had horses in there this past summer but had to carry water up every couple of days.

I'll go with whatever route gives us the most dependable source of water, keeping in mind we'll one day build off our system.

Your site looks really nice. I'll most likely send you a pm or call when I have a plan. Thanks!

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Old 01-14-2014, 03:24 PM   #10
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I wonder what the costs are to have a well drilled? It might be the way to go in the long run. You might call around some of the Drilling companies in your area, tell them where you are and ask what it might cost, well depth etc. Another reason I suggest that is if your water line ever burst after the meter, your water bill could be in the Thousands of dollars. I have heard some horrific stories.



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