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Old 06-07-2014, 05:11 PM   #1
JeffHendr
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Default Well Pump No Longer Keeps Up With Sprinklers

I recently noticed that my rotary lawn sprinklers are no longer spraying as far as they used to, and the spray pattern from each nozzle has gone from the typical "spray" to more of a singular stream. I have a 12-zone system, with 3-4 sprinklers on each zone. Most sprinkler nozzles are 4.0 gpm. When the system first kicks on, I have full pressure and performance, but after a few minutes it significantly drops off. [deep well, 20-year old submersible water pump, D Squared 40/60 pressure switch, 44 gallon WX-250 pressure tank]

In a failed effort to compensate, I adjusted the pressure cut off up from 30/50 to 45/65, and I pumped up the pressure tank to 43 psi. When the sprinklers are not running, the system pumps up from the cut in at 45 psi to the cut off at 65 psi within a minute or so. When the sprinklers are running however, the system runs down to about 18 psi within a few minutes and stays there until the sprinklers turn off (at which point it quickly climbs back up to 65 psi).

I also noticed that within the past week the radius on the sprinklers that I've watched the closest has shrunk down by another 1-2 ft, so the problem is potentially getting worse. (Also...I'm not sure if it matters, but the needle on the pressure gauge vibrates quite a bit as the pressure tank fills.)

Is my well pump going bad, or does this behavior indicate that the well cannot supply enough water to the pump?



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Old 06-21-2014, 03:38 AM   #2
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Well, I've got the problem figured out. We bought this home two years ago, and it turns out that the MLS listing, the property disclosure, and even our home inspector all stated that we had a drilled well with a submersible water pump. So, the local well company and I set off on a trek through the woods to find our well, so that they could replace the pump. After hiking a short distance, I saw something unexpected. Instead of a 6" pipe sticking out of the ground, a 3 ft diameter manhole cover was staring out from between the trees. We brushed the leaves and dirt off the cover, lifted it off...and there was a little blue pump sitting on top of a bed of gravel with a 2" pipe going straight into the ground. The drilled well that supposedly came with our property was actually nothing more than a point well/wash well with an above ground pump, sucking water from a 14' straw. Since the house had sat on the market for a little over a year, the well point had started to clog, and it's gradually losing flow. $10,000 from now, we'll have a real well drilled, and we'll be back to where we thought we were in the first place.



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Old 06-21-2014, 12:43 PM   #3
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JeffHendr, I'm glad you found the source of the problem. I'm sorry to hear that the MLS listing was deceptive. If I were you, I would take that up with the real estate agent and the inspector and let them know that they gave you misinformation about the well situation. I would be quite annoyed in that situation.

Hopefully you will get it resolved soon.

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Old 06-21-2014, 03:52 PM   #4
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JeffHendr, I'm glad you found the source of the problem. I'm sorry to hear that the MLS listing was deceptive. If I were you, I would take that up with the real estate agent and the inspector and let them know that they gave you misinformation about the well situation. I would be quite annoyed in that situation.

Hopefully you will get it resolved soon.
Thanks! We should have a great well when everything is said and done. It's just unfortunate the path that we have to take to get there.
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Old 06-22-2014, 01:07 PM   #5
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Do you have a septic tank as well? I would be concerned that if they misinformed you about the water pump that they might not have been accurate about the situation with the septic tank. You might want to see if you can check the records to confirm the size of the tank and drainfield (if you have one). I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the misinformation was born of ignorance rather than any intentional deception-- although if you could prove the latter you could stick it to them.

Any idea what pump you are going to get? Whatever you do, avoid the Countryline brand of pumps. I got one that broke within a month-- cracked a rod in the piston. I've had good luck with the Gould pumps. Last one survived over 10 years-- going through multiple power outages. There was a period of time where my power went out at least once per week and it fried a lot of things. So the Gould took quite a bit of abuse.

I would highly recommend getting some sort of shed or building to put up around your pump and well-- large enough to walk around in. It should be ventilated to let out heat but also be insulated to keep out the cold to prevent freezing. With enough space inside it makes it more convenient for checking on things, doing maintenance, and keeping the equipment safe. I've had to run out to my pump house and shut things off or turn things on during some nasty rain storms before. It was nice having a roof over my head.

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Old 06-22-2014, 05:42 PM   #6
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Do you have a septic tank as well? I would be concerned that if they misinformed you about the water pump that they might not have been accurate about the situation with the septic tank. You might want to see if you can check the records to confirm the size of the tank and drainfield (if you have one). I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the misinformation was born of ignorance rather than any intentional deception-- although if you could prove the latter you could stick it to them.

Any idea what pump you are going to get? Whatever you do, avoid the Countryline brand of pumps. I got one that broke within a month-- cracked a rod in the piston. I've had good luck with the Gould pumps. Last one survived over 10 years-- going through multiple power outages. There was a period of time where my power went out at least once per week and it fried a lot of things. So the Gould took quite a bit of abuse.

I would highly recommend getting some sort of shed or building to put up around your pump and well-- large enough to walk around in. It should be ventilated to let out heat but also be insulated to keep out the cold to prevent freezing. With enough space inside it makes it more convenient for checking on things, doing maintenance, and keeping the equipment safe. I've had to run out to my pump house and shut things off or turn things on during some nasty rain storms before. It was nice having a roof over my head.
Yes, we have a septic tank. Luckily we had it replaced before we moved in, and the drain field is in decent shape.

I know the well company that we're going with uses Franklin motors, but I don't have the details on the pump yet. I've heard that Gould stopped using Franklin motors back in 2007 (they now make their own "CentiPro" motors), but I've also heard that some suppliers still offer the Franklin motor as an option. I'll have to talk to the well company to get the specifics (and to make sure I get the gpm that I'm looking for).

Great suggestion on the pump house. My sister-in-law up in Alaska usually has to get their well thawed two or three times a winter. That's something I'd like to avoid in New England if I can help it.
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Old 06-23-2014, 05:13 AM   #7
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Yes, we have a septic tank. Luckily we had it replaced before we moved in, and the drain field is in decent shape.

I know the well company that we're going with uses Franklin motors, but I don't have the details on the pump yet. I've heard that Gould stopped using Franklin motors back in 2007 (they now make their own "CentiPro" motors), but I've also heard that some suppliers still offer the Franklin motor as an option. I'll have to talk to the well company to get the specifics (and to make sure I get the gpm that I'm looking for).

Great suggestion on the pump house. My sister-in-law up in Alaska usually has to get their well thawed two or three times a winter. That's something I'd like to avoid in New England if I can help it.
Yeah, the freezes are not good. You'll also want to make sure that they put the pump on something that will absorb the vibrations. I had mine shake itself loose from the plumbing a few times before they did something to mitigate the shaking. You'll probably have 2 pumps-- one to pump the water up from the well in to a cistern, and one to pump the water from the cistern in to a pressure tank which then allows the water to pump out to the water lines. In my setup I have a main shutoff for all of the water and after that it branches in to 3 lines. One for the barnyard off to the east, another for the acres off to the west, and another for just the supply for the house. If you have something similar, you might want to consider having a whole house water softener installed out there to clean the water out. That's something I need to add, but the new pumphouse is quite cramped. I would definitely get a larger structure if I had to do it over again. I recommend NOT getting those metal sheds that you have to assemble yourself. The ones I got are pretty damn flimsy and were a p.i.t.a to assemble. But they are better than nothing. Metal ones tend to get very hot inside during the summer. So, you'll want something insulated that will keep things warm enough inside during cold weather but that will also keep things cool during hot weather. Ventilation is a good thing to have to keep the air circulating inside.

I forgot to add that you will want to have a backup generator for the water or make sure that you have some sort of system that allows you to hand-pump water out of your cistern in to buckets in case you are without power. If you dump a little more than half a gallon bucket of water into a toilet bowl with enough force, it will force it to flush. You'll also want to make sure that you have some spare drinking water and water to wash your hands, brush your teeth, etc. I've gone for extended periods of time without power and water and it really blows. After hurricane Rita we had to go stay in a hotel because it took our power company over a month to get our power back on. I also recommend having a couple of GFCI outlets in the well house so you can have lights and fans and/or space heaters. We sometimes have to use a space heater in the winter and a fan in the summer.
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:40 AM   #8
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Yeah, the freezes are not good. You'll also want to make sure that they put the pump on something that will absorb the vibrations. I had mine shake itself loose from the plumbing a few times before they did something to mitigate the shaking. You'll probably have 2 pumps-- one to pump the water up from the well in to a cistern, and one to pump the water from the cistern in to a pressure tank which then allows the water to pump out to the water lines. In my setup I have a main shutoff for all of the water and after that it branches in to 3 lines. One for the barnyard off to the east, another for the acres off to the west, and another for just the supply for the house. If you have something similar, you might want to consider having a whole house water softener installed out there to clean the water out. That's something I need to add, but the new pumphouse is quite cramped. I would definitely get a larger structure if I had to do it over again. I recommend NOT getting those metal sheds that you have to assemble yourself. The ones I got are pretty damn flimsy and were a p.i.t.a to assemble. But they are better than nothing. Metal ones tend to get very hot inside during the summer. So, you'll want something insulated that will keep things warm enough inside during cold weather but that will also keep things cool during hot weather. Ventilation is a good thing to have to keep the air circulating inside.

I forgot to add that you will want to have a backup generator for the water or make sure that you have some sort of system that allows you to hand-pump water out of your cistern in to buckets in case you are without power. If you dump a little more than half a gallon bucket of water into a toilet bowl with enough force, it will force it to flush. You'll also want to make sure that you have some spare drinking water and water to wash your hands, brush your teeth, etc. I've gone for extended periods of time without power and water and it really blows. After hurricane Rita we had to go stay in a hotel because it took our power company over a month to get our power back on. I also recommend having a couple of GFCI outlets in the well house so you can have lights and fans and/or space heaters. We sometimes have to use a space heater in the winter and a fan in the summer.
Thanks for the tips. It'd be great to make it easy to connect the water pump to our generator, as bottled water only gets you so far. Ideally I'd forgo the cistern, but I guess it all depends on what kind of well recovery rate we're able to get. As far as the well house, if I'm going to insulate and run power, it might be nice just to build a full workshop out there (garage is a bit cramped for all the woodworking tools)--but that's probably a ways down the road. It's going to be $10,000+ for the new well, so I might have to play it cheap for awhile.
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Old 06-25-2014, 04:58 PM   #9
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There is a way to get a switch-- its a large lever that takes some force to flip to switch between regular power and generator power. I have one for my system. Unfortunately mice got in to our generator and ruined it so we weren't able to use it.

I would also recommend filtering water and storing some if you don't get much rain. If you live near a Dollar Tree they sell gallon jugs of water. Once they are used, you can fill them with filtered tap water and store them up. I have 3 jugs for refilling the water for the cats.

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Old 06-28-2014, 02:00 PM   #10
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One thing people fail to consider when constructing a building for the well equipment is don't build it over the well. Leave the well out in the open so I or someone else in the business can get our pump hoist to and be able to put the boom up and pull the pump straight up out of the well in 20 or 21 foot joints. It's not fun cutting a hole in a nice roof and it's no fun to work through that hole either.



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