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Plenty of pressure but not water from faucets - I'm lost

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FloridaClay

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Hello all...I have a weird situation. I installed a building along with approximately 90' of 1" water lines (underground) to the well pump. I have an aerator, pressure tank and booster pump at the well. The pressure gauge on the booster pump shows 60 psi. I have a cutoff valve under the building (it's elevated like a mobile home) that I have in the 'off' position. With the cutoff valve in the 'off' position, the pressure gauge holds 60 psi (or close) for days. Today, I turned the cutoff valve under the building to the 'on' position. Surprisingly (at least to me), there was just a very weak (really a drip) of water coming out of the kitchen faucet and no water out of the bathroom faucet. The toilet attempted to fill, but it was so weak I could lift the fill tube to make a "u" shape (if that makes sense) and it almost stops water from coming out (like it's gravity feed). I thought maybe the pressure gauge on the pump was wrong so I cut the pipe above the cutoff valve under the building and the pressure was sufficient to "hiss" and blow a pressurized stream of water as I cut it. I turned the valve on and water blew out of the line, confirming it has plenty of pressure. There are no other cutoff valves. What could be happening? I'm sure there was sand in the 90' of water lines coming in to the building, could that have plugged the faucets almost immediately? Could there be a leak in the wall? Seems like if there was a leak in the wall it would have been sufficient to cause water to come out by the baseboard or at least I could hear a hiss. I am totally lost on this. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

pasadena_commut

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Is the cutoff a ball valve or a gate valve? A gate valve can fail in the closed (or very nearly closed) position even though the handle will turn in and out as if it was working normally. It happened to us once, but the valve was likely at least 30 years old.

How much water was coming out? If it was as much as a fully open garden hose then that valve is fine, but if it was just a very high speed, but not voluminous, flow it might still be jammed shut.

That said, if there was sand in the line when you turned the water on it might have packed up at the first 90 degree bend it encountered. If you still have the pipe open above the cutoff I would try plugging a garden hose in from a neighbor's house (or attach one through a fitting above the cutoff) and blast the pipes out in the other direction. Hopefully that will work, but it might not if there is a really huge block of sand in there. If a bunch of sand comes out you will then need to open all the valves, one at a time, hook them to that hose, and was the sand out of each. Before doing any of that you will want to extend the cut pipe out from under the house (with PEX or PVC, or even a garden hose, it is only temporary), so that all the water coming out will be outside and not under the house. (Our neighbor had a soft water canister installed a while back which lacked the filter, and all the little balls ran into his house and jammed everything. He had to back flush every line like that too.)

If you expect more sand to come into the system you need a whole house filter.
 

FloridaClay

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Thanks for the reply pasadena_commut. The valve is a 3/4" pvc ball valve. There is no water coming out of the bathroom sink faucet and just a drizzle out of the kitchen. There was sand in the inlet water pipe, but I'm not sure it was enough to plug a 3/4" pipe. I think my plan at this point is to disconnect the water line from the bathroom (then kitchen) sink shutoff and then install a different one on the shutoff and run it in to a bucket. Open the shutoff and see if water is coming out. That would eliminate the faucets being restricted with sand.
 

pasadena_commut

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A ball valve is unlikely to fail like that. It sounds like you already reconnected the house water to that valve.

Do you have an outside faucet bibb? Does any water come out of it? That would be a good place to start, since you can make more of a mess without worrying about water damage. If water is not coming out of it take it apart (usually that is: remove handle screw, remove handle, unscrew the nut, then pull everything out). If there is sand in there you will be able to see it or feel it with a bit of wire. If you then turn the water back on it should blast the sand out. But maybe not. Here is an example where that did not work. We have old galvanized pipes and when the failed valve mentioned before was replaced a ton of rust came off. The next faucet upstream was left open when the water was turned back on and it jammed up solid. Even disassembled nothing came out. I had to poke around in it with a bit of wire to break it all free. It was maybe an inch or so of rust flakes. If you have that much sand you will be in the same boat. In order to avoid jamming the rest of the faucets, which were all closed at the time, I took the cartridge out of the tub on the cold side, then turned the water on. That blasted all the rust through that unobstructed tube and the other faucets never had a problem. I had been careful not to open any of them until this point.

If you can get that one faucet clear you can clear the rest of the system by turning off the ball valve and borrowing a neighbor's hose. Use it to backflush each of the cold water shut off valves through that external faucet. (Otherwise you will need to disconnect the water from the ball valve again, and flushing to under the house could flood your crawl space.)

I am a little worried about how much sand might now be in your water heater. Get the cold lines clear before you touch any of the hot lines. If you open a hot line now it will suck sand into the heater. You cannot immediately backflush the hot lines the same way, there is usually a valve to prevent backflow into the water heater. However, if you unhook the hot and cold sides of the water heater and run a hose between the pipes coming out of the wall, you will have converted (temporarily) the hot to cold, and then you could backflush. Or forward flush without worrying about stuff getting into the heater. Obviously turn off the gas or unplug it before doing that.

Why was there sand in that line? If it is coming in from a well then you need to deal with that.
 

bartleyhs

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I am assuming the sand you are referring to got in the pioe while you were running the line. Did you take the aerators off the faucets to see if it is clogged with sand? the toilet intake and shower head also have screens that could be clogged.
 

FloridaClay

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I am assuming the sand you are referring to got in the pioe while you were running the line. Did you take the aerators off the faucets to see if it is clogged with sand? the toilet intake and shower head also have screens that could be clogged.
Yes, sand was introduced when the lines were ran. I'm not sure how much, but I know some. Just grasping at straws at this point. I'm totally shocked that there was no water. I think my plan at this point is to disconnect the water line from the bathroom (then kitchen) sink shutoff and then install a different stainless line on the shutoff and run it in to a bucket. Open the shutoff and see if water is coming out. That would eliminate the faucets being restricted with sand.
 

bartleyhs

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If the sand is clogging the faucet aerator changing the line at the shut off wouldn't change that. I always think you should start with the simplest explanation and go from there. unscrewing the aerator on the faucet would be my first move.
 

Jeff Handy

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Did not read all of the above posts.
But if you think faucets are jammed up, take off the supply lines from the faucet or at the shutoff valves, and see if there is good flow right there.
If not, then restriction is farther back along the line somewhere.
 
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