Water tank empties/pump doesn' start


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Old 08-31-17, 10:34 AM
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Water tank empties/pump doesn' start

Hi

We have an 18 year old house with the original 32 gallon water tank and well pump. About 5 years ago we had an issue where the water would trickle down to almost nothing. I forget the exact symptoms but I found clear help online that I needed to re-pressurize the tank. I followed directions and it has been fine until about a year ago.

About a year ago we started having the water run down to a trickle and then stop. This was only happening when several of us ( family of 6 here ) were using water while the dishwasher and washing machine were running. By simply making sure to not be taking showers while the machines were running we only had the problem once every few months.

2 evenings ago my wife mentioned to me that she had the water cut out on her twice that day. A little bit later it cut out again. I went and checked the tank and there was a horrible smell coming from the control box. It did kick back in, and then tank began to fill, but the smell got worse again. Plus the control box got very hot.

I turned off the breaker and pulled the cover of the control box. The smell was very strong and there was a slight amount of liquid along the inside of the cover and on the wall box.. There was no water damage on the plywood sheet that the box is mounted to.

The controller was a 3/4 HP Franklin and I switched it out with a 3/4 HP Utilitech box. Even though the wiring was the same i replace the entire boc.

When it turns on it will make a series of staccato snaps before the pump kicks in. Sometimes the noise lasts for 2 to 3 seconds, up to maybe 10 seconds. A couple of times I've heard only 1 or 2 snaps, some humming, and it kicks in.

Here is where we are now.

1. Water will run for a little over a minute before kicking out. less if you flush a toilet. Showering is Hell.
2. I put a pressure gauge on to the pressure nipple at the top of the tank and had my wife run a faucet and tell me what was going on. The pressure on the tank maxes out around 52 psi. She turned the faucet on and it slowly dropped in pressure with no difference in water flow. Around 30 psi water started to slow. At 27-28 psi the water stopped. After 2 or 3 minutes the pressure dropped to around 25 psi and the controller would do it's staccato snaps and the pump would kick in.
3. The tank would get to around 52 psi. The pump would continue to run , for a minute or two, and then cut out, while still at 52 psi.
4. sometimes the controller would make the staccato snaps while it was already running.

Any suggestions.

My guess is that the controller going is a side effect of another issue.

I'm thinking that I probably need to re-pressurize the tank and either adjust or replace the pressure switch.

I am confused as to why the pressure switch is ranging from 25 to 52 psi. Unless, thinking about it as I type, the main spring slowly loosened up so that the range went from 30 to 50 psi down to 25 to 45 psi while the other spring, for the kick-out, stayed up around 52. Is that possible?

I am also concerned that the controller is making those noises. The breaker for this is different from the other breakers in the fuse box and it has a wiggle to it while the others are nice and snug. I'm also wondering if hte new controller was faulty. The grommet holes in the box were never opened. They had been pressed but the box was still sealed so I could not open the grommet holes. I'm wondering if their quality control team never noticed the missing grommet holes what else did they miss.

2 other pieces of info that may be useless or may be relevant. We've had around 2" of rain every week for the summer this year and, the night before this started, we had heavy rains and ended up with over 2.1/2" of rain. the other is that we had a tree volunteer to grow between our house and the well. It's been a good source of shade so have left it to grow but now I am wondering if that was a mistake. I've seen a few posts about tree roots conflicting with pump wiring and hoses.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

thanks,

Jim
 
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Old 08-31-17, 12:58 PM
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Describe the smell. I would look at the possibility of interference from roots.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 01:06 PM
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The best i would describe is burnt popcorn.

So you think the issues are NOT from either a low pressurized tank and/or pressure switch needing to be adjusted or replaced?

As far as roots go, is there any reason to expect the lines to NOT go in a direct line from inside the house to the well?
 
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Old 08-31-17, 01:15 PM
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Sorry, another question for you. Do you think interference from the roots with wiring for the pump or water pipes?
 
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Old 08-31-17, 01:29 PM
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Normally, I would think that the roots would affect the pipes although it could affect wiring too. The pipes may not go in a straight line if roots were in the way when the pipes were installed. I wouldn't replace the tank or anything else until you see what caused the burnt popcorn. That has to be answered first. Are any wires burnt?
 
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Old 08-31-17, 01:39 PM
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Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.

Roots are from years after the tank. Maybe only 4 or 5 years on the tree roots. Pretty deep too but maybe a tap root. Or groundhog...

There were NO wires burnt and all of the contacts were clean easy to loosen and tighten. I checked for those when I was replacing the control box. The smell definitely lingered with the cover of the box. I had that with me at work and every now and then I would notice the faint smell.

while the controller was kicking in I gently tugged on the wires to see if I could get it to increase the noise or make it stop. No difference. However, I did notice that the breaker was loose in the box. All of the other breakers are snug but this one is a bit Sloppy. I noticed it was a different brand of breaker so attributed it to that.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 03:45 PM
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Ok, well I feel like a complete idiot.

Before I started ripping out roots I thought I would just try adjusting the pressure switch. I turned off the breaker, took the cover off of the pressure switch, only to discover one of the ground wires was very loose and barely touching and the other was just a little bit loose.

I tightened them down. I did adjust the pressure switch by a half turn or so, and then turned everything back on.

The controller went on with a barely audible 'click' and the tank filled up. Tried running water and after 5 minutes we were still around 50 psi without any loss of water.

I turned off the breaker, gave the grounds another twist to be safe, then closed it up. Turned the breaker back on and again the controller went on with a barely audible click and things still seem to be running smooth.

4 kids aged 11 to 15 are queuing up to shower...which makes my wife and I very happy. And their classmates probably too.

Thanks for the help ShortyLong. Hopefully there will be no other issues.

Jim
 
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Old 08-31-17, 04:10 PM
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Roots in the water pipes. (That would be a first for me)

Those wires you were tightening were not for the ground. They are the supply lines or the pump lines. The pump will run fine with no ground connected.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 04:15 PM
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Okay, good luck. I'm glad that you found the solution.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 04:47 PM
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Pete,

For the tree roots my understanding was not that they would get in the pipes so much as grow around and crack them.

As far as the wires there were 3 wires coming in from either end. 2 wires from either end when to main contact terminals on top of the pressure switch. 4 in total. Then there were 2 stripped ground wires that were connected to screws in the base plate of the pressure switch.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 05:14 PM
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I'll repeat it.... the pump will run fine with NO grounds connected. If your loose ground wires were causing a "pump run" issue..... then you have wiring problems. The grounds are only there for safety in case of a direct short.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 07:42 PM
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Sorry Pete, I thought you were trying to say that those were not grounds. I missed that you were saying they are not needed as grounds.

When I tightened them down that was when, for the first time in 24 hours, it ran fine without any extra noise. And did so for a couple of hours. However, we tried running our dishwasher and at some point after that it started failing again. Except now it does not seem to get past 42 psi and, a couple of times when it has kicked on, we're getting hammering in some distant pipes. That is a first and something we have never had before.

I will try replacing the the pressure switch and re-pressurizing the tank tomorrow.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 08:11 PM
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Just to comment on your earlier posts..... the liquid you found inside the control box was from a capacitor leaking/going bad. You mention the control box is buzzing. It could be the pressure switch is not allowing a good connection but I think you have more of a problem.

It appears your pump has been short cycling for a while.

It sounds like you have a pump issue. The only way to know for sure is to check its current draw with an ammeter/amprobe. It sounds like a possible bad start winding.
 
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Old 08-31-17, 10:39 PM
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Pete,

Since I last checked we are no longer getting any water and the new controller is starting to heat up and give off a faint smell while still making lots of clicking.

I don't have an ammeter to check the pump so I thought I would prep tonight to replace the pressure switch in the morning and go from there. After I drained the tank and pulled the wires I unscrewed the pressure switch only to find that the pipe going in was clogged except for a pinhole that was giving of a very fine little geyser that lasted a few seconds. I happened to notice, at this point, that the pressure gauge was locked at around 50 psi. My guess is that the gauge has become stuck too.

I cleaned out the bottom of the pressure switch as best as I could. I used a small spray bottle and kept squirting the inside of the connector until the water was mostly clear. It was mostly a red clay type of silt in there and took about 15 minutes to clean.

I put everything back together and turned on the controller. It came on with just a single click but no water is pumping in. After about a minute it clicked again, and then again about a minute after that.

At this point I can open the drain and some water comes out. Not with any real pressure but some water is moving.

Do you still think the well pump is bad or is there some way I can limp along? Financially we really can't be spending several hundred dollars on a new pump.

Thanks,

Jim
 
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Old 09-01-17, 02:57 PM
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Pump does not start

Hello,

We have a 3/4 HP submersible pump

Water stopped filling tank. We got some water but not enough to run water for more than a few minutes. At one point it worked fine for a few hours but then died.

I've replaced the controller ( capacitor had died )
I've replaced the pressure switch ( intake clogged with silt )
I've replaced the pressure gauge ( also clogged with silt )
I've re-pressurized the tank to 28 psi

I've never used a low pressure cut off type of pressure switch. From what I understand I need to lift the lever, just so, so that contact is made and the controller kicks in and then the pump kicks in.

When I do this sometimes the controller clicks, other times there are sparks or stuttering, sometimes nothing at all. I tried uploading a video but I received a message that it could not upload as I was missing a security token?

I've tested voltage of L1 to L2 on pressure switch ... 250 v
I've tested it on the outgoing contacts when engaged. also 250 v

For the controller I've tested ground to L1 and ground to L2. Both ~ 125 v

I've checked the resistance for R Y & B on the controller and they are right where they need to be according to the chart on the box

I've gone to the well head. All of the bolts had deteriorated and broken off but I got it off.

I've never looked inside a well head so not sure what to expect. There was a lot of gurgling going on as I was lifting the lid off and when I moved the wires around. It is pretty deep and I could not see to the bottom. Dropped a small pebble in and heard it bounce several times and then a very distinct plopping sound.

I'm planning to check the voltage and resistance at the well head to see if something has gone on underground. I only have a multi-meter and cannot afford to spend on clamp style meter, especially if spending $400 on a new pump.

Any suggestions? Any guidance is appreicated.

thanks,

Jim

Any other suggestions?
 

Last edited by kestrel; 09-01-17 at 03:16 PM. Reason: tried to add video and made correction
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Old 09-01-17, 05:02 PM
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Threads combined..... too much info to start a second thread.

I've checked the resistance for R Y & B on the controller and they are right where they need to be according to the chart on the box
And what where those ?
Did you also check from all three wires to ground ?
 
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Old 09-01-17, 08:24 PM
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R-Y is 12.2 ohms
Y-B is 4.2 ohms

Were you asking for resistance from ground to R, Y, & B? If so it was 0 for all of them Or were you asking voltage. I did not test at the well head yet.

Jim
 
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Old 09-01-17, 08:51 PM
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R = start - Y = common - B = run
R to Y = 12.2 ohms
B to Y = 4.2 ohms
R to B should be 16.4 ohms.

These look normal. No continuity from them to ground is good.

The controller was a 3/4 HP Franklin and I switched it out with a 3/4 HP Utilitech box. Even though the wiring was the same i replace the entire box.
This concerns me. Not all start controls are the same. If your Utilitech box did not specifically say for Franklin pump use..... then it probably will not work.

There are single and two capacitor controls.
One uses a start relay and one use a potential relay.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 09-02-17 at 10:19 AM. Reason: corrected test value
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Old 09-01-17, 09:52 PM
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Pete,

This was what I purchased. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Utilitech-S...ol-Box/3136319

2 of the reviews mention specifically using it to replace Franklin Boxes. I asked if it could be used to replace the model Franklin that we had and, according to their tech person, it was a good fit.

That being said, it would not be the first time someone posted a review before they actually used the product.

They are definitely set up differently.

For example, on the Franklin 1 lead from the capacitor goes to R while on the Utilitech 1 lead goes to L1 and the other to B.

I looked up the part numbers for the other parts. The Franklin ( 233415903 ) is called out as a START relay and the Utilitech ( RVA2ALKL ) is called out as potential relay.

Question. The capacitors are both 86-130 MFD. Could I switch them out? If so, do they have a polarity or are the leads interchangeable? Or, when the Capacitor went in the Franklin it did damage to other parts of the control box?

Jim
 

Last edited by kestrel; 09-01-17 at 10:15 PM. Reason: Add more info
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Old 09-01-17, 10:26 PM
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You can switch the caps and there is no polarity to their connections as it is AC. Not likely the leaking cap caused damage.

I'll check further on your link when I get back to the shop.
 
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Old 09-01-17, 10:33 PM
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The capacitors are slightly different in diameter. Not sure if that matters.

Is there a way to test the relay on the Franklin?

Jim
 
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Old 09-02-17, 06:37 AM
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Pete,

I switched out the capacitors.

It still did not work. However, now, when I go to lift the lever on the side of the pressure switch I hear a slight hum like a motor starting to kick in, which I have not noticed before. To be sure I switched back the capacitors and did not hear it with the Utilitech box. Then I switched it over to the Franklin box and did hear the hum again.

I have read, on some sites, that once you turn the power on you can have to wait a while before the pump will be able to flow. Not sure how valid this is as, without the pressure switch, there is no power to the pump.

ALSO - R to B is NOT ~8 ohms. It was reading 15.3 ohms.

Jim
 
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Old 09-02-17, 07:14 AM
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How deep is that well . . . . or how many feet down is the pump positioned ?

It sounds like your foot valve (back flow preventer) is shot; and it may be an integral part of the submersible pump.
 
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Old 09-02-17, 07:21 AM
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Vermont,

I do not know how deep the well is. We bought the house a few years after it was built and have no info on the well other than the name of the company that drilled it.

I do know that when I move the wires around I can here some sloshing way down. We feed off of an aquifer that, prior to city water coming through about 10+ years ago, fed several developments.

We have had a VERY wet summer, as I mentioned before. ~2" of rain a week and, the night before this started, a bit over 2.1/2" in a single short storm..

Jim
 
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Old 09-02-17, 08:36 AM
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Pennsylvania should have a registry for any well that was drilled that recently and that would tell you such things as: how deep it was drilled, how much casing and type, recovery rate, HP of the pump, static level, soil or rock formations that were drilled through, and the HP of the original pump.

Here in Vermont, that well registry is domiciled in the Department of Public Health. In Pennsylvania, it may be in Environmental Conservation or some such related department.

The original well driller would also have such a record of the same information (or should). How did you ascertain that it was a HP Pump that is down there ?
 
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Old 09-02-17, 10:01 AM
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The control box is for a 3/4 HP pump. 3 wires.

Have a friend that happened to have a clamp type meter. I tested the amperage across the wires leaving the pressure switch and it showed the motor was pulling 32 A. So, guessing it seized up. Not sure if pulling it and cleaning will do any good. We're going to try and pull it today and see what condition the pump is in. Realistically I'm expecting to have to replace the motor.

As far as how deep I do not think it is that deep as we are pretty much right on the aquifer and there is a spot, about 2/3rds the way down our driveway, and the same one house over, where water constantly seeps up through the ground.

Jim
 
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Old 09-02-17, 10:21 AM
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I corrected my post in regards to the measured resistance. It's the addition not the difference.

32A briefly for a startup is ok but if it stays there more than a few seconds the motor will heat up quickly and shut down on overheat.

Good luck on the pull.
 
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Old 09-02-17, 10:28 AM
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No one, that will be open for the next few days, with the holiday weekend, has a 3/4 HP 3 wire pump. However, I can get a 3/4 2 wire

Is there an issue with switching out the 3 wire, with a 2 wire. I know that I would get rid of the controller box.

I know that waiting until Tuesday night to replace the pump may not seem like long to many, but with a family of 6 it is very difficult. Especially with the smell that 4 kids ages 11 to 15 can give off after gym class at school.

Another option is to get a 1/2 HP 3 wire

Jim
 
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Old 09-02-17, 10:32 AM
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My preference is always a three wire pump as they are easier to diagnose and since the starting components are at the top.... somewhat easier to repair. They also start easier with the addition of the start wire,

You need to do what you have to. I came from a family of 8 so I know the issues.
 
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Old 09-02-17, 05:00 PM
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Mr preference is a 3 wire also, just not sure how long we can wait. Although it is raining here again and with a little over an inch of rain I managed to gather a little over 150 gallons of water for flushing the toilet from downspouts.

I'm trying to find original paperwork that shows how deep the well is in case the 1/2 HP, 3 wire, is doable. Of course that means getting a different control box.

Thanks Pete,

Jim
 
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Old 09-03-17, 06:15 AM
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If you have a very kind neighbor close by and you explain your problem, they might hook up their garden hose to your garden hose (will need 2 female garden hose connectors to make this connection) and that will get you water for this temporary period.

I have used a female/female hose connector from my pressure washer if you have one. If not home depot would have them.
 
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Old 09-04-17, 07:27 AM
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We went to pull up the pump and, after pulling up about 25' of plumbing, we found out that they had used rigid pipe. The pipe snapped and the wires, hose, and pump all plummeted down to the bottom of the well.

Everything I saw online showed people using flexible hosing. Why would someone choose to use PVC pipe?

Do we need to extract the old pump and plumbing or can we leave them there and just add a new one? They are far enough down that I cannot see any hint of them down the pipe.

OptsyEagle, We do have some very kind neighbors...unfortunately not our next door neighbor. Our immediate next door neighbor on one side has evaded having any conversations for 15 years. Mostly a hermit. On the other side the neighbor the township has the property as open space, so no luck there. We do have neighbors behind us that would help but they are about a 1/2 mile back in the woods.
 
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Old 09-04-17, 08:31 AM
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I still think it would be good to get ahold of that well's statistics so that you'll know what the static water level is (or was) and not have to guess at what depth to position a new pump, or how much EPDM Pipe to buy.
 
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Old 09-04-17, 09:08 AM
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Vermont, Tomorrow I'm going to contact the well company that drilled the well. I at least have their name. The well cap has a place to put all that info but they didn't do it.

I thought about just using a rope with some sort of weight to determine the current depth, but realized that would not help since we have had so much rain this summer. We had another 2"+ on Saturday.

Do I need to extract the old pump, wire, and plumbing? The well casing is 8" diameter so room for a 4" pipe to slip past the old plumbing and wires.

Jim
 
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Old 09-04-17, 09:25 AM
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As a Real Estate Broker, I've only been present to see a few pumps pulled up, and they usually had a special grappling hook or device to grasp onto the pump or wiring or something. The Original Well Driller knows what your pump looks like and how best to latch onto it.

You want that old pump out of there . . . . there's no telling where it lodged. Your well might be 300' deep or it might be only 75' deep. You shouldn't have to guess.

The "on site" Well Tag is supposed to contain useful information but so few well drillers took the time to emboss the (aluminum?) tag that it was discontinued in most jurisdictions in favor of the permanent registry kept at the County or State level for future owners to access. Now they don't even bother to leave the tag attached to confuse people.

Here in the backwoods of Vermont, we can access our registry on-line; all we need is an approximate date, or a 911 address, or a prior owner's name, or the well drilling company . . . . something like that.

I'm sure that if dinky little Vermont has such a Registry, then a big modern Commonwealth like Pennsylvania will have an even better one. That way, future Owners (like you) can easily access this pretty important information.
 
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Old 09-04-17, 09:28 AM
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You definitely need to pull out the old pump, piping and wiring.
 
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Old 09-04-17, 09:48 AM
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Any suggestions on how to pull up the old pump, piping and wiring?

I was looking at using an old gear puller as a grappling hook. It forms a spear head going down but, when I pull it up and it catches something, it will lock open.

is it normal to use rigid pipe on a well?

Jim
 
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Old 09-04-17, 09:54 AM
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I don't know if it's normal but it is used.

Do you still have the wire up top ?
Can you see the top of the pipe ?
 
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Old 09-04-17, 11:22 AM
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Vermont,

thank you. I found the PA Well Registry. It took me a while but I did find our well.. Apparently many of the homes in the area never had their address entered in to a database so no address was listed. I had to refer to hand drawings by the well diggers but I did find our house.

However, now I am more confused.

We had (had) a 3/4 HP pump that, from what I have read from a pump manufacturer, is good for wells 100' to 175'.

According to the document our well is 275' deep. Has "water bearing zones at 241 (8) and 261 (30) with a static water level of 168', and "after test" water level of 275' and a "drawdown" water level of 107'.

Not sure if it matters but we are ~10' above bedrock and the well goes down through that.

So was the pump at 168' ( which would make sense according to the pump manufacturer's ratings for a 3/4 HP pump ) or is it the 275'

If the pump was at 168', but the well goes down to 275', the pump would have gone to at least the 275' or farther if the casing does not have a cap at the bottom. So do I still need to extract the pump, pipes, and wires?

Jim
 
  #40  
Old 09-04-17, 11:27 AM
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Pete,

We do have the wiring coming from the house and out the top of the conduit on the outside of the casing. Plus maybe an extra foot or so. I have not checked continuity in the lines yet.

I cannot see the top of the pipe, or anything for that matter, inside the casing. In a little bit I am going to check the depth of the top of the broken pipe. I'm planning to drop a rope end down ( after tying it off outside the well ) that has something like a chunk of 2x4 attached to the end. Once the block hits an obstacle that should give me the depth.

Jim
 
 

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