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Fri Sep 8, 2017, 01:13 PM

Home well water systems

I'm pretty good with these things. But I want to diagnose correctly from the start, so I don't burn out the backup spare controller and switch.

A few days ago, I think it was Tuesday or Monday, the GFCI flipped while the toaster was running. Very unusual. Hasn't happened in 10 years. So I pushed it back in and all was fine.

Today, my well pump won't turn on. Totally separate circuit mind you, but I'm thinking a short in the well system could have pulled current and flipped the toaster GFCI?

Anyway, the well fuses are ok, though I do have spares and can replace them to be sure. The pressure tank reads 4 pounds, slightly more than when I turn off the system and drain it for sediment.

The oldest parts of the system are the wiring (41) and the bladder (18). Frankly the bladder is due or overdue. Could that be the problem? Would a ruptured or clogged bladder cause the switch not to turn on at 30 pounds?? yet still allow the water to run down to empty? I think unlikely.

So I'm going to examine visible parts of the wiring, including under the well cap, and see if anything. Test the switch, perhaps remove it and look for clogs.

I'm thinking the problem is in the controller or the pump. But the pump (very very light use) is only 6.5 years old and so is the controller and switch.

Thanks for any ideas. It's going to be a dry weekend here!

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply Home well water systems (Original post)
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 OP
nykym Sep 2017 #1
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #2
nykym Sep 2017 #3
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #4
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #5
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #6
Wash. state Desk Jet Sep 2017 #7
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #8
Wash. state Desk Jet Sep 2017 #9
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #10
Wash. state Desk Jet Sep 2017 #11
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #12
bucolic_frolic Sep 2017 #13
Wash. state Desk Jet Sep 2017 #14

Response to bucolic_frolic (Original post)

Fri Sep 8, 2017, 01:23 PM

1. You could look at the

Pressure switch the little gray boxy thing near your bladder.
Sometimes the contact get pitted and worn out and the switch will or will not turn on.
Best to replace than try to clean up.
The other part to look at would be the unit that the pressure switch is wired to (i can't remember the name of it).
Mine is about 6=7" tall x 5" wide and about 3-4" deep, small gray box. front lifts off (there may be a screw or 2 holding it on.
There is a big capacitor in there so make sure you turn off the power and don't touch the bare contacts.
check to see if the spade terminals on the capacitor are corroded if so replace the unit. Costs about $60 to whatever.
Anyway that,s my 2 cents.

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Response to nykym (Reply #1)

Fri Sep 8, 2017, 01:29 PM

2. Thanks, makes sense

My pressure switch is mounted at the top of the system, the bladder is near the floor, but that's ok

The box is the controller. I have a spare. Just don't want to burn it out so looking for shorts first.

If there were a short, would the circuit breaker trip? Because that didn't happen.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 8, 2017, 04:07 PM

3. If you had a short

the breaker should trip.

I suggested those 2 things as we had a lighting strike across the street from my house and it took out the controller.
Surprising as it must have been at least 100' away.
Only evidence was a small (about 1/6th inch circle on the box near were the wires come into it.
It was myself and a local plumber - I pointed it out to him and sure enough that was the problem.
I have also had trouble with the pressure switch in the past as my utility room is rather damp.

If your bladder is shot it will start to leak, been there done that.

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Response to nykym (Reply #3)

Fri Sep 8, 2017, 04:13 PM

4. Wow!

I had a very close lightning strike about 2-3 weekends ago. I would say it was about 150-200 feet away. I could hear a little crinkling noise outside before it hit. Lost power overnight.

Off to diagnosis ... been reading all afternoon.

Will report back ... thanks again

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Original post)

Sun Sep 10, 2017, 06:28 PM

5. So after a weekend of work this is where it's at

no wiring problems. Power does go to the switch, but the pump doesn't run and the switch doesn't switch.
When I separate the contacts on the switch with a screwdriver, they spark.

So I'm pretty sure it's the pump.

The well casing is steel, it flakes a lot, you can hear the flakes falling down into the water. In addition there
is iron/sulphur buildup in the well, and granulated particles come in with the water, the particles are dark brown
iron, and black.

Don't know if the lightning strike had something to do with it, though I do think so.

Get on the phone in the morning and see what some local well people think about it.

Not a fun repair bill!

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Original post)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 05:41 PM

6. Is there an electrician in the house?

I talked with the well company today, who advised me to replace the control box (controller, capacitor) which hums for 5 seconds before cutting off, and see if the new controller starts the pump. Ok, will do.

Meanwhile though, the switch has stopped sparking when opened.

And my circuit breaker box, aka 'fuse box', which was humming ever so slightly, has stopped humming.

I am wondering: the well pump is setup at 230 volts, two 115 breakers. If one of those breakers is not supplying electric to the system, that would cause the pump to not start: not enough juice.

Is there a way to test to see if both 115 volt circuits are supplying power? I mean, I know there is, for an electrician with a meter, but how about an intuitive test without such equipment?

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Original post)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 07:29 PM

7. You have issues for sure



The cartridge fuses could be a source of the problem .I assume you have removed the plug fuses to look for burn marks at the contacts.

Also you mentioned lightning and power surge. Some years ago a client kept calling during rain storms or just after with circuit breakers going off or loss of power in different areas in the house. This was tough one because the breaker box was maxed out big time. But, after the third call ,they didn,t know who else to call so the said,I got curious about the power feed from the poll. I got out my binoculars and fallowed the line from the poll to the house--, and where the line passed through a tree in an area where lightning struck and took out a branch, there was insulation burned off. That was the cause of the problems. The power company came out and fixed that and took out some more branch's as well,at no charge ! It's just a thought !



electrical testers ,very basic ,tells you there is or isn't power.





I've used the wiggie for years. That's the black one at the top. Red to power ,black to neutral- read instructional before you go into it.

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Response to Wash. state Desk Jet (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 08:19 PM

8. Thanks

Yes I swapped in a replacement pair of fuses, but it made no difference, and no burn marks. There was some black/green corrosion on the power switch, one of these dual contact pull-down on/off fuse box switches. I'm thinking similar corrosion could go on with circuit breakers.

I don't think there are any cartridge fuses in the system, unless they are hidden in the circuit breaker box.

The well man said the pumps can get stuck. I'm reading online tonight that the pumps have been severely cheapened by the manufacturers. My previous pump lasted 24 years. This one is 6.6, and the average life of the new cheap pumps with bushings instead of ball bearings and plastic components is 7 years. This pump was $886. Now the same company (and it was bought out) will replace it for $495. Same pump. Plus installation of course. Maybe it's a jobs program.

The electric company? Their wires on the phone poles must be 1955.

My electric testers are 1950s too. Pair of leads, durable bulb in the center. If there's power, they light up!

The well guy told me 3 times to replace the controller first, so I'm off to Home Depot tomorrow. He seems to think the humming of both controllers I have is indicative of nothing. Maybe a new one with a new condensor will have more power? Who am I to question experience?

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #8)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 08:33 PM

9. Maybe you can get the well guy to come out and for a fair price trouble shoot the problem

At least knowing what yer up against can help you in decision making as to how to deal with the tolatlity of the problem.

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Response to Wash. state Desk Jet (Reply #9)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 09:19 PM

10. You've hit my weak spot, it's evident to all isn't it

Micromanaging. Because being the youngest in my family I was never allowed to formulate big decisions, my role was to to follow up and troubleshoot all their errors because they were too lazy to pay attention to details.

The personality is formed in the first 5 to 10 years of life, after that it's all echoes.

Try to fix a pump and you must repair a personality.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #10)

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 10:35 PM

11. You have positive attitude !

Sticktoitiveness ,that's what you gotta have to work yer way through a problem area ! You got it,stick to it !

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Original post)

Tue Sep 12, 2017, 02:45 PM

12. Here's a YouTube video on what my well guy is talking about

My capacitors don't look bad, they don't bulge, but on close inspection one has a slightly yellow dot as this vid mentions near the end, and the other has a barely yellow hue to it with a darkened corner. So it is possible they could be inadequate to start my pump.

Also, went to Lowes and HomeDepot. No Controllers, just one that was too large. So it's end of summer, parts are in short supply, think of the number of new controllers they'll need in Houston! No wonder my well guy sent me to the store, he probably has a short supply too.

Guess I'll be without running water for awhile.

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #12)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 06:47 AM

13. So I removed the large capacitor and ordered one from Amazon

though it will take a week to get here from New South Wales

It will either start 'er right up, or indicate the pump is KAPUT!

But the rebuilt control box will be good for the new pump at that point.

I'm following up here so others can see the process ... this was all unknown to me a week ago

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Response to bucolic_frolic (Reply #13)

Thu Sep 14, 2017, 05:06 PM

14. It's hard to believe the part is in such short supply locally.

Hope it starts right up for ya. Good luck.

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