Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>submersible pump goes on and off
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jasondemon
Re: submersible pump goes on and off
goldhiller wrote:

This is tough from afar.

How handy are you? Nebulous question, I realize.

Point being that the first thing that has to be determined is if the pump is functional or not.....or if there is something preventing it from functioning. I suspect the blue box you refer to is the pump control box for the/a 3-wire submersible pump. There is a starting capacitor inside it for the pump. This capacitor may be shot. They don't last forever.

Is there a pipe union or similar between the the supply line from the well pump and where the supply line enters the pressure tank? Maybe your system is plumbed with black poly tube and hose clamps instead (can't see from here). In either instance the objective is to disconnect the well-pump line before it enters the pressure tank and then ask the pump to run. Catch the water in a bucket or similar. When you do this.........will the pump continue to run.....or does it act the same? On,off, on, off in short bursts?

This disconnect of the incoming water line will/should also cause your pressure tank to expel all of its water/empty itself. Once it is empty of all water, put a tire gauge on the Shrader valve (tire valve) of the tank and tell us what psi the gauge shows when the tank is empty of water. Use the tire gauge and don't rely on what the installed gauge is telling you this time. It might be stuck/giving you an erroneous reading.

The pump acts the same whether or not I engage the tank. when the tank is empty, the psi is 37ish... maybe 38 or 36... it's a dial gage on my tire pump. It pumps about 3 or 4 cups of water when I hear it kick on, then stops, then repeats. still short bursts...

bp21901
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

Just a clarification for me since I am a little slow this morning...

Is the gray box the pressure switch or a manual switch?

If I understand correctly, the pressure switch contacts are staying closed and the pump itself is cycling on/off until you reach 60psi then the pressure switch contacts open.

I don't think the water level is your problem, the pump would run longer than the 2 or 3 seconds before a thermal switch would shut it off.

Do you have the black poly pipe running into the well? It could be that the torque of the pump running is twisting the pipe and the wire feed (which is usually taped to the poly pipe) to the pump just enough to cause a loose connection at the pump. When the pump shuts off, it twists back reconnecting the power and the process repeats. I am not sure how to check for this without pulling the pump, however. Maybe Jack, Fencepost or Goldhiller would have an idea on how to test for this possibility.

goldhiller
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

I think the broken wire notion is plausible. Have seen that sorta thing as well as wires that rubbed themselves bare on the side of the well casing......when no torque-arrestors were installed on the drop pipe. If the pump is hung on black-poly pipe...it can thrash around like a boa constrictor when the pump kicks on without those torque arrestors/dampeners.

There is also a possibility that the relay inside the pump control box is malfunctioning. If wired correctly/normally....the red wire from the box to the pump will carry current to the start-windings of the motor, the black wire will carry current to the run-windings and the yellow wire will be the neutral.

If you have an electrical test meter (VOM) handy and are familiar with using one...... I will sugggest that you test for voltage between the black wire and the neutral when you allow the pump to run. Hopefully there are some connections out in the open with wire nuts on them so that you can gain easy access to the bare wires. If not, you'll have to figure out the bestest/easiest way to do this. (slice a little tiny bit of insulation off and tape it up again afterwards) Sometimes/frequently.....alligator clips on your test leads can be real handy in that we all only have two hands. (You would do this test on the wires emerging from the box and headed for the well. Do not remove the cover of the control box at this point. It *has* to be on for everything to connect and work inside the control box)

I'm thinking the pump may be running very briefly because once the relay inside the control box kicks out the start-windings.....there is no current to the run-windings. If this proves to be true, you may be able to clean some relay contacts inside the control box (if corroded/oxidized) to get things back up and running again...or you may have to replace the relay with a new one.

If the test shows that there is current being delivered to the run-wire...then the broken wire theory down inside the well casing becomes very suspect. Either that or a wellpump motor problem. In either event you'd be in for pulling the pump to remedy the problem.

Other thoughts - Is your water sandy? IOW - Any chance that the pump is sand-bound?

(If you do go inside the control box, be aware that the capacitor in there can shock you a good one. Turn the power off to the box before removing the cover and either avoid the capacitor contacts or discharge it by holding an insulated screwdriver across the two points.)

I don't think the start capacitor is your problem judging from your descriptions (have been wrong before though), but if it has bulging sides or is leaking "material" out of its end.....you should definitely test it. Instructions for that can be found here - http://www.wikihow.com/Check-a-Start-Capacitor If you need a new one...take the old one with you. Plumbing supply house or motor repair shop would likely be your best bet.

More thoughts - Can't see the specifics of your well setup. Any chance that there are wire connectors right up near the top of the well casing? If the wires coming out of the control box show current where it should be......the problem might be corrosion at wire connections further downstream...and not broken wires way down inside the well casing.

Cross your fingers that the problem is above-board somewhere. Much less work involved in cleaning contacts, replacing a bad relay or capacitor...... than pulling a pump.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

I have yo agree with Goldhiller, the symptoms you describe doesn't sound like a bad start capacitor. It sounds like the start circuit is working but there is a problem in the run circuit. This could be bad contact in the controller, a broken or loose wire or wire connection, or an open winding in the motor. If you have to pull the pump it is very important that you construct a proper "T" tool to prevent dropping the pump into the well.
Jack

goldhiller
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

Jack,

You "have" to agree with me? Jeeez. Sounds almost painful! LOL :D:D ;)

JLMCDANIEL
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

It was Goldie, I had to take a double shot before I posted that.
Jack

goldhiller
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

*Well*........I see you're out there monitoring this thread. Good thing, too. LOL

Wish we'd hear back from the OP, but I have my fears/suspicions that he's already called in a "pro". I can understand in that the wife would probably be.....how shall we say?.....impatient for the return of running water. :D

JLMCDANIEL
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

We don't worry about that we still have a dug well with a hand pump in cases of emergency. But then I was raised in the country.
Jack

goldhiller
Re: submersible pump goes on and off
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

But then I was raised in the country.
Jack

Same here. And that is why we've learned how to maintain/service/troubleshoot a private well. Necessity.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: submersible pump goes on and off

Our first private well only had a hand pump, my mothers cook stove was a wood burner, and our convenience was a path. I guess I'm showing my age again.
Jack

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