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Well pump not shutting off and tank never reaching full pressure

Our pump was moved from the well to inside the basement of our home many years before we purchased the house. Home is over 50yrs old if that matters.
Last night I noticed that the pump never shut off. The holding tank pressure and the pump pressure is set for approx. 40psi and it was not going any higher than about 25psi. We ended up just turning the switch off so that it would stop running until we could think on it this morning.
We turned the switch back on this morning and the same thing happens. It runs and runs but never gets any higher than about 25. So this tells me that our fear that the well is dry might not be the case. The lines and tank are cold and seems as though water is flowing.
So at this point we can function with very low pressure and turning the pump switch on and off to fill the tank to flush toilets and wash some, but still don't know what the problem might be.
These are not the same symptoms as when the tank needs to be pumped again. Usually that just makes the pump cycle more frequently and we empty and pump the tank and that fixed it.

Can anyone give some ideas as to what might cause this?

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  • dalyj68 Jul 21, 2009

    Here's what we've done so far. (fwiw, it's a Myers indoor pump and shallow well)
    Pressure held in tank, so assumption was a faulty pressure valve. Replaced valve yesterday with a standare 20/40 valve, but could not get water to pump through. Realized that pump was not primed and tried that this morning. Because of the 90's in the lines, that is difficult but not impossible. Pump is still not pumping water. Once we can get the pump pumping again, if that doesn't fix the pressure, I guess the next step will be to investigate the foot valve in the well.
    Any other suggestions?

  • dalyj68 Jul 21, 2009

    Here's what we've done so far. (fwiw, it's a Myers indoor pump and shallow well)
    Pressure held in tank, so assumption was a faulty pressure valve. Replaced valve yesterday with a standare 20/40 valve, but could not get water to pump through. Realized that pump was not primed and tried that this morning. Because of the 90's in the lines, that is difficult but not impossible. Pump is still not pumping water. Once we can get the pump pumping again, if that doesn't fix the pressure, I guess the next step will be to investigate the foot valve in the well.
    Any other suggestions?

  • dalyj68 Jul 23, 2009

    Thanks for your info.
    We ended up calling a well and pump specialist yesterday. They replaced the foot valve and jet assembly, primed system completely, and were still not able to get it working. Their assumption was that the pump parts were just old and worn, because they had done everything else.
    They ended up installing a whole new submersible pump and tank system. All is working and water is running.
    Thanks again.



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50 years old isn't bad..... but technology has changed a bit. I do have a few ideas. I'll list out several problems/solutions, and you'll have to pick and choose, depending on your particular circumstances. It will be a long read, but I would suggest that you read to the end before picking a course of action. Hopefully, others will offer advice as well.
Make sure that you have a working pressure gauge. I only say this as all of your (and my) assumptions have and will be made off of the gauge. It's critical. OK, with a working pressure gauge....Are we seeing the same pressure? If the pressure is actually higher, say, in the range that you are regulating for, or higher, the pressure switch is suspect and should be investigated/replaced.
When you shut off the pump, does the water pressure fall off? If it does, this might indicate a leak either internally (well/pump) or externally (faucet, etc.). Locate the regulator on the side of the pump. With the pump running (and a good pressure gauge), turn the regulator adjustment several flats, rembering your original position. This is best done with the pump at max pressure. Operate it in both directions, say four flats one direction, back the same to the original position, then 4 in the opposite direction, and back to the original position. Note the pressure on the gauge each time you make an adjustment. If any improvements are noted, work with it.
The most common problem with pumps not putting out enough water usually isn't the pump, but the well itself. Most wells have a foot valve and jet valve assembly. The foot valve has sealing rings on them known as leathers (although these can be made out of other materials). If the well is shallow, say 20 feet or less, the pump will normally pick up water without too much difficulty, even if it won't maintain pressure at the tank. Not knowing the depth of your well and the age of your equipment makes it a little harder to diagnose. Slippage within the pump, allowing some of the water to spill back, is a possibility, but you would expect the pump case to heat up over time, and this doesn't sound like the case. My guess is that you have some leak-by in either the jet assembly or the leathers, allowing some of the water to leak back to the well. The foot valve would keep the water pressure from dropping to zero. I'd trip the breaker to the pump motor and break the well head away from the pump (leaving the cast iron piece on the inner pipe). You should have a triangular piece around the outer well casing. Loosen the three bolts, then remove the two bolts that hold the pump to the well head. Gently separate the two, and set your pump off to the side. The aim with "gently" is to avoid tearing the gasket. (If it does tear, you can purchase gasket material and hammer one out, if replacement gaskets aren't readily available). Once the pump is removed, you can remove the inner casing to which your jet and foot valves are attached. Careful when removing it,though. You do not want the inner casing to unscrew from the well head and fall down the well. If there is a lot of sediment in the well, it will be more difficult to remove the inner casing, as the leathers press against the outer casing making the seal. I have always put several gallons of bleach down the well, although recently, a neighbor had muratic acid put down his well. This is dangerous, however, and only trained and skilled personnel should attempt. I let the bleach sit for several hours, allowing time for the bleach to soften the leathers. Once done, extract the inner casing, pulling the well head, inner casing, jet valve and foot valve as a unit. You'll have to pull it in a big arc and lay it out slowly as you go. More hands are better for this task. You may need to get creative in supporting the line it it's PVC. Once extracted, visually inspect the lower components. I recently saw one with a hole eaten in the top of the jet valve, producing similar results to your issue, but worse. Anyway, if this is where you are at, I would, at the very least, replace the leathers. And, I'd double them. Truth is, when I go to that much effort, I replace everything at the bottom of the well, foot valve, jet valve, leathers....
We havent hit on the tank yet. Older systems had an air injection system where a shot of air was injected every time the pump cycled. If no air went into the tank, the tank would become "waterlogged" over time, and would cycle constantly. This system was prone to failure. The remedy for this was to drain the tank, and start over, and to replace the air injection system. This usually called for the pump to have to be reprimed as well, at least at my house... Newer tanks have bladders in them with a pressure set on them to provide the same air cushion that the older systems provided. The air pressure on mine is set to 28# via a schraeder (bicycle tube) valve at the top of the tank. Check yours if so equipped.
Well, that's about it for now. Make your checks and please let me know what you turn up. I'll check back.
Best regards and good luck,


Posted on Jul 19, 2009

  • woobie dog
    woobie dog Jul 23, 2009

    Since you were hooked onto your neighbor's house via the hose line, you can back water into your pump to prime. Should help. Keep me posted and I'll try to offer whatever advice I can. Good luck, --W/D--



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