Wellpump Failure!

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Background

Equipment failures never happen at an opportune time, and this was no exception to that rule.  It was about 0300 the moring of the 21st when Geri woke me to tell me that we had no water pressure in the house, and that day was our first running the new Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup evaporator, and all of the associated new equipment.  I had no time for this wellpump failure!  But of course, I had to make time.  That time was this morning, when sap was not yet flowing, and when I did not have enough sap onhand to fire up the evaporator again.

Today’s Actions

Wellhead cover off

The braided line is connected to the body of the wellpump, and ensures that it does not fall to the bottom of the hole if the PEX tubing and wiring break.  Read on to learn more.

(start of my journal entry)

0914 two nights ago, that would’ve been the night of the 20th, 0300, Geri notified me that we did not have water pressure in the house. I arose immediately and checked the well house, which was warm because of the Central Boiler running (the return line runs through a loop in the wellhouse to keep it warm), and there was electricity. I checked that we had 240V at the pressure switch, and then yesterday I check to make sure we had 240V at the wellhead.  We had good voltage in both places. I had taken some emery paper to the pressure switch contactors, thinking we might not of had enough power to turn the pump over, due to pitting of the contacts. Cleaned up the contacts, no joy. I just put a new pump down the hole, together with new wiring, and new 1 inch PEX tubing, about three years ago. I will check my records for the exact date. There is a three-year warranty on the pump.  I selected a  1/2 horsepower pump last time, this time I’m going with a 3/4 horsepower pump, which will get us about two more gallons per minute in the house. We could use that. I don’t know that it’s the pump, but I have the new pump on hand just in case.

Wiring connections

(“Back in the day,” I used a Polaroid camera to make sure I knew how to put something back together properly; today all you need is a phone.)

Corrosion evident

I cleaned up the wires with steel wool. I did the best I could to clean the wire nuts with one side of a pin nose plier. I then put a little dielectric grease in each wire nut, and reassembled the connections.

Dielectric grease

(I always have dielectric grease in the Jeep; helps to keep trailer brakes and lighting in operation, as too often the wire harness connections to the truck become fouled.)

The pump still did not work. So although I had had the contacts cleaned in the pressure switch, I took another swing at it; I used a small folded over piece of emery paper.

Pressure switch contactors, emery paper, and system pressure gage

(You can see by the gage, and the fact that the contactors are open (we would have called these the “points” in an older vehicle distributor), that the pump has been back in operation at the time this photo was taken.)

Eureka! The pump came on. I turn the power back off, and went to reassemble the wellhead. First pass, I noted that the open ends of the wire nuts were facing up, which would cause them to, and did cause them to, collect water. I then changed the orientation of the wire nuts to make sure the open end was down. I put the wellhead cover back on. Job done.

Wire nuts, closed end up, open end down in the well casing

1010 The well pump is back in operation. It was a combination of corroded electrical connections in the wire nuts at the top of the well casing, and pitted contactor’s in the pressure switch.

(end journal entry)

End Result

Needless to say perhaps, it was a relief to have found and solved such a simple problem.  I did not have to pull the pump up out of the hole, and when I return the new pump I picked up this morning, I’ll be about $300 better off than I am right now.  And, I can get to the business of filtering and bottling the 5 gallons of maple syrup I made yesterday!

All the best, and kind regards,

John

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