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Old 09-10-2008, 11:28 PM   #1
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


We want to replace our old (~25 yr old) 3-wire submersible well pump with a new one. The current system has a Black, a Yellow and a Red wire going underground from the pump to the control box in our basement. There is no ground wire in this bundle of wires it seems. Isn't a 3-wire pump usually connected to the control box via a R/B/Y and a ground wire? I'm thinking a new 3-wire pump is probably going to have a connection on it for a ground wire. What would we do with that port for the ground connection given we only have the R/B/Y wire bundle to the house? Or should I post this in the electrical section?

Thanks very much for any advice.

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Old 09-10-2008, 11:38 PM   #2
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


Leafy, I moved your thread over here to the electric forum, since it is an electric question. There's a lot of helpful folks here!

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Old 09-11-2008, 12:02 AM   #3
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


Yes a ground should be ran with the pump wires. Is the pump wire in metal conduit?
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Old 09-11-2008, 01:58 AM   #4
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


I'll take a look to see what the wire travelled in. I think I'll have to dig around the well casing a little to see what's there. Thanks for the diagram. I'm concerned what my options are if there's no ground from well to house.
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:03 AM   #5
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


Replace the wire, its usually in some type of conduit. but thats your only choice.
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:45 AM   #6
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


If he has a metal casing can he drill and tap it for his ground? Noting the age it may be metal.
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:54 AM   #7
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


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If he has a metal casing can he drill and tap it for his ground? Noting the age it may be metal.
From a technical safety standpoint, I'd say no. If the casing doesn't have a ground or a means of attaching one, drilling and tapping for one would technically be a modification of a listed device. If there were a fire or electrocution attributed to the pump wiring, the OP would be taking full responsibility for it.

I think the real issue is the lack of the wire from the house anyhow, so he's still in the same pickle.
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Old 09-11-2008, 11:17 AM   #8
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


If you look at most control boxes (the most common are probably Franklins or Pumptec) you will see two lugs for connecting the equipment grounds one for incoming line and one for load. It is rare for metal conduit to be used for the ground in well pumps load side of the control in my experience, an insulated ground is usually what you find.

Like the others I'd just replace the wire and run the ground as insulated green.
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:18 PM   #9
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


Would it be ok to bury a separate insulated underground-rated wire (perhaps one of the wires in a UF cable?) as a ground wire into the main electric service panel and connect it to the bar where the ground and neutral are attached? I think I may know just enough to be dangerous.
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:25 PM   #10
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


Submersible pumps do not need a ground wire and many didn't have one on the motor until recently, but new codes require a ground and, grounding of metal well casing. The control box should have a ground coming into it from the pressure switch from the panel/fuse box.

Submersible well pump power cable is direct bury, no conduit needed or required in most locations.

All new submersible pump motors will have a ground (green insulated) pig tail wire. You can run a ground from it up to the top of the casing but unless you run a ground in to the control box, you're wasting your time. If you don't run a wire to the top of the casing, use a water proof splice, or your water proof electrical tape on the end of it to keep water out of it, and tape the wire to the pump/drop pipe so it can't chafe/rub on anything.
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Old 09-16-2008, 06:17 PM   #11
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


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Submersible pumps do not need a ground wire and many didn't have one on the motor until recently, but new codes require a ground and, grounding of metal well casing. The control box should have a ground coming into it from the pressure switch from the panel/fuse box.

Submersible well pump power cable is direct bury, no conduit needed or required in most locations.

All new submersible pump motors will have a ground (green insulated) pig tail wire. You can run a ground from it up to the top of the casing but unless you run a ground in to the control box, you're wasting your time. If you don't run a wire to the top of the casing, use a water proof splice, or your water proof electrical tape on the end of it to keep water out of it, and tape the wire to the pump/drop pipe so it can't chafe/rub on anything.

If he replaces a pump with a new pump & control box how can he NOT replace the wire and bring it up to code?
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Old 09-16-2008, 09:08 PM   #12
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


I depends on the local code authority. Around here, if a submersible pump is replaced, and nothing else (other than the control box) and the old pump was not grounded, the new pump is not required to be grounded.

I don't know about anywhere else, but around here grounded pumps have been around longer than non-conductive interior plumbing has been legal. Non-grounded pumps are associated with plumbing made of material that is conductive (copper or galvanized). These plumbing systems are required to be bonded to the panel ground.

If a fault occurs in the pump motor, and it's plastic from the well to the house, what little current that will flow through the water will be easily absorbed by the cold water bond. If it's metal all the way, it'll trip the breaker.

A non-grounded pump would be a hazard only if the interior plumbing was plastic; there'd be no way to effectively ground it.

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Old 09-17-2008, 10:07 AM   #13
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


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If he replaces a pump with a new pump & control box how can he NOT replace the wire and bring it up to code?
He doesn't have to replace the control box, many have replaceable parts in them or, simply replace the lid, it contains all the parts; there are no parts in the base.

Codes vary widely from one location to another and it seems he needs a new pump, not cable, drop pipe, pitless adapter or to trench from the well to the house etc. or a new well. So if it were mine, I'd consider it grandfathered unless I was doing a new well.

For decades there was no ground on any 2 wire 240 submersible pumps; which was the norm.
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Old 09-20-2008, 03:05 PM   #14
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


Thanks for all your input. I've got it in my head now to play it safe and to just go ahead and dig a trench from well to house 18" deep and bury 4 THWN wires (R/Y/B/Grnd) in 3/4" pvc conduit and run it all into the control box in the house (the wires running in the metal conduit where it's exposed in the house). The old wires would then just sit in the earth disconnected. If any of you see something amiss in my plan (besides it might be more work than I really need to do), I'd appreciate a heads-up. Cheers.
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Old 09-21-2008, 04:19 PM   #15
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Old Well Pump- No ground?


I don't know THWN.

I'd use direct bury, ribbon type, 12/3 with ground and the conduit where it is exposed outside. I'd run it all the way from the switch to the control box to the well and then down to the pump. It is the industry standard for power cable.

If you haven't had the pump running yet, you may find you have a 2 wire pump in the well, or need a new pump. If you go with a 3 wire, you need the correct control box for the hp of the pump.

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