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Old 02-22-2011, 07:39 PM   #1
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


I have a well that has the pump in the basement. The pump cycles on and off every minute or so. I have turned off the valve above my pressure tank so I know that there is no leaks in the house. (It still cycles) . I think it is my foot valve. My question is, Is there an alternative fix rather than changing the foot valve?

The ground is frozen and covered with 3 feet of snow. There is no access for heavy equipment so I must dig it by hand. The well head is not very deep but I do not know how deep it goes down.

For the time being I turn the pump on only when needed. I have a shut off valve before the pump and turn it off when not in use. It holds pressure so priming is not necessary when I turn it on.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 02-22-2011, 08:35 PM   #2
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


Short cycling of the pump could be for
A) water in the air part of the pressure tank, thus water logged pressure tank
B) Pressure switch is in need of replacing.
C) the nipple going from the tank tee to the switch is plugged.

Putting another check valve just before the pressure tank can help, but may not fix the problem if the problem is one of the above three.

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Old 02-22-2011, 08:40 PM   #3
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


Thanks, If the tank is waterlogged and the valve above the tank is closed , where does the water go?
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:49 PM   #4
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


It does sound like the foot valve. Install a resilient or soft seat check valve and that should hold you over until you can get at the foot valve. Losing the prime could be a pain though if the foot valve is completely shot.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:54 PM   #5
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


Water logged pressure tank is water getting into the part that is to hold the air.
The bladder or rubber has broken and no longer is keeping the water and air apart.
The hollow ring that is on the upper part of the pressure tank when it is good is replaced by a dull thud like at the bottom of the tank when it is good.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:55 PM   #6
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


Thanks, do i istall the check valve before the pump on the intake line?
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:14 PM   #7
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


I am not sure of your configuration but either way will work, as long as it is isolating the expansion tank and pressure switch together. I would install it before the pump myself.
Akpsdvan, I would agree with your diagnoses if there were a demand for water and the pump was short cycling, but in this case the valve has been shut off isolating the house from the pressure system. The only place for the water to go is back to the well.
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:33 PM   #8
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


Interesting, Water was going back into the well (I think). Yesterday am, the pump was cycling very fast (Likley all night). Water was coming out of the wells air breather line. It flowed long enough to flood cellar. I'm not sure if it was constant or between cycles. More proof of air tank or foot valve?
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:41 PM   #9
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


P.S. My pressure switch is on the pump (I replaced It today thinking It was the cause). So I would have to put the valve between the pump and the tank correct?

Could I have both a tank problem and a foot valve problem?
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:53 PM   #10
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


Actually the physical location of the pressure switch does not really matter, but the sensor line to the switch does, or is there no sensor line and the switch is mounted directly on the pump and sensing the pressure their?
Either way does not matter as you should install it before the pump as the pressure switch must not lose pressure back to the well. If you put the check valve before everything, it will basically be acting like a foot valve and prevent any part of the system from running back to the well.
If you want to check the tank, just push in the schraeder valve quickly and check if water or air is released, hopefully air.
If there is steady water,(just a bit may be condensation) then your bladder is ruptured. You should also check the air pressure to see if it is sufficient.
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:04 AM   #11
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


TUrn on a cold water faucet somewhere in the house and then pump a small amount of air (one swipe of a stand alone bicycle pump for a 10 gallon tank, two for a 20 gallon tank, etc.) into the pressure tank via the air valve (Schrader valve). Turn off the faucet and observe the pump behavior for several minutes. Repeat no more than twice if needed. If this still does not fix the problem you will have to do something else.

This is an iterative trial and error process, do not add too much air at a given time.

This process will not work on a tank without a bladder or a tank with a damaged bladder if the tank is mounted sideways or under the pipe to which it is attached.

Ideally you want to start with the system depressurized, the pressure tank empty and with the bladder (if any) blown down so almost all of the tank volume is on the air side (as opposed to the water side).Because the tank is not transparent, there is no easy way to prove this without draining the water system. Unless the tank instructions specify otherwise, the air side should not be under pressure while the system is depressurized and drained. Unless the tank instructions specify otherwise, do not bleed air out of the Schrader valve after putting everything back together and turning the system back on.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 02-23-2011 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:42 AM   #12
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well cycles on and off every minute or so.


sounds like you have a basic shallow well jet pump. put check valve in suction pipe before the pump inlet, has to go there or priming will be impossible. may take a several tries to reprime it depending on how far the pump is from water source,.. just be patient, it will eventually catch. i would recommend taking the check valve out and fixing the foot valve when you get a chance though.

then kill the power and turn on a cold water source (bathtub works great).. when water stops, check the pressure in the tank. if none or low, use an air compressor and fill the pressure tank to 2 psi less than what the pump cuts on at. if switch is set 30-50psi, u need 27-28 in the tank.. then turn power back on and go turn the bathtub water off. this will ensure optimal performance from your system. good luck.


Last edited by justwater; 02-23-2011 at 10:51 AM.
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