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Old 04-17-2010, 11:30 AM   #1
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Diminishing (?)power to fountain


For the past year or more, my outdoor fountain has seemed to be losing flow velocity over a period of a few days. As I am writing this, I have replaced both the fountain's 15 amp ground fault switch and the pump in the last 10 days. (I didn't actually replace it; I'm a nurse...I just hired someone to do it.)
It runs well for about 36 hours and then the flow begins to slow down...after about 2-3 days, it has slowed to a trickle. However, when I reset the ground fault switch, it is "cured"...at least for another 3 days. I have had one electrician and one handyman friend look at it, and they don't understand it and can't suggest anything further.
I would appreciate any suggestion...even if you can just tell me what kind contractor or tradesperson to call.
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Old 04-17-2010, 11:59 AM   #2
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How far is the distance between the pump & the breaker panel
What size wire is used ?
How is the wire run...direct burial, conduit ?
What size pump, power draw, specs ?



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Old 04-17-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MP-R View Post
It runs well for about 36 hours and then the flow begins to slow down...after about 2-3 days, it has slowed to a trickle. However, when I reset the ground fault switch, it is "cured"...at least for another 3 days.
What I don't understand is what would take 3 days to happen.
Does the flow actually stop?
If you unpower it for a while, does that also clear the condition?
If you have a meter, measure the voltage at the pump's plug while the fault is present.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-17-2010 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 04-17-2010, 02:13 PM   #4
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Keep in mind that the the 3 day estimate is approximate and variable, probably anywhere from 24-72 hours....the flow has slowed to a trickle...each time I reset the GFI...I guess I assumed it would stop completely otherwise...I will try unpowering it and see if that helps.
Thanks
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Old 04-17-2010, 02:18 PM   #5
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Have you checked the water lines? Sounds like a filter or intake is getting clogged. Turning off the pump releases the suction and lets the debris drop off the intake.
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Old 04-17-2010, 05:32 PM   #6
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There's no way this is an electrical issue. It has none of the characteristics of an electrical problem at all. Sounds like a problem with the pump or plumbing. Maybe there is an intake filter that is clogging? Stopping and then restarting the pump (as by resetting the GFCI) will often temporarily fix that, since the debris falls off the filter when it is turned off. Then it turns back on and stuff starts slowly clogging it up again...
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Old 04-17-2010, 06:14 PM   #7
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If it is debris you should see it clogging the pump after the time delay and the pump current draw should go above or below normal, depending on the pump curve.

You can delay this debris problem for many hours or days by using a large cage around the pump that filters the water.
More cage surface area = more delay.
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Old 04-18-2010, 08:58 PM   #8
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Thanks...I have been watching this and there is a cage around the pump which is not blocked at this time.(Actually we just cleaned out the fountain about a month ago; fortunately we don't have many trees here in the desert...just a lot of dust!)
M
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Old 04-18-2010, 10:03 PM   #9
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reset the breaker and for the three days it only works, check the pump. The pump should have a little fan on the inside on the back thats constantly spinning when the fountain is on.

Disconnect the pump from the water line. Just let the pump spin on its own with no connection to the waterline. If the pump spins slowly after 3 days then it would be electrical. If the pump is spinning fine after 3 days then its not electrical.

I doubt its an electrical problem. But just disconnect the pump to assure yourself if its electrical or not.
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Old 04-18-2010, 10:10 PM   #10
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Some pond pumps are submerged...sounds like this one is since you state it has a cage around it
If so then it usually needs to remain submerged for cooling

Did they give you the old pump ?
Or did you provide the new pump ?



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Old 04-18-2010, 10:17 PM   #11
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Is this plugged into a receptacle? Plug something else in and let run along with the pump. I don't see how this can be an electrical problem.
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Some pond pumps are submerged...sounds like this one is since you state it has a cage around it
If so then it usually needs to remain submerged for cooling

Did they give you the old pump ?
Or did you provide the new pump ?


I bought the pump at a local hardware store (it is submerged)
M
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:09 PM   #13
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Well, while I don't understand it, I also now think it is unlikely to be the electrical source...I ran an extension cord from the fountain to an indoor plug on another circuit. After about 48 hours the flow was reduced to a trickle but the pump fan was still spinning. The fountain is a self-contained unit. Since there is no obstruction at the intake, I can only assume that there is narrowing in the piping that runs through the fountain that becomes increasingly obstructed with running the fountain. (The water here is very hard.) I am going to cut my losses and get a new fountain.
Many thanks.
M










Quote:
Originally Posted by humberguy View Post
reset the breaker and for the three days it only works, check the pump. The pump should have a little fan on the inside on the back thats constantly spinning when the fountain is on.

Disconnect the pump from the water line. Just let the pump spin on its own with no connection to the waterline. If the pump spins slowly after 3 days then it would be electrical. If the pump is spinning fine after 3 days then its not electrical.

I doubt its an electrical problem. But just disconnect the pump to assure yourself if its electrical or not.
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:06 PM   #14
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Might try back-flushing the hose/pipes & see if that clears out anything



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Old 04-22-2010, 04:25 PM   #15
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Depending on how quickly the motor resets, it could be internal motor heating causing some of the windings to short.
No easy way to check this theory, though, except by current draw.

The thing is, my pump pulls 100w and only 1w goes into lifting the water, so the current change you're looking for may be 'down in the noise.'

Quote:
Originally Posted by MP-R View Post
I am going to cut my losses and get a new fountain.
In that case, please autopsy the old fountain after you confirm that the new one solves the problem.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-22-2010 at 04:35 PM.
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