All about Submersible Pumps & Wells
* Submersible Pump Installation and Operation Guide #1
* Installing a Submersible Pump #2
* Troubleshooting Pumps & Wells #1
* Troubleshooting #2
* Advanced Troubleshooting
* Submersible Pump Wiring
* Pressure Switch Adjustments & Pressure Tank Air Settings
* Bad Smelling Water
* Controlling Weak Wells
* Well Forums
* Submersible Pumps vs. Jet Pumps
* Common Problems
* Goulds Pump Manual
* Franklin AIM Manual
Well Pump Installation & Guide
Typical Submersible Pump & Well Systems
Typical Submersible System - Two Wire System Illustrated (Diaphragm type tank)
Typical Submersible System - Three Wire System Illustrated (Galvanized type tank)
Pump Selection & Inspection
1. Select the right pump & motor
per minute desired + pressure required + depth to pumping level
determines which pump size and model is right for your water well
2. Inspect your new pump & motor
purchase, check the pump and motor and other contents of the
shipping container for possible damage. Do NOT lift the submersible
pump by its attached electric motor cables.
Find the loose owner information plate and check the listed model
number against the label data on the outside shells covering the
motor and the pump. The entire pump was thoroughly tested at the
factory. However, to make sure there is no hidden damage caused
during shipment, we suggest checking for free rotation of the shaft
prior to installation.
1. New wells
a) Location of pump. Your submersible pump can
be installed at nearly any well location for years and years of
dependable, trouble free service. For new wells, always locate well
to provide for easy removal and replacement of pump. The water tank
and electrical controls can, of course, be located some distance
from the well.
b) Determine depth of pump in well in order to
purchase electrical cables of sufficient gauge and length to reach
from pump motor to electrical motor control box - and to purchase
galvanized iron pipe, PVC rigid plastic pipe or flexible plastic
pipe of sufficient length to reach from pump discharge to water
tank. (See cable length and cable-size charts in Sections C2 and
c) Location of water tank and electrical
controls. Always install the pressure tank and electrical controls
in a clean dry basement or utility room to avoid dampness and
temperature extremes. In any installation where the pump pressure
could exceed the storage tank pressure, provide a pressure relief
valve piped to a suitable drain.
2. Replacing pump (or motor only) in existing
a) Turn off power at electrical control box.
b) Remove well seal from top of well.
c) Remove old pump from well.
1. If galvanized iron or rigid plastic PVC pipe was used
originally you'll find a number of rigid sections joined together.
Pull pipe upward and dismantle each section as your go, untaping or
unbanding electrical motor cables from each section until you reach
2) If flexible plastic pipe was used originally, pull pipe upward
- coiling pipe and cables in a big circle as you go - until you
reach the pump.
3) When old pump is out of well, cut electrical cables as close
to original splice connection as possible.
4) While new cable is preferred (because it will remain submerged
for a number of years), you may wish to reuse the old cable. Wipe
off and clean the insulation, examining carefully for cuts, cracks
and abrasions. If in doubt, purchase new cable.
5) If new cable is necessary, measure length of old cable (from
pump motor to electrical control box) and purchase sufficient
replacement lengths. (See wire-size and cable-length selection
charts in sections C2 and C3.)
1. Splicing power cables to pump
After making sure your power cables are the proper AWG size
and specified length, splice them to the pump cables (see
|A. Slip shrink tube over end of
each power cable.
||B. Match pump cables to power
cables and crimp connectors on each pair.
|C. Slide shrink tubes over center
of crimped connectors and apply heat (from propane torch) from
center to both ends of shrink tubes.
||D. Splice is complete when
sealant flows from ends of shrink tubes. Note: Splice kits are
not included with pumps.
WARNING! Splice and wires should be
checked for nicks and insulation breakdown prior to
installation. To isolate ground leakage in splice and cable,
refer to Figure 3 and proceed as follows:
1. Set selector switch on the highest scale (RX 100K) and
follow general instructions for ohmmeter tests.
2. Immerse motor, pigtail, splice and cable in tank of
water with leads out of water. If cable only is being tested,
be sure to have both ends of the cable out of water and the
ends connected as shown in Figure 3.
3. Slowly remove cable from water starting with the end
which is connected to the ohmmeter. Observe the needle, and
when it falls back to left toward infinity or no reading, the
damage will be at the point where the cable, splice or pigtail
is just above the water.
4. Repair damaged cable, splice or pigtail.
5. If the motor is grounded, it must be replaced. WARNING!
After the pump is installed in the well insulation test and
motor continuity test should be
Installation of Pump in Well
Installing a submersible well pump
1. Attach the safety hook to the pump
Connect the safety hook to the pump using pliers to squeeze the
sides of the hook so it fits into the slot in the pump.
2. Attach the pump to the pipe
A back-up wrench should be used when riser pipe is attached to
the pump. The pump should only be gripped by the flats on the top of
the discharge chamber. Under no circumstances grip the body of the
pump, cable guard or motor. When tightened down, the threaded end of
the first section of the riser pipe or the nipple must not come in
contact with the check valve retainer in the discharge chamber of
3. Before lowering pump
a) Smooth out any rough spots or sharp edges on the top lip of the well
casing with a hammer or metal file to prevent damage to the pump or
power cables when lowering into well.
b) As you add additional sections of galvanized iron pipe or rigid
plastic PVC pipe, apply pipe compound only to the male threaded ends
of each section and tighten to next section.
c) Tape the power cables and safety lifting cable to the pipe, straight
up from bottom to top. Do NOT spiral cable around the pipe. Use
waterproof tape or nylon lock bands every 20 feet on galvanized iron
pipe. Do not allow any excess cable between bands; cable must be as
flat against pipe as possible.
4. Lowering the pump
a) Align pump carefully when beginning to lower it down the well
casing. Do not let the pump, cables or pipe rub against the well
casing. Take care that cable insulation is not dragged or scraped
over the top lip of the well casing.
b) Depth of pump setting. Lower pump into well slowly without forcing.
Use foot clamp to hold galvanized iron or plastic PVC pipe while
connecting the next length of pipe and taping the power cables. (On
deep settings, we recommend that a check valve be installed in the
pipe 200 ft. above the pump and every 200 ft. thereafter to prevent
water shock from traveling back to pump.) Lower pump to at least 10
ft. below the maximum draw down of the water level, if possible, and
never closer than 5 ft. from the bottom of the well.
c) Pipe fitting to support pump. When a well seal is used, either a
coupling, elbow or tee is installed on the top end of the last
vertical length of pipe and is allowed to rest on the outside of the
well seal to support the pipe, power cables, safety cable and pump.
Most well seals provide a fitting to seal the power cables; but if
no such fitting is provided, conduit must be used to protect cables
and to prevent water and any foreign matter from leaking into well
d) Frost-proof pitless installation. In installation where the pipe
from the well seal to the water tank is subject to frost or freezing
conditions, a pitless installation is recommended.
Above-Ground Pipe & Tank Connections
1. Check pump before connecting piping to
With all electrical connections complete and pump now lowered to
desired depth, install a gate valve in the discharge pipe near well
for preliminary test run (see diagram). Turn on power. Gradually
open gate valve and let pump run until water is clear of sand and
other impurities. Fully open gate valve. If pump lowers water in the well to a point at which the
pump loses its prime, either:
a) Lower pump further down well (if possible); or
b) "Throttle" the pump to the capacity of the well by using a flow
valve (see Section F).
2. Connecting diaphragm tank system
a) Connect all piping as shown in diagram.
b) Precharge tank to specified pressure (see instructions furnished
with tank). If the system is to be set to operate at 30/50 pressure
settings, the tank should be precharged to 28 psi (or 18 psi
if system pressure is to be 20/40). Tank precharge pressure should
always be 2 psi below the "cut-in" of the pressure switch with
no water in the tank.
c) Start pump. Pressure in tank will build up to cut-off pressure of
pressure switch setting.
d) The system should now operate automatically.
3. Connecting standard galvanized tank system
a) Connect all piping as shown in diagram.
b) Start pump. Pressure in tank will build up to cut-off pressure of
c) The system should now operate
Connecting Bleed-back Valve System
a) Install the bleeder orifice 5 ft. or more below snifter valve. Check
and snifter valves can be installed inside the well casing under the
well seal or outside the casing just ahead of the pressure tank.
Refer to installation diagram and the table at left for recommended
distances on various tank sizes.
b) Connect all piping as shown in diagram.
c) Start pump. Pressure in tank will build up to cut-off pressure of
d) After pump has cut-out, open faucet and drain tank pressure to
cut-in point of pressure switch.
e) Run the automatic cycle several times and check the air charging
cycle. Each time the pump stops, the surface check valve closes and
water starts to drain back through the bleeder valve. This causes a
vacuum in the discharge pipe and air is drawn in through the snifter
valve installed in the check valve. Water will drain down to the
bleeder valve, filling the pipe between the check valve and bleeder
valve with air. When the pump restarts, this air will be forced
ahead of the water into the pressure tank. This method always
supplies excess air which is vented off by the automatic air volume
f) To check proper operation, a vacuum should be felt at the
snifter valve when pump stops. (See illustration for position of
bleeder valve, check valve and snifter valve.)
Controlling Weak Wells
The flow valve method is the simplest way to prevent draw down to
pump inlet. The capacity of the pump discharge is throttled to equal
the well yield. A DoleŽ Flow Valve delivers a constant capacity
regardless of pump discharge pressure. The flow valve is installed
in the discharge line between the pump and the pressure tank. The
usual way to determine what size of flow valve to use is to throttle
the discharge gate valve to a capacity that the well will yield
without drawing down to pump inlet. After pump has operated at this
capacity for a sufficient time to be sure it is suitable, measure
the flow in gallons-per-minute and select a flow valve size nearest
to this capacity. Install the flow valve and recheck to be sure
operation is satisfactory
The vast majority of service calls on water well systems are
caused by either waterlogged tanks or by electrical problems.
The submersible pump and water well system should be checked
periodically for quality of water, draw down, pressure, GPM, cycling
periods (how often the pump starts and how long it runs) and proper
operation of all automatic controls.
Never operate the pump for long periods of time with the
discharge valve closed. This could cause overheating resulting in
damage to the pump and its motor. A properly sized relief valve
should be installed before the tank to prevent the pump from
operating with the discharge valve closed.
Familiarize yourself with potential problems and trouble-shooting
Troubleshooting Chart #1
|Motor will not start but fuses do not blow
||No voltage at control box or disconnect switch
||Replace blown fuse
||No voltage at pressure switch
||Replace faulty pressure switch
|No voltage at control box
||Rewire supply to control box
|Cable or splices bad
||Consult licensed electrician or serviceman
|Control box incorrectly wired
||Reconnect control box correctly
|Fuses blow or overload protector trips when motor starts
||Check fuse size against chart in owners manual
||Install correct fuse or time delay fuse
||Check wire size against chart in owners manual
||Install correct size wire
|Check control box to see if starting capacitor has blown out
||Replace starting capacitor. Replace start relay if defective
|Check capacitor rating. Check start relay
||If voltage variation is greater than +/- 10%, call power company
or local hydro authority to adjust voltage.
|Check that line voltage is within +/- 10% of nameplate voltage
while motor is running (under load). Check control box wiring diagram
against incoming power hookup. Check your supply wire color coding
||Reconnect leads to match wiring diagram in control box cover. Reconnect
power supply wires so wire color code matches motor lead color code.
|Examine all connections and wiring in control box
||Disconnect power and repair or replace faulty wire. If necessary,
pull pump ( make all possible above ground checks first).
|Check for locked shaft in pump
||If pump is locked, replace it. Clean thoroughly of all sand or
lime before reinstalling pump.
|Consult licensed electrician or qualified serviceman
||Do not attempt to disassemble pump or motor.
|Fuses blow or overload protector trips when motor is running
||Check that line voltage is within +/- 10% of rated nameplate voltage
while motor is running
||Check that line voltage is within +/- 10%, call power company to
||Check temperature of control box
||Do not mount control box in direct sunlight
|Compare voltage and horsepower on motor nameplate with those given
on control box nameplate or on circuit diagram inside control box
||Replace control box if numbers do not match.
|Check wire size against wiring chart (in pump manual or control
||Install correct wire size.
|Pump starts too frequently
||Check all tank connections with soapsuds for air leaks.
||System must be air and water-tight
||Check for defective switch or switch out of adjustment
||Readjust or replace pressure switch
|Make sure check valves are not leaking back.
||Replace check valves if necessary
|Pre-charged tanks; check tank pre-charge air pressure, check for
leak in bladder. Standard tanks check for air leaks. Check Air Volume
||Pre-charge tanks: adjust air pressure to 2PSI (13.8kPa) less than
pumps cut-in pressure(when there is no water pressure on system).
Replace bladder if necessary. Standard tanks: repair or replace
tanks, replace AVC if necessary.
|Raise drop pipe one length at a time until water stands in pipe
||Replace pipe above that point.
|Measure distance from pressure switch to tank.]
||Move switch to within 1 ft. (.3M) of tank.]
|Little or no water delivered
||Replace if it is blown
||Check for electricity at Pressure Switch
||If no electricity, check electrical connections and fusebox and the path to the switch. If there is electricity, try closing the contacts using an INSULATED screwdriver and see if you can hear the pump start.
||Check Pressure Gauge
||If the pressure gauge is showing no pressure, open the cover on the pressure switch and check the contacts to see if they are open or making contact. If they are making contact check for electricity at the switch. If they are NOT making contact, use an INSULATED screwdriver and push them closed and see if the pump engages.
||If stuck, free valve, if installed backwards, reverse it.
||Determine lowest water level in well while pump is running and
compare to pump depth setting.
||Lower pump further into well (but at least 5 ft. ( 1.5M) above
bottom of well). Throttle pump discharge until discharge equals
recovery rate of well. NOTICE: Running pump while air locked can
cause loss of prime and seriously damage pump.
|Check voltage at control box with pump running. Check incoming
wire size and power supply wire size against chart in your manual
||Install larger wire from meter to control box. Install larger wire
from control box to pump. If necessary, have power company raise
power supply voltage.
|Pull pump and check condition of screen.
||Clean or replace as necessary.
|Pull pump and examine check valve.
||Free check valve.
|Make sure system is clear of obstructions and pump is in solid
water and operating normally.
|Air or milky water discharge from faucets
||Check for presence of gas in water
||Remove bladder orifices; plug tees. Be sure plugged tees do not
leak. If necessary, separate gas from air before it enters pressure
||Make sure ports and ball-check valves are clear
||Replace control if necessary
Troubleshooting Chart #2
|Pump motor won't run
||Blown fuse, broken (or loose) electrical connections.
||Check fuses, capacitor, relays and all electrical connections.
|Pressure switch not closing.
||Adjust or replace.
|Motor overload protection contact open.
||Contacts will close automatically within short time.
|Incorrect control box.
||Check and replace if necessary.
|Improper wiring connections.
||Check wiring diagram.
||Check voltage at control box.
|Pump stuck or clogged with foreign matter.
||Pull pump and examine.
|Pump runs, but no water pumped
||Check valve installed backwards.
||Reverse and reinstall.
|Setting too deep for rating of pump
||Check rating table.
|Pump not submerged; not deep enough in well.
||Lower pump if possible. Check recovery of well.
|Pump in mud, impeller plugged or intake strainer clogged.
||Pull pump and clean. Check well depth. Raise pump if necessary.
||Strainer or impellers partially clogged or plugged.
||Pull pump and clean.
|Corroded discharge pipe.
|Excessive pump wear.
||Pull pump and replace worn parts; or replace pump.
|Pressure switch won't cut out
||Pressure switch not set correctly.
||Revise setting: 20-lb cut-in, 40-lb cut-out; or 30/50 (depending
on tank size).
|Water level too low in well for rating of pump.
||Check pump setting.
|Switch opening clogged.
||Clean out openings or, if necessary, replace switch.
|Excessive wear on parts.
||Replace worn parts.
|Pump starts too often
runs too long
|Waterlogged tank (loss of air pressure.
||Check tanks for leaks. Recharge with air pressure to proper
level. Check air volume control.
|Check valve leaks.
||Replace or repair.
|Pressure switch out of adjustment.
||Adjust to proper setting and check to assure setting remains. If
not, replace pressure switch.
|Leaks in pipe.
||Check above-ground piping for leaks. If none, pull pump and
check all pipe connections and connection of pipe to pump.
RULE NUMBER 1 - EVERYTHING EVENTUALLY FAILS
RULE NUMBER 2 - USUALLY THE DAY AFTER THE WARRANTY RUNS
RULE NUMBER 3- THE PERVERSE NATURE OF MACHINES REQUIRES
THEM TO FAIL WHEN YOU ARE EXPECTING THE GREATEST NUMBER OF GUESTS.
BEFORE YOU EVEN READ THIS: GO OUT AND TURN THE PUMPS CIRCUIT BREAKERS
OFF THEN ON AGAIN OR REPLACE THE FUSES WITH NEW ONES .IF IT RUNS,
LISTEN FOR WATER RUNNING WHEN OR WHERE IT SHOULDN'T. GIVE YOUR
PRESSURE GAGE A THUMP AND MAKE SURE IT WORKS, IF NOT REPLACE IT
FIRST SO YOU CAN TELL WHAT IS GOING ON.
1. No water
- Motor runs - you can hear it or feel
the pipe vibrate or amp check if you have an amprobe.
a) Hole in drop
pipe or coupling, bleeder valve blown out.
b) Massive leak
in your system. Pump is delivering water just not where
you want it to go.
c) Jammed or
backward check valve. It happens.
d) Pump is out
of the water
e) Pump inlet
screen plugged. Very rare.
f) Pump worn
out. Impellers worn. If it has pumped sand or is very old
this is possible.
g) Pump shaft
broken or coupling stripped. Very rare these days.
h) Pump air
j) Water level
has dropped so far pump can't lift to surface.
- Motor doesn't run
a) No power
to pump - this is the most common thing.
b) Motor failed
c) Wires down
well broken or bad splice.
d) Control box
problem, bad capacitor or relay or cover is not on.
switch problem - easy to fix but usually wishful thinking.
a) Look at the contacts. If they aren't closed figure out
switch thinks the pressure is at shutoff level. Did it
freeze last night?
bad pressure switch or plugged inlet.
a) Burned contacts don't mean much.
b) Bugs in the contacts
are a common problem. Clean them off with the eraser end
of a wooden pencil. These contacts are always electrically hot.
tripped. Look for a red button on or under control box.
g) Pump locked
h) Both wires
to motor or control box are connected to the same leg in
- Not enough water, or pressure - motor runs, perhaps runs
all the time
A) Leaks - surprisingly small leaks
can lose a lot of water. Common problem.
1) Leaks in
your house system.
off line between tank and house and see if pump builds
up pressure normally.
2) Down the
well: Holes in drop pipe or bleeder valve.
B) Pump problems
1) Pump too
small for demand
2) Pump impellers
worn by sand
3) Water level
has dropped below what pump is designed for
4) Check valve
jammed either down well or on surface.
nut can also come off the plunger and improper pipe fittings
can prevent plunger travel.
5) Plugged inlet
screen. Very rare.
6) No water
in well or pump not set deep enough.
7) Motor coupling
stripped or shaft broken. Sometimes can still pump.
C. Tank problems
a) Waterlogged tank will cause pump
to go on and off continually.
This also results
in apparent low pressure. This is very common.
b) Surface check valve stuck open allowing
water to run back down the well or stuck closed preventing
water from getting up.
D. Electrical problems
a) Improper connections at control box.
If color codes were not kept the pump will attempt to start
on the run winding
and will not be able to continue running
b) Low voltage. 230 volt pumps will
run on 115 volts but not very well and will cut out and
when one pole of a two pole circuit breaker has tripped.
Pull both poles all the way to off, then back to
c) Motor has internal short which is
not bad enough to make it stop totally but results in intermittent
operation or less than
full speed operation. This is a frequent motor death mode.
- Bad water
A. Milky -air or gas in water.
1) Natural entrained air or gas - not
much you can do about it.
2) Tank air problem
a) Bad air volume
b) Pumping water
level too low allowing air to be sucked into pump
draw from tank allows air into house lines
B. Sandy - well problem, made worse by frequent starts,
well driller problem
C. Tastes bad - try an activated carbon filter
D. Looks bad - particulates in water, try a cartridge filter
E. Stains sink -Iron and/or manganese in water, water treatment
F. Stinks - hydrogen sulfide gas or methane
G. Slime in strainers - iron bacteria, chlorinate well
- Fuses blow, breakers trip, overloads trip
A. Happens immediately when power applied to motor
1) Short to ground in motor, cables
or supply wires to pressure switch.
box cover or disconnect leads to motor to see where the
things trip very fast.
2) Worn out breaker, wrong size breaker,
non-time delay fuses can't take starting current.
3) Control box problem causing start
winding in motor not to operate. Usually times several
seconds to trip.
4) Low voltage
5) Pump locked up
B. Happens when motor has been running
1) Low voltage
2) Short cycling, too many starts
3) Control box too hot due to sun or
other heat source.
4) Control box problem - bad capacitor,
relay, or wrong size
5) Fuses or overloads too small.
6) Circuit breakers worn out - they
will only trip so many times.
7) Frequent low head starting causing
8) Worn pump - usually causes low amps
but can also cause high amps.
9) Pumping a lot of sand.
10) Wires too small or contacts somewhere
very bad causing high voltage drop.
11) Well is so crooked the pump and
moor have been forced into a bind. You have to work at
it to create this one.
starts and stops too often(This is very hard on submersible
pumps and motors)
A. Water logged tank.
1) Galvanized tank
a) No air charging
system - drain tank and open a fitting to break vacuum.
can always be used as a temporary fix on any tank.
b) Air leak
in tank above water level
c) Surface check
valve is leaking and preventing snifter valve from taking
d) Snifter valve
(usually screwed into check valve) is not working. It should
suck in air every time the
pump stops. Frequent problem area.
e) Bleeder in
well is not letting water leak out of the pipe so air can
be sucked in by the snifter.
f) Pump runs
constantly and so never cycles to put air in tank.
g) Air volume
control letting too much air out.
2) Bladder tank
a) Bladder is ruptured. Tank will feel heavy and water
will come out of tire core valve on top of tank.
has too little pre-charge air in it or, too much. It needs
to be just right which is 2 pounds less
than the start pressure of the pump, measured with the
tank drained and the pump off.
c) Air logged tank - air volume control bad or too much
air being pumped in.
d) Defective pressure switch or set wrong
e) Tank too small for pump size and demand.
f) Check valve on surface may be jammed or partially open
This is for people who are familiar with electricity and
have a voltmeter, ammeter and
ohmmeter and enough common sense not to fry themselves.
There are two basic symptoms:
1) Motor does not run
2) Something trips out
- Motor does not run
A) Makes no sounds - this most likely means no power to motor.
First make sure you have put he cover back on the control
box if it is 1 HP or less. Start at the pressure switch with the switch wedged open
with a non-conductor and measure voltage leg to leg-AND to
If you do not have 230 volts (unless it is a rare 115 volt
motor) trace back to
the circuit breaker or fuse box. If you have 115 volts to
ground on both legs
at the pressure switch, you have both legs on the same hot
leg and thus zero potential difference between them. Put
one leg on the other hot leg.
If you have 115 volts to ground on one leg and zero on the
other, one wire is broken or one half of the 230 volt breaker
is defective or tripped.
If everything is zero at the pressure switch the wires are
broken or the breaker is bad, or tripped, or the main power
If everything checks out then there is an open in the motor
or in the control box or the wiring to the motor. Start by
disconnecting the power at the breaker then di sconnecting
the wires that go down the well from the control box. Use
an ohm meter to check for continuity between all three wires
(or two if it is a two wire pump). Also check each leg to
ground. All should be infinity or at least 10 megohms to
ground. The resistances leg to leg are small. The yellow
is common and the yellow red (start) should be more than
the black (run) to yellow. An open indicates a broken wire,
bad splice or bad
motor. A low resistance to ground indicates a bad motor or
sub cables that are damaged.
B) Motor hums, buzzes . This is either low voltage, a bad
control box, mixed wire color code , shorted motor.
Do all the checks listed in (A) above.
If it is not
covered in (A): Then follow the directions for troubleshooting below -
- If the pump is new
a) Ohm check the wires from the motor.
The highest amp reading
will be Red
The next highest Yellow to Red and the lowest Yellow
If your readings don’t agree, the color code is mixed
b) Wrong voltage control box. Only possible on ½ HP
pumps where 230 volt or 115 volt motors are made. If 115
volt box is used on a 230 system, the control box relay
will be expecting much higher amps and so will not drop
out the start winding.
c) Control box problems. Sometimes they are bad
out of the box.
There are four possible components in a control box:
Start capacitors- black cylinders- most likely to fail. Look for burned off connectors, black gunk oozing out. If
it looks OK, you need an analog ohm meter. Short across
the capacitor to discharge it, then put the ohm meter on
it. It should show a low reading which increases to infinity
over several seconds as the capacitor charges. These are
cheap and readily available at any electric motor shop.
Run capacitors - usually metal cylinders - almost never
fail. Overload relays - “Klixons” the
red button. They fail. If they trip out, check the amp
draw. If it is normal, the overload is bad. By-pass it
with a jumper until you can get one. ( or forget about
Start relay- black or blue square. Most difficult to
diagnose. It depends on whether they are solid state (blue,
or on some original, a small semi- conductor
looking thing) or electro-mechanical, a 2" square with
MARS written on it somewhere. See Franklin-electric.com
(www.fele.com) for details on this. If you get to this
point, just replace the control box.
Control box problems are often caused by short-cycling
of the pump.
- Something trips out. This means the pump overload or
a circuit breaker or fuse. This does not mean the pressure
a) First check for proper voltage starting at the
Then the pressure switch
Then the leads
going down the well.
This can be difficult with control
boxes that have covers that pull the guts out with them.
These are for your safety and the manufacturers safety
from lawyers, but they are a pain to troubleshoot. People
in the industry make jumpers from two old control boxes.
Your best bet is to put a short jumper on the three pump
leads and wire nut them where you can get a probe on them.
This also lets you make amp readings and ohm readings.
b) Circuit breaker trip. If there are no voltage
abnormalities, this is either a dead short somewhere or
a bad breaker. If it takes some time to trip, look for
bad breaker, too small a breaker or hot breaker box. It
may also be a small ground fault resulting in high amps
but usually the pump overload will trip first.
If you are looking for a short or ground fault, open the
circuit breaker so you don’t blow up your ohm meter,
then start at the pump, disconnect the leads going down
the well and check each leg to ground. You should get near
infinity. Next check the yellow to red and yellow to black.
These reading should be very low, 2 to 12 Ohms. The yellow
to red should be higher than the yellow to black. The exact
readings are available from the Franklin-electric.com web
site, but they aren’t that critical. If
you don’t find anything down the well, start working
your way back to the pressure switch, then to the breaker,
until something shows up. Fix it. This will probably
require pulling the pump or digging. The good news is that
you will get your exercise without paying health club dues.
c) Overload trip. This means high amps or bad overload.
Again, assuming nothing showed up on the voltage check,
take amp readings on all three wires. Look up the service
factor amps on Franklin-electric.com,
and compare. These motors are actually designed for
the service factor, i.e. a 2 HP motor is actually a 2.3
HP motor, so it doesn’t hurt them to run at SFA. If
the amps are uniformly high by 10 to 15% it probably means
the motor and/or pump end are shot. If one leg is high
it indicates a ground fault. The red leg is the start
winding, the black is the run winding and the yellow is
common. Any electrons that go down the red and
black have to come up the yellow or go to ground. A single
high leg is probably a ground fault. If you put your
amprobe around all three legs at once and have any current
show, it is a ground fault. It can be motor or sub cable.
When the motor starts you should see a momentary blip
on the red lead amps which may fall off to zero on small
pumps, or fall to a low level on capacitor start/capacitor
run control boxes. If you don’t see this, look
for control box problems or an open in the start circuit.
This usually is accompanied by high amps on the black-yellow
leads as the pump tries to start. It is possible for the
pump to start sometimes without the start circuit.
Bad Smelling Water
Bad smelling well water is usually caused from Hydrogen Sulfide - (H2S). It is commonly mistakenly referred to as Sulphur. It is a colorless, highly toxic and flammable gas. That rotten egg smell is the result of the bacterial breakdown of sulfates in organic matter in the presence of oxygen.
H2S gas is produced by bacteria in the ground and the gas is dissolved into the water and/or migrates into your well and water or the bacteria are in the well producing the gas. The gas comes out of solution when the water is aerated and depressurized. The treatment for H2S is to aerate or absorb or oxidize the gas so IOWs there are many way to remove H2S. It should be removed on a POE (point of entry) basis. Regular softeners do not remove it and it can cause resin problems. Regular carbon (charcoal) is not a good choice and disposable cartridge filters aren't either. Carbon is not to be used on water of unknown microbiological content. That's because bacteria thrive in carbon and can create more odor than in the raw water. Your disposable cartridges can cause your softener to fail due to their pressure loss and subsequent reduced water flow to the softener. You charge cartridges based on pressure loss, not looks. We can't see particles less than 45 microns in size. Carbon cartridges are usually rated at 5 microns. Pleated paper cartridges tend to filter smaller particles as they filter larger particles, IOWs they are 'progressive' meaning the more they filter the more they filter. That reduces water flow. The plumber shouldn't have used the cartrdige type filters which as you now see aren't working well.
Use of a solution feeder which is the most maintenance ridden type of equipment there is in the water treament industry That's where you pour bleach into a small tank with a pump on the top and it injects chlorine soution into the plumbing ahead of a retention tank. If so they don't work well especially if there is any fluctuation in the volume of H2S or bacteria in the water. The solution feeder, its required retention tank (maybe 120 gallons) and (there should be a) backwashed filter to remove any color in the water from the oxidation and the chlorine while they take up a lot of space.
Another approach is a chlorine pellet erosion type feeder that mounts on the plumbing like your disposable cartrdige filters and has a special mixing tank that's not much larger than your softener resin tank and then a backwashed Centaur carbon filter which is also not much larger than the softener resin tank. The maintenance is to add chlorine pellets every few months.
You can buy this equipment over the internet and hire someone to install it or find someone to help you install it, and save a considerable amount of money.
Pressure Switch Adjustments
Using your existing pumping equipment, you may be able to increase
your water pressure. If the pump is able to produce more pressure,
you can adjust the pressure and rebalance the pressure tank to
achieve greater pressure in the home. Use caution when deciding
to undertake this mini-project. As you increase the pressure range
you will be reducing the storage capacity of your pressure tank.
This will cause the pump to turn on and off more often, increasing
the wear. This usually reduces the lifespan of the pump. Do not
raise the pressure above the rating of any of your water using
If we assume that the pressure switch is a Square D Pumptrol Model
FSG-2 (a common model), you can adjust the pressure using the following
directions. You will need a 3/8 hollow stemmed nut drive, a volt
meter, a tire gauge and an air compressor or bike pump (and a lot
How to Balance a Pressure Tank System
- Run water from a faucet and note the pressure at which the
pump turns on and off. Choose a new pressure range as a goal.
For example if your pressure range is 20/40 your goal may be
to raise the range to 30/50.
- Turn power to the pump off.
- Turn faucet on until the pressure gauge reads 0 and the water
- Check the air pressure in the pressure tank with a tire gauge
at the air valve located on the tank.
- Adjust the air pressure in the tank with your compressor (or
bike pump) to 2 PSI less than the desired pump turn-on point.
- Remove the cover from the pressure switch.
- With the volt meter, check for power at the pressure switch
(Line 1 to Line 2, Load 1 to Load 2) To ensure the power is off.
- Then with the 3/8" nut driver, tighten
the nut on the taller spring clockwise. A quarter turn for
1 PSI change is the rule of thumb; however, this varies greatly
from switch to switch. We also don't recommend that you raise
your pressure over 65 PSI with this type of switch.
- Replace the cover on the switch and turn on the power.
- Watch the pressure gauge as the pump fills the pressure tank.
When the pressure gets to the cut off point you desire shut the
power off and loosen (counter-clockwise) the nut until the electrical
contacts on the pressure switch open. Or repeat steps 6, 7, 8,
and 9 until you achieve your desired pressure.
- Turn the power back on
- Run the water again and verify that the pressure when the pump
turns on and off is your desired range. The switch comes factory
preset to have a 20 PSI range. We do not recommend that you attempt
to adjust the range of the switch
The proper balance in a pressure tank will prolong
pump life and give you more steady water pressure in you home.
Equipment you will need for this mini-project is a tire gauge and
an air compressor or bike pump (and a lot of energy).
Before you attempt to balance your tank
you should take care to ensure that your pressure tank bladder
is not burst. A quick unscientific test for this is as follows
for this is as follows.
off the power to your pumping system at your fused disconnect
or breaker box.
on a faucet until the water stops
- When the water
stops the tank should have no water left in the tank. Most
tanks can be wiggeled back and forth. As you attempt this take
note if the tank feels heavier than it should and listen hear
if water is sloshing. (Warring: you may cause a break in your
you shake your tank to hard tank)
the tank has extra weight or you hear sloshing of water Please
call a Professional.
Now you are ready to balance your tank.
To do this follows the below instruction.
water from a faucet and note the pressure at which the pump
turns on and off.
power to the pump off. Turn faucet on until the pressure
gauge reads 0 and the water stops.
the air pressure in the pressure tank with a tire gauge at
the air valve located on the tank.
the air pressure in the tank with your compressor (or bike
pump) to 2 PSI less than the pump turn-on point. (note: if
you have a low pressure cut off switch you may want to set
is up to 5 PSI less than the cut on point)
the power to your pumping system back on.
water and watch the pressure gauge to see if the on/off cycle
is smooth. If the needle has any fast jumps repeat the above
How To Reset a Square D FSG-2-M4 switch (or equivalent)
Low pressure cutoff switches are very common additions
to residential pumping systems. These switches require
manual resetting, and knowing how to do this can save
the homeowner a service call.
Below is the guide to resetting
a Square-D low pressure cutoff switch.
Low Pressure cut off switches or M-4 switches are an
inexpensive way to help protect your water well pump from running
dry. However they are not fool proof. One of the most common over
the phone repairs we do is how to reset this switch. Some of the causes
of the switch being tripped are:
* Pressure dropped due to home using too much water at
* Pressure dropped due to power outage
* Pressure dropped due to water line breakage
* Pressure dropped due to low water in well
Basically, any time your pressure drops 10 psi below
the cut-in pressure, the switch will trip. To reset the switch you must
hold the lever (see figure B) on the side of the switch up at about a 30
degree angle to restart the pump. If the switch makes an audible "click" the
lever is too far. Hold the switch in the on position until the pressure
builds back up high enough to reset. The pressure can be read on
the pressure gauge usually mounted next to the pressure switch (see
Q. How do I set my bladder
tank air pressure?
A. A bladder tank comes from the factory with
pressure in the top of the tank. This air pressure will just
about never be what the label says it’s supposed to
be. So adjustments are necessary.
Pressure switch’s that tell your pump motor when
to start and stop are normally factory set at either 20PSI
on and 40PSI off or 30 - 50, 40 - 60. I personally like
40 - 70. That gives a little more water between pump cycles.
Regardless of the high pressure setting, the on pressure setting is the
one that matters to the bladder tank. If your tank has 30lbs.
in it and you want your pump to turn on at 30lbs. You will
need to let out two pounds making the bladder tank air pressure
28PSI. The same with 20 on or 40 on. Make the
tank pressure two pounds less than the on setting of
the pressure switch.The reason for this is to have the pump
turn on just before the tank reaches it’s air pressure
setting. This prevents the tank from going completely empty
when the air bladder hits the bottom of the tank. If this were
to happen, the pressure in your plumbing would immediately
go to zero since there is no more water to be pushed out of
the tank. This condition is not desired when your in the shower.
Of coarse the pump will kick on at this point making the zero
condition only momentary, but nevertheless aggravating.
Q. How do I adjust my pressure
A. Since Square D is probably the most popular pressure
switch on the market, that’s the one we will talk about.
The Square D pressure switch and a few other brands that have
copied Square D normally have two springs pushing down on a
plate supported on top by 3/8” locking nuts. These
nuts can be adjusted to set the desired on/off pressure of
your pump motor.
If you are looking to increase the pressure switch settings,
you should first adjust the taller of the two springs. This
spring will move the on/off setting evenly. That is to
say a 20/40 setting can easily become a 30/50, 40/60 or anything
in between. To raise the pressure, turn the tall springs
nut clockwise a few turns. Turn on a faucet and watch
your gauge. ( a good working gauge is necessary ) When the
pump starts, the pressure on the gauge is your on pressure. Close
the faucet, and let the pump shut off. This pressure
is the off pressure. To decrease the on/off pressure,
turn nuts counterclockwise.
To increase the off pressure, turn the short springs nut clock
wise a few turns and run water to re cycle the pump. Keep
adjusting for desired off pressure.
I don’t recommend setting switch higher than 70 PSI for
Some bladder tanks will
not allow much more than the 20 psi differental. Don’t top out the bladder.
This will shorten it’s life dramatically