Well issues, losing water overnight

Home Improvement Asked by Roadnuts on December 20, 2020

So, basic back story, well pump was done in 2012, approx 7 years old. House is 1992 built, 3 bathrooms, 4 kids, 2 adults. The kids shower almost every night back to back, which recently became an issue as water pressure drops to the point of nothing. This goes on for months, and if you let the system sit turned on overnight, water pressure is back to normal in the morning. Well is 280’ deep, static depth is marked as 10’ deep on the well tank. Well pressure tank as far as I can tell is original to the house, I have not changed it since I moved in, 2006. Well Xtrol 20 gallon pressure tank. I had checked the air pressure when the problem first arose this summer, and found it to be ~15psi. I readjusted it to 28. I had a plumber come check the system to determine the fault. They said the well pump was failing and drawing 4 amps which they said is abnormal. They replaced the pressure switch because I had installed one with a shutoff. After receiving a ridiculous quote for $2400 to replace the pump, I decided to replace the pump myself with the same unit. 3/4hp, Goulds. Same exact unit that we had before. Pain in the ass dragging 280’ of line and the pump up by hand, but somehow got it done. Replaced the pump and motor assembly, torque arrestor, spacers, and lots of electrical tape. Everything I got from the supply house was awesome and well priced. Since replacing the pump, anytime we call on a significant amount of water, ie; 4 kids showering back to back, the water will randomly lose pressure and die completely. I will leave everything on overnight and in the morning, approx 8 hours later, the water is back to normal. 50-60 psi. The thing I have noticed is the amount of sediment. We have two water filters for sediment, one is larger than the other. The first larger one is getting very dirty very quickly. It used to take a good 3-6 months to get really dirty so that water pressure dropped, but now it seems to only take a couple weeks. I’m at wits end and really just want this water issue fixed! Looking for advice on what to do next. Thank you!

3 Answers

With a significant sediment issue I can recommend (happy user, not in any way connected) a type of filter that spins out the bulk of sediment by a vortex action to a reservoir where it can be removed (by opening a valve) without needing to change the actual filter element, (which in my case is a washable screen element) at least as a pre-filter before any other sort of filter that could get clogged up. "Spin Out" or "Spin Down" are reasonable search terms to find that type of filter.

A two-wire 240V pump is normally just wired with 2 wires carrying 240V (+ a grounding wire) - using two wires does not mean it's running on 120V unless you measured the voltage at 120V, and in that case it had better be a 120V pump (unlikely with a 3/4 horsepower, possible with a 1/2 horsepower) or someone did something wrong. One possible thing someone did wrong was specifying the pump that you replaced with "the exact same model" in the first place - its obviously not the original pump if there's a 3-wire pump control box hanging around. There are many variations in pumps and the related pump curves - yours may not be ideal, or else you really are overdrawing the well (assuming a 6" casing [you didn't specify] and 10 foot static depth, with a pump set at 280 ft, you should have ~400 gallons of reserve capacity, which seems like it should be plenty.)

Answered by Ecnerwal on December 20, 2020

Looking at the timing of the question, you may have already solved your issue(s), but in the event that you didn't, here's a few tips.

1) Water systems are meant to be used, even if it involves kids who like long showers. I personally like a nice long, hot shower, so in our situation it would have been a test of self-control. Besides, who would purchase a 2-ton truck and be told that you could only put 300lbs in it? Plus, the previous answer estimated 15 litres a minute for a shower - that's a lot more water than any shower I have used. In the U.S., most shower heads limit the flow to under 2 gallons per minute (gpm), which would equate to roughly less than 8 litres per minute.

2) Could be the pump, but the impact of that would be felt much more rapidly. It would probably start to show as soon as the pressure tank lost it's capacity on about the first shower.

3) The sediment is probably coming from exhausting the capacity of your well. I picture the pump sucking water out of the water table until it starts running dry and then getting sediment from the empty cavity. Overnight the well replenishes itself and fills the pressure tank.

What will solve almost all of your problems is a reserve tank, sometime called a cistern. This is just a big poly tank of roughly 1000 gallons, that acts as your main water source. The existing pump supplies the reserve tank with a capacity switch that turns on when it reaches a low level and a separate surface pump supplies your current pressure tank. This will put a lot less strain on your well, well pump and provide constant water supply to your house. It will also make it easier to filter the sediment.

If you are able to change out a well pump at 280', then you can install a reserve tank and surface pump. It's not a complex task and you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself. I built a small shed around the tank to dress it up a bit, leaving enough room for the surface pump and a shelf of replacement filters. The surface pump should be available at the same location you purchased the other pump.

My neighbor also installed a reserve tank and put in two pressure tanks, as he wanted the pressure to remain more constant while he was using it. In any event, this should solve all of your capacity issues and make filtering a lot easier.

Answered by GMisenar on December 20, 2020

Several things:

  1. Re-train the kids to a 3 minute shower: (Australia uses shower timers and so do showers in swimming pools etc) A shower should be get wet, water off soap on, then rinse off... Not a 20 minute marathon...

  2. Why give the motor 120V when it is designed for 240V? Have you checked the voltage being delivered?

  3. The lowering of the water level may have put the intake in a "dirtier" position, so you should check.

If, back in 2012, there were only 2 of you, then the water use has increased from say 400 litres to 1200 litres per day, assuming 200 litres per person.

If you think of a shower at 15 litres a minute, then a 3 minute shower is 45 litres but a 20 minute shower is 300 litres then multiplied by 4 kids 1200 litres just for showers without the rest of the use.

Answered by Solar Mike on December 20, 2020

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