TROUBLESHOOTING

Troubleshooting

TROUBLESHOOTING INDEX:

Page Number 
 



1.  Smelly water

2.  Pump cycles (turns on/off) too often

2.  Pump starts/stops with no water being used

3.  Pump control clicks on/off every few minutes

3.  Pump runs, but does not pump any water

3.  Low water pressure

3.  Pressure fluctuates

4.  No water – pump does not run

4.  Noisy pump

4.   Water is above ground, around the well

5.   Water is murky/discolored

5.   Black specs in the water

5.   Sand in the wate

6.   White/grey scale

6.   Red staining

6.   Slimy toilet tank / oily film

6.   Irrigation systems


Page 1

We hope you find the following information useful. Please call T.L. Stevens Well Company (763-479-2272) if we may be of further assistance.

There are two type of pumping systems for private water wells; standard and constant pressure. Both types can experience the same problems.

Standard pumping systems operate on 40-60 PSI. This means that the pump supplies water to the pressure tank until the pressure reaches 60 PSI. The pump does not turn on to replenish the water supply until the pressure drops to 40 PSI. The 20 pound pressure loss will be noticeable when you are taking a shower and other sources are demanding water at the same time.

Constant pressure pumping systems have a variable speed drive, which maintains 55-60 PSI at all times. It does not have a 20 pound pressure loss. The system will quietly deliver the same water pressure throughout the entire home, even when more than 1 source is using water.

TROUBLESHOOTING WELL WATER SYSTEMS: 

  VERY IMPORTANT: DO TURN OFF the power to your water well system, before touching any part that has electricity running to it.

DON'T TURN OFF, or close, the valve on the incoming water line, if there is one. This valve is located between the well and the pressure tank. When a pump runs, and the water has no place to go, the pump will burn up.

Water smells like rotten eggs (sulfur smell)

Well: If both hot and cold water smells, the smell is most likely coming from the well water. Your well should be chlorinated.

Water heater: If only the hot water smells (not the cold) the smell is most likely coming from the anode rod in your water heater. The anode rod attracts minerals in the water so they don't collect in the bottom of your water heater and cause premature failure. Removing the anode rod will resolve the smell, but it will also void the warranty on your water heater.

In-line filter: You may have an in-line filter that needs to be changed. This filter is usually located after the pressure tank, but before the water softener or iron filter.

Water softener or iron filter needs to be serviced because it could have a plugged injector,screen, needs salt, isn't regenerating properly, etc.

Page 2

Stagnant water due to low usage, can smell. Run water full flow and continuously for about 1 hour. We recommend running it through an outside water hose, since there is no need for the water to go into your septic system. After an hour, run all the inside faucets for 5 minutes.

Plastic supply lines: If smelly water is only in some faucets, look at the water supply line under the sink that feeds water to the faucet. Flexible plastic lines have a tendency to absorb odor, so should be changed out to copper or stainless steel feed lines.

Pump cycles (turns on/off) too often:

Pressure tank: A galvanized pressure tank may not have enough air in it. Over time, the ratio of air and water in the tank becomes unbalanced (meaning the water has absorbed the air in the tank). Water needs to be drained from the tank and air should be added so the ratio is approximately 75% air and 25% water. 

  If you have a pressure tank with a bladder, there is a good chance the bladder has a hole in it, or is broken and no longer separates air from water. In this case, you need a new pressure tank.

Drop pipe (galvanized): There is a hole in the drop pipe, which allows part of the water to leak back into the well instead of going to the pressure tank. This makes your pump turn on/off more often to maintain 60 PSI. The drop pipe should be replaced. (A large hole in the drop pipe can cause the pump/motor to over heat and burn out, if the problem is not resolved in a timely manner.) (If you listen at the well head, when the pump is running, or just shut off, you might, but not always, hear the water leaking back into the well.)

Drop pipe (PVC): PVC pipe is threaded and coupled together. If a coupling cracks, the result can be the same as described for galvanized drop pipe.

Check valve: The check valve is not closing, thus allowing water to run back into the well.

Leaks: There is a leak in the water line, somewhere between the well and the house.

Lawn/garden irrigation: When watering your lawn, it is best to keep the water flow high enough so the pump runs continuously, instead of turning on/off frequently. Continuous running of a pump is easier on the pumping equipment and takes less electricity.

Pump starts and stops with no water being used:

See above “Pump cycles too often”. You have a leak somewhere in your water system.

 Page 3 

Pump control clicks on/off every few minutes:

See above “pump cycles too often”. You have a waterlogged or bad bladder in your pressure tank, a bad pump or water leak somewhere in your system.

Pump runs, but does not pump any water:

See above “Pump cycles too often”. You have a major leak somewhere in your water system, or the pump shaft is broken.

Be sure the valve between the pump and the pressure tank is open, if there is one. When a pump runs, and the water has no place to go, the pump will burn up.

If the weather is below freezing, and your system is not properly buried or insulated, you may have a frozen pipe or fitting that prevents water flow. Check the temperature (near the floor) of the area in which your pressure tank is located. Crawl spaces and older basements are susceptible to leaks/cracks in the foundation, which can permit cold air penetration. You need to get heat into that area to bring the temperature above freezing. You may also want to put heat tapes around the pipes. 

  Low water pressure / pressure fluctuates:

Pressure gauge: If your pressure gauge is not working, this will not affect your actual pressure. You just will not be able to see at what pressure your system is operating.

Pressure switch: If the pressure switch is not working properly, the unit needs to be replaced.

In-line filter: You may have an in-line filter that needs to be changed because it is plugged, thus restricting your water flow. This filter is usually located after the pressure tank, and before the water softener or iron filter.

Softener or Iron Filter: The unit may need to be serviced. Injectors or other equipment parts could be plugged, thus restricting water flow.

Plumbing: The plumbing, primarily between the pressure tank and the water treatment equipment, can become restricted due to mineral build up from untreated water running through it.

Pump: The pump may be weak (due to age), so cannot build adequate pressure.

Pressure tank needs to be dewaterlogged.

Screens on your faucets may be plugged, causing restricted flow.

Page 4

No water – Pump does not run:

Your pressure switch is not working and needs to be replaced. 

  Most pumps run on 230V power. If the power company lost partial service to your home, you may only be getting 110V, so your pump won't work, but other appliances which only require 110V will.

Check your circuit breaker for the well equipment to be sure it is on. If it tripped off, reset it. If it trips off again, you may have a short in your pump, control box, UF wire or submersible wire.

If you have fuses (not circuit breakers), replace the fuses. If they blow again, you may have a short in your pump, control box, UF wire or submersible wire. BE SURE to disconnect the power to the fuse box BEFORE changing the fuses.

Noisy pump:

If the water line from the well to the house is copper or galvanized, the metal will allow noise from the well to travel through the plumbing. Installing a PVC loop on the water line just before the pressure tank can reduce the noise factor. Today, most water lines from the well to the house are PE (polyethylene) and help absorb noise.

If you have an older pump/motor, the bearings may be going out, creating more noise.

Water is above ground, around the well:

This indicates there is a leak at the pitless unit (6' below grade), or in the water line near the well. The suspect area needs to be dug up, to expose and repair the fault.

Another possibility is a hole in the drop pipe, which overfills the well with water, causing water to flow out the top of the well. In this case, the drop pipe needs to be replaced.

 Page 5

Water is murky/discolored, but wasn't before:

Drop pipe: A hole in the drop pipe (inside the well) can cause water turbulence, resulting in discolored water.

Well casing: A hole in the well casing can permit dirt and water run off to enter the well and discolor the water. This can also contaminate the water. The problem should be addressed immediately.

Insufficient water supply: Water in the well is drawing down too much. This could be due to a plugged screen (at the bottom of the well), or the well is not producing enough water.

Plumbing: Pump replacement and plumbing repair can loosen particles in the pipes. This may temporarily discolor your water. Run a garden hose outside, at full flow, for 1-2 hours and the water should clear up. If you notice reduced water flow in your faucets, remove and clean the screens, which can become plugged with loose particles.

Black specs in the water:

The black specs are most likely manganese. Manganese is mineral in the water and may accumulate on metals (steel casing, galvanized drop pipe). Eventually this accumulation flakes off into the well water. The well should be blown (cleaned out) to remove the manganese build up. Not all the manganese can be removed from existing metals, so this issue can reoccur.

A sediment filter can stop manganese at the point of installation. Be sure the filter is properly sized, so it will not restrict water pressure. Filters are normally installed after the pressure tank, but before the water softener/iron filter.

A short-term solution to remove manganese is to run an outside water hose, at full flow, for 2-4 hours, then check the water coming from your faucets. The black specs may be gone or diminished. Manganese can accumulate inside faucet screens. If you have low water flow, remove and clean your faucet's screen.

Sand in the water

This can be caused by (1) pump set too far down in the well (2) pump is too big (3) well screen is deteriorated (4) well casing has a hole in it. Sand solutions vary from cleaning out the well, relocating the pump, installing a sand separator or sediment filter, to drilling a new well.

Page 6

White/grey scale indicates water hardness. Installing a water softener should resolve the issue. 

Red stains in sinks, toilets, showers, clothes indicate a high level of iron in the water. Installing an iron filter should resolve the issue. 

Slimy toilet tank / oily film on water

This can be caused by various factors. In the MN west metro area, it is usually the result of manganese in the water. Your toilet tank will most likely have a black ring or have slime. Installing an iron filler is the best solution to manage manganese. 

Not as common in the MN west metro area is the presence of iron bacteria. Iron bacteria will usually cause yellow, orange, red, or brown stains and colored water. You may also see a rainbow colored, oil-like sheen on the water.   Your water system should be chlorinated. 

Irrigation Systems:

An irrigation specialist needs to know how many gallons per minute your well and pump will continuously supply. This GPM figure will determine the number of zones your irrigation system requires, and their on/off time configuration. Too many zones sprinkling at the same time will cause excessive stress on your pump, thus shortening its life.
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