Well water and sprinkler systems

newhomeownersOctober 24, 2010


Wondering if one of you experts can help us with our irrigation issues. Here is the background: We bought the house with the irrigation system installed for the front and side yard. There are around 10 -12 sprinkler heads installed. The irrigation system hooks into our well water supply.

The well water is run by a over the ground (in the basement) pump and the controls for the irrigation are also in the basement.

Starting this summer, every time we turned on sprinkler system, after 15 minutes of running, the water pressure in the pump drops completely and there is absolutely no water. We have to then turn off the irrigation system and water pump and try and pour water down the spout/pipe for the pump and try and get the water return back up and re-start the pump to see if the pressure comes back up.

The above has fixed the water issue every time till now but it means that we cannot use our irrigation system. Unfortunately, every time we try using our irrigation system, we loose the water supply in the house.

Earlier we thought maybe it is because of drought conditions but since then we have had enough rain but still the same issue. BTW we never had this issue before this year.

Can someone please help?? Sorry for the long winded post...we need help as our grass is barely surviving and our trees and shrubs are dying....please advise!

Thank you!

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The system that you describe over time is fraught with air leakage problems. See past threads for transfer pumps. It is difficult for pumps to suck water up out of a well and into the pump. Air being sucked into the pump via leaky fittings can cause loss of pump prime. These type of systems have to have a perfect seal to the pump and a working check or foot valve. A better more reliable system has a submersible pump in the well and pushes water to were you need it on demand. Does your system have a pressure tank and internal bladder? This could isolate your house from your irrigation system and only run the pump when your pressure drops in the tanks. Look into having a professional repair the leaks or convert your system to something more reliable. Aloha

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 1:44PM
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DITTO lehua. In addition, do you ever check your depth to standing water for the well, drawdown and recovery rates? Darned good idea and handy to know both now and in the future. Make a habit of checking those well characteristics at least once per year and KEEP A RECORD OF THEM, the records can tell your local well contractor a great deal about your well in the future should problems arise and save you money. You may already know that a hole in the ground can cost you money. Your well is a precious resource, take care of it.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 9:48PM
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Very good advice. Aloha

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 10:45PM
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Thanks l: the state came by yesterday to do their biannual inspection of the municipal water system I manage, HURRAY, IT PASSED! Now if I can get that darned submersible sewer pump to behave life will be relatively care free.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:13PM
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dare I ask what are the symptoms of that misbehaving submersible. Maybe a replacement of the impeller. How old? plop in a rebuilt spare. What kind of inspection? Water Quality? or general pump efficiency, maintenance and house keeping? Aloha

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 10:58PM
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Hi L: Sudden rise in amperage past motor safe limit when in operation. The condition can be caused by a solid getting wedged between the impeller and the bowl causing drag, other times it can actually increase the pump's flow rate which of course is more work and higher amps. It has been my experience that when anything happens to the impeller that decreases it's ability to pump, like swallowing a brick chunk and breaking off a vain, the amperage decreases along with the flow rate. Similarly, if the voulte gets plugged, the flow rate goes down along with the amperage. It is a 3-ph pump, all 3 legs read nearly identical amps and volts and the voltage is balanced across legs 1-2, 1-3 and 2-3. Best guess, partially jammed inpeller. Oh yes, the partner pump in the wet well checks out fine eliminating the possibility of a down stream obstruction, speaking of which... the check valve for the pump will be the first thing to check for an obstruction when I can get help. The pumps and check valves are in a hazardous environment with lousy access, no way in Hades I'm dealing with that alone!

Being that this is a raw sewage application, an upstream commutator (grinder) would likely eliminate the possibility of solids ever causing the pumps to become jammed.

The pump is 1 1/2 y.o.. It replaced a pump that had been in service for 26 yrs., same make and model. Sadly, the best I can do for scheduled maintenance is checking voltage and amperage, wish I had a megger for resistance. In addition, I have both pumps on individual clocks that record amt. of run time. I check and record run time twice daily and have records going back about 6 years for reference and comparative purposes. The clocks have been money very well spent. The best I can do for flow is a v-notch weir, not too precise.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 8:51PM
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Time to hire a specialized outside service to pull the pump and check valve operation? The price is competitive now a days. Let your fingers do the walking. Ask for some stimulus money, its free. You definitely have your grip on the pulse of this problem. GL. Aloha

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 9:16PM
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Hi L: we pulled both pumps yesterday and found the same stuff worked up the volutes and into the impellers, I'm guessing baby wipes and/or those things they sell for old folks referred to as sanitary wipes. the darned sanitary wipes suggest on the box to flush them down the toilet, WRONG!!! After all was said and done and the pumps were put back on line I was relieved... until this morning, seems I forgot to throw the breakers back on to the pumps when we had finished, that was the cherry on top of a lousy day.

Both pumps now read in the 7.8 +- 0.1 amp range on all legs, when installed they read in the 8.9 +- 0.1 range, not good but the weir still shows appx. the same flow for both pumps. I doubt chewing on those wads suddenly caused the pumps to run more efficiently, just pump less than I can accurately measure.

Oh yes, the check valves are fine.

We are in such a remote area it is difficult just to get someone to help with our water and sewer systems, I likely can get some from 100+ miles away on an emergency basis when my usual help is unavailable but it would be very expensive for this little town.

Enough with the poo topic for now.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 2:06PM
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Good to be self-reliant although requires ingenuity. Congratulation. I always loved Eeyore best, then Tiger, then Pooh. Aloha

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 7:37PM
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I always liked Eeyore the best too but try not to think about poo, it reminds me of work ;)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:23PM
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Hi Lehua13 and Michael357 for the suggestions on the issues.
I am back here because the problems seems to have returned. We do have a pressure tank and internal bladder and it does not seem to help. We had a few well contractors come out but some said that maybe we did not have enough rain and the well does not have enough water. But this year, we have had enough rain at least, more than last year but still same issue! One of the well contractor said open up the well (it is outside and under a concrete covere that would reuire some work) and dig deeper and see what is going on and it would cost some substantial money! And lastly, one contractor said, it is all in our head..there is no problem!!
BTW our evergreen trees died and we spent a lot of money replacing them. We do not want to end up with dead landscape again. Can you please advise? Also if you have reccomendation for a good well company around middlesex NJ that may be also helpful. Thank you for your help!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 2:42PM
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I really don't what to advise because not one of your contractors mentioned that the system might be leaking air. The only thing I can thing of is to make sure that you are not over pumping your well or the well is not yielding as much water as before( water table lower than it used to be). All this information is obtained from your contractors. You monitor your well level draw down versus your pumping rate. Is there anyway to have, as back up to your well system, the City water supply hooked to your system? At least your plants would not be dead. Since I haven't actually seen your setup I can't really make an educated guess without going into major detail descriptions. Check your pressure tank for any leaks as well. Aloha

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Have you looked into getting new well water pump start relay?

Here is a link that might be useful: Pump Start Relay

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 12:15PM
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