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Old 07-02-2014, 07:31 PM   #1
Manuel Garcia O'Kely OP
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Fixing the Water System

One of the more fun parts of country living is being your very own utilities company. We are lucky to have a captured spring that fills a large cistern buried on the property. Water is then pumped via a submersible pump to a pressure tank in the house.

So lately I noticed that the pump has been running a LOT. I mean even when we are not drawing water, every 90 seconds or so. Using a pressure gauge showed that indeed we do have a leak some where - it's not in the house - using the isolation valve I determined it's between the house and the cistern...shit.

The guy who did a lot of work on this house and built the water system still lives here so he came over to take a look at it. It's been 23 years. We determine that the problem is a leak in the pipe in the cistern, enough that you can see the water gushing out of the pipe. He starts taking the assembly apart to find the broken part...and he calls me over "Mannie....you gotta take a look at THIS...."

Part of our challenge is the very short stub of feedline to the house still in the tank...well, reason is it was broken off in the past, the former owner took a coupling , slipped it over the broken PVC stub and attaches it WITH FOUR WOOD SCREWS THRU THE COUPLER AND FEED PIPE. The water is blowing out of the screw holes! FECK!!!

We have to dig out the discharge pipe and replace it with a galvanized section and a pitless adaptor, new drop pipe and a new pump - the old pump looks like it's on it's last legs, since we have to dig stuff up, a pump is a minor add-on....

The good news is that in spite of the leak, we still have water and once we get all the parts, the actual replacement project should take only a day. I sure hope we can keep that schedule.

Well, I know more than I ever wanted to know about these things now, but I'm really grateful to the original contractor who is glad to re-do this for us and fix it the right way.

Now I need to figure out how big a pump I need to buy - I want to upgrade to a 3/4 HP from a half, but wonder if 10 gpm is enough - the lift is really low so the actual flow is really good - total head is less than 20'.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:41 PM   #2
CodeMonkee
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Needed flow rate depends on how much water you use in your house and on your property at the same time. A larger pressure tank (or installing one if you don't have one) can help too for sudden demand and takes some of the load off the pump because it doesn't have to startup so often.

That said, I think the minimum flow for a 2K SF house with 2 full baths is 5 GPM, preferably more. Ten GPM ought to be enough for most houses unless you have a lot of concurrent demand. I get along with what I have - I think it is somewhere between 5 and 10 GPM - but then I am single and I rarely run all my water usages at the same time.

You are lucky to have a spring. I am lucky to have a well that only needs to be 120 feet deep (static water level was 60 feet when drilled, pump is 80 feet). My neighbors have wells down to 400+ feet and one is having problems, had to drop his pump down another 40 feet. Obviously they are in a different aquifer from me - they had to go through solid rock, my well didn't.

My next house, I will have the well setup with an aux. solar pump in case the power goes out. I may also have a hand pump put in too.
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:27 PM   #3
troidus
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Originally Posted by CodeMonkee View Post
My next house, I will have the well setup with an aux. solar pump in case the power goes out. I may also have a hand pump put in too.
Could you reinforce part of the house framing and put a 100 gallon tank in the attic to cover for short-term outages? That would maybe save you from needing a hand pump, which would be a real pain to draw from if your water table is very far down. (Imagine needing 400 strokes just to get water started.)
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Old 07-03-2014, 10:43 AM   #4
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Could you reinforce part of the house framing and put a 100 gallon tank in the attic to cover for short-term outages? That would maybe save you from needing a hand pump, which would be a real pain to draw from if your water table is very far down. (Imagine needing 400 strokes just to get water started.)
You could, or you could just put it up on a tower or other elevated structure. You would not get much pressure from something in the attic - you only get ~4 PSI per 10 feet. Some household appliances require at least 40 PSI - like a clothes washing machine (they often have a pressure sensing switch that won't allow the cycle to start until they have enough water pressure). Of course, if you have power to run the appliance you probably have power to run the pump.

Local neighbor up the road has some decent sized water tanks at the upper end of their property. while they have a house and garage nearby, there is also some kind of house about 100 feet (or more) lower at the other end. That would give them 40 PSI. That is what I would like to do - then I would have a backup to the well in case of wildfire.

As for the handpump, there are deep well (200 feet or less) hand pumps that get going after 10 strokes or so.

http://bisonpumps.com/

I wouldn't want to rely on hand pumping to pressurize the house system, but it would be a good backup for drinking water and maybe other restricted uses.

You pretty much can't live without water, so it is very important. To me, it is worth the expense to have the backup. Right now I just have a 6KW Honda genset, which could run a few things in the house and the well pump. But it would be nice to have a solar and hand backup.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:40 PM   #5
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If you run irrigation plus the house, one concept is to have a separate irrigation pump, installed higher than the domestic pump so it can't starve the domestic pump. The irrigation pump would be piped directly to the irrigation system with no bladder tank, and only be run while irrigating. The domestic pump and bladder tank will last a lot longer that way.

If it's only domestic, the pump only needs to be big enough to supply the house, if it's oversized it will cycle more which will reduce its life.

I'm sure you have already checked to make sure the bladder tank is working properly. A popped bladder will cause a the pump to fail shortly, too.

Don't forget to shock chlorinate after working on the system...
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:58 PM   #6
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Not trying to change the subject but a very quick question.
Since you have about 15-20 feet of head, is there a one way check valve in the feed pipe to keep it from always draining back into the cistern?
Maybe this is no biggie, but I'm nosy
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Old 07-04-2014, 09:56 AM   #7
Manuel Garcia O'Kely OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally View Post
If you run irrigation plus the house, one concept is to have a separate irrigation pump, installed higher than the domestic pump so it can't starve the domestic pump. The irrigation pump would be piped directly to the irrigation system with no bladder tank, and only be run while irrigating. The domestic pump and bladder tank will last a lot longer that way.

If it's only domestic, the pump only needs to be big enough to supply the house, if it's oversized it will cycle more which will reduce its life.

I'm sure you have already checked to make sure the bladder tank is working properly. A popped bladder will cause a the pump to fail shortly, too.

Don't forget to shock chlorinate after working on the system...
Quote:
Originally Posted by BerndM View Post
Not trying to change the subject but a very quick question.
Since you have about 15-20 feet of head, is there a one way check valve in the feed pipe to keep it from always draining back into the cistern?
Maybe this is no biggie, but I'm nosy
Do a lot of irrigation but the water supply is, well, unlimited and if I get low, I have water rights to the creek too. We don't do enough irrigation to justify a second pump, plus it would require me to run another power line or re-wire our existing system with a lot more complications....

the tank is good. Shock chlorinate? Ha ha....we use this water for everything except drinking, there's an RO system for drinking water only. I'm used to the idea that our water is raw.

Check Valve: Actually, our initial thought was the problem was the check valve - until we found the screws that were leaking. Yes, using the check valve is how the tank stays full and you don't put air into the system.

I'm thinking about installing a "Winter Leak" in the new system so that it will periodically drain and refill the pipes/tank during the cold months to prevent the in ground pipe from freezing....just a valve in a T coupling that would return a small amount of water to the cistern like the current leak does, only we could adjust it way down to reduce pump cycles and still keep the pipe water moving once in a while...With heat tape around the bladder tank to warm the return water...
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