Water Well and Pump Repair/Pump motor short-cycling



I live high on a hill and because of that have to have a pressurized holding tank with a pump as my household water supply.  This system is called an "H2 Ow To", and is approximately 20 years old, although I did have to replace the pump about 2 years age, the tank is still the original. and supposedly has a bladder.  Please forgive my ignorance but this system was here when I bought the house and I had never seen one before.

I just noticed today that my pump motor constantly kicks on and off when I turn on the water.  I found some information online saying that I should turn off the breaker switch, turn on the water to drain the tank, then turn the power back on and that might reset the relay.  But I discovered that when I cut the power to it, as soon as I turned the water on there was very little pressure.  Could it be that I have a busted bladder and need to replace the holding tank?  This is incredible timing, as I also have an aerator septic system and my motor just went out on it last week.  When it rains it pours.  Thanks in advance for your help.

ANSWER: Your tank is bad for sure.  Cycling a pump motor like that will kill the motor quicker than anything else.  There is no reason to drain the tank other than to make it lighter to carry out.  You can learn all about bladder tanks on my website here:  http://www.pumpsandtanks.com/faq/  
To save your motor turn off the breaker until you need water to keep the pump from cycling.  I also sell a very good bladder tank.


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QUESTION: Thanks very much for your quick response.  So I need to replace my tank, but I'm not sure what size this one is.  It doesn't have a label, but it looks almost like the size of a propane tank like you can get at a hardware or convenient store, laying on it's side.   Maybe about 20 gallons?  I have to be careful not to go too big because I have a limited space where it is sitting.  And it is underneath a work bench in the garage, so it needs to be the kind that lays on it's side.

I looked around on your website but did not see the tanks you have for sale.  Could you give me a ballpark figure (price) on a 20gal and a 30gal, just in case I estimated the size wrong.  And I live in WV, and with shipping costs I should probably look around locally to see what is available so i can compare prices.  I am retired so I am on a limited budget.  


ANSWER: They're are several considerations with tanks.  First, do you have a jet pump or a submersible pump (in the well)?  This is very important because jet pumps can use small tanks because they rarely cycle while your using water.  Submersibles on the other hand cycle like crazy with a small tank.

If you are limited on space with a submersible pump, I recommend a constant pressure valve which will prevent the pump from cycling and you won't need a large tank.  The two together would cost less than one large tank.

Here are the links to tanks and constant pressure valves:

Tanks:  http://www.pumpsandtanks.com/product-category/bladder-tanks-by-zilmet/

Constant pressure valves:  http://www.pumpsandtanks.com/product-category/constant-pressure-valves/

If you want to talk about this more and want even quicker answers, you can go to my Forum at:  
www. forum.pumpsandtanks.com

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I don't have a submersible pump, so I guess it's a jet pump.   I went to your Forum and posted my problem, it is titled,  "Pump Short-cycling-bad bladder on holding tank?"  I described what I have here.  My water supply is city-water, which comes up my hill in a 1 inch (ID) plastic line, then goes through a spring-loaded check-valve, through the pump, and into the pressurized holding tank.  The pump/ tank has a pressure gauge that is set to kick on at 40 lbs and off at 60 lbs.  

Right now I'm keeping the breaker switched off at all times until I need to use water so it won't burn up my pump.  

I took a look at your Zilmet tanks and they look all the same size?  Is bigger better?  I live alone so the most water I use at one time is taking a shower or doing laundry.  I notice the smaller one says, "21 gallon or 42 gallon equivalent" ?  What does this mean?  

The tank I have now has the motor sitting on top of the tank (in a bracket).  The space I have to work with is about 30 in. tall, 32 in. wide, and about 24 in. deep (to the back wall), in a corner of the garage under a work bench.  The space is limited due to a square hole in the floor they made for a crawl-space access.   I don't have a fancy "smart phone" or I would take a picture of how it is set up and send it to you.  I'm not sure what a constant pressure valve is, does that only work with submersible pumps?

Constant pressure valves work better with submersible pumps.  If your pump cycles, you can always turn the pressure up just enough to keep it running when you use water, like taking a shower.  This is not to say that a bad bladder is a good thing, but with a small "good" tank, you can get along just fine.  The 42 gallon tank is the smallest size I would recommend for your application but I don't sell any tanks that are horizontal or with a bracket.  If you want to go back with like equipment, I won't be able to help you.

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Robert Tabor


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