Well Water

2 wire pump 115v

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Well now

What's in your water, iron, manganese, sand? Many of us have one of these and many more minerals in our water; which includes arsenic, a naturally occurring substance. When you are getting water from the ground, a well, you have a mini-water distribution system and you are the chief operator. There are many parts to our well system, and they may be on their last leg, but we may never know it.

I will attempt to instruct you on how to maintain and even replace some components of your system. this will be a basic overview with a concentration on a typical submersible well pump, say 1/2 to 2 HP in a 4 to 6 inch casing, at depths of anywhere from 60 to 500 feet deep. There are various sizes of holding tanks with the typical orientation being vertical. With abundant mineral content comes the need for water conditioning equipment, most homes use a softener filled with plastic resin beads to trap excessive minerals.


3 wire pump 230 v

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The mechanics

The well is drilled, casing is inserted, grouted, water is tested for bacteria content then chlorinated, allowed to sit 24 to 72 hours and re-tested, if OK they drop in a submersible well pump. With the appropriate wiring and correctly sized discharge piping attached they continue the water line through a pitless adapter, and the wiring through a short piece of conduit then directly buried. The piping enters the home usually with the electrical wiring, with the wiring originating from the circuit breaker panel, to the pump pressure switch and terminating at the pump.

The Heart (submersible well pump)

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The Heart (submersible well pump)

Like your own body, if there is no pump/heart there would not be any water/blood circulating around in your piping system. This well water pump has chambers, like the heart, these chambers are actually called impellers and they are stacked, one next to the other in a vertical orientation. As water is drawn upwards by the whipping action of the impellers, it is forced to higher and higher pressures and eventually forced out of the housing (volute) and into the piping.

Unfortunately, a pump can be rendered useless and the electrical motor windings can burn out, when too much mineral content enters the volute and then the impellers become clogged. When they clog they cease to move, when they cease to move while the armature (rotor) is still moving through the magnetic field created by the stator (windings) then the motor windings will build up resistance (heat) and actually burn through the copper wire winding. The pump has now ceased working.


The Brains (Pressure Switch)

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The Brains (Pressure Switch)

The pumps pressure switch, lets the pump know when to come on and when to turn off. It is a simple device with a diaphragm (senses actual pressure in piping system) and contact points that have springs under tension, these in turn correspond to cut-in and cut off points that are pre-set at the manufacturers facility. However, if you do desire higher pressures you may increase both the cut-off and cut-in points of both springs by turning the hexagonal nut located above the spring in a clock-wise rotation. IMPORTANT! ... The two points, cut-in and cut-off should be as close to 20 psi (pounds per square inch) as possible, and it is highly preferred to use a 20/40 pump switch to begin with. Under the plastic lid you will read a schematic for wiring the switch and you will see the clockwise rotation to increase pressures.If you are unsure whether or not your piping can stand higher pressures (such as piping with weepage or excessive corrosion) exerted on them you are best off not attempting this.

The kidneys (water filtration) Water conditioner

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The kidneys (water filtration) Water conditioner

If your water has a high mineral content that is unappealing to you, you will need some sort of filtration system. The water conditioner is just one type and it is perhaps the most common type of filtration currently in use residentially. The spun fiberglass tank of the conditioner is filled with plastic beads known as resin, these beads act as a filter trapping the excess mineral, they even have an electrical (static) charge that helps facilitate the process. When this media of the resin bed becomes saturated with mineral content it will automatically go through a regeneration process. Typically this process involves siphoning of a brine solution (from the brine holding tank) through a port in the head and allows the brine (Sodium chloride) to enter the media bed of resin. As I had previously stated the resin has an electrical charge, acting as a magnet to hold the minerals. The ions in the brine help break this electrical/chemical bond allowing for the release of minerals. This waste is then pushed out of the conditioner using incoming water pressure and is carried through waste piping to an appropriate house waste piping drain.

IMPORTANT! ...Please do not fill your brine tank with rock salt! The rock salt contains impurities that will build up at the bottom of your brine holding tank preventing the salt from mixing with the water. at the end of the brine tubing and where it enters then (Head) of the water conditioner, there will be a small cylindrical screen located under a cover; occasionally this will become clogged as well, and this will also prevent brine solution from reaching the resin media, preventing proper regeneration.

Arteries and Veins (Piping)

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Arteries and Veins (Piping)

Name your poison, many choices exist today for moving your water from point A to point B. Call me old fashioned perhaps, but copper is still king. The most widely used material not only residentially, but for commercial as well as industrial applications of smaller diameter piping, copper rules the roost. Unfortunately for copper, it is susceptible to corrosion and to a build-up of scale in its interior which in turn restricts the proper flow of water. Another big hit on copper is the sky-rocketing price and the non-ease of installation detracts from many DIY'ers.

CPVC (Chlorinated Poly-Vinyl Chloride) piping is more user friendly, has a higher c-factor (builds up less scale internally) and cost a fraction as much as copper.

PEX (Cross Linked Polyethylene) is making a big impact in the residential market. Besides a high c-factor and low cost like CPVC it also allows for a more even flow of pressures and is not as subject to fluctuations in pressure due to several points of use in a water piping system being used simultaneously.

Lately copper has become more user friendly with the introduction of a tool that presses the fitting tight around the piping. The choice will ultimately be yours in the making (re-model or new) or will have been decided for you already (existing).

(Stomach) Storage Tank

Poly (plastic) tank
Poly (plastic) tank | Source
Glass lined or Galvanized tank
Glass lined or Galvanized tank | Source
Bladder tank (cutaway view)
Bladder tank (cutaway view) | Source

(Stomach) Storage Tank

Like the piping system there are a few differing types of tanks available. They range from the cheapest (glass lined or galvanized) to the more expensive bladder types. The galvanized is a very antiquated variety and should thereby be avoided, the glass lined is a general purpose tank and has many applications (the best use would be for finished (conditioned) water.

I prefer the bladder tank as my primary holding tank, this is the tank that initially receives water from the well. This and the other tanks, including the poly (plastic) tank all need to have a tank "T" or similar manifold attached to the orifice of the tank. (See the picture that follows)

The reason for my preference of the bladder tank, it will not lose its air charge into the water-stream unless the bladder itself develops a tear. Introducing air pressure into the tank is necessary to maintain the proper cut-in point of the pump, if it loses the air pressure the pump will cut-in and cut-out continuously. FYI, the charge of air should be 2 psi below the cut-in point. Now back to that tank "T" (Tee)

(Esophagus) Tank Tee

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(Esophagus) Tank Tee

From left to right you will see a black line, this is the well line also known as polypropylene plastic piping (This is piping from the well pump into the home) Next we have a check-valve (spring loaded check) the purpose for this valve in my opinion is questionable, my reason being the pump is submerged in water therein unable to lose a prime, but some will surely disagree with my opinion.

The next part, still moving from L to R, is the tank tee itself. The gray box above the tee is the pressure switch (brain) and directly below is a relief valve, a safety feature, of course if this blows-off, you will most definitely need to have a working sump pump or drain at the lowest level near this device to carry away the water expelled. The next device has a dial face and is the pressure gauge, this, if working, will show you the pressure (psi) in the piping system. Directly below this gauge is a boiler drain; the purpose is to drain the system down for replacement of tank, tee etc.

Immediately after the tank tee we have a very short run of copper and then a ball valve (dark blue straight handle) when the handle is straight in-line with the piping that means the water is flowing, if you turn the handle 90 degrees you will turn off the water the handle will be oriented across the piping.

After the ball valve, you may have noticed tubing that runs vertically; this tubing more likely than not connects to yet another and smaller pump. This pump would be a chemical feed pump and will deliver a slug of chemical (perhaps Sodium Hypochlorite, this is the main ingredient found in bleach) at the time of the water well pump coming on. This is achieved by wiring an electrical receptacle directly off the leads (load side, going to the well pump, neutral and hot) of the pressure switch. See diagram below for chemical feed pump application..

Liver (Chemical Feed Pump)

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Liver (Chemical Feed Pump)

The two pictures above give you a representation of A) what the pump looks like (top) and B) what the pump/tank and related components look like. The mixture of chemical to water will vary depending on the PH of your water, and even within the course of a year, as your well is recharged externally with ground water and/or varying temperatures.

This mixture is then forced, with the help of the pump, into the water supply piping system. There may be an adjustment control on the pump to speed the rate of flow as well.The power source is normally 115 and 230 volts; amperage is low. These pumps either work or they don't so if one goes up just prepare to shell out between $120 and $160 (off the shelf price, pre-contractor) for an average costing pump.


Nerves (Wiring)

4 wire = 230 volt 3 wire = 115 volt
4 wire = 230 volt 3 wire = 115 volt
230 volt
230 volt
pump switch with wiring.
pump switch with wiring.
Well pump being pulled out of the casing. Notice attached wiring and pipng.
Well pump being pulled out of the casing. Notice attached wiring and pipng.
Pump with wiring.
Pump with wiring.
You will need these crimp sleeves and shrink tubes to make your splice waterproof.
You will need these crimp sleeves and shrink tubes to make your splice waterproof.
Crimping tool for tight splice connections.
Crimping tool for tight splice connections.

Nerves (Wiring)

The wire goes from the circuit breaker panel to the pump switch (brain) then on to the well pump (heart) itself. Above ground, all connections can be made using wire nuts if not in damp locations. If you have any aluminum wiring, now would be an excellent time to get rid of it if you need to replace the pump or the pump switch, this wiring would most likely be found going from the circuit breaker to the line side of the pump switch.

The need for a very good set of crimpers will be seen very clearly when splicing the wires from the pump, to the wiring (nerves) coming from the pump switch. IMPORTANT! ... Make sure you put the shrink tube over the wiring before crimping. After making a good and tight (pull hard on opposing wires to make sure they are together) connection, center the tube over the crimp sleeve and work a heat source (lighter) from the center out to the ends of tube. The tube will shrink and conform fairly tight to the crimped connection, oozing of a clear and HOT! liquid will occur at each end with success.

Electrical Breaker Panel (Electricity Source)

These are the breakers located behind the inner panel.
These are the breakers located behind the inner panel.
This is your panel.
This is your panel.
Double pole breaker 230 volt (deep well)
Double pole breaker 230 volt (deep well)
Sngle pole breaker 115 volt (shallow well)
Sngle pole breaker 115 volt (shallow well)

Electrical Breaker Panel (Electricity Source)

Depending on the amount of voltage you need, either 230 or 115 volts, you will have either a double (230v) or single (115v) pole breaker. These either bolt-in or snap-in or a combination of the two.

On the two pole breaker, you will have two hot wires, typically a black and a red wire. There will also be a neutral and ground wire, typically the neutral is white and the ground is a bare copper or aluminum (not good) wire. The neutral and the ground both go to an aluminum bar referred to as the neutral bar in the pane, it (neutral bar) is a series of round slots with an allen machine setscrew to fasten the wire to the bar. Where the breaker itself snaps, bolts etc. there are bare copper contact points, this is where the power comes from. DANGER and IMPORTANT! ... If you are unsure of what you are doing then stop and get help. Electrical shocks and burns are no joke. De-energize the the house by turning off the main breaker first before playing around in the panel and even then watch for the incoming cable so as not to make contact with it, it will still be live on the line side.

Re-cap and Summary

Take your time, be sure of what you are doing and do the job right the first time, shortcuts here will cause you grief later on down the road.

I hope this has been informative and will be helpful too. IMPORTANT! ...Please be careful, observe all codes, and remember both water and electricity can hurt you and together they are deadly. That being said I would appreciate your input so I might tweek this hub. Thanks.☺

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Comments 7 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

Gee, there is a lot to that well water, huh? Well worth it though! Love it! Great hub.


samfox1212 profile image

samfox1212 4 years ago

This was a great very informative article.


noturningback profile image

noturningback 4 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA Author

There are many times I will do a wrong thing, but not this time. Today, I had a day where my voice betrayed my mind or worse, my voice spoke my mind and that was not helpful. This, my folly, is my life itself and yet, we can still be caring enough about each other to help one another.

Thank you for your comments and for bearing with my eccentrics.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I am familiar with some of this as we have had to replace our pump once, but most of this is over my head. I am going to have hubby read this hub. (BTW-In your recap and summary paragraph, doing is mis-spelled.) Voting this up and useful! :)


noturningback profile image

noturningback 3 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA Author

Thank you for your compliments sgbrown, I have since made a correction to my misspelling ☺


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

Thanks for your wonderfully detailed article, a thorough "education" on the well. I like the way you identify each part of the well system like important body organs. Voted up and useful.


noturningback profile image

noturningback 3 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA Author

I'm so glad you enjoyed this Hub iguidenetwork; I appreciate your comment and the vote of confidence.

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