Yesterday morning I was fixing a leak in a shower drain in a rental
home. The tenants complained of low water pressure at the shower
heads. A check of the well system determined that the cut-in pressure
was about 30 PSI and the cutoff was about 45 PSI. Letting all the
water drain out of the tank and I estimated the well tank pre-charge
at about 26 PSI. I raised the cutoff pressure to about 50 PSI and
noticed better flow at the shower heads.
Today around 3 PM I get a call from the owner telling me that the well
pump is dead.
I don't know anymore details but will fill them in as I get them. I
feel my actions must have caused the death of this pump. So assuming
the tenants did not leave the water running and burn out the pump what
What would be fair compensation for my costumer?
That depends on how old the pump is and what it was rated for. If you raised the
cutoff pressure to 59 psi and the pump wasn't capable of meeting that pressure,
it would run continuously regardless of water usage by the tenant.
It wouldn't seem that running 24 hours would damage the motor or pump as long as
there was water in the line, but as you haven't inpected it yet, we don't know
what's wrong. Could be a breaker trip from running the pump off an undersized
I think it's far to early to talk about compensation until you understand what
the problem is.
Assuming that 50 PSI is within the spec range of the well pump,
which would seem almost certain, and you verified that the pump
still cycled on and off properly before leaving, then I'd say you
don't owe them anything.
However, I'd also question the basic concept of raising the cut-off
pressure doing much at all to help with increased shower
performance. It would, on occasion, help for a few seconds,
when the tank happens to be sitting at the new 5psi higher
pressure before someone turns on the shower. But unless the
pump is constantly cycling with the shower running, it won't
have any effect once the pump kicks on. Also, if you raised
the cut-off, why not also raise the cut-in from 30 psi?
Many pump controllers adjust both cut-in/out with the same screw. As
to shower performance, raising it 5psi would have very little
difference except at the top end as you pointed out. Mine is set
30/50 and the shower performance at th bottom end (30-40) is pretty
poor - gets you wet but no "needle" effect. I keep meaning to set to
40/60 which makes a _big_ difference.
Well, was increasing the set points of the well pump within the
scope of work you were engaged in by the property owner ?
Did you tale apart the shower heads to make sure that they were not
simply clogged up with either mineral build up or sediment before
that it was low well pump pressure ?
There were other ways to deal with such a complaint besides turning up
the dial on the pump... How old are the shower heads ? Lower flow
heads are probably available, less water out of the shower head means
less demand on the well pump... Did you duplicate the conditions
the tenants of the house claim the low water pressure in the shower
happens ? Sometimes people will say they have low water pressure
where it is borderline but fail to explain that they were trying to
at the same time the dishwasher was washing dishes and a load of
laundry was going in the washing machine...
I would say that fixing the leaking shower drain was one thing, the
work that you were authorized to do... Investigating and/or repairing
the shower head itself in the shower could have been justified by its
adjacent location to the authorized repairs -- adjusting the settings
on the well pump, not really... That is beyond the scope of repairing
the shower and you should have called the owner of the property
to obtain authorization/consent to include it within the scope of your
approved repairs... Sounds to me like you have fallen prey to the
ages old: "Hey, while you are here can you figure out why..."
I mean you never know why a well pump is having problems
keeping up with demand... It could be an issue with the cut-off
settings, it could be an issue with the pump unit itself (sediment
clogging, motor giving out, weak operation because of frayed
wiring) or the well could be giving out due to problems with the
water table (if the well in question was sunk early on in a given
area it might not be deep enough anymore with all the other
wells drawing off the aquifer), so you really should have informed
the property owner of a suspected issue with the well and
that the tenants are complaining to you of a water pressure
issue that they may not have previously communicated to
their landlord prior to telling you during your repair of the leak...
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