Well Pump Difficult Starting--Question About Wire Color Codes

Our Sears submersible pump is acting up again. The first incident was during a -5F overnight, when we found we had no water pressure. Turned out the overload breaker on the pump controller had tripped. My wife was running a load of wash and also washing dishes at the time.
We had several additional incidents after that, and then I cleaned all the contacts on the pressure switch and cleaned and tightened the circuit breaker connections at the main feed panel. And then it was pretty much fine after that (we did have one overload trip incident in February, but none since.)
Tonight, I was flushing the water tanks, which called for shutting off the pump and draining the system. I started and stopped the pump a few times to agitate the sediment at the bottom of the pressure tank, so it would drain out. After a few cycles, the pump refused to start up again. It took 20-30 attempts before I was able to re-start it. And then after it'd been running for a minute, I'd shut off the breaker and wait for the pressure to drop and turn it back on, but the pump would not start.
So here's where my wire color question comes in. I can't find anything on Google about this:
What are the functions of the Black, Red and Yellow wires? Can anyone point me to a schematic of the pump motor (1-phase, 220V)?
Here's what I am observing when the pump fails to start:
Black to Red: 220V Black to Yellow: 220V Red to Yellow: almost zip, less than 10V
When I finally got the pump to start, I took another set of readings.
Black to Red: 330V Black to Yellow: 220V Red to Yellow: 220V
I note that the red and yellow connect to a relay. I am wondering if that relay might be intermittent (although, I can smack it with the back of a screwdriver handle and it doesn't help, so I think it's not a mechanical problem). The capacitors look like the day they were manufactured. No leaking electrolytes, no rust.
If the motor were physically stuck (locked rotor), what would I expect to see in terms of voltages on the three wires? The house lights hardly dim when I turn the pump on, but the overload will always trip in about 3 seconds.
Given these facts, where would the problem be most likely to be located?
Help is appreciated. Thanks!
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . DVD MASTERING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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the
or
direction
can
formed.
Most likely a defective start relay or else a bad / loose spade terminal connection somewhere in the controller box.
--
SVL






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Red is Start, black and yellow are 120 each for the 240. Green should be going into your control box from the switch if not to the pump from the contro box too.
Here we would have a set of wire nuts under the well casing cap. They may be loose, but you should have 120 on both the black and yellow (to ground) in the switch (when switch contact points are closed) and from the switch to the control box. The solenoid in the box may be bad, a new box might be $60.00 and usually all you change is the cover which has all the stuff on it.
www.franklinelectric.com has gobbs of troubleshooting sutff. Look up the ohms readings for your motor hp and for opens or shorts in the black and yellow and then to the red from the yellow and black. You can also find the amps if you have an amp meter.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Softener Forum www.qualitywaterassociates.com/phpBB2
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Not to be silly, but are you totally sure that you have water at the source ??
--James--
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source
Absolutely! When the pump does start, I have plenty of water and it will run indefinately (I ran it continuously for an hour after shock chlorinating the well and piping) and there was no shortage. This is a percussion-drilled well over 200' deep and we've had a lot of rain.
Problem could be a sand-locked rotor, or an electrical problem in the controller, but I am not sure which.
pump fails to start:
Black to Red: 220V Black to Yellow: 220V Red to Yellow: almost zip, less than 10V
pump running:
Black to Red: 330V Black to Yellow: 220V Red to Yellow: 220V
If Black is Main and Red is Start, then Yellow must be some sort of return/common. So assuming the line above to be correct, then Red to Yellow (start to return/common) having almost no voltage across it when the pump is being energized, but not starting, seems to suggest that no start voltage is present. But if the rotor is sand-locked, would this voltage be this low, or much, much higher, say around 80VAC?
I read on starwatersystems.com, a troubleshooting table where they talk about reversing Main and Start (black and red) to reverse the pump direction and blow the sand/sediment out of the pump. My understanding is that you can reverse a 3-PH pump, but not a 1-PH pump by rewiring, but I may have incorrect info. In any event, the pump is 20 years old this July and probably could use a cleanout of the intake screen, so being able to reverse motor direction would probably help clear that screen of some sediment that my have formed.
Can anyone verify the function of the Red, Black and Yellow wires? Also, zero or almost no voltage across Red/Yellow at startup (with no successful start) is an indication of which condition? (locked rotor, or controller problem, such as open relay or intermittent/bad start cap?)
Keeping my fingers crossed that it's just the controller and NOT the pump!
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION FILM SCANNING DVD MASTERING AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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low,
a
successful
pump!
I've been Googling all night and found a troubleshooting guide at pumpsonline.com which states that it is possible for the pump to start sometimes without the start circuit, so perhaps that explains the 20-25 start attempts needed per successful start, if the relay is getting worse over time. Their item #4, 'overloads trip' nails my symptom exactly--'usually several seconds to trip' and the document indicates control box problem. So little to no voltage on start winding probably points to bad relay, based on what you're saying and what I've been reading online. Information was very difficult to find. Had to try many different search phrases and sift through hundreds of pages of irrelevant data. But I have two sources confirming what appears to be a relay problem so I'll call Sears and see if they have a replacement relay, or perhaps a motor shop and see if they can match one up for me.
Thanks for the tip!
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION FILM SCANNING DVD MASTERING AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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Mark,
It would be cheaper if you called a compentent tech to your house The black wire is the pump common. The red is the run winding. The yellow is the start winding. Yes, you have fried the start capacitor. It is possible that you also have a bad or weak run capacitor. The original problem was a bad start relay. The start relay should have a very high resistance, #5 to #2. The contacts should be Normally Closed (short) #2 to #1. Now you need a new start relay and start capacitor. I hope you did not fry the pump motor start winding also, but that is possible. If you reverse the leads on the motor, you WILL fry EVERYTHING in the motor and controls in 5 seconds OR LESS! and replace it. Cut your losses now. BTW, I am an Air Conditioning Contractor, not a well contractor, but some A/C compressors are wired the same way. As I have told many people, here is one place where it is better for you to make money doing what YOU do well so that you can pay someone else to do what HE does well. Doing this yourself is not a good way to save money. If you fry the pump motor screwing around further, it will get VERY expensive to pull the pump. If you put the wrong start relay in there, the same thing will happen quickly. If you put the wrong start capacitor in there, things will take longer to fry, or it just may not work. You need someone who can test the components and determine the correct ones to install. It is now beyond DIY.
Good luck
Stretch
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Thanks for an informative reply.
Some new developments. Since the pump stopped working again just a few minutes ago, I took the control panel apart and started trying to understand what was really going on. It became clear that the Klixon overload cutout switch is a two pole breaker. It has three terminals, one feeding the start cap, and one feeding the run cap. The part feeding the start cap was permanently open. So I carefully inserted a jumper to bridge the open terminals. I plugged it in, and started the pump, which started up successfully. But after a few seconds, I heard sizzling coming from the controller. It was the start cap overheating and it began to leak electrolyte. I took it off the box and probed further. There is a relay with three terminals. (three?) if you can believe that. I presume field coil shares a contact with one of the relay contactors. Terminals 1 an 2 are connected internally. Probably a N.O. contact set. Teminal 5 goes to line and pump Yellow wire. Now I presume that when the pump is started, the contacts are N.O. and current flows through the start cap to red wire. When current flows, it energizes the relay field coil, thus opening the start cap circuit and effectively removing the cap from the start circuit. Only problem is, it's not doing that. Start cap is remaining connected all the time. I ohmed out the relay and found out that there is no measurable field coil resistance. The 10-30 ohms I expected to find across pins 2 & 5 was infinity. The bottom line is that it looks like three components are bad on this box! The overload switch probably failed when the relay failed and it was probably a nasty overload which killed the Klixon on just one event. The start cap probably got stressed by being on for longer than an instant to start the motor/pump, and before this jumper/cap sizzling incident, I noted that it read 300k ohms, not infinity, like it should after charging by the ohmmeter. So three distinct but related problems. The kicker? It looks like my pump has been starting without a start cap for months! Just the luck of the draw that most times the armature must have come to rest at a position where applying just run field power was enough to move it. I may have to take off from work tomorrow and go to Sid Harvey's and see if I can get these parts individually. At least it's looking very much like the problem is 100% controller-related.
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . DVD MASTERING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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Mark
I hope you get the correct start relay (also called a potential relay). If you install the wrong one, it would be better to stick with the manual setup that you have now. The start relay coil measures the back EMF generated in the motor in the start winding. It has a pick up voltage that must be exceeded by the start winding voltage to drop the start capacitor out of the circuit. It has a drop out voltage that brings the start capacitor back in and below which the start capacitor stays energized. It has a continuous voltage that should not be exceeded or you will burn out the coil, which is between pins 2 & 5. The start relay contacts are normally closed and are between pin 2 & 1. While the start capacitor is in the circuit, normal start winding current can be exceeded by a factor of 3 to 5. The start capacitor is very compact for its MFD rating, therefore not good at disipating heat. Thus it fries quickly, that is, if left in the circuit for more than a few seconds. The start winding in the motor is made from a thinner wire than the main run winding. Thus it too can fry if getting extra power through the start capacitor too long. The run capacitor is there to limit the current through the start winding to a safe value and to shift the phase of the current to make the motor more efficient as well. The start capacitor adds much more current, but the winding can't stand that for long. It also shifts the phase of the current even more which really boosts the start torque. The motor manufacturer can tell you what size the start and run capacitors should be as well as their voltage ratings. They can also tell you what start relay to use. Don't use the wrong one, it is not good for the motor.
Stretch
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Stretch,
Forget it, man...sometimes ya need to just kinda throw up yer hands and back away.
--
SVL






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I'm replacing these three parts now. Temporarily, I have rigged a switch to engage the start cap and release it when pump started. It works. But not automatically. Hopefully the parts will be in my hands in a couple hours. Going out for them now. I'll let you know the parts cost, vs the cost of hiring and waiting for a well contractor to come. We need water now, not next month. :-)
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . DVD MASTERING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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Thanks for an excellent technical explanation. I pretty much figured that out once I studied the schematic and once I knew what the color codes were (BTW, Yellow is common, according to all the online resources I've found, and my pump is wired in such a way as to agree). Knowing what the wires do enabled me to understand how the whole system works. And I assumed that the run capacitor was probably feeding just enough voltage to the start winding to allow it to start sometimes, even without the start cap in circuit.
I went to two places. Got referred to a motor supply house and they were just closing when I came to the door. They had the exact relay replacement and start cap. No one had the O.L. contactor however. But I figured out a way to get the protection of the O.L. contactor without having a replacement for now--I wired the dead terminal on the contactor to the good terminal. This way, both start and run are on the same contactor. Since the start only engages for 100mS, the extra load is not there long enough to trip out. Once running, start is out and runs as normal. I'll have to order the O.L. Klixon device and wait a while for it to come in.
Pump is working fine now. That relay had been dead since January, when the problems first started to appear.
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . DVD MASTERING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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