Just two cents from a pump/drilling professional:
We don't stock capacitors/relays for these units in our service trucks
because it's generally cheaper for everyone to pay us to replace the
entire unit that it is to complete diagnostics on the unit & rebuild
it (based on the fact that in my area, 90% of pumps are 1/2 HP to 1 HP
For example, a 3/4HP control box takes 5 minutes to complete the
diagnostic (including finding the specs for that box), and 10 minutes
to disassemble and repair it. At a labor rate of $120 per hour,
that's $20 (based on our residential rate in the greater Seattle WA
area - maybe a lot higher/lower than the rate you pay in your
locale). Now the parts; the manufacturer charges us more for the
individual components as a rebuild kit, than they do for the whole
units - so let's say that we replace the capacitor - list price is
$45. Replacing the capacitor: total cost was $65, plus applicable
taxes, service call fees, etc. The list price for that entire
controller is $78 - that would have included new jumper wires and a
relay, along with the new capacitor - and 30 seconds installation
time, since the front lid is where all the controls are for the 1 HP &
Can I buy capacitors from other sources? Sure, if I had the time to
stock 50 more items in my inventory, I might do that. Believe me,
I've looked into it, multiple times.
For controllers of 1.5 HP or larger pumps, the above isn't always
true, and in those cases we do sometimes replace individual parts.
However, I'd say that in 99% of situations, the controller is so
corroded it's not even worth trying to save any of it.
I'm not trying to defend that companies pricing. I have a similar
contractor in my area who likes to get into projects, then throw out
ridiculously high pricing. Their rationale is that they can sell
1/3rd of the number of jobs and make 2 times the money. I suppose
that's good for them, but I don't see that as sustainable.
The only methods for completing a diagnostic from the surface is to
complete a line continuity test, an amp draw, and a voltage reading.
If the pump can actually move water, then we can do some pressure
testing & flow testing. If it makes pressure & flow - there's no
reason for us to be looking at it. If there's no flow/pressure, and
no continuity, or there's continuity in the circuits to ground, there
exists an electrical issue/short - the only method for finding it is
to pull the pump. High/low amp draw also goes a long way for leading
to solutions to symptoms.
Someone said that pressure tanks can't kill pumps - which is
absolutely incorrect. If a pressure/bladder/captive air/diaphragm
tank has no air charge in it, the pump will begin rapid cycling, which
doesn't allow it to cool properly. This can and will fry controllers,
wires, pump motors, etc. I'd say it's probably the number one killer
I usually check the incoming voltage, and trace it all the way to the
point where the wire goes down the well. Then I'll check the
pressure switch, the continuity in all the circuits, check for shorts
to ground in the pump, shorts to ground in the wire/circuit between
the main breaker and the well house/controller location.
The best advice I can give to anyone - Murphy's law says that if
you're going to install something 500 feet underground, and you're
going to go with the low bid - it'll break in fantastic & expensive
ways! I'd go with someone you trust who appears to do clean work &
knows what they are talking about.
PS www.wellowner.org lists certified installers around the country.