Well pump running too often

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Hey folks
I'm in Michigan and have a well setup that for the last 3 years has worked just fine. recently though the pump seems to run at odd times. Like first thing in the morning when I wake up, even though no water has been run for hours in the house, I might here the pump running. It will shut off after a few moments, and then maybe a little later turn back on. It acts as though water is being run, when as far as I can tell, none is.
I can't find a tap anywhere that is leaking that might be causing a loss in pressure, and this includes shutting off all outside bibs as well. no leaky toilets or faucets, nothing seems to be wrong. I just hear that pump running at times when it makes no sense.
anyone have any ideas?
I have a softner and a small blue pressure tank, if that helps any. Honestly, I don't know that much about the internal workings of the well pump.
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Do you have a pressure gauge somewhere you can check? My pump turns on at 20psi and turns off at 40psi. With nothing turned on the gauge will very slowly decrease, indicating a small leak somewhere. I "think" it is in the backflow valve, and that is buried 3' deep, so I am not in a hurry to replace it. If you don't have a gauge, they cost less than $10.

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Unless you have a leak somewhere that you haven't found, it sounds like a leaking check valve. Try turning off the water at the nearest valve after the pressure tank. With the valve off, see if the tank looses pressure and causes the pump to run. If it does, in a relatively short time, replace the check valve

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I would look at the softener clock. If it re-generates at a set time; perhaps, the clock is not on the correct time (lost power). Set the clock an see if the pump still goes on....at wake up call.
Then the OP would hear the pump run. Check the clock.
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[snip]
That was my first thought also. The softener regeneration normally runs in the early morning hours and you sleep through it. You might also have a green sand filter, chlorine injection or other device that backflushes in the early AM. They're controlled by clocks that stop whenever the power is off, so after a few failures they run a few hours slow and the process starts at the same time you're waking up. They use water, which starts the pump, and probably continue to backflush through several pump cycles. In this case, all you have to do is reset the timers.
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..
I checked the softner clock, it is set to the correct time, so I know its not running cycles during the day.
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Okay, I turned off the water immediatly following the pressure tank, I do have a guage inline before that valve. I can see that the pump kicks in at 40 and off at 60 religiously. As soon as the pump stops, it slowly starts to lose pressure untill the pump turns back on again. This is happening around every 5 - 10 minutes, and the pump runs for about 20 - 40 seconds to make up the difference.
so, it sounds like the problem is in the plumbing outside of the house. I looked around for signs of soft spots in the ground or water soaked areas, but it doesn't look like its leaking into the ground. How can I investigate the check valve (s) ?
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.
Okay, check that, I went outside again this morning, and the water next to the casing is not rain water. there is a small puddle on the surface near the casing. SO, I have a leak somewhere that is pushing water into the ground near the casing. What is the most likely cause of that? I notice the water near the casing, and not along the path of pipe that leads from the well to the house. this is getting expensive isn't it...
Dave
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...
Where the water appears on the surface doesn't always occur where the leak is. It for sure sounds like your leak is between the well casing and the house. You might try the stethoscope method of listening for hissing. Take a thin iron rod, poke it into the ground above your water line and apply the end to your ear. Repeat every few feet along the pipe.
How old is the well installation? What type of pipe is it?
In this country, iron pipe corrodes and needs replacing about every 20-30 years. I had to replace 1/4 mile of mine when I first bought this old house as it sprung a leak somewhere unknown. 10 years later I had to replace the remaining section due to same problem. There were places I could poke a nail through the junk.
You will have to dig up at least the leaking section and if it is due to corrosion, bite the bullet and replace the entire line as it will be only a matter of time before another leak appears.
Harry K
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.
Should have added this to the other post.
Here is the only place that I can see the use of a check valve in line after the well. It is only a band aid fix but should work.
If you have enough access to the plumbing, insert a new checkvalve into the line between where it enters the house and the pressure tank. You will still be pumping water into the ground every time the pump runs but the pressure tank will not leak down unless water is being drawn. The effect is as if you had no leak at all (except for the water being leaked during pump runs).
Again that is a red-neck type fix.
Harry K
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...
Hmm
I may have to explore that option, as, complicating the matter is the fact that there is a large maple tree right over the casing. I'm assuming this is the origional steel well casing from when the house was built in 78. ( I bought 3 years ago) The pretty little maple and flower garden planted 10 feet away is now a HUGE maple tree with branches covering everything 6 feet above the casing. cutting branches or the tree would be really tough to do as they are the summer shade for my living room and keep the house cool.
Dave
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om...
Ouch!! That is a problem. I have much the same problem. Bad frost free that is mechanically frozen up and can't be opened. Right under a big birch that some fool planted there 20 years ago...that would be me :-(. Of course it had to be the most useable one. I now have a "temporary" above ground line running 75 ft over to another, workable frost free.
I wonder when "temporary" becomes "permanent".
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:

I had the same thing and a check valve just before the pressure tank did solve the problem, including leaking out to ground. Since the tank holds pressure, the pump does not run and water stays put in the pipe because of vacuum/air pressure.
GA
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I may have to explore that option, as, complicating the matter is the fact that there is a large maple tree right over the casing. I'm assuming this is the origional steel well casing from when the house was built in 78. ( I bought 3 years ago) The pretty little maple and flower garden planted 10 feet away is now a HUGE maple tree with branches covering everything 6 feet above the casing. cutting branches or the tree would be really tough to do as they are the summer shade for my living room and keep the house cool.
***********************************************************************
The tree is probably slurping up the leaking water, and wrapping its roots around the pipe. Repairs will likely get harder over time. Anything you do to delay repairing the leak is probably a very temporary delay. Fix it before you lose water completely.
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Well, I put in a check valve in before the pressure tank, and it has partially solved my leak, like Harry K said, it only now leaks when the pump is running. I can tell my pressure is lower than before, not sure if that is a function of the emptying of the tank to get the check valve in and then some obstruction entering the lines or, now that the valve is in, the pump can't fill the pressure tank as quickly due to the increased resistance due to the valve. Eitherway, if the washer and a shower are running at the same time, the shower is not nearly as nice as it used to be in the same situation.
I plan to dig a little this weekend around the well and see how deep the leak is starting from. I can hear it when the pump is running so my hope is that its not too far down.
If the pipe casing needs to be replaced, I will seriously consider a new well location as the tree is too important to my house ( assthetics and function) to be cut down.
Thanks for all your posts
Dave
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Thanks for the update.
Harry K
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Well, I put in a check valve in before the pressure tank, and it has partially solved my leak, like Harry K said, it only now leaks when the pump is running. I can tell my pressure is lower than before, not sure if that is a function of the emptying of the tank to get the check valve in and then some obstruction entering the lines or, now that the valve is in, the pump can't fill the pressure tank as quickly due to the increased resistance due to the valve. Eitherway, if the washer and a shower are running at the same time, the shower is not nearly as nice as it used to be in the same situation.
I plan to dig a little this weekend around the well and see how deep the leak is starting from. I can hear it when the pump is running so my hope is that its not too far down.
If the pipe casing needs to be replaced, I will seriously consider a new well location as the tree is too important to my house ( assthetics and function) to be cut down.
Thanks for all your posts
******************************************************************
If the pressure switch is past the new check valve, the pressure should be the same, even if the pump has to run longer to get it there.
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.
Well,
its fixed!
I had a local well repair guy come out and take a look at the problem, he immdiately diagnosed that the "saddle" was leaking at some point. He dug down 5 feet to where the supply line attached to the casing, sure enough, a new saddle and well cap and $1,200 later I have a repaired well. The fittings on the saddle were not copper and they just gave up. Thanks for all your help, oh, and apparently in MI a check valve in the house above the pump is a code no no. Something about when the pump stops the possibility of a leak drawing surface water into the leak.
Dave
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Well,
its fixed!
I had a local well repair guy come out and take a look at the problem, he immdiately diagnosed that the "saddle" was leaking at some point. He dug down 5 feet to where the supply line attached to the casing, sure enough, a new saddle and well cap and $1,200 later I have a repaired well. The fittings on the saddle were not copper and they just gave up. Thanks for all your help, oh, and apparently in MI a check valve in the house above the pump is a code no no. Something about when the pump stops the possibility of a leak drawing surface water into the leak.
******************************************************************8
That makes good sense.
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Hmmm....hadn't thought of that and it is correct, the water leakign down would draw a suction. One more reason why there shouldn't be a checkvalve after a pump.
Harry K
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