Well system question?

Had something strange happen today.
I filled a little pool this afternoon, and later found I had no water at all. The pressure gauge on the tank was at zero.
We're on a drilled well, depth unknown. The first thing inside the house is a big blue pressure tank with what I assume is a pressure-actuated valve on it. The wires coming off of this go into an overload protection device that contains a large capacitor and a relay.
I pulled the cover off the overload protection thing, and there are troubleshooting instructions on the inside. I grabbed the meter and found that while nothing was exactly in the ranges specified, they weren't far out, either. Then I dropped the meter across the where the power came in, and found that I had no power at all here. So, I closed that back up and moved on to the switch.
I found that I had power (220V) between the two inputs, and nothing between the two outputs. Looking a little closer, I found that (obviously) the switch was open. It took me a minute of looking at it before I realized how the thing was supposed to work, but it appears that even though the pressure was at zero, the switch was still open.
Just to make sure nothing else was wrong, I grabbed a couple of pieces of sufficiently beefy (12 AWG) wire, opened the breaker, shorted the contacts, and reset the breaker. Poof! The pump kicked in and pressure almost immediately came up to around 40psi.
Now that there's pressure in the line, the pressure switch behaves differently - it sorta clunks open and clunks closed if I push it around. (Using something suitably non-conductive...) When the pressure was zero, it didn't clunk at all - it was easily movable from one side to the other.
So, on to the questions: (I understand electricity pretty well, but plumbing is a mystery...)
1. What, exactly, happened? 2. Is this normal behavior for a pressure switch? 3. Is the pressure switch on it's last legs? 4. Is the pressure tank liable to be full of air now instead of water? Is there any way to tell? Or does it matter at all? 5. If #4 is true and I need to do something about it, how do I do it?
Thanks!
-Tim
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Some pressure switches have a low pressure lockout on them--you need to hold the lever at 1/2 cocked position till about 15 psi develops in the tank....could this be the case ???
--

SVL



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There's no lever to speak of, at least, not one that you'd wanna mess with without something non-conductive.
It looks a lot like this:
http://www.do-it-yourself-pumps.com/pressure-switch-fsg.gif
I did a GIS on FSG2 Form M4 (the model number on the switch) and found that it does have a low-pressure cutout. However, the product literature for this valve describes a lever to reset it, which this one doesn't have. Go figure.
-Tim
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Switches rarely fail. The problem is more likely that there is rust build up in the switch or its nipple unless the switch is not adjusted right and is out of balance. That would explain why the points were open when the pressure was below cut-in.
Run water and note the pressure that the pump comes on at and shuts off at. It should be a 20# differential. I.E. 30/50 etc..The low pressure safety cut-off version of the switch has a short metal lever on the outside of the cover and the cover has a notch about 3/16th" wide to allow that. All covers have the notch and you can see it in that picture on the right rear. The cover Will have Off, Start and Auto on it and you hold the lever in Start until 20#+ then let go.
The tank can't fill with air and unless your check valve or a plumbing leak between the tank and the submersible pump or jet pump foot valve allowed water to run back into the well, the line was still full of water. You have a 3 wire submersible pump which means it has a control box above ground. Two wire pumps don't have a control box. The red wire is the start wire.
Filling the pool and other water use could have caused a 'dry' well condition which means you should spread water use out and practice water conservation. If not a dry well condition.... we're back to the switch lagging or stuck. A dry well condition is when the water level falls to the pump inlet and it sucks air. Sucking air is not good for a pump. It can overheat it within a minute or two and then the thermal overload can open shutting off the motor; you should hope.
To change a switch you shut off the power to the pump and remove the switch and then put the new one on with 3-4 wraps of Teflon tape.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com Bulletin Board www.qualitywaterassociates.com/phpBB2
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...
split open, but ... with damage and probably plenty of carbon buildup, possible the burls burned off.

sounds exactly like yours though. Also no lever & it's mentioned in the papers. It's supposedly part of the pressure switch assy but ... .

but not cheap) and it's not hte problem, well you'll have a spare part to keep around. I think it's shot though and the switch bifs are likely shot or gone.

If it becomes water logged, you'll know that in a hurry. I doubt it's too full of air; if it's fairly recent desig, the air compartment is separate from the water compartment.

understand what you are asking. Or you have no savvy and I am misreading? Pretty easy to change the switch. If there's a house nearby, you can have the whole assy in the box checked too - if it has starting caps, they can go weak after awhile. If I were you I think I'd have someone in to fix it and watch over his shoulder.
Pop

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Got several responses on this one, thanks for the help!
As it turns out, the switch did have a lever - it was cunningly hidden on the backside of the switch. Kudos to the guy that installed that...
Since I "jumped" the switch, everything's been running normally. Had I only known about the low-pressure cut-off and reset lever to begin with, I'd have saved a lot of time.
PopRivet - you'd asked what I meant by "If #4 is true...". I was asking if I'd munged up my pressure tank, and if so, how to remedy that situation. As it turns out, everything's fine.
Thanks again for the help!
-Tim
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