Water pressure booster pump won't start consistently - do you rebuild the bearings?

My outdoor water pressure booster pump occasionally won't start, particularly after doing some irrigation watering.
It never happened before under those circumstances, but it happened twice in the past week - where letting it sit with the breakers turned off for an hour and then turning the breakers back on seems to "fix" it temporarily.
The booster pump works for weeks if I don't irrigate - but if I do - the booster has failed to start twice - once I heard screeching sounds until I shut the breakers - but this last time I heard nothing.
Then for weeks, it works fine - with normal sounds.
I'm perplexed - but the first thing I'm assuming is that it's heating up due to bearings - I'm not sure if that's the case - but the screeching wsa something - even if I don't hear it now.
Do you guys with wells periodically rebuild your water pressure pump? This one could be as old as from the 80s.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Aug 2018 16:37:22 GMT, Uncle Monster wrote:

You're joking, right?
My main questions for those who have experience with such things, are: 1. What do I look for to find the switch for low bladder pressure? 2. What experience can you impart on testing/replacing motor bearings? 3. If I replace the motor, what are the important specs to match?
Anyone who says "call a plumber" for something like this doesn't belong in this newsgroup and never did. They're out of their league. The people who do belong in this newsgroup know something about home repair other than how to use a telephone.
Moving forward for those who have experience troubleshooting motors, here's the plate on the motor: <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 73519pressure05.jpg> General Electric AC Motor Thermally Protected Jet Pump Motor Mod: 5KC39QN1157AX HP: 1 HZ: 60 V: 115/230 PH: 1 RPM: 3450 CODE: L
I'm not sure how a "jet pump" motor differs from a "pump" motor (do you know the difference?) but I found this troubleshooting guide: <http://www.flotecpump.com/residentialpage_resource_ts_jetpump.aspx
It's not hard to find a "jet pump motor" on the net, but it is almost impossible to find *that* jet pump motor on the net. What matters?
The GE Model Lookup for repair manuals & parts diagrams comes up broken: <https://www.ge.com/keywords/model-number-lookup
The well-tank not-empty switch is continuously closed (as it should be): <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 79096pressure07.jpg>
There must be a bladder-pressure switch somewhere but I don't know what to look for yet - does anyone here have that knowledge of what to look for? <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX16454pressure03.jpg
The gauge, if accurate, is indicating 70+ psi pressure at the pump itself: <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?filee84167pressure06.jpg
The relay doesn't appear to show any visible anomalies that I can see: <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileg57739pressure04.jpg
I think (but am not sure) that thermal overload may be occurring: <https://www.l-3.com/private/ieee/Motor%20Protection%20Principles.pdf
My main questions for those who have experience with such things, are: 1. What do I look for to find the switch for low bladder pressure? 2. What experience can you impart on testing/replacing motor bearings? 3. If I replace the motor, what are the important specs to match?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Monday, August 13, 2018 at 8:37:09 PM UTC-4, Arlen Holder wrote:

IDK why you call it a pressure booster pump instead of just a pump. It sounds like it's a jet pump and the only one. Jet pumps differ from a piston pump in that they can bring up water from depths that are lower than the max lift of a piston pump, which I think is like ~28 ft? They use two pipes, one pushes water down the well to the other part of the pump where a jet action picks up water and it comes back on the other line.

Frame size, voltage, speed, hp and maybe if it's suited for a wet location, etc if it's exposed.

The thing you're calling the relay is the pressure switch.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Aug 2018 18:08:55 GMT, trader_4 wrote:

Thanks for your helpful advice.
I agree with you. It's a pump. Specifically, it's a 1HP 3450RPM pump. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 87347pressure01.jpg>
The job, AFAIK, is to boost the pressure coming out of the filled water tanks, because, the tanks are comopletely full so the well pump (which is 500 feet deep) is working just fine.
Without the pressure pump, there is no water pressure inside the house. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 13867pressure02.jpg>
The label, on the outside, says it's a "Jet Pump", whatever that means. If I need to replace it, I am guessing I just need to match the bolts.

In this case, the well has its own pump that is 500 feet deep. There's nothing wrong with the well pump as the water tanks are full.
There's plenty of water in those tanks. There's just no pressure when the pressure pump fails to turn on.

I am sure this is a two-pump system. 1. There is a pump inside the well (deep down), and, 2. There is a pump outside the tanks (on the surface).
The pump deep down is working just fine as the water tanks are full. There's plenty of water.
There's just no pressure. The pressure comes from this pump.

It's in a shed. Nice and (reasonably) dry. Here is the label. <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileg57739pressure04.jpg
General Electric AC Motor Thermally Protected Jet Pump Motor Mod: 5KC39QN1157AX HP: 1 HZ: 60 V: 115/230 PH: 1 RPM: 3450 CODE: L
I agree with you that I think the only spec that matters is: <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file !05511pressure05.jpg> a. The frame size - *where is the frame size listed?* b. The voltage - this is running off of 110 it seems c. The speed - this is 3450 rpm d. The HP - this is 1 HP

Ah. I didn't realize that relay was actually a pressure switch. How on earth does it *measure* the pressure?
How can it sense the pressure from OUTSIDE the water supply? This is a key question because the reason the pump isn't going on could either be the pump is going bad - or - the pressure sensor is going bad.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/18 8:08 PM, trader_4 wrote:

I'd never heard of the two pipe system until you mentioned it. So I had to look it up. Popular Mechanics has a short article. <https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a152/1275136/ I'm in an area where a single pipe system is good enough. We used to have artisan wells here. I don't know if any of those are still working.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/15/2018 5:35 AM, Dean Hoffman wrote: ...

I think they graduated to sculpture... :)
"artesian"
There were a number in low-lying areas around here, too, but the water table has now dropped sufficiently owing to widespread irrigation that I'm unaware of any still running.
--





Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/18 7:37 PM, Arlen Holder wrote:

70 psi is probably the shutdown point. 50 psi will probably be the pump starting point.

The thing you're calling the relay is the pressure switch. Notice the tube leading away from it.

I'd probably just replace the entire pump. There will be wear on the impeller so it won't be at its most efficient.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Aug 2018 18:25:12 GMT, Dean Hoffman wrote:

Thanks for mentioning that the 70 psi is the shutdown point. I'm guessing it's measuring that right off the bladder, even though the gauge is on the pump itself.
Given that the gauge generally reads the same all the time, that 70 psi "might" also be the pressure of the column of water in the full tanks (I'd have to do the F=P/A math) where the tanks are ten feet high a few feet behind the motor).
One thing I need to look at is whether the pressure gauge shows a lower pressure when the home has no water pressure. I "think" it always shows the same pressure - so that's why I think it might be showing the pressure of the water column BEFORE it gets to the pump (I'd have to check in the morning as I had not thought about it until now).

Ah. That tube. I didn't notice it until you mentioned it! <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX45028pressure08.jpg
Hmmmm... so the pressure coming out of the bladder is NOT being sensed. I don't see *any* wires or sense tubes coming out of the bladder tank! <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX16454pressure03.jpg
That is interesting. If I bypass that, the pump should go on and off (depending on if it's normally open or normally closed).
For it to be a pressure switch, it needs a 'sensor' somewhere. Maybe the sensor is under those contacts?

I don't disagree. I've disassembled plenty of pumps, where almost all the time the outdoor water pumps have these long bolts that break EVERY damn time. I spend most of my time trying to get them out.
Meanwhile, the bearings are frozen onto the shaft (especially if they were making noise).
The good news is that bearings are dirt cheap - the bad news is that taking apart the motors generally is impossible due to those long bolts that break.
I don't mind replacing the pump, but I can't find an exact one on Google. The model number just doesn't match anything. I do have an email that I sent to GE and I will call General Electric in the morning to ask where I can get a replacement.
I'm not beholden to GE - but I have to match that 'frame'. Do you have advice as to what the frame is? I don't see it explicitly on the label. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file !05511pressure05.jpg> Do you?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/18 10:54 PM, Arlen Holder wrote:

56C. You can probably buy the bearings at an auto parts store. The pumps I'm familiar with (Berkeley) have this seal. <
http://www.spapumpsandmore.com/v/vspfiles/photos/PPUFSEALVITON-2.jpg
Replace it. I'd probably just buy a pump of the same horsepower if I was replacing it. It should handle the job. The wiring, circuit breaker, etc are sized for that horsepower. Just out of curiosity, is the wiring code compliant?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Aug 2018 03:25:10 GMT, Dean Hoffman wrote:

Yeah. I saw that, belatedly as "FR 56C". Thanks.
That means I really only need a "jet pump motor" that is frame 56C that is 1 HP (service factor 1.4 or thereabouts).
What's amazing to me is that the pressure must be held in that motor rubber o-rings because the pressure tube is on the output of the motor. That's amazing that it holds the pressure so well at the impeller.

I just replaced the flywheel pilot bearing in a Toyota so I do realize that I can "find" a bearing locally if I have it in my hands, but the problem is downtime - especially if it's a non-standard bearing.
Bearings are dirt cheap - but they have to be the right size & type. I tried GE but they don't provide parts diagrams, they say.

Thank you for pointing out the seal, as this pump must have a similarly amazing seal, since it holds pressure at the impeller side of the pump at about 75 PSI without any leaking that I can determine.
That's just amazing. Suffice to say that seal will be hard to source also - without parts diagrams anyway ... so my main goal is a parts diagram but GE says they don't supply them.
I tried a local pump place that GE recommended (Johnstone Pumps) but they only sell to pros (and they didn't find a lookup for the model anyway and they told me nobody rebuilds pumps - too expensive to do so).

I agree. The downtime will be only an hour or so, compared to days to source the parts if I have to take the pump apart first.

I agree. The simplest path is to troubleshoot the reason why the pump is intermittently not going on, and, if that indicates a problem with the pump, to just replace it and then take my sweet time rebuilding the old one (or turn it into a wood lathe or disc sander).

I'm sure it is as everything else is code compliant (AFAIK).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/2018 10:54 PM, Arlen Holder wrote:

It's static pressure of the system at the point; there will be a check valve down the well so it doesn't run back down when pump is off..

It's quite possible it always reads the same pressure because it's frozen up...and/or the orifice in the base is plugged.

The "sensor" is just a calibrated spring; you can adjust the on/off pressure within reason by the turn screw.
...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Aug 2018 07:00:20 GMT, dpb wrote:

You're right!
I tested the gauge pressure just now by turning off the power and then running the garden hoses at the house until they petered out. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 80487pump08.jpg> Interestingly, at the booster pump shed, the hose on the wall did NOT peter out, as the pressure gauge barely dropped from a bit over 70psi .... <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?filee41228pump03.jpg
to about 66 psi when the water was an unusable dribble at the house <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileW04779pump11.jpg Gauge at 66psi
I could tell that the blue booster tank was 'empty' as I could tilt it by hand ever so slightly when it is empty but I can't budge it when it is full.
And yet, when I turned on the faucet on the pump house wall, it was fine! <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?files95493pump12.jpg
So that gauge pressure is really almost completely input pressure!

The gage appears to be working as there was plenty of pressure (i.e., 66psi) "at" the booster pump shed - but none a few hundred feet away at the house.
So it appears that the "static pressure" of a full tank of water in the 10,000 gallon tanks is about 65psi. The booster pump boosts that up so that the water won't just dribble at the house.
It has to be the input pressure, actually, just looking at the front of the motor, which is a big cast-iron casing - that must be the pressure area: <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 13854pump02.jpg>

Thanks for the description of the pressure sensor and switch, where I took a look today at the *bottom* to see the pressure pipe coming in: <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file186082pump05.jpg
I see there are two nuts that can be calibrated at the front of the sensor: <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 37017pump07.jpg>
And two sets of power lines going into the back of the sensor: <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?filei39192pump06.jpg
And a closer look shows the input tube of water pressure on the bottom. The wires appear to have two circuits from the side.
The pressure sensor switch casing says "Pumptrol" on the outside. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 57278pump10.jpg>
Printed inside it says Control Circuit A600, Square D, Class 9013, Ser B, Type FSG-2, On 30, off 50, Form U, <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?filec51926pump09.jpg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 3:58 PM, Arlen Holder wrote: ...

...
Water static head is 1 psi/2.3 ft elevation so that would require 65/2.3 = 28 ft height above that point.
That experiment illustrates the point raised before of you have extremely high pressure losses in the distribution system it appears or the house is up on a hill, maybe?
--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 5:50:41 PM UTC-4, dpb wrote:

By my calculation it would take 66x2.3 = 152 ft. A very tall tank and/or way up a hill. Or his pressure gauge is kaput or something else is going on, like he's measuring it with pressure still in the tank.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 5:01 PM, trader_4 wrote:

...

...
Duh! Thanks.
The pressure is from the bladder tank since the rest of the system is still full. If it's set approx correctly if he's operating at 50-70 psi the empty air pressure should be ~68 psi or -2 psi from shutoff setpoint.
That makes pretty close to observed so I'd guess that's functional...if he were to totally open the system, of course, that would go away but he's got the supply from the reserve tanks to keep pipes full even when the little tank isn't even if the well pump isn't running, either.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 5:50 PM, dpb wrote:

Just wanted to point out, your math is a little off. Should be 65 x 2.3 which indicates a head of 149.5 feet. ( 1 foot of head produces .43 lbs of pressure.)

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 7:58 PM, Gil wrote: ...

...
trader already beat you to it... :)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/2018 10:54 PM, Arlen Holder wrote: ...

...
Where do the leads for what you keep calling a level switch relay come from? There's got to be _something_ for it if it indeed is anything more than interposing relay.
--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 10:28:50 AM UTC-4, dpb wrote:

IDK why he insists on debugging the whole system. I guess if he wants to know how it works, that's OK. But he heard a squeal coming from the pump, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'd simply wait until it's not working and see if there is voltage on the motor. If yes, he knows the pump is the problem. If not, then he can just follow the voltage.
He keeps looking for a sensor or wires coming out of the tank. Yet he posted a picture of a pump pressure switch, clear as day. That is the "sensor" and that has to have a connection to the water coming out of it. It doesn't have to be hooked directly to the tank, it could just be connected to the water line coming out of the tank.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 9:50 AM, trader_4 wrote:

'Cuz it's clear he really _doesn't_ know how just how it works nor does he even recognize what some of the pieces-parts are so doesn't understand what is/isn't possibly significant...and appears to be one of those that doesn't do anything until has studied it to satisfaction whether it needs study or not... :)
Yes, since the system is all tied together, for the purposes of control "pressure is pressure" at the point relatively close to the tank. He should investigate the possibility the gauge itself is stuck; it's immaterial to system operation but if not functional could lead to confusing the issues thinking there's pressure when there's not...the one here was stuck last month when we hooked up the new well--I hadn't noticed until we opened the system and the needle didn't move... :)
I'm still curious about this so-called "level" sensor, though...somewhere he talked about there being open tanks; I suppose if he does have a larger reservoir besides the pressure tank somewhere else there could be a level sensor in one or them...in that case the leads will run out wherever that is.
What isn't shown clearly is how the well pump is controlled; whether there really is a second sensor or whether that other relay is just the secondary to it off the pressure switch on the booster pump.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.