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

Uncle Monster posted for all of us...

Al there is a Johnstone, a W.W. Grainger and a half dozen independent industrial supply houses where me and the guys would go to get the repair parts needed for various pumps and motors. The electrical supply houses also carried various motors and pumps or the parts were a phone call away. I kind of miss working. o_O

IDK the Birmingham area but Graingers has closed most of their branch's around me. One now has to go to the major city to overpay and get no service.
--
Tekkie

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/2018 6:01 PM, Arlen Holder wrote:

I don't have any experience w/ jet pumps; we're too deep here so everything is submersible...
But, certainly sounds quite probable is a bearing problem and likely happens only when you irrigate (so far, the rest is coming) because it's running nearly if not continuously so doesn't have interval to cool down between.
Q? is when this happens have you felt for temperature and determined which bearing(s) are the ones--is it the motor or the pump?
Is there a manual thermal reset on the pump or is it one of the internal bimetallics? If there's a red reset button, if it had tripped you'd have to manually reset; if no external reset then it could have tripped and but would automatically reset once cooled off. If it's getting this hot that that's happening, it's time...
If there's a local shop, and you can work out the schedule, I'd probably take it to him and let him do the bearings unless you've got the toolset; we've got a really good local shop and for something like this he would in all likelihood be able to get it in/out in an afternoon if scheduled it. If he couldn't, would likely have a loaner or the well folks should.
OTOH, if it's all as old as you say may be, there's something to be said for new and at your leisure rebuild the old one and you've got a spare... :)
Others answered most of the other regarding pieces-parts; there's no need for the identical motor down to being GE; form factor, HP and service rating are the key items...
The first Q? still is to determine whether it's the motor or the pump with the problem, however.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/18 9:18 PM, dpb wrote:

No bearings in the actual pump. They rely on the motor's bearings.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/2018 9:21 PM, Dean Hoffman wrote:

...

...
I allowed as had no 'spearmints with jet pumps... :)
Thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Aug 2018 19:21:52 GMT, Dean Hoffman wrote:

The motor will likely have two standard bearings.
I won't know what to buy until I take the motor apart, but the downtime is crucial because there won't be water pressure in the house.
I tried to find a parts diagram on the web for the model but I can't find one yet. General Electric Jet Pump Motor 5KC39QN1157AX HP: 1 HZ: 60 V: 115/230 PH: 1 RPM: 3450 CODE: L
I will call GE tomorrow, where I'm not beholden to GE but if I replace the bearings, I need to know ahead of time which ones to order.
The real problem first is that I don't know what's wrong, because it's clearly intermittent.
What's irksome is that I don't understand the sensing pressure mechanism.
It seems to be MISSING a sensing of the OUTPUT pressure at the bladder.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Aug 2018 19:18:11 GMT, dpb wrote:

You're the second person to mention this, so I should be very clear that the well itself is 500 feet deep and it has, AFAIK, its own pump at the bottom.
Clearly I have separate breakers for the well pump versus the booster pump. They are two different pumps.
The well pump brings up the water and stores it in tanks that are 10 feet high. The tanks don't develop enough water pressure for the house, so the booster pump boosts the pressure for the house.
If the booster pump is off, then there is water that just dribbles out the faucets in the house. They will dribble for 10,000 gallons, but they just dribble.
If the booster pump is working, then there is water pressure at the house. Lots and lots of water pressure (a garden hose shoots dozens of feet).
Suffice to say the booster pump has only one purpose and the well pump has a different purpose.

Yes. That's what I think also. It could be the pressure switch - but that wouldn't "heat up". The booster pump would heat up.
Although ... I did put my hand on it when it didn't go on, and it wasn't even warm. But it's inside at the bearings where it matters most.

Ah. I just answered that (I respond in line). The pump, surprisingly, does not feel in the least hot the second time this happened. I was there within whatever time frame it took for the water pressure to be used up, as I was using the hose at the same time as the irrigation was on.
SO I was probably fifteen or twenty minutes after the pump failed to go on (or however long it takes to use up the pressure in the big blue bladder).
I was *surprised* that the pump housing wasn't hot in the least. SO it might be the pressure switch.
I'm not sure what the gauge is reading because the gauge may be reading the pressure of the 10 foot column of water that is only a few feet behind the pump. <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX45028pressure08.jpg
So the main thing I have to figure out is what that gauge is trying to tell me.

I looked for a red button, but didn't find any. I think it's internal.

Yup. I agree. It's NOT getting hot, but I'm not sure I got to it in time. It wasn't even warm though, and pumps are heavy metal, so you'd think they'd be a heat sink - so I'm not positive that it thermally reset.
That's why I need to troubleshoot. My only indication that it's the pump is that I heard a squeal which made me immediately shut the breaker. The squeal stopped - so it was definitely the pump. But that squeal hasn't happened again and that was a few days ago where the pump has gone on hundreds of times for sure since then.

I've done bearings before. And I've taken things to a local shop before. In general, in California anyway, it's not worth the labor at $200/hour.
Bearings are cheap. The problem is that every time I take apart an outdoor motor, the long bolts are so frozen that they snap. This motor is "indoor" (it's in a shed) so it may be easier. I don't know. But that's the downtime issue.
The downtime matters because there is no water pressure while the pump is out of commission.

That's my plan. Unless it's the pressure switch.
I have no idea how old it is though. But it could be the original for all I know.
I think it might NOT be the pump though. That's why I need to ask how the pressure switch works.
The one thing that perplexes me is that I don't see ANY indication of the bladder pressure being measured.
It looks like what's being measured is the INPUT pressure to the pump, not the OUTPUT pressure. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 13867pressure02.jpg>
But that makes no sense. Does it?

The "frame" is what matters, I think, as long as it's about 1HP and 3450 RPM, which is the easy part. I'm not sure what the "frame" is though. Is the "frame" on this sticker? <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file !05511pressure05.jpg>

Yup. The pump appears to have two switches that control it. a. The water level indicator relay (which is known to be working fine!) <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 79096pressure07.jpg> b. The booster pressure indicator relay (which is a mystery to me) <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX45028pressure08.jpg
The "mystery" is that there is NOTHING coming out of the booster by way of pressure sensors that I can see. <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX16454pressure03.jpg
The gauge seems to be INPUT pressure, but that makes no sense. Who cares what the input pressure is. The OUTPUT pressure is what matters, right?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/13/2018 10:54 PM, Arlen Holder wrote: ...

Ah! That's significant new factoid...

OK, what you've not shown picture of is the connections to the well pump other than just the box but not where the signal comes from.
We run just off pressure in the storage tank; the pressure switch is 40-60 with no additional booster. Sounds like you're running an essentially unpressurized tank and relying on the booster pump for distribution pressure entirely.

...

I'd suspect that's highly unlikely to have caused the previous noise...the question will be when it fail next time to look at position of contacts; did they fail to close? If they function and you've got power, then it's the thermal switch that's cut out.

Not really conventional frame number; the "jet pump motor" describes the mounting flange arrangement which is what you have to match to the pump.
...

Never seen water level as input; what would help would be to see what the inputs to that relay come from...it's not possible to tell which pipe goes/comes to/from in that mess of stuff hooked to the tank...are you sure somewhere along there there isn't another pressure tap going to the well pump pressure switch? I don't know what "level" they'd be measuring or where that sensor would be...that and an overall plumbing diagram is what we're missing.

That's common pressure at the outlet...was pump running or off at the time?
75 psi is pretty high for domestic water altho if you've got long runs and small diameter feeds there may be sufficient pressure drop before it gets to the house...
--




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 13 Aug 2018 22:34:49 GMT, dpb wrote:

Thanks for asking. I guess it's common to have only one pump, but I definitely have a separate pump underground for the well, and the tanks are unpressurized. They're open to the air at top (so to speak in that they have a manhole cover and a vent at top.

It's night now, but here's a picture taken during the day a while ago: <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?filex31116pressure09.jpg
Let me know what you want a photo of, as I do realize a photo is better than me trying to explain it.

It's good to know your pressure is 40 to 60 psi, where mine seems to be, in the photo, at around 75 psi (give or take a few). What I'm trying to figure out is where the pressure switch is located, where people told me the tube goes to it which puts it UNDER the relays in this photo. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 87347pressure01.jpg>
I guess the right side of that motor *holds* the pressure, which seems strange to me that a motor would hold pressure at all - since I would expect the bladder to hold the pressure instead. <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileX16454pressure03.jpg
But there is no sensor wires that I can see at the bladder. It's odd to me that the pump holds the pressure for such a long time.

I agree with you that the noise can only be one thing. But the symptoms don't indicate a bad motor either. It wasn't in the least hot when it made that noise for example.
So what I need to do is *test* that pressure switch. But how?

I'm confused. Are you saying all 1HP 3450 RPM single-phase 120VAC "jet pump motors" have the same mounting hole arrangement?
I'm used to frame numbers like "56F" for example, but this doesn't seem to have a frame number.

This is the wiring diagram to the first of the two relays outside on the shed wall - but this relay is for the full tank switch: <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file $43640pressure10.jpg>
This relay is working properly as it is pulled *in* which it should be, because there is a switch INSIDE the water tank, that indicates that there is enough water for the pressure pump to run.
As far as I can tell, there is no external wiring for the pressure switch other than it goes from the fusebox to the pressure switch directly which you can see in the black electrical conduit in this picture. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 13867pressure02.jpg>

The pump was most definitely OFF when all these pictures were taken. The pressure never seems to vary, but I admit I don't look at it all that much.

The house is a few hundred feet away and the runs to the other side are, oh, I don't know, 500 or more feet away. I'm not worried, right now, about the pressure being high as it has *always* been high (I can use a garden hose as a weapon almost).
Right now, too much pressure isn't my problem. :)
I need to figure out how to troubleshoot that pressure switch. And, I need to buy some bearings for that motor. And line up a spare motor (in case I break the long bolts).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Aug 2018 06:18:44 GMT, Arlen Holder wrote:

Duh. I'm an idiot! <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file !05511pressure05.jpg>
I just noticed the FRAME number on that motor plate! Right where it should be!
*It's "FR 56C"*
I don't know why I didn't see this before. (Nobody else did either - even though I had posted the picture).
Sigh. That at least solves the mystery of the frame number!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Aug 2018 06:24:36 GMT, Arlen Holder wrote:

That makes things infinitely easier to look up for replacement because this is all that matters, I think. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file !05511pressure05.jpg>
1. Horsepower = 1HP with a service factor SF of 1.4 (i.e., 1.4HP full load) 2. Frame = 56C 3. Power = 120VAC single phase 4. Locked rotor code = L (9 to 10 volts)
With that, the first hit is this $261 motor: <http://www.electricmotors.com/1hp-3600rpm-nol-56cb-frame-jet-pump-motor.html
Reference on the service factor (SF): <http://www.inyopools.com/Blog/is-a-1-0hp-motor-the-same-as-a-1-5hp-motor/
Reefernce on the locked-rotor code (L): <http://www.arescobuyersclub.com/nameplates.html
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Monday, August 13, 2018 at 11:54:42 PM UTC-4, Arlen Holder wrote:

The pressure sensor is the pressure control switch that you previously called a relay. It has a water pipe connection on it. Those two nuts adjust the cut-in and cut-out pressures.
Now that you described the whole setup, I see why you're calling it a booster pump.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Aug 2018 00:54:22 GMT, trader_4 wrote:

I see the water pipe that someone mentioned, where it's also a relay based on all those contacts visible on top.
I guess it surprises me that the front of the pump where the impeller must be is "pressurized" since that's where the metal tube is coming out of.
The pump must have an EXCELLENT seal to hold that much pressure for so long without leaking past 75PSI at any time I've ever looked.

That's good to know as I didn't know what exactly they adjusted.

The pump appears to have only one purpose, which is to boost the water pressure of the bladder from ambient pressure to about 75 psi.
I've seen these bladders everywhere where I live, so, they're pretty common (every single home has one).
It's odd that someone said the "water tank" is pressurized, as that would be astoundingly crazy to pressurize a 10,000 gallon set of tanks when all you need to do is pressurize these little 4-foot tall bladder tanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 2:37 PM, Arlen Holder wrote: ...

Well, if one has well capacity that is sufficient for demand, the "normal" way a system is configured is that the pressure tank _is_ the pressurizing element for the distribution system when the pump isn't running and there is no secondary booster pump.
The air pressure in the tank is set at -2 psi relative to cutout setpoint when the tank is empty and the bladder/diaphragm is then compressed/stretched to produce exit water pressure on demand.
The system here operates 40-60 psi with an 80 gal pressure tank capacity; when the pressure drops below the low cut-in, the pump kicks on and supplies both demand and refills the tank to pressure at which it cuts off and the cycle starts over...
With a system such as yours you have an extremely large reservoir because (apparently) the well can't keep up to demand and so must be able to pump into the holding tank whether there's current demand or not in order to have sufficient volume on hand for demand.
Or, demand rate could possibly be very high if one were doing large-scale irrigation or the like, but normal residential demand plus several hundred head of cattle doesn't tax this well at all even on 100+ F days when they hit the water pretty hard.
Granted, it would make no sense to try to pressurize the whole system under that operating scenario, but as noted, while that's what's common where you are, overall that's a relatively uncommon installation type; definitely not what I was thinking of when we started!
As for how good a seal; 75-100 psi isn't all that much to try to seal; also note and check -- given the age of the system there's at least a reasonable chance that pressure gauge isn't working at all but is frozen up, particularly if it's not an oil-filled one but direct.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/14/2018 2:37 PM, Arlen Holder wrote:

...
That's why it's called a pressure "switch" :)
The water pressure compresses the spring until the contacts lift (open) when pressure reaches the setpoint thus stopping the pump, when the pressure drops the spring relaxes as the bottom support goes away and eventually the contacts close turning the pump back on...
Given your system configuration, I'm still curious as to what size pump is down-hole if you know???
Also, is the a production ag operation or the like so irrigation demands are extremely high volume as compared to "just" lawn. 10,000 gal would be about 1/3-rd of an Acre-inch of water or an inch over a third of an acre which would be pretty hefty for most residences...
--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018 at 3:37:33 PM UTC-4, Arlen Holder wrote:

It's not a relay, it's just a pressure switch. You say you're an electrical engineer and you can't identify a switch vs a relay?

It's purpose is to suck up water and force it into the tank until it reaches the cut-off pressure.

I think they were referring to the pressurized water tank, not the unpressurized storage tanks. The setup you have is not the common type where there is only the one pressurized tank. I suspect you have a low flow well and that;s why you need the storage tanks?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 14 Aug 2018 14:13:31 GMT, trader_4 wrote:

I admit I goofed calling it a relay. I have no excuse as it's a "pressure switch".
I didn't look closely and simply assumed there were coils there, like there must be on the relay that gets pulled in when the storage tanks have water in them.
Looking closely, it appears to work like thus: <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 42122flow01.jpg>
a. The pressure gauge is on the OUTPUT of the motor impeller b. That is also on the output of the pressure bladder c. So, gauge pressure is bladder pressure which, interestingly has to also be the pressure on the pipes coming OUT of the storage tanks <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?filee41228pump03.jpg
This makes no sense to pressurize the storage tanks from down below the water level - but the only way that is not the case is if there is a check valve INSIDE that cast iron front of the motor near the impeller. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 13854pump02.jpg>
Outside the booster pump house is a "relay" that will pull itself in when the water level is high enough to operate the booster pump: <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file441065flow02.jpg
Inside the booster pump house is a "pressure switch", which gets its pressure reading from the impeller cast-iron side of the motor via a hollow pipe. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 73849pump01.jpg>
It then opens or closes this switch where the two input black wires are each 120VAC to the green common ground and the two output blue wires are to the booster pump motor. <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 69657flow04.jpg>
I don't think I'll have anything to report back until I measure the voltage when it's supposed to turn on, and even then, it has to fail for me to find the problem.
But I at least now know that those two blue wires to ground are where to look!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.