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  1. #1

    Frozen water supply and lightening bolts

    I awoke last weekend only to find my water pipes frozen, we had a low of 20 degrees for several hours, I have a few questions.

    1- Why was my pressure gauge reading above 70 psi? I understand that water expands, I do not know how a gauge such as this operates, did not know it was in direct contact with any water ect.

    2- My well normally turns itself on when it gets below 40pds ( if memory serves me )

    What would happen if the pump were to be triggered when the pipes were frozen as they were. The water would have no place to go, I would think this would destroy the pump.

    What should I be doing to insure safety to the pump.

    3- I recently spoke with a well installer, he told me that pumps in my area typically only last 10 years because of lightning.

    He showed me a pump that had clearly been the spark plug node thru many flashes of lightening.

    Evidently the lightening hits the ground sometimes from a great distance, runs into the well casing and jumps the gap over to the well pump.

    Marion County FL is known to have extreme lightening scenarios.

    Anything I can do to protect my pump?

    Thank you and Happy New Year
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    Last edited by 1930; 01-06-2021 at 06:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Pump guy speedbump's Avatar
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    Gauges that are typically used for domestic water systems have a sort of copper tube "for the lack of a better definition" that is in a concentric circle that widens with pressure which moves the needle. If that tube were to freeze without breaking, it could push the needle higher.

    If your pump starts when pipes are frozen and the water has nowhere to go, and the pressure switch can't see the increase in pressure, the pump will continue to run until it either overheats and dies or the thermal overload turns it off until it cools. Some motors have the overload in the motor where it should be and some have them in the control box above ground.

    To my knowledge, nobody has come up with a lightning device that will protect the pump motor. Especially in central Florida.

    My estimate for the normal life of a submersible pump was 7 years with or without lightning.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedbump View Post
    Gauges that are typically used for domestic water systems have a sort of copper tube "for the lack of a better definition" that is in a concentric circle that widens with pressure which moves the needle. If that tube were to freeze without breaking, it could push the needle higher.

    If your pump starts when pipes are frozen and the water has nowhere to go, and the pressure switch can't see the increase in pressure, the pump will continue to run until it either overheats and dies or the thermal overload turns it off until it cools. Some motors have the overload in the motor where it should be and some have them in the control box above ground.

    To my knowledge, nobody has come up with a lightning device that will protect the pump motor. Especially in central Florida.

    My estimate for the normal life of a submersible pump was 7 years with or without lightning.
    Your pressure gauge has little teeth on the inside that will skip over the teeth when frozen with the extra pressure and read the wrong pressure when things are unfrozen. You will need to changed the gauge out to get the correct pressure reading again.

    15-20yrs is very common but they can last a lot longer. 30yr average around here.

    You can buy an extra surge protector inline if you want to try one. I posted some made by red jacket. Lighting rods is another one.

    You can always tell when a motor has been hit by lightning. The windings will swell and the shaft will be locked in place. You can usually find a burnt hole on the outside of the motor.
    Last edited by Letsrunum; 01-03-2021 at 10:54 AM.
    "USED" Franklin/Grundfos 10gpm submersible pump with buried PSC-35 pressure tank. Cycling since 2010! Static water level 70'/TD 165'/well yield 7gpm/4.5" PVC well casing with 5" PVC surface casing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Letsrunum View Post
    Your pressure gauge has little teeth on the inside that will skip over the teeth when frozen with the extra pressure and read the wrong pressure when things are unfrozen. You will need to changed the gauge out to get the correct pressure reading again.

    15-20yrs is very common but they can last a lot longer. 30yr average around here.

    You can buy an extra surge protector inline if you want to try one. I posted some made by red jacket. Lighting rods is another one.

    You can always tell when a motor has been hit by lightning. The windings will swell and the shaft will be locked in place. You can usually find a burnt hole on the outside of the motor.
    I looked at my friends file that was serviced twice since being installed by another well company in 1991 with a 3/4hp 3-wire Red Jacket submersible pump on a WellXtrol pressure tank. Pressure tank and control box location is in the basement in a humid environment still going. I did maintenance on it a few years back. I posted it somewhere on here.
    "USED" Franklin/Grundfos 10gpm submersible pump with buried PSC-35 pressure tank. Cycling since 2010! Static water level 70'/TD 165'/well yield 7gpm/4.5" PVC well casing with 5" PVC surface casing.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by speedbump View Post
    Gauges that are typically used for domestic water systems have a sort of copper tube "for the lack of a better definition" that is in a concentric circle that widens with pressure which moves the needle. If that tube were to freeze without breaking, it could push the needle higher.

    If your pump starts when pipes are frozen and the water has nowhere to go, and the pressure switch can't see the increase in pressure, the pump will continue to run until it either overheats and dies or the thermal overload turns it off until it cools. Some motors have the overload in the motor where it should be and some have them in the control box above ground.

    To my knowledge, nobody has come up with a lightning device that will protect the pump motor. Especially in central Florida.

    My estimate for the normal life of a submersible pump was 7 years with or without lightning.

    Thanks however Im confused still, so what do people typically do when temperatures are below freezing to protect their well pumps?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1930 View Post
    Thanks however Im confused still, so what do people typically do when temperatures are below freezing to protect their well pumps?
    They leave a faucet running in the house to bring up fresh water when the pump cycles.
    "USED" Franklin/Grundfos 10gpm submersible pump with buried PSC-35 pressure tank. Cycling since 2010! Static water level 70'/TD 165'/well yield 7gpm/4.5" PVC well casing with 5" PVC surface casing.

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    We cycle in summer irrigating and cycling some more in the winter for many years doing it this way. I have a well house to keep warm on one well.

    My other well has everything below the frost line besides when it comes above ground for the house(everything is insulated but insulation doesn't create heat). I don't like heat tapes either. No heat source on this well setup with a buried pressure tank. Leave water running just to protect the lines to the house from freezing.
    "USED" Franklin/Grundfos 10gpm submersible pump with buried PSC-35 pressure tank. Cycling since 2010! Static water level 70'/TD 165'/well yield 7gpm/4.5" PVC well casing with 5" PVC surface casing.

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    When my well pump deadhead from freezing pipes the pump stayed running till it blew the composite discharge clean off the pump(Sta-Rite) leaving my pump hanging by the wire taped to sch 40 drop pipe in the well(no safety rope). The pressure relief valve was located on the pressure tank tee. They are usually rated at 75psi. You need to go higher when adjusting the pressure settings above 50/70psi.

    The main reason why I take things so seriously because I've been in your shoes. This **** isn't cheap and you want something that's going to last you for a very long time. 10yrs before it deadheaded and about to hit 11yrs on my used pump after redesigning things.
    "USED" Franklin/Grundfos 10gpm submersible pump with buried PSC-35 pressure tank. Cycling since 2010! Static water level 70'/TD 165'/well yield 7gpm/4.5" PVC well casing with 5" PVC surface casing.

  9. #9
    Pump guy speedbump's Avatar
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    Red Jacket did add a lightning arrestor to their control box. I once saw one that took a lightning hit. The only thing left mounted to the pole was the back half of the box. The components and the cover were scattered all over the yard. The pump motor didn't fare too well either.

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    Control box will be the capacitors that have swelled and blown out. Run capacitors or starting capacitor
    "USED" Franklin/Grundfos 10gpm submersible pump with buried PSC-35 pressure tank. Cycling since 2010! Static water level 70'/TD 165'/well yield 7gpm/4.5" PVC well casing with 5" PVC surface casing.

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