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Well wiring, original owner oddities, how much should I fix?

Lil'John

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While doing diagnosis on another well related issue, I am finding that the wiring on the system is a bit odd when compared to normal setups I've read about.

Here is an older picture of what the wiring looks like:
pressureTank.jpg

One of the two 12/2 wire pairs on the left go to the well. The other two 12/2 wire pairs go to the breaker box.

First oddity: The two 12/2 wire pairs going to the breaker box are on two separate 20 amp breakers.😱 I'm assuming that this is a BS hack job and should be replaced with a single two pole 20 amp breaker. Correct?

Second oddity: The pressure switch only breaks a single leg of the 220 circuit. My reading on well pressure switches shows both legs getting broken. In my case, there is a 110V wire going to the well pump permanently. Is this a problem? Do I need to go fix the wiring buried in the walls?

pressureTank.jpg
 

Lil'John

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2 breakers I assume are on either side of the panel. You are correct it's hack and should be a single two pole 20 amp breaker.
I think the switch wiring is fine but I am no electrician.

My panel just has a single row of breakers. I didn't count how many breakers between the two.

I'm not an electrician either. Thus I'm somewhat concerned over having a single 110V leg hot going to the well.
 

M92PV4U

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Both legs should be switched at the pressure switch. Do you have different pictures than the drawings?
 

Lil'John

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Instead of buying a new breaker you can also get tie bars to connect the two separate breakers together.
Unfortunately, there are about 3 breakers between the two well breakers :( I'm not averse to spending ~$20 on a new breaker to make it easy.

Both legs should be switched at the pressure switch. Do you have different pictures than the drawings?
I do have some pictures.

Here is a potato picture of the old junction box:
badBox_sml.jpg

The cover outlet goes to the pressure switch as shown in the picture above. You can see the two white wires wirenutted together same as picture above. I have replaced the above with a cleaner version of the same thing.

Here is the current box:
pressureSwitch_sml.jpg

Similar to the first picture above.

Since it sounds like I need to break both legs of the 240V, I have a follow up question:
How close to the pressure tank does the pressure switch have to be?
 

M92PV4U

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The pressure switch should be close to the tank as possible to prevent double start or shutoff from water hammer. Is there a control box or do only two wires go to the motor?
 

Lil'John

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The pressure switch should be close to the tank as possible to prevent double start or shutoff from water hammer. Is there a control box or do only two wires go to the motor?

I was afraid you'd say the switch had to be close to the tank. Time to figure out creative routing without tearing apart walls 😐

As far as I know, there is only two wires straight to the pump. In the crawl space, I only see the wiring go into the dirt/under foundation. Maybe 30 feet away from the house is the well head. In there, I only see metal wire conduit to the well head itself. No clue what a control box would look like😣
 

M92PV4U

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41ljesW+P7L._AC_SY400_.jpg

it's most likely a two wire pump. So your wires come from each breaker one wire go straight to the pump the other goes to the pressure switch back to your junction box then the pump. As for the pressure switch if it doesn't turned off on off when the pump is supposed to shut off it's probably fine if it does you can try to install a pressure snubber under the switch but if the well pumps sand it will just plug up and cause more problems.
 

Lil'John

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it's most likely a two wire pump. So your wires come from each breaker one wire go straight to the pump the other goes to the pressure switch back to your junction box then the pump. As for the pressure switch if it doesn't turned off on off when the pump is supposed to shut off it's probably fine if it does you can try to install a pressure snubber under the switch but if the well pumps sand it will just plug up and cause more problems.

I definitely don't have a box like you show anywhere in the house. Out of curiosity, can a control box be used to have a single input from the pressure switch to break both legs? I prefer a clean look over cheap ;)
 

Lil'John

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Quick follow up question:
Does the location of the pressure tank make a difference? I've seen pictures of the tank right next to the well head outside. And similar to mine that is in the basement/crawl space. Is there an issue with outdoors with snow? Assume non-insulated outbuilding.

Is the pump on the surface or deep well

I believe the pump is inside the well. I do not see a pump sitting next to the well head. I do not know the depth of the well but have been told it is relatively shallow for "low" Sierra foothills(3500') at 100 to 150 ft range.

The above does bring up another question. Can I do the weighted fish line trick to measure well depth with the pump in? Let's assume the well cap is easy to move to the side.
 

Lil'John

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Here is the "well house":
well1_sml.jpg

The electric is behind the water pipe. The junction has a pair of wire nuts. The casing is 6" PVC. The front access panel does not go to the ground.
 

PAE

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Yes but use zip cord, your local hardware store should have it.

Cut a foot apart at the lower pump end put the weight on the long leg of this end of the wire and put a ohm meter that makes a sound when continuity is achieved and then mark the wire with a zip tie or a knot in the wire pull it from the casing and measure it.

As to how much you should put into this well do you plan to just turn the property or keep it for a few years ?


The above does bring up another question. Can I do the weighted fish line trick to measure well depth with the pump in? Let's assume the well cap is easy to move to the side.
 

Lil'John

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Yes but use zip cord, your local hardware store should have it.

Cut a foot apart at the lower pump end put the weight on the long leg of this end of the wire and put a ohm meter that makes a sound when continuity is achieved and then mark the wire with a zip tie or a knot in the wire pull it from the casing and measure it.
To confirm my understanding, I can do the well depth and static water level with the pump in. Correct?

I've heard of the continuity version of the water test also.

As to how much you should put into this well do you plan to just turn the property or keep it for a few years ?
This is an interesting question. I love my property and city(Georgetown) but think my state is a pile of crap(California).

I've owned(no mortgage) the property for four years now. Ideally, I'd love to retire here. But the state may force this property into a rental or just flat out sell to escape the poor political landscape.
 

PAE

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Put a lien on the property and put all of that behind you.

You might need to contract with an attorney if you dont know how to do this yourself!!
 

Pook

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The single leg being switched is very common with 240 volt well pumps, is it proper... not really but it works, have dealt with them numerous times. Just make sure its turned off at the breaker before servicing which you should be anyways.

That switch looks like its has the contacts to be wired properly though. just need to add the other leg.
 

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Unless you have a 110v submersible pump, which I doubt, your wiring is hack. You shouldn't have 110v to your pump all the time. If it's definately a 220v pump, which it probably is, you can rewire the switch with the available wiring. Just run both legs from your electrical panel to the "line" side of the switch and run the other 2 lines from "motor" to your pump. Just make sure they don't have anything wired off of the line and it is a dedicated line just for the pump.
 

Lil'John

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Put a lien on the property and put all of that behind you.

You might need to contract with an attorney if you dont know how to do this yourself!!
What does putting a lien on the property accomplish?

Unless you have a 110v submersible pump, which I doubt, your wiring is hack. You shouldn't have 110v to your pump all the time. If it's definately a 220v pump, which it probably is, you can rewire the switch with the available wiring. Just run both legs from your electrical panel to the "line" side of the switch and run the other 2 lines from "motor" to your pump. Just make sure they don't have anything wired off of the line and it is a dedicated line just for the pump.

Yes, the pump and "circuit" is supposed to be 220V.

At the breaker box, there are two single pole breakers to feed each leg. That fix is 10 minutes of work if I buy a new 20amp dual pole breaker.

At the pressure switch, in theory, the fix is easy. The problem is the ~10 feet of wiring in the wall... the inside basement is finished drywall, the crawlspace side is 3/4" fire ply. Pulling the fire ply wouldn't be the easiest fix. I could do a 'hackish' looking wire fix by stapling the missing wire to the plywood in the crawl space to fix the issue.
 

PAE

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A lien will secure the property so it cant be messed with IE taken by any government entity until the lien is satisfied.

The lien could be 2.5 Billion Dollars in pre 1933 gold coin.

You said something about being worried that the state would sell it.

Lil'John said:
I've owned(no mortgage) the property for four years now. Ideally, I'd love to retire here. But the state may force this property into a rental or just flat out sell to escape the poor political landscape.
 

Lil'John

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A lien will secure the property so it cant be messed with IE taken by any government entity until the lien is satisfied.

The lien could be 2.5 Billion Dollars in pre 1933 gold coin.

You said something about being worried that the state would sell it.
Ah... no, I'm not worried about the state selling it. I'm worried that Calif will end up going so far off the deep end that being a middle class white male will be a nightmare so I will just sell the house and get the hell out of the state. They are trying like hell to get rid of Prop 13 which is maybe one reason to keep this house. Obviously, gun laws they are pushing is BS, excessive motor related taxes is BS.

Is pump working the way it is wired now?
Yes, maybe... sort of. If the wiring isn't correct, I'll go ahead and fix it.

I believe I have a pressure tank issue and I'm currently waiting for a replacement along with a pressure switch. The current tank doesn't have a Schroeder valve so I don't have an easy way to check it completely.
 

Boss

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I definitely don't have a box like you show anywhere in the house. Out of curiosity, can a control box be used to have a single input from the pressure switch to break both legs? I prefer a clean look over cheap ;)

You have to have a box. It won't work with out one. It needs the box to energize the start windings. I'm gong to guess it's buried in your fancy drywall. :laughing:


Edit: you might think I'm joking but I use to work as a well tech and people do this.
 
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88mitsu

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Breaking only one leg of the 240v circuit was common in the old days. Not really that big of a deal if you have a 2-pole breaker that turns off both legs at the same time. The way it is now, somebody could turn off only one breaker and think they are safe, but still get fucked up.

If it's working now I'd just leave it alone, but change the breaker to a 2-pole and label it so somebody can actually read it.

Or if you don't want to fuck with the panel, put a double pole 30 amp switch in that junction box to use as a disconnect for the well. Then you can shut off both 240v legs and its right there where you are working. According to your ms paint drawing. Put the whites passing through to the well on one pole of the switch. Then put the black from the electrical panel and the white to pressure switch on the other pole of the switch. Technically you need a disconnect(switch) there anyway.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-...2WS/100356941?
 

Lil'John

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Picture of the tank?
Incoming.
You have to have a box. It won't work with out one. It needs the box to energize the start windings. I'm gong to guess it's buried in your fancy drywall. :laughing:


Edit: you might think I'm joking but I use to work as a well tech and people do this.
I may have a clue what is behind the drywall and plywood. Here is a BBC because every thread needs a BBC 😎:
bbc.jpg

The above shows the wiring before I adjusted it.

Here is the pressure tank and wall before I plywooded it, insulated it, and then drywalled it:
util_sml.jpg


The house was build in 70s. Maybe a control box wasn't felt to be needed back then.

I have spent way too much time in the crawl space along with the basement. I have never found a control box.
 

Boss

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The house was build in 70s. Maybe a control box wasn't felt to be needed back then.

I have spent way too much time in the crawl space along with the basement. I have never found a control box.

It's a newer pump then. Some newer ones have the start cap and relay built into the pump. There are 2 wires + a ground going down in the well? Having a start cap is not an option with a single phase pump. They won't start without it.

It may have been a 110V pump then converted to 220V. That would explain the funky switch wiring.
 
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M92PV4U

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That looks like a old 85 gallon wellxtrol tank wx252 the Schrader valve should be on the side in the top section of the tank. If the air pressure gets too low the diaphragm can tear and the tank will be destroyed. If you shut off the power drain all of the pressure off the system you can shake the tank around and if you hear water sloshing the tank is ruined, if you don't hear water sloshing air the tank up to 2 psi below cut in (turn on) pressure and you should be good.
if you change the switch (I would) determine the cut out pressure and set the new switch to match that. Their is a 20psi pressure differential between cut in and cut out.
As for the pump motor it is most likely a induction start induction run motor with no capacitors and a thermal overload built into the motor.
 

Lil'John

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It's a newer pump then. Some newer ones have the start cap and relay built into the pump. There are 2 wires + a ground going down in the well? Having a start cap is not an option with a single phase pump. They won't start without it.

It may have been a 110V pump then converted to 220V. That would explain the funky switch wiring.
I'm not sure what was going on before I got the house four years ago.

I have physically verified that the power is 220V at the breaker box by looking at the well wire going into the box.

I looked under the cover of the electrical at the well head. It has two wires only. The pump has red and yellow wires coming up which means nothing. There is no ground @ the well.

The well company claims that the pump is 1/2 amp.


That looks like a old 85 gallon wellxtrol tank wx252 the Schrader valve should be on the side in the top section of the tank. If the air pressure gets too low the diaphragm can tear and the tank will be destroyed. If you shut off the power drain all of the pressure off the system you can shake the tank around and if you hear water sloshing the tank is ruined, if you don't hear water sloshing air the tank up to 2 psi below cut in (turn on) pressure and you should be good.
if you change the switch (I would) determine the cut out pressure and set the new switch to match that. Their is a 20psi pressure differential between cut in and cut out.
As for the pump motor it is most likely a induction start induction run motor with no capacitors and a thermal overload built into the motor.
You are correct on the size(~5' tall, 22" diam). There is no label on the tank what so ever. The only thing on the top is a welded nut as shown. I just checked the complete unit and verified no Schrader valve.

Without the Schrader valve, I don't see a way to check pressure. The current pressure switch is 30/50psi.

I am replacing the tank and switch as one unit to help diagnose other issues. I will check if the current tank is good. It if is, I'll keep it in the system.

If I am able to use a pressure tank outdoors in a well house in a snow area(~3500'), I will adjust my plumbing to and fix the pressure switch electrical oddity that way.

I want to square away the electrical to ensure no issue there. The breaker is an easy fix.

Thanks for all the great input so far.
 

Boss

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I'm not sure what was going on before I got the house four years ago.

I have physically verified that the power is 220V at the breaker box by looking at the well wire going into the box.

I looked under the cover of the electrical at the well head. It has two wires only. The pump has red and yellow wires coming up which means nothing. There is no ground @ the well.

The well company claims that the pump is 1/2 amp.



You are correct on the size(~5' tall, 22" diam). There is no label on the tank what so ever. The only thing on the top is a welded nut as shown. I just checked the complete unit and verified no Schrader valve.

Without the Schrader valve, I don't see a way to check pressure. The current pressure switch is 30/50psi.

I am replacing the tank and switch as one unit to help diagnose other issues. I will check if the current tank is good. It if is, I'll keep it in the system.

If I am able to use a pressure tank outdoors in a well house in a snow area(~3500'), I will adjust my plumbing to and fix the pressure switch electrical oddity that way.

I want to square away the electrical to ensure no issue there. The breaker is an easy fix.

Thanks for all the great input so far.

You mean 1/2 Horse. 1/2 amp wouldn't get you water. :laughing: A hot leg down the well and no ground, this keeps getting better. Not good. Great way to get killed. I've been shock by systems built like that. Hope the wire in the well is in good condition.
 

Lil'John

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You mean 1/2 Horse. 1/2 amp wouldn't get you water. :laughing: A hot leg down the well and no ground, this keeps getting better. Not good. Great way to get killed. I've been shock by systems built like that. Hope the wire in the well is in good condition.
Yes... you are correct. Half horse pump. Too much crap going on😞

And yup. Not thrilled with odd wiring which is why I want to at least fix the top part of it.

I tried the echo test using a cell phone to determine the static water depth. I'm not sure I buy it is ~30 feet given some of the other issues I'm having.

How difficult is it to lift the well cap about two feet so I can peek down? Assuming I can cleanly open the coupler that is.
 
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