Possible problem with the water pump: Learning from my many mistakes

Longtime readers know that problems with the water system situated on the top of the ridge between Ian’s place and my own are not unknown. We’ve had fittings freeze and break, an unburied manifold freeze and just seize everything up, flexible pipe kinks, one-way valve failure, and out-and-out pump failure.

The problem with all of these is that if someone is not in the habit of checking the water level in that big beautiful water tank…


…the first clue of a problem is water ceasing to flow through the pipes to the kitchen sink, yard spigot, and all-important Genuine Flush Toilet. That’s bad.

Which is why last winter, when a fault developed with the float switch inside the tank, I didn’t get all worked up. I tried to fix it in the spring by replacing the float switch itself, and when that didn’t work I decided, “screw it.” Because over the previous winter I had finally, out of necessity, developed the useful habit of checking the water level every week or so. By backing off the tech a level and manually flipping a switch whenever the level got low enough to justify running the pump, thus forcing me to periodically check the tank…


I gained a useful several weeks of warning when something – inevitably – went wrong. It’s a 2500 gallon tank. I don’t have a shower – I don’t actually use that much water, and especially not in winter.

I say “inevitable” because it really is. That one time the pump failed, which is the one thing I can’t fix on my own, an internal diaphragm was attacked and gradually defeated by the chemicals in our very hard well water. That situation has not been corrected, and as far as I know can’t be corrected. Therefore the pump will fail again. I took two precautions against that day: I revised the inside of the pumphouse to allow me to pull the pump out myself, rather than recruiting Ian or Neighbor D as with the last two times the pump needed pulling out of the casing…


…and I begged a spare pump from Ian. See, I can pull the pump but I can’t repair it: I have to wait till Landlady comes up, send it to Ian, wait for him to send it to Sun Pumps, wait for them to repair and return it, then wait for Landlady to come back here. Last time it took like six weeks, as I recall. Ian, smart guy that he is, saw the wisdom of that and now I know exactly where there’s a safely-stored and clearly-labeled box containing a brand new 12v Sun Pump.

The existing pump is still humming away down there, but I’m beginning to fear it’s not actually pumping water…


…because I’ve been running the pump but the water level is either not rising or is taking its dear sweet time. I’m getting a little worried – but not very worried, because precautions!

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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3 Responses to Possible problem with the water pump: Learning from my many mistakes

  1. coloradohermit says:

    “The existing pump is still humming away down there, but I’m beginning to fear it’s not actually pumping water…”
    When our pump started doing that, we discovered that the hard water had eaten a hole in the connector between the pump and the pipe so the water was just shooting out the hole and back into the well rather than up the pipe. We replaced that connector with a brass one and the pump went back to filling the cistern like magic. Hope your problem is something that simple.

  2. Joel says:

    Most people here have learned the hard way never to use iron fittings. I use only plastic and brass.

    Also I just this minute got back from checking the tank, and now I think it was just lower at first than I thought. Today is quite overcast and the pump is running slow but the tank level has risen since morning. Not a lot, but some.

  3. Zendo Deb says:

    While I know that budget is a thing, there are tank monitors that work with plastic tanks where you tape sensor strips to the outside of the tank and it warns you if you fall below a certain level. They sell to boat owners http://www.scadtech.com/index.php?q=tank_monitors

To the stake with the heretic!