Well Pump Electrical Problem

gary49

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A larger electrical contractor might have a recording ammeter that could be used to see what the starting and running amperages of the pump are. That’s what I’d be looking for after i put a clamp on ammeter on the line just to see what the numbers are. Could be a number of things, best guess is it’s an intermittent short due to a bad splice. If it’s a submersible pump, there should be a splice at the pump and another at the top of the wellhead under the cap. I like to use heat shrink splice kits for submersible pump installations. Could be a splice somewhere besides inside the well casing, might be tricky to find if it’s buried. Of course, if it’s buried, it won’t be long before it fails completely.
 
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fried1765

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Thanks guys.

The well is over 400 feet deep. Rain should not affect it at all.

Not sure if the power cable is in conduit. It is buried of course.

I would assume the well guy and the electrician have matched the breaker and the pump specs but who knows these days.

I have a multitester but do not know how to use it other than checking my car batteries. So I'm not the man for the job. I don't think my son-in-law is up on electricity either.

However, I am going to put together a list of all the things you've mentioned and give it to them and see if they can get someone out to do a real diagnostic workup.

I am wondering if there is a splice in the buried cable that is getting wet. We've thought about that before but no one wants to dig it up. I suspect they're going to have to if none of these other things are causing it.
You will absolutely be able to avoid any exploratory digging, if you first run a temporary electric line to bypass the current buried line, and then have no further breaker trips.
 

ChuckT

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Ah me. This is a perfect example of a consumer trusting too much, too far, and too often.
Once the house is done and occupied why do people believe the builder is still concerned.
What _should_ have transpired is that with the deed and title of the property the owners gets a complete (and accurate (!)) description of the home and all appliance warranties, owner's manuals, etc, WITH an and accurate wiring diagram and labeling on the breaker panel.
From that maybe they get an idea of why the gizmos aren't working properly. At the very least there's a place to start - in this case checking breaker #nn to see the load when the pump kicks in during a rain.
That being said - I'd be looking for a another electrician, one that can be communicated with an cross off the bulider an his minions as a lost cause.
 
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Valveman

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Like ponytug says. get an ohm meter and check for lack of resistance in the underground wires. You will need a meg meter or at least an ohm meter that has a RX100K scale. Any little short in the wire will cause the breaker to trip when it gets wet. No sense in digging until you know what the problem is. Check the red, yellow, black wires after removing them from the control box. If it shows a short then cut the wires at the well head and check both ends of the cut wire to find out if the short is down hole or underground. Most pumps are destroyed from cycling on and off too much. But tripping a breaker after a rain does sound like a short underground.

 

Clint S

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Maybe a bad new pump drawing too much . I have seen the wire running down the well pipe get chafed due to lack of the things used to keep the pump from moving in the case. At my brother's it would hit the metal casing and trip the breaker
 

woody

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There is some great info here, and just curious is the breaker a GFCI breaker or a normal double pole breaker. Also compare the rated starting amps from the book on the pump with what was actually installed.
 

CH4Ohio

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As Fried recommended above, you can run a temporary electric wire to it above-ground and see if that solves the problem. If it does, then you KNOW that your buried wire is shorting out.

Since you say it's related to "rain", my guess is that it's shorting out somewhere. Checking amp draw isn't going to help with that. Not to say that the pump couldn't be drawing too much amperage, but you'd expect it to happen EVERY time that it cycled on, not just when it rained.

On a new house, I'd just pull a new continuous wire from the breaker to the well (above-ground if you like for now) and put that possibility behind me. I'd bet money that the existing wire insulation is skinned somewhere or there's a splice that's always going to cause a problem.
 

Gem99ultra

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As Fried recommended above, you can run a temporary electric wire to it above-ground and see if that solves the problem. If it does, then you KNOW that your buried wire is shorting out.

Since you say it's related to "rain", my guess is that it's shorting out somewhere. Checking amp draw isn't going to help with that. Not to say that the pump couldn't be drawing too much amperage, but you'd expect it to happen EVERY time that it cycled on, not just when it rained.

On a new house, I'd just pull a new continuous wire from the breaker to the well (above-ground if you like for now) and put that possibility behind me. I'd bet money that the existing wire insulation is skinned somewhere or there's a splice that's always going to cause a problem.
I have limited experience with electricity - but... I've had a similar problem in the past, i.e. occasional failure especially after a rainy spell. Buried cable did have a skinned spot which was discovered only after digging up the entire line and inspecting it.
Solution was to replace the entire line very carefully. No splices and well lubricated cable placed inside conduit. Not an easy simple fix, but it did FIX the problem.
 

Valveman

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Maybe a bad new pump drawing too much . I have seen the wire running down the well pipe get chafed due to lack of the things used to keep the pump from moving in the case. At my brother's it would hit the metal casing and trip the breaker
Chaffing wire is just one more problem caused by the pump[ cycling on and off too much. Torque arrestors and wire standoffs are just another opportunity to get the pump stuck in the well. You don't need those things if you don't let the pump cycle too much.
 
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