Need advice on choosing better float system for water well cistern

Help Support House Repair Talk:

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
I need to get some updated pictures. One of the orange cables went to the switch and the other orange cable came out of the switch and was hung over something (maybe a hook) before going back down to the pump. My friend told me he wired the pump to be 230v (he said hot hot ground makes it 230 vs hot neutral ground-- said it might be hot hot neutral too but on same rail as the ground). It was bloody hot outside today so I didn't go out there. I will have to go outside tomorrow when the septic service people get here so I will try to bring my phone out to see if I can get updated pictures and trace the wires. I should clarify here: These pictures were not all taken at the same time so there have been changes since they were taken. The switch and cables have been changed out since then so the color of the cables is now different.

Since the pump is running at 230v I think that means it's running at around 6.1A. But I want to get a float and controller with at least 13A.

To try to answer a few questions. The float is currently on the bottom of a rod. The rod goes through a hole in the lever. When the ftank is full, the rod goes up and a bump on it pushes the lever up. When the water level drops, the rod goes down and pulls the lever down. That is how it knows when the water level is low.

The jet pump does NOT seem to have a way of knowing if the water level in the cistern is low. I've had problems when the wiring to the air pump failed so it didn't refill the cistern and there was not enough water to be pulled out & the jet pump burned out the pressure switch trying to pump nothing. So, the cistern has to have enough water in it for the jet pump to do it's job without getting messed up.

I eventually want to put in a cycle stop valve and smaller pressure tank, but for now I want to get the wiring and float situation taken care of. I do think you are right that I need to figure out exactly what I have and how it is working before I go out and buy stuff and find it won't work.

I do know I want either a float with a weight (so I don't have to try to stick a rod down there) or a contact sensor on a weighted cable. What way, I can suspend the cable from the ceiling down through the hole and it will pretty much hold itself in place.

To give you an idea of the mess in there:
pumpshedelectric2.jpgpumpshedelectric3.jpg

I don't have a picture but behind the jet pump there is a pipe coming out of the ground that has wires coming out of it. I thought they were going in but when I tried to trace the power from the house to the shed I couldn't find it so it must have underground wiring.

Those non-gfci outlets are driving me batty (and none of them work). I loved my dad dearly, but he did not study electrical codes enough (or had outdated books) before he did some of this. And I know it was him because I helped him assemble the shed and install this stuff. In my defense, my electronics classes never went in to house wiring. I only made little circuit boards and worked on computers. LOL.

I will see if my phone has re-charged enough for pics tomorrow.

Bonus points (sound on) the awful sound the air compressor pump makes. My apologies for the sound at the very beginning. I tried to crop it after I hollered my brother to turn the breaker on but it caught the very end of it so it sounds weird.
http://instagr.am/p/CM3kgv2DOfL/
Sadly, I forgot to film the actual pump that was making that racket.
 
Last edited:

Eddie_T

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
811
Reaction score
570
This is an interesting situation with all the puzzling parts. Your friend may have wired it correctly or he may have connected the neutral to ground. For 230v the neural isn't used. Actually it's all kinda crazy talk since AC current doesn't really go anywhere we kinda address current flow as if were DC. Hopefully we can be of some assistance. I don't have much to offer with air lift pumps or jet pumps but others do.
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
Thanks, Eddie. I almost put off getting updated pics but I made myself do it. I got to see a cute little frog on the cistern and my cow came over to see me. Looks like she pushed in the covering for the doorway to lick the salt that was supposed to be for the water softener. LOL.

I only took pics from the front because there was a huge wasp nest toward the back and I didn't want to get close to them. I will have to go back with a lantern and wasp spray and 86 them while they are sleeping. I don't like spraying wasp spray near potable water but I also don't like getting stung by wasps.

I will have to do a 2nd post for more pictures

The white cable appears to come up from the ground through this corrugated blue conduit tethered to the metal pipe in front of the cistern (until today, I somehow never noticed it). It goes to a junction box.
wellshed-wires-from-ground1.jpgwellshed-wires-from-ground2.jpg

The orange cable (OC1) comes out of the junction box and down to the switch while another orange cable (OC2) and a black cable come out of the switch and hang over the junction box. Not sure where OC2 goes but black cable appears to go to the compressor pump.
cistern-d-switch&wires.jpg

Closeup of the switch- Cover won't fit over it anymore. (looks like the lever is down so I may need to go back and check to make sure it's working still- I will do that when I go to annihilate the wasps).
cistern-d-switch1.jpg

As you can see, the rod has two metal rings above and below the switch. One pulls down the other pushes up.
cistern-d-switch2.jpg
This is the current pump motor and a closeup of the cable/wires. The black cable comes down the wall and connects with the filthy orange pigtail cable from the pump. (That pvc pipe is the only thing that kept these wires from dipping in the water when the cistern overflowed. I will need to find a better way to tether them and I need to wrap them in electrical tape for safety. I would eventually like to get the crimp sleeves I mentioned before.
The multi-colored cable is one of the ones that was connected previously but got fried.
wellshed-ppump9-9-21.jpgwellshed-ppumpwires.jpg

This was the best pic I could get of the wires behind the cistern at the moment. I will see if I can get a better shot or even a video and get screenshots later.
wellshedwiresbehindcistern.jpg

More pics in the next post. I hope this helps a little bit.
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
Picture Post #2
This is the fill pipe (and the mess of junk on top of the lid that I really need to clean off-- it's still wet from the overflow). Looks like there is a piece that can be turned to get the pipe to come loose if need be.
cistern-fillpipe1.jpg

This is the hole for the rod. I put my finger next to it to try to give some sense of proportion since I forgot to bring my measuring tape. My pointer finger looks itty bitty in this pic. LOL.
Cisternholeforrod1.jpgcisternholeforrod2.jpg

The old mounting pipe. I couldn't tell if it is capped on the inside or if it goes all the way down. If it does go all the way down, it might be a point for running a new float and the other hole can be covered up or I can cover this one up and use that other hole.
cisternPVCmountpipe1.jpgcisternpvcmountpipe2.jpg

Is any of this helpful yet?
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
Followup question since my brain isn't working (I'm about to go check the well in a few minutes).
If the float setup to FILL the tank is set to Normally Closed (which would then send signal to the contactor) does that mean I would need a Normally Open contactor so that it will close (and turn the pump on) when the float is down/closed/on?
 

Steve123

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2017
Messages
276
Reaction score
115
You lost me on your set up explanation, but if your issue is finding a float switch for your 1 hp motor, check out MDI. They have float switches that can handle 1 HP and even 2 HP.
(check out the other tabs too -- they have lots of types of switches and accessories)

 

Eddie_T

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
811
Reaction score
570
Your first step should be to determine what the wire from the breaker is. There's enough exposed in the run between the blue conduit and the blue junction box that you should be able to read the printing on the sheath. You need to know the AWG and the number of conductors, 12-2, 12-3, 10-2 or 10-3. It would be good to get a picture of the wire connections inside that junction box.

Don't ever use any wiring in the shed larger than the incoming wire. If you have fried wires it's probably due to faulty insulation or connections resulting in an arc flash.

I can't find a wiring diagram for the Square-D float switch to see if it's a single or double pole. It would be a good place to use a meter on the exposed connections to see if it's 110 or 220. Don't worry about the terminology actual distribution may be 110/220, 115/230 or 120/240 mine is actually 117/234).

The Square-D float switch should be a good enough if the float is good. With the original longer arm the float would have more leverage to flip the switch. That might be the rationale for the original setup.

For safety and reliability you should address the leaky roof.
 
Last edited:

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
I eventually plan to replace the whole shed, but for now I should probably put something on the roof to try to patch it.

When I went back and looked I realized the 2nd orange cable was coming out of the switch and going to the pressure switch of the jet pump. I'll post more pics and a more detailed description later. Need to run to the post office before it closes.
 

bud16415

Fixer Upper
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Feb 5, 2013
Messages
6,444
Reaction score
2,439
Location
Erie, PA
I’m just curious @zannej what is the actual well like? The source of the water where the air compressor goes and pushes the water to the cistern. How deep how big around how far down is the water etc?

The next curious question is this something your dad built? Did it originally just gravity feed from the cistern to water animals or crops? I wonder if it started out as one thing and then was made to include the house with the other pump. Normally when I see a cistern it collects rain water.
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
To answer some questions: I have absolutely no idea how deep or far down the water is. This whole setup was here before we bought the house and was likely here for decades. We believe the original installer may have been Mr. Clark (who is either dead or retired now). He developed Alzheimers several years back and was no longer able to service our well-- he left us hanging for 3 weeks and totally forgot we existed so we had to find a new well service. I do know that the people digging the septic tank were afraid they would hit water while digging for a 1k gallon tank because they started to see the really sandy soil you see close to water.

When we first bought the place there was a wooden shed about the same size as the current shed (if not smaller) around the whole setup. It fell apart while the tenants were supposed to be maintaining it (and they wouldn't let people we sent out to fix it on the property). The shed pretty much fell down on the cistern so Dad and I put up a metal shed in it's place, built another shed across from it, and put a lean-to over both of them. He worked with the original wires as well as adding in some outlets to plug in lamps, fans, and heaters. I don't remember how many of the outlets (if any) were there before. The wires to both pumps have fried numerous times and when replaced, the old ones were often just left in there. I'm going to try to get my friend out to help me sort through the mess and see if we can find labels/writing on any of the wires.

Ok, this is the wiring diagram for the current switch
1631319296847.png
I'm more of a photos person so I can't really sort it out (I usually also like to have color coding to help me visualize things).

These are the wires going to the switch (I will have to go out in daylight sometime and try to get a better picture of how the wires connect to it (unless the diagram above is of any help). I need to figure out which of the orange cables goes to the jet pump and which comes out of the junction box, but just from this image I think the cable on the right is the one going to the jet pump because it's newer/cleaner looking.
wellsheddswitchwires.jpg

Cables coming out of and going around the junction box
wellshedjb.jpg

black cable going down the wall to the air pump
wellshedblkcable2pump.jpg

Another angle of wires connected for the air pump
wellshed-ppumpwires2.jpg

OC2 going across the ceiling toward the jet pump
wellshedoc2ceiling.jpg

Cable going to pressure switch on jet pump
wellshedoc22jp.jpg

Another view of wires behind cistern (which don't seem to be useful from what I can tell)
wellshedwiresbehindcistern2.jpg

Once I trace all of the wires and note what connects where, I can draw up a color-coded diagram. I'll have to shut off the power for safety though. I can see the black cable has markings but I can't make them out from the photo bc my vision sucks.

One of the cables coming out of the switch and going to the jet pump now has me wondering how tf I will be able to run power to the jet pump if I replace the float, but I really hate the current system and if this switch ever dies, the new switches are harder to find, more expensive, and have terrible reviews.
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
I drew a crappy sketch to try to make the wiring situation make sense
1631335117613.png

Off-White cable comes from underground & goes to the junction box at the top.
1st Orange Cable (OC1) comes from the junction box and goes to the switch on top of the cistern
Black Cable comes from the switch and goes to the pigtail on the motor of the air pressure pump
2nd Orange Cable (OC2) comes from the switch on top of the cistern and goes to the pressure switch on the jet pump

So, if I add in a controller, I will need to figure out how to tie in the jet pump. I don't know if something in the switch affects the jet pump or if it is just being used as a junction of sorts.

Edit, my friend said the wiring for the switch & pump motor is like the first diagram.
1631337279679.png
 
Last edited:

Eddie_T

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2015
Messages
811
Reaction score
570
I'm thinking from the switch diagram that the outer screw terminals are also being used as tie points to continue the cable to the jet pump. The inner terminals (I can't see the screws) connect to the load (air pump) and the grounds are connected via the wire nut. The ties could be made in a junction box with a cord dropping down to the float switch. What is the distance between the two pumps, IOW why such lengths of cable?

edit: Still need the info on supply cable, if it's 230v as expected is there a neutral for 115v circuits or do they use the ground wire?
 
Last edited:

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
Thanks, Eddie. I was hoping they were load wires (as in they continue downstream) so the switch is not required to continue them.

Friend is going to come over and help me look at the cables and try to identify markings. He says the pump is wired in 230v mode but I am not sure how to check that. Looks like the ground wires were tied together.
 

zannej

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2014
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
948
When my internet gets unthrottled I'll have to post more pictures. Friend helped me look at the cables today. Other than the black cable, we couldn't see any markings but friend said they appear to be 10awg. The black one is actually 8awg, but we are going to replace it with 10 to have consistent wiring throughout.

He confirmed that the switch is acting as a junction for the jet pump's switch. So we will move the wires to a junction box instead of running them through the switch. So the line wires will come in and be split to the jet pump and the contactor, air pump, and new switch.
 
Top