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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER FILTERS, HOME USE
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article describes diagnosing and repairing leaks that can occur in building water piping between a private well and the building water equipment. We also discuss the diagnosis and repair of leaky water well casings themselves. Knowing just what kind of leak is occurring in a building helps pinpoint the problem and also helps specify the necessary plumbing repair.
The articles at this website will answer most questions about diagnosing and repairing pumps, wells, water supply systems, and building piping. Our page top photo shows water around a plastic water line that had a buried but leaky fitting. The repair was simple, but the excavation to find the leak was a bit more trouble.
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Well piping leaks vs well casing leaks: Here we discuss diagnosing and repairing leaks in the well piping that extends from the well bottom foot valve or pump in to the building. For well casing leaks see WELL CASING LEAK REPAIRS below.
Also see Water Supply/Drain Pipe Leak Types and see Thawing Frozen Pipes which addresses how to find frozen and burst pipe leaks in buildings, and see Repairing Burst Leaky Pipes. If the water supply piping inside your building is also plastic, see PLASTIC PIPING ABS CPVC PB PEX PVC.
At WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE we note that a possible explanation for loss of building water pressure, or loss of well pump prime can be air leaking into a well piping line, as well as water leaking out of the well pipe.
Water will leak out of a well pipe at a bad connection, perforation, or cracked pipe when the well pump is running, particularly if the water system uses a submersible pump that is located in the well itself. If you have this problem you may find a wet spot in the ground near the well piping, provided that the pipe is close enough to the surface.
You will also notice that the well pump is running more often than normal, and that your "apparent" water usage may have increased. Some people even report finding a "water fountain" or geyser in the lawn at a burst water supply pipe from both private wells and from a municipal water main.
Air may leak into a well water pipe at a bad connection, perforation, or other damage when the well pump stops running, particularly if the leak problem is combined with a defective check valve or foot valve in the piping system.
The result may be air discharged from plumbing fixtures (see AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES), improper air charge in the water pressure tank, or loss of pump prime. Short cycling of the water pump or loss of pump prime may result as well.
This water pressure diagnosis problem discussion below gives some added details, thanks to reader Dan Babb.
Question - Excessive Well Water Use:
My house was built in 1979, but the well was re drilled to 142 feet in 1986 by the previous owner. The copper pipes were replaced with pvc and a peroxide treatment system was installed due to the sulphur content. I purchased the property in 1997 and the last two years have been a journey.
I've replaced the well pump, pressure tank, pressure switch, chemical feeder pump, repacked the sand and charcoal filters. Currently, I'm using twice the amount of chemicals to treat the water then a year ago. If i'm using twice the amount of water that would be acceptable. I have now flow meter for proof, but that can't be.
Culligan has been out three times to confirm the feeder and filters are functioning correctly. I have not found any leaks, but have noticed an incredible increase of air within the system if it has been idle. There is no check valve on the system near the pressure tank. Would a failing check valve in the well cause this issue? Should I install a check valve prior to the pressure tank? If i installed a flow meter, where should it be located?
Answer: Quick Tips on Diagnosing High Water Use, Pump Short Cycling, Air in Water Lines
Air in the system could be a piping leak - including between the well and the building - or the well running dry. Or a bad foot valve if the pump is in the building not in the well and a foot valve is all you've got in the well. That'd also show up as lost prime.
If you see the water pressure dropping after the pump has shut off and if you are sure no water is running in the building, then there is either a leak in the well piping or a bad foot valve. If the pressure does not drop, a check valve won't fix anything.
If the pressure is dropping, try a check valve as you suggest - if nothing else, it'd be diagnostic.
Watch out: As the feedback discussion below exemplifies, the second you start touching old plumbing in a building you may find out that there are multiple problems. We call this the spaghetti problem: you can't pull just one strand of spaghetti out of the colander once it has all stuck together. That's characteristic of performing repair work on an older home.
Feedback on What Happened with Diagnosing a Well Problem: Multiple Water Supply Problems at One Shot
My system is now fixed. It was a combination of issues, but your diagnostics was correct. The air was a result of a leaking line at the well casing. After receiving your email, I looked over all the lines in the house.
No leaks could be found, but I could hear the well pump kicking on and off. I began to monitor the pressure gauge at the pressure tank. The well would pump up to 50 psi and shut-off, then the pressure would slowly drop. I could hear water moving in the lines, but no faucets were on. I shut the gate valve upstream from the pressure tank and pressure continued to drop. I noticed sweating on the pressure tank.
I turned off the pressure switch, closed a gate valve and opened the drain valve. The pressure tank drained very little water, but released the pressure. Seeing sweat half way up, I shook the tank and to confirm water was inside. The bladder had ruptured. I replaced the pressure tank, tee, and fittings and included a check valve downstream of the pressure tank.
I put the system back on-line. Air was still in the lines, so I decided to water the lawn , flowers and garden hoping to remove any trapped air from the system. It seemed to work.
Then I noticed the flowers around the well casing weren't suffering from the heat. Taking a closer look there were puddles. I began touching the ground and it was saturated. I called my well driller and he came out and confirmed the water was leaking outside the casing. He dug around the casing to reveal two pin holes in the 1" HDPE pipe. We spliced a two foot section and tested the system.
The well line is all fixed. I asked the plumber to look at my connections at the pressure tank. We added an air release valve and increased the pressure switch settings. I am very happy with the results.
My day wasn't over though. I noticed water on the garage floor by one of my two 82 gallon holding tanks. There was a rusty look to the water. I tilted the tank and sure enough there were three streams coming from the bottom of the tank. It may have been slightly leaking before, but the increased pressure possibly made it worse. I called Culligan and they no longer install galvanized steel tanks on sulphur systems.
Fiberglass tanks are now available for $460. I'm currently testing my system on one tank and shopping around for best prices on fiberglass tanks.
While the comments below describe the cause of a leak in plastic well piping, the same conditions can cause a leak in buried municipal water supply piping between the building and the street. As Carson Dunlop's Home Reference Book points out,
List of Causes of Damage, Leaks, or Crimps in Buried Plastic or Metal Well Water Piping
Inspect your connections carefully with the well piping under full pressure before burying the water piping.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about leaks in well piping
Question: community well seems to cause running water noise just at our house
We have a community well that operates 40 homes. For some reason our house is the only house affected by this running waterr noise than a small click at the end. This continues back up every 45 seconds. This has happened 4 other times and everytime they fixed something at the well (example bursted pipes, made adjustments) the noise has gone away. It is happeneing again and they said nothing was wrong and a few days later some electrical thing got fried at the well and we had no water.
They made some quick fix im sure and we have water again but still have the sound in our house. Seems to me they did not actuallu fix the problem. Would you agree? We have also had a plumber out here twice and they can not find a single leak. PLEASE HELP! This noise is driving me crazy and Im almost positive it has to do with that love well! Why are we the only house that is always affected?? - Dawn 9/10/11
Dawn I'm a bit confused by your info but will still suggest:
Thanks for answering me back. I do not have access to the community well so I can not check that. Im almost 100% positive there is nothing wrong with our house because everytime the "water noise" starts in our house a week or two weeks later something goes wrong with the community well and once the problem is fixed at the well house the "water noise" goes away.
The only thing we can think of as to why we hear the noise and the other 39 people that get their water from the same well cant hear it is because our home is right next to the drainage easement??? We have had a plumber here twice and both times they can not find anything wrong leak wise. He did say our water meter is going back and forth which is strange but its not consistent with having a leak anywhere. He recommended that a water meter with a backflow device would help to stop the water from cycling through the meter in the reverse direction. Were baffled as to why we can tell something is wrong with the well and no other home can. Does this make any more sense to you? I really dont know how else to explain it.
Question: I see water on the ground around our well casing and cap - is this a well casing leak?
Just this past week I noticed that the ground around my well casing and cap is saturated for the first time ever. Water is even puddling up around it. Is this a sign of a leak in the casing? - Tim B 10/9/11
Question: well pump takes a long time to reach shut-off pressure; pump won't prime
when my pressure switch calls for water it take a very long time to get back up to the shut of pressure. if you have a valve open the well pump does not seem to be able to keep up. is me pump bad? - Mike 4/17/12
Pump will not prime,casing and pump is full with water ,but won't build pressure - Frank 6/11/12
Mike, it could be a damaged pump impeller, bad motor, low voltage, a leak in the well piping, or a well with a poor recovery rate combined with an in-well tailpiece that limits the pump output so that it doesnt exceed the well inflow rate. Or something else I haven't thought of.
Question: copper well line split and kept leaking; Can I use black pipe from HomeDepot?
I have a two line jet pump and a 35 foot shallow well. I had a suspected bad check valve when attempting to fix that I found the copper lines to the venturi had split and was constantly leaking. I managed to fix that with black plastic pipe that came in 100 foot lengths. however the copper tubing that runs though the well casing to the pump in the basement is in need of replacement now as well. I have dug up the lawn between the house and the well and want advise on the best pipe to use so I do not have to change again. My lines are at 56 inches below the ground so I hope it is under the frost line for CT.
Can I use some more of the same black pipe they sold me at the Home depot? Or please advise the best choice so I do not need to redo again in a short time - Jim 7/7/12
Jim why not black abs plastic well piping? It's quite durable and if properly mounted and secured against movement (and thus leaks from abrasion) is often good for decades.
I have 2 plastic lines coming from the basement floor/sidewall. One is the water feed and the other is a 2" black plastic pipe which contains the electrical lines. When the pump is turned on this pipe leaks continously. Is there a way to fix this and does it cause my water pressure to decrease?
I just had a problem of water pouring out the electrical conduit in the house. Had to leap over the water to shut off the breaker. I know the conduit and water line run inside a tube of piping and I thought maybe the water line somehow came off the fitting at the well casing. I dug down to the casing and found the line somehow came off and filled the tube and the conduit that ran with it was open in the tube so the water took the path of least resistance and went out the conduit because the holding tank wasn't letting any water in. I slit the casing for the conduit so I could put a bucket under and collect water by turning the breaker on and off to get water for the toilet and dishes and washing up till I fixed the piping. The hole was about 4 ft x 4 ft x 4-1/2 ft deep.
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