How Grundfos products help us in the field.
For today’s article, I wanted to take some time to talk about Grundfos brand well products. We don’t install Grundfos products on every job, but their line of specialty well pumps and constant pressure systems allow us to tackle challenging well problems when a typical well pump system isn’t up to the task.
On a recent job, the homeowners had purchased a property where the pump had previously been removed from the well. When the plumber they hired tried to install a new submersible pump, he hit an obstruction in the well that prevented the pump from being set at an adequate depth to function properly. His solution was to install a shallow well pump system that would get them by for the time being, but the homeowners found that during periods of high usage they would run out of water and have to wait for the well to recharge. Although there was plenty of water storage in the well to meet their needs, the shallow pumping depth didn’t allow them to take advantage of it. At this point they called us out to have a look.
When dealing with well cave-ins the most common solution is to drill out the obstruction, but any time you bring a drilling rig onto a job the dollars can add up fast. Before resorting to the heavy equipment, I wanted to see if there was another solution. Enter the Grundfos SQ Series soft start pump.
The Grundfos SQ is unique because unlike other submersible pumps, it doesn’t move around in the well when it turns on. Instead of instantly turning on with a sudden jolt, it uses an electronic regulator to gradually ramp up the RPM’s to pumping speed. This lack of movement upon starting allows the SQ series pump to be installed in a much smaller diameter borehole without the risk of damaging the feed wire or the pump itself. At only 3 inches in diameter, the Grundfos SQ seemed like it just might be the perfect fit for this well.
After removing the jet assembly from the well, I gradually lowered an SQ-sized water bottle down the hole and found that it was able to make it past the cave-in and clear to the bottom of the hole. So did the Grundfos pump. It took a bit of extra work to retrofit the rest of the system for a new pressure tank but at the end of the day everything worked like a charm, and the homeowners saved a good chunk of money.
Another recent job involved a homeowner who was dealing with an inadequate water supply coupled with wide pressure fluctuations. At 230 feet deep with a 5 gallon per minute yield their current well met the minimum guidelines for a single family home, but they wanted to install a sprinkler system and had concerns that they would run out of water during periods of high usage. They also noticed that when multiple people were using water the pressure would drop dramatically, so they called us in to help.
For more information on minimum minimum flow rates for single family homes, visit The Maine Drinking Water Program.
The issue of increasing the water supply in this case was relatively straight forward; we brought in our drilling rig and deepened the well to increase its storage capacity and allow for a deeper pump setting. Dealing with pressure fluctuations is a bit more complicated, and this is another area where Grundfos well products stand out from the competition.
In a typical well system there will always be a certain amount of variance in water pressure – it is a fundamental part of how a normal pump system works. In your average pump system, there is a component called a pressure switch that connects the power supply from the circuit breaker to the feed wire that supplies power to the pump in the well. The pressure switch senses the water pressure in your plumbing and turns the pump on when the pressure is low (called cut-in) and turns it back off when the pressure is high (called cut-off). Unless there is a problem with your well system you will always have water pressure, but as you use the water stored in your pressure tank that pressure will drop until the pump turns on and return as the pump re-pressurizes the tank.
The cut-in and cut-off pressure points can be adjusted on the pressure switch so it can be tempting to simply increase these settings in order to have more water pressure, but doing so is highly inadvisable. The cut-in and cut-off settings are set for a reason; submersible pumps can only make so much pressure and pressure tanks can only store so much pressure. Adjusting these settings above the limits of the system will almost certainly decrease the life of your pump system and can have even more dire consequences. Leave this part to the professionals.
One way that a well professional might attempt to deal with pressure fluctuations is to install a larger pressure tank. The larger tank will have an increased storage capacity with a larger drawdown, which allows you to use more water before the pressure drops low enough for the pump to turn back on. The problem is that this doesn’t get rid of pressure variance in the system, it simply increases its storage capacity. The more elegant solution is to install a constant pressure system.
As the name implies, a constant pressure system maintains continuous water pressure by using a pump that can run at variable speeds. The pressure switch is replaced with a sophisticated control box that regulates the speed of the pump as water is used, rather than simply turning the pump on or off. In high demand situations a constant pressure system can end up being more electrically efficient because the pump doesn’t have to turn on as often, making it a a great fit for the homeowner on this job.
The way of the future
Constant pressure systems and variable speed pumps are some of the biggest advances in pump system technology since the invention of the submersible pump, and Grundfos products are among the best on the market. For more information, visit grundfos.com.