My First Experience as a Well Owner
After being with Franklin Electric for more than 20 years, a couple of years ago, I purchased a house with a private water system--otherwise known as a water well. There's some irony here in that after talking about Franklin products for over two decades, for the first time in my life, I was the proud owner of a 4-inch water well system.
I was pretty excited.
The experience since has been one of massive reinforcement of things I kind of already knew. If you're a water systems contractor, these are things you are already keenly aware. But, there's no experience like experiencing something for yourself. Here are the highlights of my experience:
Misinformation is rampant. Early on, I had a well-known, reputable plumber install a gas line for a dryer. Did a fine job, but as he was packing up and leaving, I had to ask if they ever did water well work. The reply was, "of course, just call our office." I asked what they installed (I'm thinking manufacturers), and instead he replies, "we only install 2-wire pumps. The 3-wire versions are junk and there's too much to go wrong in that control box." As a guy that has presented the 2- vs. 3-wire topic countless times, I was stunned. The differences between 2-and 3-wire are minor. It's the same motor. The only difference is how we start it.
As he drove away, I was left wondering where on earth did he get that information and what else was he totally getting wrong? To hear this in your own driveway is eye-opening.
In terms of my system itself, there is no information. The previous owner of my new home was an engineer and at the risk of stereotyping, he kept documentation of everything. Owner manuals with installation and maintenance dates for everything were in a nice set of folders, with one single exception...no information on the water system. Nothing. And I mean nothing. Not a trace of the well depth, what was down the hole, or past maintenance performed. Once again, I was stunned that someone who kept the manual for their microwave oven had zero information on the most important, most critical system in their home.
My pressure tank is undersized. Versus the one-minute run time recommended in the Franklin Electric AIM Manual, my pressure tank runs for 24 seconds (yes, I timed it). Way undersized. But what's worse, when I went down the crawl space to have a look, it's starting to rust. What may eventually happen is a tank failure, massive leak, a crawl space filled with water as the pump keeps pumping it's heart out to get to 50 psi and open the pressure switch. Lovely scenario.
Yes, I need a constant pressure system. The house was built in 1985, so I can't blame this as a plumbing issue. I've got all the pressure cycling issues you would expect in a conventional system--especially in the shower. The difference between pressure switch cut-in and cut-out is dramatic.
Here's what I'm going to do. Soon, I'm going to schedule a professional water systems contractor to come out and (1) test my water and set up a schedule to test yearly, just to be sure, (2) replace the pressure tank with the largest one that he can squeeze into my crawl space, and (3) perhaps even pull and replace the pump. Maybe even add a 3-wire SubDrive Connect.
It's not going to be cheap, but I can't imagine a better investment--Franklin Electric employee and homeowner or not. And by the way, I won't be using the guy that installed my gas line.