If you live in a town or city, you probably don’t give much thought to how the water you use each day gets to your house. Even small villages often provide a network of supply pipes that transport water to each home in the neighborhood. All you need to know is how to open the tap at the sink.
Move a few miles out of town and the picture can change. While the inner workings are still—thankfully—invisible, your water supply is independent from the neighbor’s down the road. Each home has its own well from which to draw water. More than that, each home has its own electromechanical system for getting the water from the well to the house. At the heart of each system is a pump, and the most common types are jet pumps and submersible pumps.
In many areas of the country, finding potable water is as easy as getting out a shovel and digging a hole in the ground. Okay, maybe “easy” isn’t the right word, but wherever the water table is only several feet below the surface of the ground, part of the battle may already be over. In such a shallow-well situation, lifting the water up to the house is going to be a little easier, if only because the distance you have to move it is modest.
If your area doesn’t have a high water table, or if it lacks a stable supply of potable water near the surface, you must dig deeper to achieve the same result. And because a deep well means that the water has to be lifted farther, the strategies for moving it change.
These days, the most common pump for a shallow well is a jet pump. Jet pumps are mounted above the well, either in the home or in a well house, and draw the water up from the well through suction (see Single-Drop Jet-Pump System diagram on next page). Because suction is involved, atmospheric pressure is what’s really doing the work. Think of the system as a long straw. As you suck on the straw, you create a vacuum in the straw above the water. Once the vacuum is there, the weight of the air, or atmospheric pressure, pushes the water up the straw. Consequently, the height that you can lift the water with a shallow-well jet pump relates to the weight of the air. While air pressure varies with elevation, it’s common to limit the depth of a jet-pump-operated shallow well to about 25 ft.
Jet pumps create suction in a rather novel way. The pump is powered by an electric motor that drives an impeller, or centrifugal pump. The impeller moves water, called drive water, from the well through a narrow orifice, or jet, mounted in the housing in front of the impeller. This constriction at the jet causes the speed of the moving water to increase, much like the nozzle on a garden hose. As the water leaves the jet, a partial vacuum is created that sucks additional water from the well. Directly behind the jet is a Venturi tube that increases in diameter. Its function is to slow down the water and increase the pressure. The pumped water–new water that’s drawn from the well by the suction at the jet–then combines with the drive water to discharge into the plumbing system at high pressure.
Because shallow-well jet pumps use water to draw water, they generally need to be primed–filled with water–before they’ll work. To keep water in the pump and plumbing system from flowing back down into the well, a 1-way check valve is installed in the feed line to the pump.
Breaking the depth barrier
Unfortunately, you may have to go a little deeper than 25 ft. for your water. Surprisingly, you can still do it with a jet pump. It simply involves separating the jet from the motor and impeller housing and placing the jet assembly down in the water (see Double-Drop Jet-Pump System diagram). In a typical deep-well jet-pump configuration, one pipe mounted to the impeller housing drives water down into the jet body that’s located about 10 to 20 ft. below the minimum well water level. A second pipe connects the output side of the jet body back to the pump.
At the jet, the increase in water velocity creates the partial vacuum that draws standing well water into the second pipe and then back into the pump and plumbing system. Deep-well jet pumps use both the suction at the jet to bring water into the system and pressure applied by the impeller to lift the water.
To prevent overpumping the well, a deep-well jet-pump installation may include a 35-ft.-long tailpipe. It’s connected to the intake end of the jet housing and extends down into the well. If the water level dips below the level of the jet housing, the pump operates in the same manner that a shallow-well pump does. While flow rate drops off, water will be available until the level drops below about 25 ft. from the jet housing-the limit for a shallow pump. The 35-ft.-long tailpipe effectively ensures that the well will never be pumped out. Of course, the height of the jet over the water level affects performance. The farther away it is, the less efficient the pumping becomes.
Like shallow-well systems, a jet pump in a deep-well system needs to be primed to operate. A foot valve at the bottom of the well piping prevents water from draining from the pipes and pump. Jet pumps that have two or more impellers are called multistage pumps.
Moving to the source
While a jet pump can reliably handle a well several hundred feet deep, a more effective solution is to move the pump down into the well so, instead of lifting the water, it’s pushing it up. A typical submersible pump is characterized by a long cylindrical shape that fits inside the well casing. The bottom half is made up of a sealed pump motor that is connected to the aboveground power source and controlled by wires. The actual pump half of the unit is comprised of a stacked series of impellers-each separated by a diffuser-that drives the water up the pipe to the plumbing system.
In modern installations, the well casing outside the home is connected to the plumbing system by a pipe that runs beneath the ground to the basement (see Submersible Pump System diagram). This horizontal pipe joins the well pipe at a connector called a pitless adapter. The function of the adapter is to permit access to the pump and well piping through the top of the well casing, while routing water from the pump into the plumbing system.
While submersible pumps are more efficient than jet pumps in delivering more water for the same size motor, pump or motor problems will necessitate pulling the unit from the well casing-a job that’s best left to a pro. However, submersibles are known for their reliability and often perform their role 20 to 25 years without servicing. Submersible pumps may also be used in shallow wells. However, silt, sand, algae and other contaminants can shorten the pump’s life.
No matter what kind of system you have, the components on the output side of all pumps are similar.
Pumps are not intended to run continuously, and they don’t start each time you open a tap or flush the toilet. In order to provide consistent water pressure at the fixtures, the pump first moves water to a storage tank. Inside a modern tank is an air bladder that becomes compressed as the water is pumped in. The pressure in the tank is what moves the water through the household plumbing system.
When the pressure reaches a preset level, which can be anywhere from 40 to 60 psi, a switch stops the pump. As water is used in the home, pressure begins to decrease until, after a drop of about 20 psi, the switch turns on the pump and the cycle is repeated. You’ll find the pressure gauge mounted on the tank with wires leading to the switch that controls the pump.
This upcoming Friday falls on the 13th, so the following are some interesting fun facts and trivia about how the superstition got started and the ones that follow it.
1–Friggatriskaidekaphobia is when someone is afraid of Friday the 13th. Nearly 20 million Americans are affected by friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s also called paraskavedekatriaphobia. Being afraid of No. 13 is called triskaidekaphobia.
3–Part of the reason 13 got a bad rap is because it comes after 12, which is a number of “completeness.” For example: 12 months in a year, 12 hours in a clock, 12 God of Olympus, 12 Zodiac signs, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 days of Christmas, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Apostles of Jesus and 12 eggs in a dozen.
4–Many hospitals don’t have a room number with 13 in it as well as a 13th floor. The same thing goes for tall buildings. Normally the 13th floor is skipped. Some airlines omit Gate 13.
5–A 13th guest at a table is considered unlucky, and in Paris sometimes a quatorzieme is hired to be a professional 14th guest and balance out the luck.
6–There is at least one Friday the 13th in every year, and at the most there are three.
7–Hollywood has capitalized on the Friday the 13th superstitions. Four of the 12 movies released were done so on Friday the 13th.
8–Tupac Shakur was killed on Friday the 13th.
9–Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1956.
10–Butch Cassidy, who was an infamous American train and bank robber, was born on Friday, April 13, 1866.
11–President Franklin D. Roosevelt would never have a 13th guest at a meal, nor would he travel on the 13th day of any month.
12– The number 13 is considered lucky by Italians
13– Dan Marino, former NFL quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, is considered one of the greats QBs by some, and he wore the number 13.
13– Taylor Swift considers 13 her lucky number and used to paint 13 on her hand.
THE FUTURE IN WATER HEATERS IS HERE!
Yelm Plumbing and Pumps now offers one of the pinnacles of water heaters. From HTP comes the Everlast water heater. The Everlast water heater is a truly unique piece of plumbing technology. Some of the features are: Laser welded stainless steel construction, built in heat traps to retain more heat for the water, no anode rods, brass fitting construction, heavy duty insulation, light weight and comes with a lifetime warranty(with online registration). The Everlast provides the finest protection against harsh water conditions with the best warranty in the business. It’s stainless steel surface gives it such a sleek appearance, it’s almost a shame to have it in the basement or utility room. Interested? Give Yelm Plumbing and Pumps a call or visit www.htproducts.com for more info on the Everlast water heater.
Sometimes a plumbing repair may not be as cut and dry or as simple as one would expect. Recently YPP technician Chris D. was called to a customer’s home to replace their failing water heater. Now most water heaters can be found in the garage or a utility room or maybe it’s own room attached to the house. This water heater was under the home in the crawlspace. While the crawlspace was fairly spacious it did present a few extra challenges to Chris. It’s not always as easy at it looks, especially when you have to watch out for other piping, being careful not to bang your head on the floor joists, and a gaggle of creepy crawly things that might be down there as well with ya, and draining of the old heater and not flooding the crawlspace. In no time at all Chris was able to drain and maneuver the old one out and install a brand new 50 gallon electric “Bradford & White” water heater for his customer. So if you have a “not so ordinary” plumbing job, don’t hesitate to give Yelm Plumbing and Pumps a call. We go where the work takes us.
Yelm Plumbing and Pumps salute those who proudly served to keep us safe. Thank you.
Have you received a water bill that seems unusually high? Your water bill could be higher than normal for a number of reasons. Here are some ways you can troubleshoot to see why your bill is high:
Your bill includes a graph of your water consumption (in units where 1 unit = 748 gallons of water) for the past 12 months. Does the consumption seem normal compared to the previous billing period or the same billing period last year?
Has the amount of water you’ve been using changed? Have you had houseguests for an extended period of time? On average, a person uses 40-80 gallons of water per day.
During the summer months, watering your lawn more frequently is the most common reason a bill can be high. Running your sprinkler for just one hour can use 400 gallons of water. If you use a hose to water, did you forget to go back out and turn it off?
There could be a leaking faucet or a running toilet in your home. Check for a possible leak by turning off everything in the house and then going out and looking at the water meter. It should not be moving at all. If it is moving, you have a leak somewhere in your house.
Did you fill a swimming pool with a garden hose? Or maybe use a pressure washer to clean the deck and driveway? At four gallons per minute, pressure washing for four hours can use 960 gallons or over a unit of water.
When hiring a plumbing, customers have many choice today. Between the phonebook, internet, and word of mouth, the choices are endless. So how do you know which plumber is right for you? By following some simple steps, you can make sure your plumbing experience is a positive one:
- Make sure the plumber you pick is licensed and certified, and the company he works for is licensed, bonded and insured. This is important because if there are any issues down the line, you want a company that isn’t just gonna disappear overnight. (There are a lot of people out there who call themselves plumbers, but aren’t)
- Have them give you an estimate in writing. You can find almost anyone to give you a estimate over the phone, but if they are not looking at the job with their own two eyes, how can they give you a realistic price for repair??
- Upfront pricing is a good thing. Upfront pricing is exactly that. It’s the price you pay for work to be done whether the tech is there for 1 hour, 1day or 1 week. There are no hidden fees and no lines about it having it cost more due to “unforeseen issues”.
- Ask questions. Remember…that plumber is there on YOUR TIME. Ask him/her any and all questions you may have about the job you are hiring them to do. The only stupid question is the one that is never asked.
Following these tips can make your hiring of a plumber less of a chore.
All of us here at Yelm Plumbing and Pumps wish you a safe, happy and ghoulishly fun halloween!