Another win for IoTaWatt - well pump

This time it was my well pump.
Since we moved in 11 years ago, it’s always ran a lot given a 20gal pressure tank (more on that later) so hearing it kick on when walking by the well house is pretty normal.

Just so happens though that I was looking at the graphs and noticed a lot of unusual traffic in the middle of the night:

The pump was running pretty consistently every 20 minutes. Did some troubleshooting and identified that it was the check valve between the head and the pressure tank (assuming the foot valve failed on the previous owner so they installed this topside one).
Sure enough, took it apart and found the plunger rusted in two.

Looks like it’s only been going on for about a week but if not for IoTaWatt, who knows how long before it would have been noticed.

-----------more to the story today-----------

Sadly, after removing some very stubborn unions to replace the check valve, I turned the pump power on and it would never build pressure. Then, due to the sound of spraying water, I looked down the electrical wire hole and saw water spraying around. Turned it off and called a pump guy. Turns out my messing with the old unions all but let loose a very rusted galvanized nipple right under the cap. Fortunately it came out but the split was more than half way around the nipple and didn’t take much to let go completely (photo below). Also found out the pressure tank was water logged so I wasn’t even getting the full drawdown.
A painful check later and I have a whole new system. Yay I guess.


This is actually one of the reasons I wanted to have an energy monitor and specifically monitor my well pump. Previously I had a well pipe have a leak somewhere in the middle of my backyard but did not notice it until the leak had eroded away and filtered down to the house and started leaking into the house. This leak was probably going on for a good bit before it actually flooded my basement. Had I had a monitor on the pump energy usage I would have easily seen this issue.

Exactly - that’s a good use case though hate to hear that it happened as that’s a pain. Or even something as simple as the kids leaving the hose on is another one. Just wish I knew how to have things like this alert (using Home Assistant for example) us without actual eyes on the graph. There’s just so many variables and potential for false positives.

Yeah I have not been able to determine a good way to alert on it that would not cause too many false alarms. One I am thinking of doing is i know when we are in bed (set alarm to night mode) and I also know if the dishwasher or washing machine is running (so ignore it if those are on) then I can just send an alert if the well pump is running during night mode and those 2 items are not running. Just need to try it out and see how bad the false alarms are.

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It doesn’t seem like a leaky foot valve or pipe is something urgent. Maybe better to look for the absence of a long interval rather the incidence of short intervals?

You’re not wrong :grinning:
As far as water related catastrophes go, a bad check/foot valve or leak in the ground aren’t necessarily urgent. Especially the former. But they are still undesirable problems that could lead to urgent issues such as a well pump burning out or water working its way into the interior. Not to mention wasting water and electricity.
So best to catch the small things before they become big.
I am not sure I follow the ‘long interval absence’ though or at least the light bulb hasn’t came on yet.
The aforementioned night mode is striking my fancy though as it’s pretty easy to implement. Should be pretty safe to say that if the pump kicks on between 2-5am in our household (and the washer/dishwasher isn’t running) that it’s worth at least a little attention. While it may not identify something immediately, it would be within 24 hours which is better than nothing.

Could be as simple as summing the energy used per day by the pump. That is a very good indicator of how much it is running. I once left a hose on all night. It was obvious looking at the energy usage graph.

I am going to add an additional CT and use that to trigger another device so I can time and count the pump cycles. More than about 7 cycles indicates something strange. More than 20 means something bad.