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Water Pump Issues or Leak?


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We have a Surflo water pump model #2088-422-154 ten years old and rarely used. Due to the cold weather, we are using our water tank and pump. On an irregular basis the pump will cut on for a second and then turn off. Might go a couple hours without turning on unless we draw water of course. My first thought was a slow leak. I have looked and so far I haven't found one. Could it be the water pump? I have noticed the flow is pulsating rather than a steady flow. Is that normal? When we bought our 5th wheel last March, I did check the screen on the inlet side of the water pump and it was clean, looked brand new. Could it be that this is normal for a water pump to operate this way?



2008 HR Presidential 36 RLT 



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Some water pumps can have a tiny amount of water flowing back through their check valve which will cause exactly what you are seeing.  I've even suspected the pump running a bit when the water heater shuts off and the water cools a bit.

If you haven't found any leaks and the running is as intermittent as you've noted, I wouldn't worry about it. 

A solution would be to install a small accumulator tank which will hold a volume of water at a near-constant pressure, and as a side benefit even out the pulsating flow. But if you only us your pump rarely I'd be willing to live with what you've got. 

Edited by mptjelgin
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 I was about to guess the same thing Mark did.  If it is like mine it won't hurt anything but it can make you nervous as it can be caused by even a dead slow drip from a faucet or toilet. What allways makes me nervous is in the extreme you could theoritically let a holding tank get filled then overflow. I think the odds of that are pretty low and it hasn't happened to me but I will frequenty just shut off the pump for the piece of mind and just do a #1 flush with a jug of water I keep in the bathroom since my pump switch is by the kitchen sink I can just  turn it on and off.  I am fairly sure the bleedoff is causing the pressure switch on the pump to turn it on.  Could even be just the switch but I have been dealing with this for who knows maybe 15 year without doing a repair.

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15 hours ago, Ski said:

On an irregular basis the pump will cut on for a second and then turn off. Might go a couple hours without turning on unless we draw water of course. My first thought was a slow leak.

Remember that the pump turns on and off by a pressure switch so any loss of pressure would cause it to turn on. If this only happens on rare occasions and the run is only a few seconds, my suspicion is that you don't have any leaks, but you should still watch for that possibility. If you have one it is very small as a serious leak would cause the pump to cycle in a pattern that will remain constant as long as no water is being used. Any of the suggestions above could be the cause but it may also just be the normal contraction of the water when it sits for a long time and loses temperature. I would not just forget it, but notice if there is a repeating pattern to it. A leak will repeat in nearly the same times while other causes probably would not. If it is a pressure loss back through the pump to the tank,  that will probably get worse in time and it could also cause your tank to fill when using city water so may need attention.

If it is the water heater relief valve leaking a few drops, that might need replacing or it might also just mean that you have lost the air bubble that is normally in the top of the water heater tank and you should re-establish it. I have seen this cause the exact symptom that you have so I would check that one soon. The air pocket in the water heater is designed to be there to prevent wide pressure swings as the water is heated and then cools slowly. 

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I've had a similar problem with our water pump cycling.  With the pump on, it would run to pressure the system and then shut off.  A few seconds later it would run in "slow motion".  It would just turn slightly creating a low, whirring noise.  Stopping occasionally when re-pressured.  Due to the cold weather in NM, I had disconnected the fresh water hose and left it on the ground.  I noticed there was a bit of a drip.  The pump was not on and it took about ten minutes for it to stop.  I then turned the water pump on and water began to stream out of the freshwater hose at better than a trickle but not full pressure.  Turned off the pump and screwed the plug into the end of the fresh water hose.  Turned pump back on and it works as designed.  When it pressures up, it turns off and does not run again until a faucet is opened.  I must have a check valve leaking.  Will look for the valve when it gets a little warmer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

From the replies, the only one that might be the problem is the check valve or it could be nothing, pump cycling on and off occasionally and with no pattern for about a second. I checked the pressure release valve on the hot water tank along with the tank drain, made sure there was an air bubble in the hot water tank (never knew there was an air bubble there) and so on. Thanks guys it was a great learning experience. 

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