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Looking after our pumps

Date posted: Sunday 1st July 2018

Looking after our pumps

Article first published: Wednesday 17th August 2016

The spell of hot, dry weather that we are having means more pump use and sometimes pump failure. The following notes might be helpful to plotholders in understanding the problems.

The first bit of confusion comes about by us using the term “pump” to mean both the cast iron contraption that we use to raise water and also the whole installation including the 15 or so feet that is underground. The actual pump, the cast iron contraption, has two leather parts that wear out every couple of years and that is the usual cause of your pump not working. We simply replace the worn part and all is well.

If a particular pump is continually not functioning as well as some others it is most likely caused by what is happening underground. Dry periods result in a lowering of the water table. The ground water (saturation zone) sits on top of a strata of impermeable clay and in a perfect world the end of the bore pipe would reach to the lower levels of the saturation zone. In reality the water table varies across the site and some pipes are not quite deep enough and the pumps struggle during very dry spells.

Another problem is that, again due to what’s happening underground, some pumps drag up a lot of sand. This wears out the leather parts and you need only one piece of grit to get under the non-return valve for priming to becomes a problem.

Plotholders should continue to report failing pumps and most of the time we will have them up and running in a day or two – but the vagaries of the water table are beyond our control.

One more thing. During dry periods it is even more important to keep the tank full. Priming pumps with the sludge at the bottom is not a good idea. If a pump fails it is both selfish and self-defeating to drain the tank. Use another pump.

Yours for a successful rain-dance.
The Pump Team.

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