I recently received an email from someone enquiring about a Duro water pump that wouldn’t pump water. Although I replied to her email, I didn’t post it here.
In hindsight, I figured that my reply might be helpful to someone else who is having a similar problem with their cottage water system. Keep in mind, these are only suggestions and god knows if any of it will work.
Here is the original question: “Perhaps you can help, or direct me to a web site, as I’ve been searching and can’t seem to come up with helpful info. I’ve been trying for 3 weeks to get the water running, and finally threw out everything, galvanized tank with air regulator, and figured the pump impeller was shot due to all the rust & crud we found going into the pump from the hose end. Your site seemed to say you are familiar with piston pumps We have done everything on your site about putting in a water system (we are using a water tank My tank is a new 20 gal pre pressurized (red lion).), and are not losing prime, but the pump isn’t pulling water. It is a DURO PISTON PUMP and was told it has been recently “reconditioned”. The pump has an air valve on it, which looks like the thing where you put air into your car tires. I also removed a plug in the top and installed an air gauge. I turned everything off & used a bicycle pump to put in air & the gauge pressure rose. Am I to put air into my pump to make it work? Do you know where I can visit on the web to get instructions or manuals / troubleshooting for this pump?”
Here is my response:
I’m assuming the tank you are referring to has a ‘bladder’ for air, if it has a place to pump it up. Although that can be the problem, and sometimes tricky to get right, I doubt that is your trouble. Without seeing your pump in person (and even if I could) it’s difficult to say definitively what might be wrong but…..that said, here are a few things I can think of off hand.
I assume when you plug the pump into the electrical outlet it comes on, the motor runs, the wheel turns etc.
Check to make sure the belt is snug. Not too tight, but snug and not slipping.
I would disconnect the tank, and by pass it if possible. Try the pump without it. If it pumps water then the tank is probably your problem. If it doesn’t, you’ll know it’s something else.
You also mentioned it had been reconditioned. I suspect that means someone put in one of the kits like the one seen Click Here
They may have done that wrong. If the cups or springs are in wrong, it won’t work. Under the bottom of the pump is a bolt. If you remove it, the bottom will come off, showing you where the kit goes, the leather cups, springs etc.
Make sure they are all in good shape and if you lift the cups they should snap back into place. If not replace them. Put a new gasket on and tighten it all back up, good and snug, but not so tight as to crack the bottom. If it is too loose, water will spray out when the pump is running. This is something that needs doing every few years with an old piston pump.
These old piston pumps will usually pump even if they are leaking. I am wondering if the problem may be as simple as your technique for priming it to get it started. Here is what I do.
First, remove the hose that goes to the water (lake, well etc) from where it attaches to the side of the pump. Fill the hose with water. It should fill right back to the footvalve at the end of the hose in the lake or well. (I assume you have a footvalve)
Reattach the hose to the side of the pump. Tighten it on firmly using a clamp to keep it tightly attached.
In the top of the pump (or somewhere near the top) of the cast iron part, there should be a removable bolt, and hopefully printed beside it the words, “prime here” (It might be where you have screwed in your pressure valve) Shut off the water where it leaves the pump and goes to the tank and the house.
Get yourself a gallon or two of water in a jug. Remove the plug, and turn the pump on. It should start to work, water might even splash out of the hole, but I doubt it at this stage.
Start to pour a slow but steady stream of water into the primer hole. The water will start to gurgle and splash back out. If it does, you know the pump is pumping. When it’s coming out, stop pouring and stick the plug back in and tighten it up quickly.
You will probably get a little wet doing this.
Once it’s tight, slowly open the valve to the tank, you should hear water start to fill up the tank and the pressure on the tank gauge should slowly start to come up. Usually they shut off around 40 or 50 psi. Once it shuts off, the tank is full. Slowly open the valve to the house and let the water enter the system, as the pressure in the tank drops the pump should come back on.
In addition to priming through the primer hole, you can also fill the water supply pipe from the well or lake to the pump with water. I find that helps, particularly with jet pumps.
If you don’t have any leaks, you should be in business.
There are some other things you can check as well. I mentioned the FOOT VALVE If it isn’t working, water will come into the system when the pump is on, but drain back out when the pump shuts off. You lose your prime and the pump won’t pull the water up. The same could happen if the hose going to the water has any leaks, which is quite possible if it is old. Even a tiny pin hole will allow the water to drain out.
Sometimes it is purely trial and error, and keep trying. I know you said it wasn’t losing it’s prime, but I would check that again. Very often, when I encounter stuff like you mention, it seems to be in the priming. When the sun, the stars and moon all line up, you get it right, and you get water.
Of course there are other problems, like the motor being burned out, but you didn’t mention it wasn’t coming on, so I assume it works.
Well….I hope something I said helps you out. I would love to hear from you whether it does or not. If it doesn’t we’ll see if we can come up with something else.
This book might also be of use to anyone with a cottage water system. It’s called Cottage Water Systems: An Out-of-the-City Guide to Pumps, Plumbing, Water Purification, and Privies