Pump Chamber

Well Manager© How it Works

Patented in the USA & Canada because it is much more than a tank full of water with a float.

Well Manager® is the result of many years of development and field-testing. These systems are in use from Alaska to Honduras by many thousands of people in their homes, offices and schools. Even the USDA Forest Service uses our systems to manage wells in national parks. Well Manager was designed to get more usable water from low yield water wells but is much more than a tank full of water because it controls the amount of water harvested and frequency at which water is removed from the well and shows you how pumping is affecting well water levels. In short, it doesn’t just protect the well pump but it also protects the well from overpumping, the leading cause of reduced yield and premature well failure. These are among the reasons that Well Manager Systems are covered by two US and one Canadian Patent and why they have been called the most environmentally responsible system for harvesting well water.

This system will work on almost any well, combination of wells and mixed sources like a well and a rainwater collection system with any type of pump or pumps and can be used to supply buildings with an expected peak demand of a few gallons per minute to those requiring 100 GPM and much more.

A Well Manager® system can take a terrible well and turn it into a good source of water. For example, in a residential setting it will enable a family of four to live with a one quart per minute well with as little as 160 gallons of tank storage. The best part is that the residential system can usually be installed in a few hours, so it can literally change a family's lifestyle overnight. AND these systems are in use on wells with yields as poor as 1/10th gallon per minute.

The first morning after the system is installed our family of 4 will have enough water and pressure to take two showers at once. Everyone in the family would be able to take a 10-minute shower, use the toilet, shave, make breakfast and still have enough water to run the dishwasher - and all of this on that terrible one quart per minute well.

When we began thinking about ways to deal with wells that recharge slowly, we realized that most lack of water problems result from the way water is collected from the well, not because there is no water to collect or the storage tank is too small.  Some people would try to convince you that  a large plastic storage tank controlled by a float and a well pump motor protector with timer is just as good as a Well Manager but do not be fooled. Systems that operate with a simple float to turn the well pump off and on can actually damage the well because they overpump it.  Well Manager® is designed to prevent well damage that results from overpumping, which is one of the reasons it has been awarded a patent in the United States and Canada. See http://www.wellmanager.com/faq.htm  and http://www.wellmanager.com/wellmanager-environment.htm  for more on this.

The tables below demonstrate that even a one-quart per minute well can support a family of four if they have a way to collect all the water the well produces.

Per Day Requirement
Based on a range
of 75 to 125 Gallons
Per Person Per Day

Well Yield
How Much Water Do I Have?

Number of People

Per Day Requirement in Gallons Per Day

Gallons Per Minute =

Gallons Per Day

1

75 - 125 .25 360
2 150 - 250 .5 720
3 225 - 375 .75 1,080
4 300 - 500 1.0 1,440
5 375 - 625 1.5 1,160
6 450 - 750 2.0 2,880

7

525 - 875 2.5 3,600

8

600 - 1,000 3.0 4,320

9

675 - 1,125 4.0 5,760

10

750 - 1,250 5.0 7,200

A traditional storage tank (the one most homes have) is pressurized as the pump draws water from the well. When the preset pressure is reached, the pump shuts off and waits for someone to use the water stored in the pressure tank. With a traditional system, when you don't use water the pump just sits there. The well is collecting water, but the pump isn't harvesting it and as the well fills toward its static level production slows until it stops producing.

Looking at a low yield well in this way, the gallon per minute yield of the well is more important than the amount of water the well can store if you have a means to keep it producing without causing damage by overpumping.

Well Manager® was designed to keep the well producing without overpumping and the beauty of it is that results are predictable because the design is based on known quantities (how many gallons per minute the well provides, how many gallons per minute the well pump can deliver, and how much water you need to take care of your peak demand needs). The pump controller is almost infinitely adjustable with regard to frequency and duration of pumping cycles but in most cases the well pump runs no more than 3 times per hour keeping pumps starts well within recommended limits.

The pumping cycles are set up to take no more water than the well can produce, so fluctuations in the well's water level are reduced. Because drawdown can be controlled over pumping is prevented, "interference" between wells is eliminated and the system can be used on wells with very little storage or very low static levels. Once the pumping cycles have been set up, the Well Manager® relentlessly collects water day and night, whether or not there is water being used, until the unpressurized tank(s) is full. 

 

The Concept is Scalable

Low yield is a relative term; a 10 gallon per minute well is low yield for a home with eight bathrooms just as a quart per minute well is seriously low yield for a 2 bath home but with a Well Manager both of these situations are manageable.  The same is true for a church, school, office building or assembly plant and the same concepts work on irrigation, community wells and other large water projects.


Pump Control Sequence of Operation

Pump Control Sequence
Well pump run duration and wait time between run times are selected by means of ten binary switches, which permit run or delay times from 10 seconds to 2.8 hours in 10-second increments.  When power is applied to the Well Manager® control the well pump ON cycle begins and the well pump starts.

If the pump starts water flowing through the pipe from the well to the atmospheric storage vessel, a flow detector enables the well pump to continue running.

If, for any reason, the flow detector is not activated before the allotted 6 seconds elapses or water stops flowing from the source during an on cycle, power to the well pump is interrupted. This provides well pump protection in the event that well yield falls below the control setting and the well is inadvertently pumped down and shuts the pump off if water fails to arrive for any reason; locked rotor, broken motor coupling, broken check valve, broken drop or underground pipe, jammed impellers, etc.

The well pump, controlled by the timer, will come on every time an “on time” or collection cycle starts unless the atmospheric storage vessel is full.  Once full, a tank full float deactivates the well pump relay.

Tank Level Control and Overfill Shut-off

If the tank full float fails to shut off incoming water, an OverFill shut off device will interrupt 24V control power and turn off both the collection and delivery pumps. The system is designed this way so that building occupants will know there is a problem.

If an over-fill occurs there will be no water pressure in the building, the tank will be full of water and the LOW WATER and TANK FULL lights will be on.

To verify that an overfill event has occurred simply open the OVER FILL SHUT OFF DEVICE drain valve. If water flows from the valve this means that the tank has over filled and that the tank full float is not functioning as it should. Once water is drained from the over fill device, the pressure pump will start and the well pump will once again be allowed to come on.

If an over-fill has occurred, turn off the well pump breaker in the Well Manager panel to prevent another over fill and look for the problem or call for service. The plumbing will function until the content of the storage tank is exhausted and you can still add water to the tank from the well manually or simply turn the well pump back on and restart the system if the Over Fill causes the system to shut down again.

The low water float is the safety mechanism that prevents the pressure pump from running the un-pressurized storage vessel dry.  This prevents the PumpChamber from losing its prime and prevents pressure pump damage.  The low water float, located in the unpressurized storage vessel, turns the pressure pump off if the water level drops to 4” and turns it back on when the level rises to 11”.  All floats in the Well Manager tank have mechanical switches in them and do not contain mercury.

Flow Detector

The Well Manager has a flow detector built into the tank fill line. It's not a garden variety flow detector - it's one we came up with because those available were just not sensitive enough, would jamb when well grit got in them or couldn't detect water moving until the water actually arrived at the switch.

Our flow detector is a very sensitive pressure switch connected to the line between the well and the Well Manager fill. (It is mounted on the WM Tank and piping when you get it).  Between the Flow detector and the tank fill is a throttling valve, which allows the backpressure on the well line to be adjusted.

This permits detection of very small flows - down to 1 quart per minute pump discharge if need be. This detector can recognize water moving in the well line BEFORE it arrives at the tank. Water moving up the pipe will push air ahead of it so the flow detector knows that the pump is working and water is coming because it can sense the air pressure ahead of the flow.

In order to adjust this backpressure there is a 30PSI liquid filled gage on the flow detector and a throttling valve. When the WM is started up after installation, the first item of business is to adjust well line backpressure using the throttling valve with the well pump running. This sensitive switch will operate on a fraction of a pound of pressure BUT we recommend setting it to 6 PSI. Since no water has been removed from the well since you began the installation, chances are the static level in the well will be fairly high when this adjustment is made.

Our flow detector has other benefits; it means that it is possible to install the pipe from the well to the Well Manager above the frost line which can be helpful in areas where bed rock is close to the surface and excavating is difficult.  If you install a drain down in the well and arrange the well line so it pitches back to the well, the pipe will drain back when the well pump shuts off. The Well Manager tank cannot siphon back because it is protected by an Atmospheric Vacuum Relief Valve on the tank fill and the Flow Detector will detect the air ahead of the water when the well pump starts and know that there is water coming.  When setting the collection cycle timer simply add the time it takes for the water to arrive at the tank to the pump run time to get the desired collection rate.

A word about pump performance

The rate at which a pump can deliver water into an atmospheric tank will vary with the height of the lift. Lift height is the difference between the water level in the well and the highest point in the piping to the WM tank.  It does not matter whether the pump is down 1000' or 50' because the water level inside the drop pipe is the same as that of the water in the well. The further the lift the lower the delivery rate; the lower the delivery rate, the less back pressure on the flow detector 30 psi gage.

By setting the backpressure at 6 PSI you now have an index point. If, after a few days, the pressure on this gage is significantly lower you are trying to get more water than the well is producing and should change the timing cycles to take less water per unit of time or increase the time between pump starts.

Once you have come to an accommodation with your aquifer you will find that the backpressure on the gage may actually climb or at least stay where you put it.

If you set up your WM during a dry time (July or August) you may find that the pressure on this gage is higher in the spring, indicating that the Aquifer water level has risen. So you see that this gage will tell you a lot about the water level in your well and even warn you when the well yield is diminishing - if you check it on a regular basis.

A Well Manager also self adjusts to some extent when a well begins to operate in a more full condition. If the water level in the well rises due to the change in water harvesting method, the Well Manager will collect a little more water during each collection cycle because the well pump delivers more gallons per minute as the lift is reduced. More gallons per minute for the same duration means more water collected during that cycle so, if increased static level produces a slightly higher yield, the Well Manager will collect more water per day.  This is a phenomenon that has been observed in many wells.

What if a Running Toilet Empties My Well Manager Tank?

Sometimes we lose control on the use end of the system; a hose or sprinkler is left on and forgotten or a toilet runs and we do not notice.  If that happens, it takes only a few minutes to restore service when you have a Well Manager. Because the Well Manager collects only well yield, the water level in the well is near the static level all the time. If your Well Manager is properly adjusted and someone inadvertently empties the tank the well is still full*. All you need do is go to the Well Manager control panel door and turn the H-O-A (Hand – Off – Auto) switch to Hand and the well pump will start pumping water stored in the well into your tank.  Once you have enough water in the Well Manager to function, you can return the H-O-A switch back to Auto and go about your business.

Every Well Manager has a Delivery Pump Inside of the Storage Tank

Well Managers with the letters LPC in the model number have an end suction submersible pump installed inside the tank. Systems without those letters in the model number come with a submersible well pump installed in a PumpChamber™ installed in the storage tank. These arrangements allow us to use all but 4" of the water stored in the WM tank. This, along with the regular collection cycles, is why a Well Manager can supply a family of 4 with adequate water using only 160 gallons of storage using wells with a yield as poor as one quart per minute - about ½ the storage required by job built systems. Less storage means more frequent turnover and that means cooler water and a more sanitary system.  For more information on PumpChamber click here.

Well Manager Systems are now available with filtered air vents.

The 210 model Well Manager® now comes with a 35 micron filter on the tank air vent to keep airborne contaminants from getting into your water. This filter is many times finer than the vent screens in your well cap which provides owners with the peace of mind that comes with knowing their water supply is protected.

How does this System Differ from job built and cistern systems?
The answer to this and other questions can be found here  FAQs frequently asked questions

For Well Manager® complete systems, controls and items to build your own go to  Well Manager Products

 

*The amount of water stored in the well will depend on the well’s diameter and the height to which it normally fills.