3 wire/4 wire well pump work around?????

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    • #277045
      Avatar photoThisOldHouse

        I am in a pickle and need to replace my aging submersible well pump. It was installed prior to 96 when only three wires were required. Sometime around that time, code changes upped the requirement to a “4 wire” Due to other contstraints ( a leaning power pole that won’t take being dug up to
        get new underground wire to it) I need to see if there is any legal work around to install a 4 wire pump?
        For example, could we dig in the additional ground ( somehwat less deep than the eixisting wire so as not to disturb the power pole) and gain the needed wire. Could we ground system at a different location other than back at thepower pole? OR? We would like to move pressure tank and controls closer to house and ditch the pump house that is located over well head. Could ground from that point forward-would that suffice….

        It is a substantial process to bring in an entirely new line 4 wire line from our service to the well and we are
        looking for any ideas. Pump man has so far “nixed” the idea of using a pump with built in controller-says they are crap and we need to get 4 wires there somehow….another pump guy says we are pre-95 installation and grandfathered in…..Any ideas would be welcomed.

        [email protected]


      • #295297
        Avatar photomaintenance-guy

          Talk to your local electrical inspector, I suspect you’re installation will be grandfathered if you’re only changing out the pump and not making other upgrades.

          If you do have to provide a ground, it must be a the same depth as the other wires.

          And, the wires to the well pump can come from your basement if that’s an easier location to trench from.

        • #295298
          Avatar photoGarySlusser

            Dump the guy that won’t go a 2 wire pump; they are as good as a 3 wire and the motors are made by the same company.

            Then use the red start wire as ground and mark it (green) accordingly everywhere it is visible. The requirement has to be they want a ground, not that they require 4 wires. Otherwise I’d let them sue me and I’d fight them.

            Where is this being done?

            Quality Water Associates

          • #295299
            Avatar photostormy873

              I am located in a very rural area of Oregon. To clarify, this would be a monumental, costly and possibly impossible task if required to replace my aging pump at the wrong time. It is quite one thing to drag a new pump in but bringing in the kind of digging machine I would need to bury in a new 4 wire line could be impossible. I live in an area where there are occasional DEEP winter snow accumulations and it is miserably rocky. A backhoe most likely won’t be able to get the job done to put in new 4 wire underground so I am looking at a trackhoe. Couple that with the possibility of losing my main service if we mess with the pole (it already has a nasty lean to it but it is a project for next time we have two jobs!) and it could be a disaster of epic proportions. Our well is only 40 feet deep and it is located 125 feet from the main power….However, it is a very looooong 125 feet given the soil conditions. This whole thing got started ’cause my (blank) pumphouse is falling down and I got the bright idea to move the pressure tank, and controllers closer to the house, have a pitless? adapter installed and get the pump house out of the middle of the livestock pasture. It took a week of digging before I gave up and rented a locater to find the water line and power where it ran across my yard…It was buried at 38 inches…no wonder I coulndn’t find it. BTW, The pump is operating fine at the moment but I am only trying to think ahead as I don’t want to do work more than once if I can help it and this pump is OLD. The “you gotta have four wires” issue put a monkey wrench in the plan. Being a capable farm wife, I thought to myself by golly I will take my little shovel out and dig me in a 4th wire a by hand and put the 4th wire in conduit and dig it down at both ends so it “looks” like it comes out of the same hole as the rest of the wire. Either that or run the ground from the breaker that would be at the new location of the controller/pressure tank…. I just can’t run 4 wire all the way from main power source to pump house-clear as mud? Thanks for any and all advice-I am running out of weather and really need to get something done.

            • #295300
              Avatar photomaintenance-guy

                now that we have the whole story, I’ll agree…go with two wire pump. Convert one of your hots to a neutral. Just mark it as such on each end. The NEC allows this.

                Going to a two wire pump means either a less powerful motor or the motor will draw more amperage (now you’ll only have 110Volts instead of 220V so amps (current)goes up. Your current wires may not be big enough for more current so you may need to choose a smaller pump.

              • #295301
                Avatar photoAquaman

                  The 4 wires are for the pump They can terminate at the well head, just ground the fourth wire to the well pipe. You still need 3 wires to the house.

                  You can also buy a 2 wire 230 vlt pump. in some cases they are better than a 3 wire pump. When stuck they kick back and forth to freee themselves. 3 wire pumps do not.


                  Water Treatment Specialist

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