I receive calls and e-mails almost daily from people out of water. Usually, the first thing they tell me is that they only are working part time or are unemployed. They own their own homes with their own well systems, and they have no water. I assist them in deciding whether it’s a do-it-yourself project, or whether they must call a qualified service person. Sometimes it’s as simple as a bad fuse or tripped overload, a poor wire connection or defective pressure switch. Usually beyond that, though, unless they have some basic electrical/mechanical experience, I advise them to call a trusted, qualified and certified well driller or pump person in their area. I usually advise against contacting a plumber, however, I find that more and more plumbers are becoming certified pump installers. If homeowners can tell me an area, I can recommend a qualified person in their area. I warn them that unqualified people could drop the pump in the well, costing them thousands of dollars.

Many service technicians don’t attend their state water well shows, and therefore seldom learn about the new products out there. Most employers can’t justify paying an employee’s expenses to attend these shows. Today, however, many states require driller/pump installer certification and annual continuing education.

A few weeks ago, a homeowner in central Virginia called me with questions about a constant-pressure valve. After asking a few questions, the person asked me which of the three drilling contractors in his area he should contact. I advised him that I knew all three and felt they all were qualified. The one who the customer contracted, however, tried to sell him an expensive variable-flow pump, instead of the simple installation of a constant-pressure valve. The homeowner still requested the constant-pressure valve.

On the jobsite, the service man gave the customer several scary, untrue reasons for not wanting to install the valve. The homeowner called me and had the service man talk to me while on site. After talking to the serviceperson, I determined that he either wasn’t familiar with the valve or just was trying to sell the customer on a variable-flow pump. The service man did manage to sell the customer a no-load sensor in addition to the valve, which was a good idea on a low-yield well. I think that’s just being a good salesperson.

Due to today’s economy, people are looking at saving money, including on water wells and pump repairs. People want to save every dollar that they can. When a well fails, people want the best possible solution for the least possible cost. If there is an option to a new well, like maybe installing a no-load sensor to save the pump, they want to hear it. When a pump fails, people need to know their options. A more economical option may be to install a new pump with a constant-pressure valve.

Many suppliers, drillers and pump installers prefer to install a variable-flow pump because they make more money and ensure more service calls down the line. A constant-pressure valve usually is a lot less costly; they are all mechanical and are simple to install. Most constant-pressure valves work with small pressure tanks, saving space, and they prevent the pump from cycling. This extends the life of the pump, the pressure switch and the tank bladder, while giving the customer a constant pressure like city water pressure. Small pressure tanks allow installations in limited spaces such as mobile homes and crawl spaces.