How To Troubleshoot Water Well Pumps

Not all water comes from a water distributor through a system of pipes and filters. In some towns, water is supplied to a house by means of a water well. A water well is a structure in the ground that is created by digging, boring, driving or drilling in order to gain access to groundwater.

Water can be drawn up using buckets that are raised by hand or by a pulley. Nowadays, a water pump is used to get water from underground aquifers and into the house. There are two basic types of pumps for this water system.

  1. Submersible pump – normally used in deep wells; forces water upwards from a pumping mechanism below the water; more reliable and efficient than jet pumps.
  2. Jet pump – normally used in shallow wells; usually above ground; acts like a suction.

If you get your water from a well using a water pump, it’s best to learn what to do in case problems arise. This way you will know whether you really need to call for service.

1. Motor is not running.

  • Check the power source. Make sure it is getting the right amount of electrical current.
  • Check that the power has not been inadvertently cut off.
  • See if a fuse has blown in the breaker box and replace it.
  • Check the power switch for any damage.
  • Examine all the electrical wirings for any wear and tear.

2. Motor is continuously turning on and off (short cycling).

  • Put off the pump as this may cause overheating.
  • Inspect the check valve if it needs replacing. A continuously open check valve causes the water to flow back into the well. If the check valve does not open at all, water will not flow.

3. Motor is continuously running.

  • Check for leaks in the pipes or for open faucets.
  • Check the floating pressure well pump switch to see if it is at the correct setting. When the pressure is insufficient and the tank is not filled, the pressure well switch will not turn off and the pump will continually run. If the switch is at the correct setting, you may just need to clean the contact points.

4. No water comes into the house.

  • Check if the well has run dry. If it is an open well, drop a weighted line down into the water well. If the line comes up dry, there is no water.
  • If water is pumped into a tank from the well, tap the tank and listen if it returns a hollow sound. This means no water is coming in.
  • Put off the pump for a few hours. Sometimes, when the pump is used for a long time it becomes hot and needs some time to recover. Turn on the pump after a few hours and check if there is water in your tap.

Stop using the water when it smells, looks or tastes bad. This is generally not a pump problem. Put off the pump and check that your water filter is working properly. If sediment appears in your water, have the filter serviced.

These are just some of the problems that you may encounter. Knowing how to troubleshoot a water well can save you time and money. There are some problems that you can resolve on your own. Other water well pump problems need the services of a licensed plumber or service personnel. If you are unsure of what to do when no water flows from the tank, it may be best to call for help.


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