Photograph of a water pump pressure control switch with the cover on Well pump / water pump protection devices & switches
Manual & automatic switches shut off the well pump in low-water conditions

  • WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH - CONTENTS: how to choose & install a switch to protect water pumps or well pumps against damage if the water supply or well water fails or if there is no water pressure in the system. How to use manual-reset pump pressure control switches that shut down the well pump.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about well pump & water pump protection switches & controls
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Well pump or water pump protection switches & controls:

What can we install to protect a water pump from damage if the well runs out of water? How do we protect the well pump from damage due to pump short on-off cycling? How can we protect the well pump and its circuit from electrical overloads or lightning damage?

This article describes all of the devices to protect water pumps from damage from continuous running, short cycling, overloading, no well water, low yield wells, power surges, or lightning strikes.

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Water Pump Protection Switches Guard Against Pump Damage & Overheating

Well pump relay switch and power control (C) D FriedmanWatch out: A water pump or "well pump" can be damaged by conditions that cause the pump to run continuously, particularly if the pump is running "dry" - without water passing through its mechanical parts. The result can be the need for a costly repair or for pump and control replacements.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Worse, a more powerful pump, especially a submersible pump that fails to turn off when it should may also pump water at high enough pressure to burst pipes, flood a building, or injure a bystander - dangers we discuss separately

Well pumps can also be damaged by other conditions such as low voltage, lightning strikes, entry of debris in the well water, or corrosive water.

Generally when readers ask what to do about a pump that won't shut off we suggest that they take the following steps

  1. Turn off the pump right away - if you let the pump run dry for too long it's likely to be damaged.
  2. Diagnose the trouble and repair it -
    see WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING. The problem may be something easy such as a cut-out pressure set too high, or it may be more trouble, such as a well that has a very poor flow rate. In between are problems such as debris-clogging that prevents a pressure switch from properly sensing water pressure or leaks in well piping.
  3. Install an appropriate device to protect the pump from damage due to chronic conditions such as a well that frequently runs low on water . Here
    at WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH we describe all of the various devices installed to protect a well pump and its wiring and controls.

Reader Questions: Water Pump Won't Stop Running - can I install an automatic shut-off

(May 31, 2011) Rico Zambrano said:

My pump keeps running and wont shot off, I have good water pressure.

(Apr 25, 2012) Ernie Parsons said:

I live in the North (Nunavut) and our water is supplied by truck and held in a 700 gal. tank. Sometimes when it storms and the trucks fall behind schedule and we run out of water. The problem is when this happens the pump continues to run and if we don't catch it quickly it heats up and ruins the impeller centre or the bearing. My question: is there a shut off I can install on the pump or water line that will shut the pump off when the tank is empty.

Reply: yes. here is a list of the types of well protection devices available along with where-to-buy information


If your water pump keeps on running and won't shut off,

1. TURN IT OFF manually so you don't burn up the pump motor.

2. Then diagnose the trouble, starting at



Yes there are more sophisticated water pump controls with sensors that can shut off the pump it it's pumping air. Typically these work by monitoring the current draw of the pump, the pump motor temperature, or actual water flow.

There are also water pick-up "tailpiece" fittings intended for use in a well that might work in your tank that will recycle water through a pump to prevent its burn-up when water runs too low at the source.

Water Pump / Well Pump Protection & Switches & Devices

GE Dole Flow Control Valve operation schematic Cla-Val PC-1 Pump Control Panel with status indicator lights, Cla-Val Inc., PumpStop protection switch - PumpStop protection switch -

See WATER PUMP RELAY SWITCH for details about these and similar pump relay controllers.

Examples of pump relays that include sensors and pump status indicator lights are given

Well pump protection tailpiece (C) D Friedman



Continue reading at WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH FAQsor select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below.



Or see SNIFTER & DRAIN BACK VALVES for pump protection related to freezing well pipes

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WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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