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

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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.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Water Pump Protection Switches Guard Against Pump Damage & Overheating

Well pump relay switch and power control © D Friedman at Watch 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 e4 at WATER PRESSURE TOO HIGH: DANGERS

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 -


    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 Photograph of a water pump pressure control switch with the cover on

Square-D-FSG2J21M4CP-Switch at

Other Square D pump controllers include models that do not include low pressure cutout features: FSG2J20 (20/40 Cut-in/Cut-out), FSG2J21 (30/50 Cut-in/Cut-out), and FSG2J24 (40/60 Cut-in/Cut-out).

Other similar pressure switches are used on air compressor and air pump systems. Those are not intended for use on water systems.

See this SQUARE D Pumptrol® PRESSURE SWITCH CATALOG for examples of this pressure switches that include an automatic cut-off in response to low or no water flow or pressure.

See WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH for information about water pump pressure control switch diagnosis, repair, or installation & wiring.

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 © D Friedman at

Pump Protection Devices Make Sure water pump shuts off when it loses water pressure

Question: my water pump turns off when we lose water or pressure

(July 11, 2015) jack said:
My pump works but when it shuts off it loses water or pressure

Reply: these articles discuss water pump protection devices that will shut off the pump

See these articles for devices that shut off a well pump to protect it from damage from loss of water in the well or from short cycling:

Question: less water after installing a pumpsaver device

(Dec 1, 2014) Anonymous said:

I had a pumpsaver plus installed, now it seem I have less water.


A pump saver device, of which there are several device types using different methods, is designed to protect the pump from damage if well flow rate is poor, by preventing the pump from running from then on (thus being damaged) by recycling water through a tailpiece as pump runs - until the well recovers. I would look at the well flow rate to understand your issue with water delivery rate.

Question: pump for river water, cloggd foot valve

(July 31, 2014) Anonymous said:

The pump is pumping water from the river. Yesterday I pulled up the foot valve and brushed it to clean it. When I changed the pressure switch I had to take off that small clear plastic hose that goes to the switch and I let it run. Does it help to mention that this pump is a small one half horse power and it is over 40 years old.


Indeed the same debris that clogs a foot valve can clog the small diameter tube through which water pressure is transmitted to the pump pressure control switch.

Question: pump shuts off sometimes

(Nov 28, 2014) Anonymous said:
my pump will shut off sometimes, but cant seem to figure out why the breaker to it doesnt shut off just the pump



For a pump that shuts off unpredicatably I'd take a look at the operating conditions when that happened. For example: was the pump running for a long time before it shut off ? The motor may be shutting off on thermal safety.

Or was the voltage abnormally low? Same response.

OR was well water level run out?

There are various well pump protection devices and circuits that will shut down the pump motor.

In the ARTICLE INDEX found In the ARTICLE INDEX found among the Continue Reading links at the end of this article see WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH

Question: water returns after turning pump power off for an hour

(Mar 10, 2015) Anonymous said:
my well water supply will have no water. after turning off the electric supply for an hour or so the water supply returns to normal. Also the motor seems to run for a long period before it turns off.


Sounds as if your well is running dry. Or a pump motor is overheating, or a pump protection device is installed. Franklin Electric Co., Inc. Franklin Electric Co., Inc.

Sources & Prices for Water Pump Dry Run, Anti-Cycling & Thermal Protection Controls & Switches

Question: what do pump protection switches cost?

(Apr 19, 2017) Natarajan said: Price for the product

Reply: Typical features, prices for water pump, well pump, booster pump, pump dry run protection devices, switches, controls:

Unitech digital pump controller switch at InspectApedia.comNata

Shown here, the ClaVal pump controller. [Click to enlarge any image]

Pump Protection Switches & Controls in Australia

Pump Protection Switches & Controls in France

Pump Protection Switches & Controls in India

Water Pump Controls & Protectin Switches in New Zealand

Water Pump Protection Switches in the U.K.

Pump Protection Switches & Controls in North America

Syncom motor saver pump protection switch at


Continue reading at WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING - pump runs for "no reason", or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH FAQs - questions and answers posted originally on this page

Or see WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING - why the pump won't turn off


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




Suggested citation for this web page

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


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Publisher - Daniel Friedman