No water pressure at all: complete loss of water supply at a building, diagnostic FAQs: this article provides answers to frequently-asked questions about how to diagnose problems with the complete or periodic-complete loss of building water pressure & flow.
These lost water pressure questions & answers help sort out the causes of water pressure problems and help determine if the problem appears to be at the water pump, pump controls, pump wiring, or the actual water source such as a private well or water storage tank.
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Question: Lost Water Pressure following an Electrical Power Loss - lightning strike?
After a power loss that lasted half a day [my neighbor] ran out of water. When power I was restored the water pressure was only about that of pouring water and would the volume of water rapidly dropped.
I reached down to her water tank and could easily tell it was empty. I connected a water hose to her outdoor spigot, unplugged the pump and allowed the water to fill her tank. The tank only filled about a quarter full. I opened a faucet to try to allow air to leave the system the tank did not fill any further.
The water pressure was at normal flow after I
disconnected the hose. The pressure gauge showed a drop from 60 to 40,
She has what appears to be a submersible well a hundred feet from the
well house. A pipe about 8-10 inches in diameter with a cap bolted
on, there is wiring on one side of the pipe.
In the well house (below grade) she has a blue tank about 18-24 inches
I have a few ideas from looking at your website but don't want to screw anything up so I decided I should email and see what you think.
We were puzzled too. Sometimes a power loss leads to total pressure loss
that leads to disclosing a pre-existing defect like crud inside of a
pump impeller, a failing foot valve (loses prime in the well), or a
failing pressure control. Also some power outages include an
Remember that a water pressure tank is never "full" - as it needs to contain an air charge.
First be sure you have an accurate picture of what was happening before the power outage. Then start by reviewing the normal pump sequence operation and comparing it with what's happening at this home.
Follow up from the reader explained that only 120V was being delivered to a 240V submersible pump because one fuse of a pair had blown. -- This question is answered and explained more fully
Thanks to reader EK Woodard for these details.
Question: Water pressure loss after electrical power outage - lightning strike & lost well water
Hi,after a power outage that lasted the entire day, I now have no water at all. I'm new to all of this, so please bear with me. Although, thanks to your very informative site I'm learning. I have a single line jet pump and am not sure what the depth of the well is. I tried to re prime with no success, so had a well person check it out. He spent over an hour adding water, turning the pump on and off, gradually bringing the water and pressure back up to the top. Right as he was ready to give up it worked, and water was flowing strong out of the faucet. It didn't last long though, and he said there must be a crack or hole in the piping of the well, which is letting air in.
What I don't understand is I had water before the power outage with a supposed cracked or damaged pipe. So since he got the water back up to the top and flowing, why wouldn't it continue and keep the prime since it was before?
He advised that since the well is older (25 years) and the cost to find out what is wrong with it would be $1500 plus the cost of repair, that I would be better off having a new well dug, which is $3800.
Reply: check for bad foot valve and replace it; refer to details of well pump priming procedure, check valves, foot valves
Indeed, Valora, a lightning hit can burn up electrical wiring, controls, pumps, and can even damage plumbing pipes. But your description sounds as if there was a loss of prime and difficulty re-priming the pump. If the water system has a bad foot valve (located on the bottom of well piping) and power stays off for some time, you are more likely to lose well prime. The proper repair is to pull the well piping and replace the foot valve.
The reason this problem shows up after a power loss is that even though the foot valve may have been leaking for some time, as long as you had electrical power, when the foot valve leaked the dropping pressure at the water tank caused the pump to turn on by itself, restoring water, pressure in the water tank, and prime before so much water was lost that the pump couldn't recover by itself. But when power was lost for hours, so much water drained back into the well that the well could not re-prime itself when it started again. See WELL PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE and also WELL PIPING CHECK VALVES and WELL PIPING FOOT VALVES
Question: lost water pressure after well took a lightning strike, now find sand in the water
we had a lightning strike last night and lost power to the pump. Replaced the pressure switch which was damaged and now the well is pumping a lot of sand in with the water??? - Barb 5/17/12
Barb that's a tough one - how might a lightning strike generate sand pickup in well water?
Presuming we're talking about an in-well submersible pump, I figure if the pump itself or its wiring had taken a hit - which often happens with lightning strikes around wells, either the pump would stop entirely, or if it's getting low voltage or wiring is partly grounded it may be pumping, but more slowly or weakly than normal.
Nearby blasting can also change the properties of a water well
In the well that served our lab in New York we had excellent water quantity and quality from the time the well was installed in the 1920's until the 1980's when a road crew decided to move the highway. Local blasting near our well appeared to amend the underground rock cracks and crevices such that our well water suddenly contained debris from the day of blasting onwards to the present.
Question: water pressure lost and pump turned off, won't come on after we left pump turned off for a few days
Gone from home for a few days turned pump on at fuse box ran 2 minutes then shut off will not come on - Dave
Reply: Sequence of steps to check if the well pump is not turning on.
Dave: re "gone from home for a few days turned pump on at fuse box ran 2 minutes then shut off will not come on"
Watch out: for electrocution hazards when checking electrical wiring and devices. If you lack training and equipment have those checks made by a professional.
Watch out: often when a pump is turned OFF for a few days we discover a pre-existing problem that had been covered-up, namely a bad foot valve or check valve that allows water to slowly leak out of the pressure tank and back into the well.
Question: We lost all water pressure in the middle of a shower. We turned up the pressure switch. Do we need a new well pump?
I have a well, and this morning was taking a shower when we lost all water pressure in the middle of the shower. There was no water running in the rest of the house, so no pressure was being taken from the shower.. this had never happened. In the past, when you ran water, flushed the toilet or took a shower at the same time the water pressure went down.
Reply: when water pressure is lost do not just turn up the pump pressure switch. First diagnose the problem.
Amy, with no other information but that in your message it sounds as if there may be trouble with the well itself (running out of water), the well pump, or the pump controls.
Watch out: Don't just turn up the pump pressure control switch settings if your system has lost water pressure. Turning up pressure at the pressure control switch will not fix having run out of water and it can make the problem worse. For example, if you set the cut-off pressure higher than the pump can achieve then the pump motor may just keep running on until it burns up.
It is more important to first figure out why you lost water pressure. When the cause is diagnosed we'll know the proper repair needed.
Question: water pressure starts off normally then slows to a trickle
We are having a problem with water flow in several bathrooms. While taking a shower, the water will slow down to a dribble, or get cold in my daughter's shower. In my son's bathroom, the water starts off with a normal flow, then reduces to a trickle.
In our master shower, the rain shower head starts off normal then trickles. Last night I went to take a bath and there was no water coming from the hot water faucet. It is random in all bathrooms. I don't see how it can be a valve problem since it is happening in three separate showers in the house, plus our tub. Where do we start?
In the More Reading links above see WATER PRESSURE VARIATION CAUSES
If the problem seems random or intermittent check for a debris clogged pressure switch or a well with a poor flow rate
Question: Water pressure switch set to 50/70 cut-in/cut-out for house and irrigation system. Now water pressure drops down to 10 psi. What's wrong?
I have an issue with my well. I have my pressure switch set to cut in at 50psi and cut out at 70psi. Its been this way for years. I run my house and an irrigation system and in the past never had a problem. The last I knew my well recovery was more than 16gpm. I have a lot of iron an have two filtration systems, one for the domestic water in the house and one for the irrigation system.
This year I'm having a problem maintaining pressure when the irrigation system is running. In the past the well maintained a constant 50 to 60 psi flow. Now it drops to as little as 10psi. I thought I had a pump and or yield problem. I bypassed all my filters and ran a facet wide open, approx 7gal/min for an hour and a half. Everything performed normally.
The pump kicked in at 50 psi and off at 70 psi. It pumped faster than the depletion rate. Now the puzzling part. I turned on my irrigation system and about 20 minutes in the pressure dropped below 30psi and would not build back up unless I turned the system off. At the time that I checked the water was metering under .5gal/minute. I'm perplexed. I would assume if the issue was pump or yield related I would have had a problem when I bypassed all the filters. Does anyone have a logical explanation for this. Thank you. - Tony
Reply: Check the water pressure switch mounting pipe nipple or switch pressure sensor port for debris clogging, or replace those parts
Tony from what you've said I wonder if your pressure sensor switch or its mounting tube are clogged with iron deposits? If the pressure control switch cannot accurately and quickly sense changes in pressure at its mounting point the pump behaviour may become erratic or even stop entirely. Try replacing the switch and cleaning or replacing its mounting tubing, and while you're at it look into those openings for evidence of clogging and let me know what you see (or send along a photo).
Question: Leaks found in well piping, now the pump is not working properly. What may be wrong?
My pump is 20+ years old, however it's been working fine. I recently replaced the pressure switch and it began working again. Tis past Saturday I discovered a hole in one pipe and I replaced the galvanised pipe and PVC. Again it worked fine. The next day the pump will not start and the zone solenoid was warm for the zone that was to be on. I'm at a loss. - Bernie
Reply: Leaks in well piping lose pressure & can let air and dirt into the system, clogging the controls or damaging the pump
Bernie: hole in the pipe ... was this a buried pipe? I wonder if dirt can have entered the system and plugged the pressure control switch. Try changing the switch and also checking its mounting tube for blockage.
Question: we have no water coming out of faucets - what do we check first?
water does not work how do i test pressure switch - Doug
Doug: under the article series titled WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE see these articles on installing, diagnosing, and repairing the pump pressure control switch:
Question: no water at all from our deep submersible pump well, Is there any way to tell if the pump is bad with out having to pull it completely out?
I have a private well 365' deep submersible pump approximately 9 yrs old. woke up this morning and have no water at all i replaced the pressure switch a few months ago.
There seems to be power going into the switch. Is there any way to tell if the pump is bad with out having to pull it completely out? - Joe 6/27/12
Joe, check the current draw using a clamp on ammeter to see what the pump is doing. That can detect a motor that is seizing. If the pump impeller is broken or damaged, the motor may run without being loaded - no unusual current draw; If it draws zip you've got an open wire; if there is no resistance between the wires they're shorted -
Watch out: to avoid death by electrocution or shorting and burning something up, some of these tests must be done with power off.
Question: the well suddenly went dry and I got an electric shock
I have an odd one for you.
Watch out: apparently Brent you're dealing with an electrical shock hazard and possible death by electrocution.
Brent, certainly improper electrical grounding, improper lightning protection installation, shorts and shocks can kill you as well as damaging your equipment, including a pump relay, motor, even the well casing itself.
If a lightning hit knocked out your well pump controls, wiring, pump motor, or even split the well casing, any of those problems would mean that you've lost water completely at your building. A shorted well pump wire could have a similar effect. See WATER PUMP WIRING DAMAGE
Question: lost water pressure, storage tank empty, reset pump and it came back on
Just replaced old water pump and pressure tank (& pipes) with new pump (no more pressure tank)and also new circuit box and breakers.
Follow up- spoke with plumber- he thinks it is likely the deep pump circuit box-'pumptech'
Gary, I'd start by replacing the questionable control switch. You might also check the current draw of the pump to see if you can detect a bad pump motor or a wiring short.
Watch out: there are death by electrocution hazards when messing with electrical wiring.
Question: we are on a well and no water comes out at the taps
My water is not coming out of the taps i am on a well , - Theresa
Theresa, take a look at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE for a list of no-water diagnostics
Question: no water in the house but water at an outside spigot
(Apr 3, 2014) michelle said:
when we woke up this am we had no water anywhere in our house or at our well pump. my husband just cleaned the contacts at the pressure tank and now we have water in the house but still no water coming out of well spicket. Any suggestions on why this would occur?
Michelle. If there is water in the building, then it's clear that not having water at an outdoor spigot is not likely to be due to the earlier no-water condition. Check for a shutoff valve that's remained closed; another possibility, seems less likely to me, is a debris clog in the piping.
Also look for a clogged water filter.
Follow the water piping. I'll bet you will see that the outside hose spigot is taken off of a water supply line ahead of other water treatment equpment such as a filter, water softener, or water conditioner.
Question: pump motor froze, got it to run, broke off pressure sensing tube,
(Apr 20, 2014) Jesse Oatrander said:
Inherited a house with a well system about a year ago. Pump was frozen (the motor, it was summer time) gut it to run and start pumping water to the house. Had excellent pressure. Had to give up during the winter but started again this summer. When I I was preparing to get the system running again this spring I broke the line off of the air volume control valve and now have no pressure to the house.. Well fluxing between 8-12 psi. Replaced valve, but cannot find tubing to replace the line to the pump, but from what I understand this should not be causing the issue. Only thing that had changed from what I can see is the avc line. Also multiple people suggesting to replace pressure switch, but the pump is turning on though some are saying it actually creates the pressure as well, but it looks to me like a check switch.. Bellow threshold. Turn on. Above. Turn off type deal.
The air volume control "line" or tubing, depending on just what we're talking about, if it failed, would probably show up as loss of air charge in the pressure tank and short cycling pump on and off operation - that in turn could of course burn up a pump or its pressure control switch.
The pump pressure control switch turns the pump on and off - if the pump runs but you have no water pressure then you need to go back to one of these two articles in the More Reading links above
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
Question: water smells like earth, lost water pressure, pipes clogged with black particles
(May 25, 2014) Amy said:
Woke up to water having a very earthy smell. Water pressure stopped working. Newer softener system and AIO tank, 1 year old. Had service man look at and he found both pipes to be clogged with what looked like shredded black plastic with dirt around it? Said he has never seen before. He got everything working again. One day later, water pressure stopped again. A trickle is coming out of faucets? Any suggestions on who to call to resolve problem?
Sorry to say this sounds as if plastic components somewhere are being shredded, OR this is a new piping installation that left plastic debris in the supply piping.
If it's an older system I'd look for trouble inside the well pump.
If it's a problem on hot water only I'd look for a failing plastic dip tube in a water heater tank.
The dirt description, however, suggests a damaged well casing that's letting debris into the well. For that diagnosis you need a well company who can use a camera to inspect the well casing.
Question: pressure falls to zero before the pump engages; delayed pump start
(June 22, 2014) Steve C. said:
I have a deep well (430'). The pump is over 15 years old. My problem is that when if hit the low pressure cut in at 30psi, the pressure switch engages normally but the pressure continues to drop all the way to zero. It takes about 15 seconds after the switch engages for water to start flowing into the pressure tank at which time the recovery seems fine. I also watched the pressure gauge for about 30 minutes with no water draw in the house and it seemed to drop less tan 1psi. One other note is when the water pressure returns, I get a lot of air in the system.
If the pressure gauge is on the house side of the pump and controls, seeing no pressure drop when nothing is running suggests that there is no leak on the house side of any pump, controls, or check valves, but doesn't rule out a leaky well pipe or foot valve and loss of prime or problem with air volume controls.
If the pressure gauge is on the well side of house tank and pump controls and there is no pressure drop then that does argue against a leak in the well piping or foot valve.
Look for debris clogging of the sensor port on the pressure control switch - or try just replacing the switch and the connector tube that allows it to sense water pressure and let us know if that works.
Question: can a bad pressure regulator cause loss of all water pressure?
(July 13, 2014) Doyle said:
Can the pressure reducer valve get out of adjustment or go bad and no water flow thru it.
Pressure regulators can fail - though usually the failure results in an unwanted increase in water pressure, depending on the product sure, it might clog and block flow.
(July 27, 2014) Ben Seguin said:
From what you describe most likely the control is working properly, protecting the pump from damage by shutting the system down when your well is running out of water - when the demand exceeds the well flow rate. When you wait a time for well to recover the pump is then OK. Some pump pressure control switches require manual reset.
(Aug 6, 2014) sandy said:
the breaker switch shut off and then I flipped it back on and had water for a couple hours then off the switch went again. now this morning the switch is still on and I have no water coming in the house at all.
when a circuit breaker keeps tripping off we figure there is a real overcurrent on the circuit - an unsafe condition for which the breaker is doing its job. The problem could be a shorted wire or a motor that is failing, drawing high current.
I would leave the circuit off (avoiding a fire risk), and call a well plumber to test and inspect and fix.
(Aug 7, 2014) toni said:
Pump motor was loud so we replaced it then we had intermediate water pressure. Found a leak under holding tank, replaced tank still have intermediate water pressure. Pump keeps sucking air but we don't find any other leaks. Any suggestions?
Search InspectApedia for "Air Discharge at Faucets" to see a diagnostic procedure that may explain the trouble you describe. Either the pump is actually drawing air from within the well (low well water, missing safety controls), or there is a leak in piping or there is an old snifter valve or other air volume control that needs to be removed or replaced.
Question: pump only runs if bypass switch is held
(Dec 17, 2014) Shannon said:
ask your plumber or well repair company to check the current draw of the well pump and check for a damaged pump, binding motor, damaged pump impeller, or low voltage.
Question: water came out blue
(Jan 11, 2015) mary said:
Blue water? If your home has a water softener or water treatment equipment I'd start checking there. Try putting that equipment in bypass mode temporarily and also check for clogged faucet strainers.
Copper can also give blue-looking water, for example if there were copper oxide deposits that were disturbed anywhere in the water system.
Question: effects on water pipes if power loss in low temperatures
(Feb 13, 2015) pris said:
sorry, meant power loss to well and very cold temps
The risk is frozen, burst pipes, water damage, etc.
Question: well pit cover left off means frozen pipes and no water
(Feb 15, 2015) Robert Martin said:
(Feb 16, 2015) Robert Martin said:
Good going Robert.
In a similar case years ago we found that adding even a small amount of heat - a 75W incandescent bulb - did the trick of preventing the controls and pipes in the well pit from freezing in bitter cold weather. Keep the kids out of the well pit anyway. What the heck are they doing in there? No, don't tell me.
Question: loss of water pressure traced to pipe leak
1 March 2015 Mike said:
Hi, I have a question. I have a problem with my water well. The pump is deep and is about three years old and the pressure switch/control box and pressure tank are about two years old. Everything has been working great until today. Capacitor in control box looks intact and there is electricty going to pressure switch contacts and I can hear/feel the vibration from the pump but there is almost no water pressure.
When I close the output valve after the pressure tank, the well pumps up to around 35PSI. I turned off power to the pump and it seems to be holding pressure ok. When I turn power back on and open the output valve the pressure stays up for 30 secs and then drops to zero and will not rise until I shut off the water valve. I can feel the pump turning the whole time, and I don't see any major water leaks further down the line.
It can be tricky to diagnose a submersible pump, but there's some help. Some pressure control switches will shut down the pump if it's pumping air, and other more sophisticated pump controls will detect various pumping problems and also protect the equipment.
Without opening the well or doing more diagnostics we aren't sure if the problem is the pump, the well, the piping.
update to previous question, I am able to partially close the water valve to stock up on water but am only able to acheive 10-15PSI before the pump cuts out, it is steady until flow rate reaches a certain breaking point. I can still hear/feel the pump vibrating through the well housing top even when it cuts out. I'm guessing the problem won't be solved unless the submersible pump is pulled? Please confirm.
It sounds as if you are getting minimal pump output.
YOu can do the electrical checks I noted before pulling the pump;
We don't yet know if the problem is pump problems or low well water flow rate.
I suspect ultimately you'll need to pull the pump and also to check the well water level and the foot valve.
Also watch for well piping leaks
update to problem, Well service came out and everything tested ok. They say there is a leak after the well house. It took some investigating but there was a pipe underground at the far end of the property that had popped loose. It was a simple fix with some PVC primer and glue. I suppose I underestimated the time it takes to pressure up to 50 psi when I was trying to troubleshoot the well. Thank you for your help. Case Closed.
Thanks for the follow-up mike and on reminding everyone that leaks can be tricky to locate.
Water Pressure & Water Pump Article Series Contents
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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Also see WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS FAQs - various odd water pressure problerms: comes and goes, air bubbles, other
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