Photograph of a sketch of a 2-line jet pump How to Prime a Well Pump
Two Line Jet Pumps & Drinking Water Wells

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How to prime the water pump using a garden hose:

Fast and easy method to prime a well pump using a garden hose and a donor building. What types of water pumps are most likely to need to be primed?

This article describes how to prime a water pump to restore water pressure to a building by using a garden hose connected to another water supply source.

If you don't have a garden hose, a nearby working water supply, or don't like this idea, at the end of this article you'll find links to alternative approaches to restoring the water pump to operation.

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.

Simple & Fast Well Pump Priming Method Using a Garden Hose

Priming plug on a jet pump (C) Daniel FriedmanIf your water pump is a two-line jet pump and if it's running but there is no water delivered to the building, the problem could be that the pump has lost its prime.

This pump needs to send water down into the well (and through a special valve at the end of the water pickup-pipe in the well) in order to bring water back to the building.

If your water pump is a submersible unit the pump is located down in the well itself. In this case if you have not got water pressure, the problem may be with the pump or the well itself, but it's not a loss of prime - submersible water pumps are self-priming.

If your water pump is a one-line jet pump, it is sucking water from a shallow well; you probably don't need to do so, but the instructions below show how to prime the well pump and they should work equally well for either a one-line jet pump or a two line jet pump.

If your water pump keeps losing prime, a shallow well jet pump well line could have

But where a jet pump is installed, you may have lost prime at the pump. The pump motor will run but no water is delivered. If this happens it is possible to re-prime the pump with water from another source. Check valves installed at the proper location at the pump and perhaps elsewhere can help prevent loss of prime on this system. (Other problems that can give the same symptom include internal damage to the water pump, a well that has run dry, or a piping leak between the well and the building it serves.)

Steps in Using a Garden Hose to Prime the Well Pump

Pump priming procedure at donor building (C) Daniel FriedmanIf your 2-line jet pump (or other above-ground well water pump) loses prime and cannot draw water from the well, don't let it keep running as you may burn up the pump motor or damage the pump internal parts. Take these steps:

The steps below describe how to use an ordinary garden hose connected to another water supply source to prime a well pump. We give very detailed instructions, but actually the procedure is very simple and if it works, your pump will be primed and working in just a few minutes.

If your well pump has lost prime and you are about to try opening a plug on the water pump housing to add priming water you might see that the plug is badly rusted and corroded - or there may be other reasons why you don't want to start taking apart plumbing fittings, such as - it's Sunday night and there is no chance of purchasing any replacement parts if you break something.

Our photo shows the priming plug on a Goulds two-line jet pump. If you click to enlarge the photo you'll see that we might have been able to remove and replace this plug but we decided to try the garden hose priming method first since we didn't want to disturb this rusty part.

Garden hose for water hookup (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: don't assume that the interior of a garden hose is sanitary or that water run through an ordinary garden hose is safe to drink.

Also some garden hoses contain lead - do not drink water from a garden hose unless you know that yours is not a lead-containing hose. If you are purchasing a new garden hose, check the label.

Pump prime receiver building (C) Daniel Friedman

Pump has been primed (C) Daniel Friedman

Prime the Pump Using a Garden Hose Without Access to the Water Pressure Tank or Well Pump

Question: Troubleshooting loss of well pump prime after a storm

Feb 15 2015 E.B. asked:

After a power outage last night during our latest storm (which is continuing), my pump lost its prime.

I am attempting to use your garden hose method to restore the prime--am fairly desperate and have questions--I am on my third attempt but should probably count it as second since the first time I only let it run for maybe 10 minutes.

The water flowing from the donor house to my house was coming slowly--I am guessing that the small diameter of the washing machine hose accounts for that.

I do not know how to tell when the water stops flowing into my house and do not have any pressure gauge for the tank--am trying to avoid opening the pump housing because the concrete top of it is very heavy--last time I opened it I damaged my back--I weigh about 115# and am 65 years old.

The pump began running as soon as I restored power--I let it run two minutes and cut the power as you suggested--and am trying the procedure again.

Any suggestions would be appreciated


We want to let the hose run until you think no more water is flowing into your pump and piping - with the pump turned off;

How about trying this - just inventing - connect the donor hose and turn it on at its source.

GO into the house; open a faucet closest to where water enters your house.

When you see water coming out of the faucet, then try shutting off the donor hose and turning on the pump.

Keep me posted.

Reader follow-up: power outage during cold weather froze the pipes, preventing priming and preventing pump operation

I appreciate your information--have resorted to plumber and problem resolved--apparently during the time of the power outage water froze in the pipe as it comes from the pump. I am reasoning that this prevented the water from entering the pump and well shaft.

I would appreciate your opinion as to whether the garden hose method would have worked (even with my lack of expertise), but for the frozen pipe from the pump. Your directions are great-clear and easy to follow. I know that there will be more power outages and the resultant loss of prime and would like to be able to rectify the situation myself.

Reply: details of remote-priming of a water pump without access to the pump or pressure tank

Your email led me to think about using the garden hose pump priming method when there is not convenient access to the pump itself. In that case we're rather flying blind and with few instruments, but it may still be worth a try.

What I was thinking but didn't add ( I worry about giving so much information that I suffocate or in your case drown the reader) was that if we're talking about a well pit, for example, wherein are located the pump, tank, controls, and perhaps the well head, and if we can't open the well pit to hook up a garden hose to a pressure tank drain or a drain near the pump itself, then hooking up a garden hose anywhere on the system might let us push water backwards into the pump to help prime it.

But if there were say a burst pipe anywhere between where we hook up the hose and the pump and tank themselves, we might just be pushing water into - well who knows where - and we might not know it.

For that reason I suggested hooking up the hose, turning it on, then opening a faucet in the home. IF we see water coming out of the faucet we've pressurized the system. If we don't then

Before assuming that a water problem is due to the well itself, remember that there could be other troubles, even simply a loss of power to the pump.

See WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.


Continue reading at PRIME the PUMP, HOW TO through the pump priming plug If you do not have such a source available, we provide alternative methods, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WATER PUMP PRIMING DIAGNOSTIC FAQs questions & answers on how to prime the pump, posted originally at this article.

Or see PUMP PRIME, REPEATED LOSS of if you can't keep the pump primed

or if priming the pump is just not working for you see WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR.

Or see this

Water Pressure & Water Pump Article Series

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