Well pipe and pump lifting crane (C) Daniel FriedmanWell Piping Repair Diagnostic FAQs
Problems with the well piping can show up as weak water, no water, dirty water, or water pump problems

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Well piping repair diagnostic FAQs:

This article provides answers to frequently-asked questions about how to diagnose problems with the piping used bring well water to a building - from the bottom of the well to the pump to the pressure tank to the building water supply: a leaky, damaged, or improperly-installed well pipe can leak water out, air in, dirt in, or can cause partial or complete loss of building water pressure & flow. Well pipe problems can also mean wierd pump problems, loss of pump prime and other SNAFUs.

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Well Piping Problems, Trouble With Water Pressure After Replacing Well Piping, etc.

Question: Water pressure problems after replacing the well lines, pump doesn't seem to deliver water

I have a plumbing problem that I cannot seem to solve. I have a shallow well (41 ft. to the water line) with a 1 hp. jet pump with 1 1/4" and 1" black plastic supply lines leading to a jet assembly and a 1 1/4" foot valve but I cannot get the system to draw water from the well continuously. The system was working fine until last winter when the PVC supply lines leading from the pump head to the water pressure tank froze and busted.

So, I replaced the PVC and primed the pump but when I turned it on, it would not draw water from the well. So, thinking that the freeze might have damaged the impellers, I replaced the pump. However, after priming the new pump, it would not draw water from the well either. So, I then pulled the supply lines out of the well and replaced the jet assembly (which was badly corroded) and the foot valve as well.

Now, when I prime the system, close the pressure regulator valve, turn the pump on, wait for the pressure to come up, and then open the pressure regulator valve a bit, water will exit from the side of the pressure regulator valve and out of the supply line but the volume of the flow fluctuates back and forth from a trickle to a jet for a little while and then suddenly ceases to flow altogether.

In addition, my spotter tells me that he can hear water rising up the pipes until just before it reaches the elbows where the supply lines make the turn from vertical to horizontal and then it suddenly falls back down the pipes. So, could you please tell me what you think the problem is?
Thanks, Bill Bernhardt

Reply: Check for well piping leaks first


I don't fully understand the details in your message but I'm wondering from your description of fluctuating pressure if the pump is not picking up water at the foot valve. It sounds as if you're looking for water flow BEFORE the water reaches the pressure tank, right? If not, I'd look for a water logged pressure tank or a tank with a stuck bladder.

From your description I wonder if there is a bad connection made during your well line replacement, possibly leaking water back into the well.

Question: New plastic water line from pump to tank, but now water flow is stopped and water pressure lost

I have a 60' water well which I am sure has water due to the rain. I installed a new 1" x 20' plastic water line from the pump to the bladder tank. When I started it back up the water flows out of the spigots for approximately 1 minute and then stops flowing. The pump is still trying to build but takes a while. If I shut the spigots off and let the pump build it eventually builds back up. How do I trouble shoot this?

By the way I have a submersible pump. When checking water I have an outlet prior to the bladder tank and the same thing happens. - Gary


Gary if you are sure the pump itself is OK I'd start looking for a well piping leak.
Turn off water into the building at the end of a pump cycle and watch the pressure gauge. If pressure drops there is probably a piping leak or a bad foot valve or check valve. Also be sure that the water pump itself is undamaged and working properly.

Follow-Up: improper pump electrical wiring connections can cause well water pump to lose power

Everything is fixed now but I wanted to share my experience which caused me to replace a steel 1" water line with a plastic 1" line. That's only the beginning. I replaced that plastic line as I thought I had a kink in it. After each of these changes disappointment set in as nothing changed the results of 30 secs of water and then nothing for 5 minutes or so. Next was the pressure switch and all new piping from the pressure tank.

Next was pulling the 65' deep pump and changing it out. Pump went back down in and I was certain things would be looking up. Disappointment...disappointment....frustration on and on. I'll prep you here a little. Early on like a couple of weeks ago when I replaced the line the first time I disconnected the pump connections and since this is a lake house fromt he mid 60's the wiring is not up to my type of wiring although it is sound.

Anyway the 3 wire connection was marked with colored tape so I could get back to the correct hook up. I made an assumption that one of the wires was the ground since later it was untaped the first time that it was a ground wire.

When I replace the line the first time and re-connected it I must have gotten the wiring backwards by using the ground as one of the voltage legs. Yes. I have done all of this work taking 2 weekends because I had the wiring wrong. On a good note I have learned and I have shared this experience. Look at the wiring if the pump turns on and shuts off. Thanks Dan for your attempt to help. It is much appreciated.



Gary, thanks so much for the follow-up on your loss of water pressure diagnosis and repair process. We learn an important diagnostic clue from your description: a well pump might be improperly wired electrically but still "run" only it may not run normally and its power may be cut and thus water pressure may be low to nil.

Ruling out piping leaks and pressure switch problems helps focus in on another item to check out: the pump wiring connections. A similar problem can occur in older fused wiring systems - the fuse on one leg of the 240V circuit can blow, leaving the other side hot or live. A too-quick check for electrical power can miss that problem.


Question: I see water around my well casing and a fountain of water in the yard

I have a question. Yesterday I noticed that around my well there was a lot of water on the ground. My first thought was that the pipe either cracked or has a leak. I started to dig to see if I could find the culprit. Here in CT the zoning states that the pipe should be around 48 inches deep. I dug to that amount, but still didn’t hit the pipe so I need to go deeper. When I run the water in the house, I can see a small fountain not far from the well casing.

The weird thing is when I turn off the water the fountain stops. I left it for a few hours and all of the water was gone. (Seeped into the soil because the ground is not frozen) I then turned the water on inside and the hole started to fill up again. I was told if there was a crack or hole in the pipe that the water would constantly flow. I was told that the feed line going to the house is always charged. I also do not have any water flow drop or air coming from the faucets when I turn them on. I was told that you would have these issues if there was a cracked pipe. I called to plumbers and was told that it would be around 1200.00 to fix this. I am a handy person and can fix just about anything. Does anyone have any suggestions? If it just a cracked or broken pipe I could fix this. - Bill C 1/30/12


Bill, it sounds as if you are describing a leaky well pipe between the well and the house. When your well pump runs it pressurizes the water line to the house, squirting water out of the point of leakage. Dig at that "fountain in the yard" first.

Question: When we turn on a faucet air spits out

We have a bored 24 in. well dug in 1987. It has a submersible pump which was installed when the well was first dug and the tank was placed inside the well to protect it from freezing. The original tank was replaced about 5 years ago. We checked the water level in the well, and we have 18 feet of water. The pressure gauge on the tank indicates between 40-70. Other than replacing the tank, we have had virtually no problems with this well. When we turn on the faucet, it spits and sputters from air in the lines. What would be the causes (how many ways) for air in the lines? - Terry 3/24/12


Terry, about air spitting out of faucets, see AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES - that's the diagnostic procedure you want to read.

Question: how do I get my submersible pump out of the well for inspection or repair?

I have a Franklin submersible pump, 3 wire, 1/2 hp and lost all pressure. After checking determined most likely problem is pump. How do I lift pump out of casing past pitless adaptor or remove adaptor when it is 7-8 ft down casing? Can I pull the pump by hand or do I need a winch or come-along? - Frank 5/23/12



Well casing with pull rope (C) DanieL FriedmanIn modern drilled well installations the well riser pipe (the vertical pipe rising inside the well casing from the well pump or foot valve upwards) has to make a right-turn at its top in order to exit the side of the well casing and thence to be connected to a horizontal well pipe that connects the well to the building. This connection through the side of the steel well casing is made by the pitless adapter that you named.

Note: some well riser pipes exit straight up through the top of the well casing cap - without a pitless adapter. In that case the issue of releasing the well pipe riser from the pitless adapter doesn't pertain, but the risk of dropping components back into the well and the possible need for a winch or crane still apply.

If you stop by a plumbing supplier to take a look at pitless adapters you'll see that the fittings include both horizontal parts that bolt through and seal a hole cut in the side of the well casing and a slip-connector that marries a fitting atop the well pipe riser to the pitless adapter.

To remove the well pump from the well the well driller or plumber ties a rope or wire around the top of the well pipe riser just below its slide-fitting that connects the top of the riser to the pitless adapter. The rope is then pulled vertically to lift the well pipe and of course the submersible pump attached to it up past the pitless adapter (that remains bolted through the side of the well casing) and out of the well.

For a shallow well - 25 feet or less - it's reasonable to pull the well pipe and foot valve or submersible pump by hand. Our photo (above left) illustrates a polypropylene rope someone left tied to the well piping for this purpose. (Some experts advise removing the rope out of concern that it may wick contaminants into the well.)

Well pipe and pump lifting crane (C) Daniel FriedmanBut for a deep well the weight of all of the piping and pump may be too great to lift by hand, not to mention the risk that you drop the whole shebang back down into the well - leading to an embarrassing call to a well professional.

So for deep wells and for wells with heavy steel piping, experts use a manual winch or a power winch attached to a tower or to a crane mounted on the well service truck. (Photo at left).

How do I get the well pump past the pitless adapter

Getting the well pump past the pitless adapter is not normally an issue: once we un-hook the top of the well riser pipe from the pitless adapter assembly and begin to lift the well piping and pump out of the well (by hand or by winch or crane), the pump will have clearance to pass by the pitless adapter.

On occasion however a pump or other components can become stuck in a well, particularly if piping has become bent, the well casing has collapsed or been damaged, or the pump has fallen off of the bottom of the well piping.

If you encounter that trouble, it's time to call a well drilling professional who has tools and experience for retrieving stuff that's been dropped into the well. Or if you want to try to recover from this SNAFU yourself, at PUMP, SUBMERSIBLE we discuss repair sleeves for damaged well casings, and in that same article we describe Fishing Tools to Retrieve Stuff from Drilled Steel Casing or Other Water Wells.

Question: Can I unlock my submersible well pump while it is still in the ground?

Can I unlock my submersible while it is still in the ground? - Jeff 5/20/12


Jeff, if by "unlock my submersible" you mean that your submersible pump motor has jammed and you want to try to fix it without pulling the well piping and pump out of the ground, I have read some (what I consider very goofy) attempts to free up stuck electric motors by messing with reversing leads or changing voltages - I would NOT try any such stunts.

Watch out: The process is inherently dangerous, risks burning up wiring, starting a fire in the building, shocking someone, and more. Besides we don't know why the pump is "locked" - could be a broken impeller, for example.

If you meant something else - sorry.


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