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Photograph of a 1-line jet pump (shallow well) and water softener Water Pump Runs Without Stopping
Diagnostic FAQs #4

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FAQs for a water pump won't stop running:

Questions & answers help diagnose & fix a water pump that doesn't shut off: this article series explains how to diagnose & repair a bore hole or well water water pump that keeps on running and won't shut off.



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Why does my water pump keep running on and on?

Photograph of a water pump pressure control switch with the cover onIf you hate reading FAQs, even though your question may be answered here, please see the lead article on this topic at WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING where we explain what to do if the well or water pump won't stop running.

Question: I replaced my pump switch and now the pump won't shut off

(Sept 18, 2015) Bob said:
I have replaced the switch old school style. That means with air and water pressure not released. Very messy, the pump will not shut off after replacing switch.How this all started was there was a leak a couple of days ago in the pvc piping and I repaired that and now after replacing everything the pump will not shut off. So I shut the power down and called for help but no response as of yet. The associate at the home depot did not mention anything about a check valve. So what do i do

Reply:

Well Bob you're courageous and old school. Yep. I've been soaked by that process too.

Turn off power and check your wiring; make sure nothing's wet.

Even if you don't drain the tank and piping, you can make the job less exciting if with the pump power off you run enough water to drop the tank pressure to zero or if it's an internal bladder tank, you run until the air in the tank has pushed out all the water it can.

If the switch is properly selected, say 30/50 or a 20/40 switch, check that the system water pressures are operating within that range;

If a pump cut-off pressure is set higher than the pump can achieve it'll never stop. Try lowering the cut-out pressure a bit.

Check for a debris-clogged tube that conducts water pressure to the pressure sensor switch that's on the underside of the pressure switch assembly.

IF when you turn power on the pump runs but doesn't shut off, check the pressure again; if pressure is not reaching the cutoff limit then the problem is in the well, piping, or pump.

Question: how I diagnosed our problem of pump running out of water:

Photo of a water pressure gauge showing pressure below pump cut-inAnn Arbor MI said:

Greetings. My well was installed in 1990 and has been running well ever since with pressure range of 45 on low end and 65 on high end. Today I was down stairs putting salt into the softener and noticed that the pump had been running all the time I was there but the softener was indicating that no water was flowing into the house.

I immediately shut off the water supply to my sprinklers and waited to see if the well pump quit. It did not after 10 minutes of trying to hit 65 psi.

With all the water shut off I took a picture of the pressure gauge (62 or so psi) and then shut off the pump. I let the system sit unpowered for 25 minutes and then read the pressure gauge again. Thankfully it was still at the 62 psi area - so I knew there was no leak from the well pump to my basement tanks (whew!).

Then I read on your site that perhaps the well pump can no longer hit the 65 psi top end and shut of the pump. So I followed your instructions and cranked down the pressure switch to just under 60 psi (top end limit).

I powered up the pump and turned the water on inside and my sprinklers, and in normal fashion the pump recharged to 60 psi and shut off with no water running in the house. I then turned on water in the house to cause the pump to cycle and it did just fine (shut off at 60 psi).

So thank you very much for the easy to follow guidance provided by your website allowing me to confidently trouble shoot my situation and make a quick and easy (and free) repair - saving my pump and my electric bill.

I will keep and eye on my old but still good well pump and perhaps next summer replace it (if the pressure continues to drop) allowing me time to shop around for a area company to do the job. 25 years of great service from my well pump - I can't complain.

Thanks again for the advice and guidance in how to calmly and effectively trouble shoot my system and figure out what to do (and then do it) vs. just calling for repair service.

Reply: watch those pressure gauge readings

Ann A:

The examination of the pressure gauge is a helpful diagnostic as you suggest, though one would also want to check (perhaps by gentle tapping) that the gauge is not stuck in position too.

It sounds as if the irrigation sprinkler system ran enough water out of the well that you'd run out of water, then allowed the well to recover. If that's the case the problem is a reduction in well flow rate. I figure if the problem were a damaged pump or low voltage to the pump or a well piping leak, the pump would never be able to pump to the high pressure that it used-to.

Thanks for the feedback - it'll help other readers.

Reader follow-up: successful pump repair

(Sept 26, 2015) Ann Arbor MI said:
Greetings. My well was installed in 1990 and has been running well ever since with pressure range of 45 on low end and 65 on high end. Today I was down stairs putting salt into the softener and noticed that the pump had been running all the time I was there but the softener was indicating that no water was flowing into the house. I immediately shut off the water supply to my sprinklers and waited to see if the well pump quit. It did not after 10 minutes of trying to hit 65 psi.

With all the water shut off I took a picture of the pressure gauge (62 or so psi) and then shut off the pump. I let the system sit unpowered for 25 minutes and then read the pressure gauge again. Thankfully it was still at the 62 psi area - so I knew there was no leak from the well pump to my basement tanks (whew!).

Then I read on your site that perhaps the well pump can no longer hit the 65 psi top end and shut of the pump. So I followed your instructions and cranked down the pressure switch to just under 60 psi (top end limit).

I powered up the pump and turned the water on inside and my sprinklers, and in normal fashion the pump recharged to 60 psi and shut off with no water running in the house. I then turned on water in the house to cause the pump to cycle and it did just fine (shut off at 60 psi).

So thank you very much for the easy to follow guidance provided by your website allowing me to confidently trouble shoot my situation and make a quick and easy (and free) repair - saving my pump and my electric bill.

I will keep and eye on my old but still good well pump and perhaps next summer replace it (if the pressure continues to drop) allowing me time to shop around for a area company to do the job. 25 years of great service from my well pump - I can't complain.

Thanks again for the advice and guidance in how to calmly and effectively trouble shoot my system and figure out what to do (and then do it) vs. just calling for repair service.

Awesome help!

Moderator reply:

Ann A:

The examination of the pressure gauge is a helpful diagnostic as you suggest, though one would also want to check (perhaps by gentle tapping) that the gauge is not stuck in position too.

It sounds as if the irrigation sprinkler system ran enough water out of the well that you'd run out of water, then allowed the well to recover. If that's the case the problem is a reduction in well flow rate. I figure if the problem were a damaged pump or low voltage to the pump or a well piping leak, the pump would never be able to pump to the high pressure that it used-to.

Thanks for the feedback - it'll help other readers.

Question: pump won't stop when it's raining

(Nov 13, 2015) Lady said:
When it rain the electric switch to pump would shut off. Turn it back on water would flow into the sink. I continue to do that for three times a day
but not the water flow very stream then it stop. Someone suggest that the pump is going bad. What should I do?

Reply:

Watch out: Since the problem could be an electrical short in the pump control switch, I would ask for help from a licensed electrician, as you are describing a dangerous condition that could shock or kill someone

Question: pump can't reach shut-off but recovers after being shut off

(Dec 1, 2015) Darren said:
Above ground well pump located inside a utility room in the home, fed by an artesian well. Pump is hooked to a 50 gallon pressure tank, pressure tested at 38 PSI which is the recommended 2 lbs below the cutoff of 40 psi. Working fine until today, noticed the pump running and would not shut off; pressure gauge will not exceed 20 psi. Drained the pressure tank, opened all faucets in the house to drain then started pump.

Pump pressurizes to 20 psi, keeps running and become extremely hot to the touch including the inlet and discharge side. Replaced the pressure unit, no resolution. Tested, replaced every component except the pump itself.

Tested every faucet in the home, checked for leaks and found none, check the well head for leaks also wrapped with heat tape as our lows have been in the single digits. The pump is getting water, removed the prime plug, its full; made a wet mess when replacing the pressure switch so lack of water is not the issue.....pressure is however.

Any thoughts before having to call a plumber all the way out to a rurual community?

Reply:

See the diagnostic suggestions at WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING

Reader follow-up:

(Dec 2, 2015) Chris Gagnon said:
UPDATE: Changed filters, applied power to the pump, and went and looked at the gauge. pump stopped at 40 psi. I thought problem was solved...until about 4 am when the Wife woke me to tell me we had no pressure again. Went outside, and I could hear the pump humming in the casing. So, shut off power again.

Waited 1/2 hour, turned it back on so Wife could have a decent shower. She had great pressure until about 15 minutes later, right at the end, she said pressure was dropping again. So pump is off, and I'm at work wondering what is wrong

Reply:

Chris:

The fact that water recovers after pump is shut off for a time suggests

- poor well flow rate (poor recovery rate) - when pumping you exceed the flow rate and a pump protection device (or an motor overheat switch) shuts off the dry-running pump.

You need to know more about the well:

depth
static head (search inspectApedia for how to measure well flow rate)
flow rate
type of pump (above ground, one line or 2 line jet pump or submersible in well pump)
type & location of pump controls - simple relay on jet pump or a heavy duty separate pump relay switch operated by the pressure control switch

I suggest asking for help from a well installer or plumber who can determine what is installed and what is the capacity of the well to deliver water. IN turn that will tell us what we need to do to keep a functional water supply.

Reader follow-up:

(Dec 2, 2015) Chris Gagnon said:
Dan, I'll get the rest of the info to you soonest, I can tell you the pump is submerged, and has a squareD brand combo relay/pressure switch in the 20-40 range mounted in the flow line to the house. There is no cut off that shuts my pump off...it just runs. Was looking at some relays last night that have a low water protection feature, thinking I should install one of those instead.

I was told when I bought the house it was a strange setup. The top of the line coming from the pump has a T fitting, and this is where the pressure switch, the gauge, and a small 1 gallon air tank are located. That line then pierces the casing, and runs about 200' to my house, where a larger (50Gal.?) air tank and my filters and neutralizer are. I was told I should ditch the small tank, and move the relay inside to the larger tank.

I understand about poor recovery, just wondering how it happened all of a sudden. Something else I don't understand. If it recovered, and everything was cool, why did the pump start running again in the middle of the night when we were all asleep? No one was using water. My Wife noticed it because the toilet was silent when she flushed at 4 am. So, between 11:30pm and 4 am, that pump decided to run on it's own?

Reply:

Of course there can be other explanations - but we'll keep at it.

A small 1 g. air tank is uncommon in the location you describe; sometimes something like that is addressing water hammer; certainly it has no volume capacity to address water draw-down volume of water between pump on-off cycles. As people don't bother to install something for no reason, don't rush to remove it.

The 50G pressure tank is also your water reserve; be sure the tank is not waterlogged - that will cause rapid on-off cycling of the pump.

Manufacturers normally say put the pressure control switch close to the pressure tank.

Sudden water loss is usually not a deteriorating well flow rate though that can happen if something dramatic changes the water table; e.g. when a highway re-build passed my well in Poughkeepsie the road crew was blasting to move the road- that fractured rock and changed the local water table for some nearby residents.

The fact that pump runs when no water is being drawn suggests a different problem: a leak somewhere or a running toilet. See WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING at inspectapedia.com/water/Intermittent-Water-Pump-Cycling.php

Also see WATER PRESSURE STOPS, THEN RETURNS "on its own" at inspectapedia.com/water/Water_Pressure_Stops_Returns.php

and finally see WATER PRESSURE INTERMITTENT LOSS - at inspectapedia.com/water/Water_Pressure_Comes_Goes.php

Those key articles will tune you up on the problem.

Keep me posted. What you learn may help other readers.

Question: 1 year old keystone , the water pump is a Flojet 3526-144, lately it is slowing down on the pressure

(Jan 2, 2016) Tc said:
I have a 1 year old keystone , the water pump is a Flojet 3526-144, lately it is slowing down on the pressure, and also now when you open a faucet, it just locks up and won't come on for sometimes several minutes, a couple of times it came on when I opened another faucet, please is this something that someone else is experiencing?

I am going to go pick up a new pump, but would like to know if there is something else that could be going on and maybe I can rebuild the old one to keep as a spare. Thanks. Tc

Reply:

TC

Check for a debris clogged or damaged pressure control switch before focusing on the pump itself. Then check for a damaged pump impeller.

Question: well-trol and it started running non stop

(Jan 24, 2016) Juanita said:
I have a well-trol and it started running non stop for the last about 9 hours...the gauge was at about 30-32 now it is about 45..we have never had trouble before. I have looked all around the house no water leaks that I have found and water pressure in the house seems fine. What do I do?

Reply:

I'd look through the usual causes of this problem listed in the article WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING. Meanwhile turn off the pump so you don't burn up the motor or ruin the impeller.

Question: pump keeps running after frozen burst heating piping

(Feb 14, 2016) phenchey@siena.edu said:
baseboard heater line froze and leaked, don't know how long pump was running, shut main water line off pump continues to run won't build to 40 psi shut off pressure

Reply:

Phenchy: we already answered this question where you posted it on another page. The WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING article should also help you out. But please ask a question in just one place. Double copies of a question doubles our heavy workload.

Question: cause for water pump not shutting off and continuing to run?

AUTHOR:Anonymous (no email)
COMMENT:Possible cause for water pump not shutting off and continuing to run? We flip breaker and pump shuts off but when we turn water on pump won't shut afterwards.

Reply:

Sounds as if your pump is unable to reach cut-off pressure. Take a look at the diagnostics in the article cited just above.

Question:

(Mar 10, 2016) Wonnie said:
I started my well today. As the pump was running the gauge did not move until the cut off pressure was at 50 lbs then the pump shut off. I hooked a sprinkler up and started watering. The pressure gauge went from 50 to 0 and the pump would not shut off. When I shut the valve off the pump finally shut off. I tried several times always with the same results.

Reply:

The articleWATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING lists the reasons I know of for a well pump that won't shut off. But your gauge sounds iffy to me - if a gauge is not moving and the pump is delivering pressure then the gauge is stuck, clogged, or otherwise not working. If silt or debris caused that trouble they can clog the pressure control switch too.

Question: jet pump losing prime in California

(Mar 28, 2016) Stephen Steineck said:

I have a jet pump setup. Being in California drought we were losing prime so stopped using system till after the rains came. When we restarted system the pump would not turn off and out put pressure was at 80. I turned system off again, guessed the switch needed changing so did that. Now the pump won't come on by itself.

The new switch has a bypass so I can turn pump on and run water out of hose bib, so pump works, well is primed. Tank pressure is zero, output gauge stays at 70 now instead of 80. I guess output gauge is clogged but not sure that has anything to do with pump. I had to ream out tube that switch was attached to before attaching new switch. Has the new switch been founded already? Or what am I missing

Reply: problem traced to bad pressure control valve / switch

Stephen

If debris has clogged the small diameter tubing that conducts pressure to the pressure switch, the switch won't respond properly. That same debris can clog a gauge inlet port, causing the gauge to mis-read pressure too.

The gauge doesn't affect the switch it's just not telling us accurately what's going on.

The "zero" tank pressure could thus be a gauge problem. Try tapping on the gauge; or just replace it.

Yes it is possible that the new switch also clogged if there was a lot of silt and debris being sent up by the pump - that's possible if the well was out of use for a time. While it's risky as you can ruin the pressure gauge, I'd be tempted to shut off power, remove the switch, inspect the pressure inlet port for crud, or maybe even try disassembling and cleaning that end of the device.

Let me know what you find.

Also see

(Mar 28, 2016) Stephen said:
Thank you for the quick response. The tank pressure gauge is at zero because I drained the tank..that one is working, that is the only thing I am sure of.

The other gauge is screwed up for sure. Working off what you stated I purchased a new feed pipe for the pressure switch and a new valve for the outlet end. I will remove the switch, replace the feed tube (there was a lot of gunk in it when I put the new switch on and I should have known better), try and clean flush switch, add new gauge, and let you know.

Reply:

Watch out: Good going, DO NOT GET SHOCKED - remember to turn off power.

Reader follow-up: the down stream pressure valve was screwing up my thinking.

(Apr 5, 2016) Stephen said:
Ok, all is up and running. What I figured out was that the down stream pressure valve was screwing up my thinking. I had shut it all down because it was reading almost 90psi and I was afraid I'd blow the tank membrane and figured relay switch was faulty and not cutting out.

The problem was the faulty pressure valve was starting at 70psi (where it is stuck, never goes lower) but does go higher. May not have had a relay problem at all. The old relay was really old so not a bad thing to change it. Had trouble getting pump to catch, this new relay has manual override, and thought we had problem with wiring because it would not pump on its own (cut in), but just needed a bit more time on manual override to catch.

Then it would cut out but no water was flowing through drip system. Head scratcher. Wouldn't flow even with manual drip meter valve open.

Clogged inlet to timer valve! Fixed. What I found then was the pump was not able to reach cut out pressure. I replaced some high unnecessary GPH emitters and squeezed down on flow valve to irrigation and now it cycles ok. Next is to actually adjust the relay to have a lower cut in/cut out pressure setting and add new outlet pressure valve.

I have not had any problems with this system for years, except losing prime occasionally during our drought (northern CA). I am much more acquainted with its personality after all this. Thank you for your help and the web site. You are bookmarked for next time

Reply:

Thanks for the feedback, Stephen, that will help other readers.

Indeed, 90 PSI is rather high for a residential water system and risks leaks; Check also the pressure rating of any pressure tanks installed.

...


Continue reading at WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING how to fix a pump that won't shut off, home page, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH to shut off a pump to prevent burn-up

Or see WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING how to fix a pump that won't shut off, home page

Or see WATER PUMP WONT STOP: FAQs - first set of Q&A on a pump that won't turn off

Or see WATER PUMP DIAGNOSTIC TABLE a concise guide to diagnosing and fixing water pumps

Or see WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home

Suggested citation for this web page

WATER PUMP WONT STOP: FAQs-4 at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to WATER SUPPLY, PUMPS TANKS WELLS

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