Universal submersible pump relay control © Daniel FriedmanWater Pump Status Indicators
How to tell if the well pump has been switched on

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Well pump controls & relays with pump status indicators & pump protection feature:

This article describes methods useful to determine if a well pump is operating or not. We describe several methods for determining if a remote water pump or submersible well pump circuit is "on".

Additional details are given for the Cla-Val PC-1 pump controller and for Franklin Electric's PumpTec pump controller. In addition to including several pump protection features, both of these devices offer sophisticated well pump status indicators that can help diagnose well and pump problems. Our page top photo illustrates a Universal well pump controller installed in a Minnesota home.

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Well Pump Control Status Indicators & Lights

Photograph of a water pump pressure control switch with the cover onReader Question: Alison said:

[Click to enlarge any image]

This may be a really dumb question, but because our pump is far from the house (switch is in garage)I don't hear when it is running or not. Is there a way to figure that out? It would likely help diagnose the issue if I knew when the pump was or was not running. Did that make any sense? Thank you again. 4/4/2014


Alison it's an excellent question and more important than one might think.

A typical water pump pressure control switch such as the Square D model shown at left makes an audible "click" when it's relay switches the pump on or off, but otherwise this model gives no indication that the pump circuit is "on". At page top we show a Universal remote well pump relay switch that operates a submersible well pump. The Universal pump relay is itself switched on and off by a pressure control switch at the water tank. No indication of "power on" is included on this device.

If the water system uses an above-ground well pump such as a one-line or two-line jet pump, and if the pump is nearby or accessible, you'll hear it running. But a remote well pump or a submersible (in the well) pump is not audible to someone standing by the pressure control switch.

Watch out: Some well pumps, particularly submersible models, can develop pressures high enough to be dangerous. In New Paltz NY a plumber was killed in part because he did not know that the submersible well pump was running. He was messing with pressure tank control settings, over pressurized a water tank which, lacking a required pressure relief valve, burst, injuring him so seriously that as he was working alone, he died.

The problem is that in a well-running water system you may not hear much at all at the water pressure tank when a remote well pump is running.

How to Know the "On-Off" Status of a Remote or Submersible Well Pump

There are several solutions to this "is the water pump running" question

Cla-Val PC-1 Pump Control Panel with status indicator lights, Cla-Val Inc.,

PumpTec well pump control from Franklin Electric, www.franklin-electric.comIn a different approach, Franklin Electric's PumpTec is a neat control that adds pump protection and includes operating indictor lights.

The company's description of their PumpTec controller includes:

Pumptec is a microcomputer based pump protection device that continuously monitors motor load and power line conditions to provide protection against dry well conditions, waterlogged tanks, and abnormal line voltage conditions. Indicator lights provide complete system status, which can be easily viewed without removing the cover.

Pumptec interrupts power to the motor whenever the motor load drops below a preset level or the load drops quickly. Pumptec is optimized to work with Franklin 2- & 3-wire single phase motors from 1/3 to 1.5 HP. An underload (dry well) adjustment is provided to address unusual situations.

The PumpTec controller uses three indicator lights to indicate power, electrical load, and voltage levels. An "underload" indication can indicate that the well is dry while an "overload" indication typically means that there is a problem with the pump motor, causing it to draw excessive current.


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