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How to prime the water pump:
This article describes how to prime a water pump to restore water pressure to a building by pouring water through a plugged opening in the well pump. The procedure is pretty easy: we'll will describe
How to find the well pump priming plug
How to remove the plug, andi f the water pump priming plug is not easy to remove we suggest an alternative procedure that skips that step.
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If 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.
See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR for help in determining why you have no water or no water pressure in a building. If the diagnosis determines that you need to re-prime the water pump, the instructions are provided in this article.
Where a two line 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.)
Turn off the water pump if it is running "dry": If your 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. The pump won't be damaged if it runs dry for a minute or a few minutes, but leaving it running for half an hour with no water could be another story.
Before following this procedure to directly prime a dry water pump that has lost its prime, you might want to try the alternative water pump prime method that avoids any disassembly or the need for tools - described
at PRIME the PUMP using a GARDEN HOSE.
Our photo (left) shows the two line F&W (Flint and Walling) two line jet pump in our lab. That big brass plug in the center of the top of the pump body (center of the photo) closes the opening that is used to prime the pump if it should be dry. Don't take out this plug before reading the instructions below.
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 a bad foot valve (in the well) and so be losing prime.
A leak in the well line can also lead to loss of prime. If priming the well water pump using one of our methods shown below seems to fix the problem but soon the well pump loses prime again, your plumber will want to check for a bad foot valve in the well or a leak in the well piping between the well and the building.
31 August 2015 Phil said:
I tried to install this pump on my shallow well. The motor works and the impeller spins but the pump does not provide any suction at all at the top of the well pipe. All connections are tight, the check valve works and when I put a pitcher pump on the well, I got water flowing after 4 strokes.
Can I just replace the impeller and attach it to the shaft on the motor? I even took the cover off the impeller housing and made sure the slots on the impeller wheel were open.
The JS-10 to which you refer is probably a convertible Goulds shallow well pump model JS-10.
If the pump is running dry, without prime, I'd try priming the system first. In addition to our own text on that procedure using several methods, I include some advice from the pump manufacturer just below.
According to Goulds, this JS-10 well pump has this feature: "Diaphragm retains water in the casing to ensure the mechanical seal can never run dry."
Watch out: That does not mean that you can install this pump and run it without an initial priming operation. Most pumps will be damaged if run without water. Once the pump has been primed successfuly and has pumped water, the company says the pump is indeed self-priming. But for an initial installation, surely you need to prime the pump.
The pump is delivered set-up for a shallow-well application. If you are running it on a deep well (more than 25 ft) you'll need a special conversion kit provided by the manufacturer. I'm guessing, since you said "shallow well" that you know that.
Quoting Goulds - Xylem:
Deep well jet pumps require a pressure control device on the discharge to provide back pressure to the jet assembly. Failure to control the amount of discharge by adjusting the back pressure (pressure control valve setting) will cause the pump to lose prime. On pumps with Iow control valve settings, up to 40 psi, a simple ball valve or AV15 will work. On systems with control valve settings of 40 - 80 psi an AV22, AV22KIT or AV21 is required. They measure the pressure on the outbound side so that the high pressure does not open the 30-50 psi switch and turn the pump off.
Gould's general manual for pumps of this type warrns about other snafus including these notes on priming the pump:
It is very important to eliminate high spots and dips in suction piping as they will trap air and make the system very hard to prime. Never route the piping up above and then down to the pump suction. Suction piping should be either straight from the well to the pump or should slope upward to the pump. Pumps do not ?hold? prime, piping systems and check valves do.
On sand points or driven wells you can install an in-line check valve near the well head or at the pump and use the well casing as the suction pipe. The closer the check valve is to the well the easier the system will prime.
Priming a Shallow Well System
Priming means filling the pump and suction pipe with water. Most shallow well jet pumps handle air well and will evacuate air from the suction line but it may take several minutes to prime depending on depth to water, and pipe size and length.
VENT THE PUMP FOR EASIER PRIMING!
It is easier to prime a pump if you allow all the air to escape from the pump and the pipes, the water cannot go in unless the air can escape!
Remove the pipe plug or pressure gauge bushing in the discharge tee to fill the pump with water. On shallow well pumps you should remove the 1 ⁄8" pipe plug located between the suction and discharge ports to allow air to escape as you fill the casing with water.
The port will be located on either the top of the casing or the top of the shallow well adapter. Fill the pump and as much of the suction pipe as possible with water through the discharge port.
Replace the 1 ⁄8" pipe plug and discharge gauge/bushing. Open the faucet closest to the pump/tank a small amount to allow air to escape the system. Do not open it too much or the pump will expel too much water and you will have to reprime the pump casing.
On jobs with long suction pipes you may have to add water to the pump casing several times to complete the priming process. Go to Power Motor.
Priming a Deep Well System
Priming a deep well system means filling the pump and the suction/pressure pipes with water. Deep well single stage and multi-stage pumps require a complete prime before starting. Filling the pipes with water before installing the pump will make priming faster and easier.
VENT THE PUMP FOR EASIER PRIMING!
To insure a complete prime we recommend removing the angled 1 ⁄8" vent plug located just above the suction pipe on horizontal pumps.
This will allow the air to easily escape as water enters. Our horizontal convertible deep well jets should be primed through a tee or the AV22 at the pump discharge. The tee is not supplied by Goulds Water Technology.
Our vertical deep well jet pumps have built-in pressure control valves. Priming is done through the pressure gauge port on the pressure control valve. Most verticals have a vent plug located on the side of the motor adapter that vents the seal cavity which is the high point inside the pump. Removing this vent plug will make priming much easier.
If your pump is going to lift more than 25 ft it needs to be converted to a deep well set-up including installation of a conversion kit.
Continue reading at PRIME the PUMP using a GARDEN HOSE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see PUMP PRIME, REPEATED LOSS OF
Or see WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR if priming the pump is just not working for you
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Also see WATER PUMP PRIMING DIAGNOSTIC FAQs
(Aug 30, 2011) mike hanlon said:
this worked for me thank you
I'm absolutely confounded by my system. While we were away on vacation, the folks taking care of our animals called to tell us there was no water in the house. This is only to say I have no idea what's happened during the last 7 days to get to the point of having no water. When I got to looking, the pressure switch did not appear to be working because the pump would run when I bypassed the switch applied current directly to the pump.
So I replaced the pressure switch, and the pump seemed to work fine. However, priming has been a problem. This pump is less than a year old, and I didn't have trouble priming it the first time (using the 2nd, or plug method) when I replaced the old one. But this time - no dice. I do have a shutoff between the pump and pressure tank. When I close the valve, prime the pump, and run, enough pressure builds to trip the pressure switch and shut the pump off. But as soon as I open the valve to fill the house (or if I prime with the valve to the house open), it won't prime. I also filled the pressure tank with some air and noticed a slow leak. This system predates me, and I don't think it's a bladder type.
My pump is a two line jet pump, Wayne CSW50. There are no markings on the pressure tank, so not much there. One odd thing I did notice when I added air to the system was that I got air coming up from around the area where the lines go through the surface into the well. I didn't expect to see air escaping there. I didn't think much of it since I could get the pump to pressure up when shut off from the house - but in the interest of full disclosure in case it sparks a thought.
I would appreciate ANY help, advice, suggestions on where to go next. I have no idea what's down the well. Predates me and the previous owner. But I figure there are only 2 other parts to look at: either the pressure tank or the pipe down the hole. Just not sure which direction to head first and/or best practices for overcoming a pump that suddenly won't prime.
Thanks in advance,
Kevin - KMC Kurdy 6/27/11
Mr. McCurdy: you might get somewhere in diagnosing this well water loss problem by starting with the diagnostics at the article WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE - I'd start there rather than looking at pump priming (the article series here).
However, your clue that you got air coming up through the ground around the well piping near the pipe entry into the well suggests that there is one or there may be two issues:
1. a leak in well piping near the well - dig there and investigate the pipe condition, or look for a leak at the pitless adapter
2. an air leak into the well piping or low water in the well allowing air into the system
I just finished installing a Goulds 2 line deep well pump. I am currently priming the system, but I'm concerned about the electric motor housing getting warm. Is this a normal occurrence? I'm worried that the motor will burn out and my pump will be no more than a paperweight. Also, after installing a new pump, how many times should the pump be manually filled with water? How will I know when full priming has been achieved? - Brian Scholtes 9/9/11
Brian, it's normal for the pump motor to get warm but not red hot - usually you can find temperature numbers on the data tag. Don't run the pump dry however as you may damage the impeller. Usually I can get the pump working with just 1-3 fill-ups of prime, but it could be more depending on the depth of your well piping.
Provided the pump and piping are working properly and not damaged or leaking, you'll know when the pump is primed because it will begin delivering water into the home.
I just used this method last night and we were lucky it worked. An electrician had installed a new circuit breaker panel and power was off for several hours. They tried to re-prime it but no luck. We thought we were looking at a $3K bill to open the well and finally make the switch to an in-well pump.
One thing I did not see (or missed) -- I closed the valve between the pump and the tank, so all the water I poured in went into the well line. I did have to be nimble -- fill it fast, quickly screw the gauge back, and flip the switch.
When the pump luckily started pumping, I opened the valve [to the tank] slowly. Our well guy suspects that we do have a leaky check valve, but as long as we don't lose power, we seem to be OK for a while. - Bob Stewart 8/25/2012
Thanks for the helpful field report, Bob.
Indeed a leaky check valve or foot valve means that whenever the pump stops water drains from the above-ground 2-line jet pump back into the well. The reason you don't lose prime immediately is that water stored in the pressure tank is feeding backwards into the well as pressure drops due to the leak. As pressure drops to the cut-in, the pump cycles on, repressurizing the water pressure tank and piping, and so prime is preserved for now.
This is the classic situation in which people observe
(Mar 31, 2013) Anonymous said:
We did all of the above but when the pump delivers water to the tank the pressured is so great we can not close the plug and by the time we get the plug on we lose the prime again?
(June 11, 2014) Bill A said:
My problem is that when I pour water into the pump prime opening (water pressure gauge), it takes very little water (far less than a cup). Replacing the gauge and turning on the pump does nothing: the pump spins and the gauge does not budge from 0.
(June 12, 2014) rachel said:
I have a problem my pump is turned on but it
Bill. The pump impeller may be damaged
(July 22, 2014) Anonymous said:
having trouble priming pump
If you are having trouble priming the pump through the primer plug opening described in the article above, be sure to check out an alternative method discussed in the article
12/1/2014 James aldrich said:
When I change the regulator and pull the pressure line off the regulator all the air in the bladder on the pressure tank was lost could you tell me if this is normal?
James in a typical water pressure tank that uses an internal bladder, removing water from the tank or from the system won't lose air from the pressure tank - the air and the water are not living together in the tank, they've had a separation - the rubber tank bladder.
So if air is lost from such a tank the bladder is probably damaged.
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