Well water pump diagnostic FAQs:
This article, second in a series of well and water pump troubleshooting & repai, provides frequently-asked questions and answers about how to diagnose problems with the water pump.
These questions will help sort out what's wrong.
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(May 21, 2014) Anonymous said:
At our house trailer in northern Michigan. a lot of snow melt and water rise lifted the pump until it fell over. never happened before so the hose may have tipped it over. when turned on, it hummed for a moment then stopped. power is off now. would water in the pump short it out so it will need to be replaced or can it easily be fixed. getting water is no problem as there are many springs in this lake area.
Sorry Tom Sydor, I'm not sure what the question is. You described a ruined water supply system that sounds as if it needs to be rebuilt, and what sounds like a shorted, burned-up motor or motor start capacitor or control.
(June 27, 2014) Asad said:
it needs a slight push to start the pump. switch was on when ran out of electricity and i forgot to switch it off. after an hour when the light came, since switch was on so pump stuck and did'nt start.. and after half an hour smoke started coming out of wires of the pump... there was a little blasting sound too. what do i do now??
Sounds as if the pump as well as possibly some wiring burned up and need replacement. Also check for proper fusing.
Then check for a failed start or run capacitor.
(July 9, 2014) brian said:
i just replaced a faulty pressure switch and now it keeps tripping the breaker on the out side control box like once a day.
If a breaker keeps tripping there is most likely an intermittent short in your wiring or an overcurrent caused by a failing pump motor.
(Jan 21, 2015) Ray said:
My pump (from tank to house) has been running intermittently and actually shut down twice in the last 24 hours. I went to the pressure switch and was able to manually restart the motor twice, once last night and once this morning. It happened a third time this morning and I was unable to restart it.
When I try the manual restart the switch sparks and then I hear only a hum rather than the pump kicking on. I replaced the pressure switch because the contacts looked burned.
Still no pump start. I also cleaned out the filter and checked the pressure in the bladder tank. Pressure was very low so I added air up to 25 psi but still have no pump start. Pump is at leat 10 years old. What next?
This sounds like there is a leak somewhere, perhaps a bad foot valve, a leak in well piping, or water running somewhere - that is exhausting water in the well. If the pump no longer starts it may have been damaged by running dry. Start by checking for power, reset switches, etc. to be sure the pump gets power.
If you added enough air pressure to put the tank pressure above the pump cut-in pressure, of course, it'll never start.
(Feb 21, 2015) calvin said:
Well water. the gage is reading is over 100ps, I bleed the tank and it went back to 60ty and the pump came on the pressure went back to 100ps which cut the relay off, no water getting to water heater,
Watch out: If the pressure really is that high the situation is dangerous as you can blow the tank or piping, causing injury.
Or the gauge is debris clogged and or faulty.
Check the actual system, pressure independently.
My well pump keeps blowing the circuit breaker what could be wrong
A short between well wires, short from well wires to well casing, short to ground, seized well pump motor, frozen pump contactor switch. Or less likely: a defective breaker.
Watch out, there are harzards of death by electrocution: leave the circuit off and call for repair by an electrician. It should be easy to use a VOM or DMM to check the current draw and grounding and continuity on the circuit as part of diagnosis.
My start overload keeps tripping. Could a bad pressure switch cause this?
Perhaps, Matthew,But I'd bet on a failing pump or shorted wiring. Or perhaps a bad start / run capacitor
The cold water on our well is very low the hot water is fine what is the proplem
There is probably a blockage or partly-closed valve on your cold water system.
one circuit breaker of the two continues to trip at odd this connects to the well we had a well man replace the bladder tank today and the pressure switch and the pressure gauge was replaced 2 months ago. we replaced the bladder tank after removing a filter and finding it full of mud from the pump do you have any suggestions
What's the brand of breaker? Most circuit breakers, if properly selected, use a common trip tie: it should be impossible for just one leg of the breaker to trip off on a 2-wire 240V circuit. But indeed you could have a short on one wire.
Mud in the tank suggests your well is low on water, the casing is damaged, or the foot valve is too close to well bottom.
We run two houses off of our well. We have replaced the pressure switch to our well pump 3 times in 7 years. Is there a reason the switches keep going bad?
Look fdor defective or shorted wiring, debris clogging the pressure control switch, lightning strikes
Water has got into sump pump and blows fuse when started.can it be fixed or do I need new pump.tried hair dryer but still blows fus
Watch out: for an electrocution (death) hazard - leave power off to the circuit where equipment got wet as it's likely it's short-circuited.
Water inside the pump or pump controls can sometimes be dried over time or by disassembly, but I'd be concerned that the pump won't be reliable and perhaps will be unsafe anyway, as having been wet and perhaps contaminated with sewage, corrosion and future failures are more likely. I'd also worry that working on the pump may damage any water tight seals. So I'd replace it.
Water in house has been off and on. Breaker to well not popped. Pressure switch has power. 220 at top of well when working properly. My pressure switch stops working and opens allowing pressure to drop through use of water and causing water loss in house. I changed out the switch and new one same problem after a few cycles.
I have an artisian well with water always trickling out from under the top cap when not being used in house so I don't think its a matter of no water in well. Any suggestions of cause for that pressure switch to open?
Pump turns off and every 15 minutes no leaks that i can see shut water to the house and still did it
John and Jeff:
I suspect debris is colgging the pressure switch so it's not turning on the pump when pressure falls. SeeWATER PUMP PRESSURE SWITCH REPAIRS
My pump hasn't been started in a couple of years and when I started it it is sounding like it's going to seize up so I turned it off can this water pump be oiled
Oiling wont' fix a seizing water pump but it may be possible to have the pump rebuilt.
Pump clicking off and on
Please use the search box just above to find the article WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING to see how to diagnose and repair the problem you cite
New pump in a new well. The pump only runs when I hold the pressure switch lever in the middle of its range of motion.
After 10 to 15 seconds the control box breaker pops. While it is running the pressure tank fills to 40 psi. I get good flow out of the hose bibs during the run. What is going on?
If running a well pump pops a circuit breaker then I suspect either a wiring error (or damage), or a pump that is drawing excessive current due to a problem within the pump itself.
pump runs no water at all what to do/ what do I check
Start by turning the pump OFF right away as you risk burning up the pump or its motor.
Then take a look at the diagnosis/repair tips starting atNO WATER PRESSURE
What could be the fault of the machine (pumping) machine that always work for like 5 minutes and stop and continues after it get cold.the machine is always very hot during the working periode
Chuks: sorry you had trouble posting a message; if the spam/scanner of Comments Box sees text followed by a period without a space it gets nervous and blocks posting until we approve it.
It sounds to me as if your system may have a failing motor that's overheating. Alternatively the pressure control switch may be sticking or debris clogged.
What would cause well water that has run through a water softener to have a burnt or charred odor to it?
KH I'd take a water sample to your local water testing laboratory, delivering it as quickly as possible after sampling into a closed container; before collecting the sample discuss selection of water tests that are most-likely to be diagnostic. I can't guess what's causing the odor you describe, perhaps an organic contaminant or even a problem in the well pump itself.
Please search InspectApedia.com for ODORS IN WATER to read more details.
reference: Well, Pressure tank, pressure release valve, pressure switch (40-60).
Tank/system drained (twice), Pressure set in tank at 38.5lbs and system then refilled.
Problem: Pressure in Well-x-trol tank is 75.5lbs immediately after refill. Upon system refill pressure at all spigots is 50lbs+.
But, when tank depletes to appx 38.5lbs (before pressure switch kicks pump on, for about 10 seconds) all water flow stops. Then, finally the pump kicks on and pressure starts to rebuild.
And, I get the groaning sound of air in the system just AS the pressure drops to zero (Yes, I drained the system from the lowest spigot, and then opened the highest spigot to flush air out (twice).
How are you measuring tank pressure?
Could your gauge be inaccurate or debris-clogged?
If you are seeing pressure close to the 60 psi CUTOFF pressure at spigots, measured independently, that pressure is right.
If you are seeing pressure in excess of 60 psi CUTOFF setting when measuring independently at spigots or faucets, then either the switch is defective or it's not sensing water pressure reliably, perhaps because it's debris-clogged.
Home well short cycling, followed the test procedures for pressure tank bladder check and found less than 5 psi in bladder filled bladder to 28 psi, and than restarted system the control box chattered and tripped breaker, one other piece of info is that the control plug in was installed incorrectly and remedied problem still the same.
I"m not sure what control plug you refer-to, Mike.
A chattering relay may mean it's damaged - or its points are badly burned, or the system may be unable to start the pump itself.
Also see WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING CAUSES
We just had an 80 foot well sunk with a 1 hp gould sprinkler pump to run our sprinkler system. The system ran great for a month but recently the pump has been tripping the 10 amp breaker when the timer first turns the system on. When we reset the breaker the system runs fine through the rest of the cycles. Could it be the breaker is to small?
I've never seen a 10-amp circuit breaker in conventional residential electrical wiring circuits. But if that's what you have, notice that 10 is less than both 12.6 and 16. I'd expect a 20A circuit breaker and #12 copper wire for that pump circuit.
Compare the breaker amperage with the ampacity requirements given on the pump motor label. If it's the right breaker then there may be a wiring problem, a low voltage problem, or a pump or pump start/run capacitor problem.
Ok Checked the amp requirements. Label says it needs 12.6 amps with a high of 16 amp usage. It is a 10 amp Square D breaker. Also should say that if we turn the sprinklers on manually it works fine. It still runs fine after we reset the flipped breaker. Would switching out to a 15 amp breaker work?
I'm really scared about this, Anon. I don't understand your system, don't understand why someone put a 10 amp breaker onto a 12-16Amp circuit, and I note that just touching a live contact when fooling around inside the electrical panel can kill you. Let's get an electrician in there to find out what the heck is going on with your pump circuit.
I just bought a camp. It has a 460' well with the pump set at 350'. The well was drilled 3 years ago but used very little. The pump worked initially and I left it running for an hour.
It cycled on and off with no problem. The pressure stays up in the tank for several days, but when I drain the tank and drop the pressure to zero the pump will not come on again. Why is it so inconsistent?
That can be caused by debris-clogging the pressure switch sensor port; try tapping the switch; if it starts and runs you may limp along until you replace the switch;
i have a 275' deep well for a while now we use water normally then pump switch turn on but pressure drops to 0 for about 6 seconds then water starts again
[-a debris clogged pressure switch that's slow in sensing pressure drop and in turning on the pump
- a seizing pump motor
- a wiring short
- a short in the control or switch
The pump between my tank and house keeps popping breaker. Pump motor revs high low high low then breaker pops after about 15 seconds.
This started happening right after we had to replace our well pump. Tank did empty to the outlet during repair. Suggestions?
We just moved to the country and the water well keeps shutting off we haven't any water in the house and the pressure is at zero what do we do
Please see the diagnostic steps and repair tips at NO WATER PRESSURE
I suspect you need to pull the pump to find either bad wiring or a bad pump. Just be sure everything above ground has been checked first.
New breaker put in. Power to well pump 249.9 vac 8.2 amps both legs 4.4 ohms resistance on motor. Still trips breaker.
I know probably time to call the well guy now. Its a 700 ft well, 16 yr old pump. $400 just to pull pump. If repairable do you just repair it or replace it at that age?
Your electrician might measure the current draw in amps; most likely the pump motor is seizing, though there could also be a dangerous short circuit.
I found my weltrol tank to have a failed bladder and changed the tank out along with all of the components.
I have a 40/60 and set the bladder pressure to 38PSI.I turned the power back on and the pressure rose to 63PSI and the pump shut down.
I turned on the water at three locations, ran it for a bit,pressure dropped to 35 PSI the pump came on and it maintained for a few minutes, pump shut off and then dropped to 0 psi. The pump came back on and the pressure climbed to 62 PSI and shut down again once the faucets were shut off.
Any suggestions on what the problem may be? im left only with a bad foot valve? any help would be appreciated,Thank you
I'm not sure but guess that your well flow rate may be limited and that your pump has a pump protection circuit installed that's shutting off the pump rather than let it run dry (that causes damage). Check the well flow rate.
I was thinking my capacitor may be bad, I'm going to check the amperage and see where it starts on a call for the pump and see if it rises and then trips out the pump, cools down and then restarts
I have a 3 wire water well pump that doesn't hold pressure up to required amount. I believe the control box is good. Any suggestions?
Bart, if the pump is able to reach cut-off pressure, then "not holding pressure" is more likely to be a leaky foot valve or well pipe than a control box problem. The control box is basically an on-off switch.
I have a problem with pressure from My well pump. I replaced the PRESSURE SWITCH 40-60, twice and didn't touch the factury settings. I drained down the weltrol tank and checked the pressure, it was at 55 PSI, I brought it down to 38 PSI. When bleeding the air there was no sign of any moisture. I also removed the 1/4" brass nipple and replaced it and checked for debris there was none.
I have everything back together and the pump pulls right up to 60PSI and the contacts disengage
I open up faucets and I have beautiful pressure. I watch the pressure gauge (new) drop and when it gets to 38 PSI it slows, the pressure then drops to 0 PSI and bounces back up to 38 PSI and the contacts engage and the pressure climbs to 60 PSI and the contacts disengage. If I run two faucets and the tub it will run fine for 4-5 minutes and then the water just stops all together.
I do have a filtration system on the supply side of the pump which has been rinsed and back washed. My question is< why does the pressure drop to 0 psi and bounce back up to 38 psi ?
there should be a call when the pressure drops below 40 and i believe an even rise in pressure as the contacts engage. thanks for and help or suggestions to remedy the issue >
Water runs smoothly then shuts off for about a minute then runs smooth again ? What am I looking for to fix ?
I'd look at inspectapedia for SHORT CYCLING WELL PUMP to see how we diagnose this
Our water well pump smells like it is burnt when it is running motor not hot
I'd ask for help from an electrician as the pump may be overheating, near failure, or may have a wiring, power supply, voltage level,or other defect.
My pump keeps tripping the breaker. If I tap on the pump then reset the breaker it will work for a while then does it again
Donald: I can't guess if the problem is the breaker, the wire itself, the circuit, the connections, or the pump or pump switch.
An on-site expert will probably inspect the circuit and test the current draw of the pump. I would get this repaired as the risk if you keep forcing a bad circuit to run is a fire or other injury or loss.
my water punp to house is till pumping water but is making an unusal sound than normal.Doesn't sound good
Anne M. M.
I suspect a failing pump bearing OR air in the water line.
We have a pump that moves water uphill to a storage tank, then that water gravity feeds to the house to give us pressure. The problem we have is that the pump is still working fine, but at reduced capacity.
We could run it for 20mins and it would shift enough water to the top tank for about 1-2 weeks of household use, now we have to pump water up every 1-2 DAYS to cover the needs of the house, without those needs increasing by much. We think the expellers may be worn, and not as efficient? The pressure readings for the pump are still high.
I think if the pump is still producing original pressure levels then the problem is elsewhere.
Check the water level in the well and the well flow rate. Also check for piping leaks
I have a 30-50 well pump that runs up pressure to 50 lbs. fine then drops to 30 lbs in just a few seconds...i replaced pressure switch and check valve.. it still does it.. any Ideas?
If you mean that the pressure switch is set to cut out at 50 psi, the pump runs, at 50 psi on the gauge the pump stops (as it should), but then you immediately see a pressure drop to 30 psi on the same gauge, then I suspect debris clogging at the gauge, debris clogging at the pressure switch sensor port, or a water logged pressure tank.
If there is little or no air in the tank then the second the pump cuts off the pressure will drop and if there is even the smallest water flow out of the tank it will drop substantially
I have a shallow well pump. When the pressure drops down the water trickles off until the pressure builds back up. What does this problem sound like?
I have a new shallow well jet pump system and I'm having problems getting it primed need help any advice
Sounds like a well flow rate and pump unable to keep up with the demand flow rate.
My water pump keeps shutting down and all electrical breakers are on. I have had a company come to repair the problem.
One time the pressure regulator was replaced. The next time I had a problem I called them out and the control panel was replaced and my pump is still shutting down. I turn off the breakers and push the reset buttons and my pump may or may not work
. I do not think I have a problem with the pump. When the pump comes on the pressure builds up very fast. I think I have another electrical problem.
This pump was installed in 2001 when the house was built. I am not the original owner and I do not know how ever thing was installed. What could the problem be with my pump?
Trying to figure out a complex (for me)well with pressure boost system, supplying two homes, which is cycling on and off rapidly. The water pressure doesn't seem to be going down.
When the water is running the booster pump will cycle on and off and on and off every few seconds, it sometimes was doing this when I wasn't running the water but someone may have been,perhaps.
The pressure gauge is filled with water, maybe this is a problem, and when the booster pump comes on the needle bumps up a bit from zero and quickly returns to zero.
There is a large storage tank in the system and a pressure tank. Funny thing was letting water out of the storage tank didn't make the system cycle. There definitely could be something clogged with Reply:
I'm not sure what fan motor we are discussing; but if you mean the jet pump motor behaved as you describe, the pump impeller may be damaged.
search InspectApedia for WELL PUMP SHORT CYCLING to see a good procedure for diagnosing and fixing the problem you describe.
1/2hp ay McDonald pump .pulled prime right away two pipe deep well 90' to 100' turned water on to pressure tank then motor fan started making noise like it was hitting something. Adjusted bolts at pump head no more noise now it won't get over 20psi. I'm a Plumbing contractor done many of them but at a lose on this one. Foot valve is close to original depth.
Look for a failing bearing or pump assembly
Water shuts off in the house for a period of time, tap on square d box starts up and shuts right back off
Try replacing the pressure control switch; I suspect its sensor port is debris clogged.
What is the life of a well pump? How many years will one normal last?
Fair question, Anon. I'll see if I can find some statistics - previously searches did not give a generalized answer; I've seen pumps last 40 years and others months. Factors include
- short cycling
- silt, debris, or minerals that damage pump impellers
- and the no. 1 pump destroyer: running the pump dry in a well that ran out of water
Our water well pump and piping was replaced in June due to wear. It has been 10 years since the last pump was installed so I am not complaining about the last pump.
But, our new pump keeps tripping the overloads on the Pentair control box. We have a 3HP pump. supposed to put out 20GPM and our pressure switch is set at 40 to 60lbs. We installed a cycle stop valve to reduce the requirement for additional pressure tanks...did everything the well repair team suggested. the pump still runs at 17.4 A after startup. the FLA is listed at 14.3 I believe and the max was 16.5.
The repair team did not have/give me the model number and the manual, but i did look at it once. they have installed a monitor , but with winter, our demand is reduced dramatically and it the pump has not tripped.
The repair team tells me it will be fine - hey do not want to replace the pump. Do you have a suggestion?
Did anyone check actual current draw against pump specs and against the circuit breaker suze?
I have replaced points and breaker,and when I turn my well pump on it will run for a couple seconds and then the breaker will blow again help
Sounds like a shorted wire or an electrical failure or short in the pump itself. Double check that the wiring connections are correct.
WATCH OUT: there are hazards of death by electrocution - if you're not trained you could be killed.
Sure. If the contacts don't open the pump keeps going.
When the pump shuts off shouldn't the contacts on the pressure switch disingage?
We have finished drilling , just to install the pump. Suddenly it stopped on the way refusing to go in nor come out. Since three days
Search inspectApedia for "well retrieval tools"
Pump stopped. Have had problem with fuses but checked and they were fune. Breaker had tripped. Reset breaker, turned power on at fuse box, both fuses blew. Changed them, turned power back in, both blew again. Replaced the two capacitors or control modules...not sure what they are called....but replaced both less than a year ago.
When you turn on the water in bathroom water comes out but quickly quits. I count to about 20 water starts coming out strong?
Check to see if the pump is turning on or not
Bought our house a year ago. The house sat for 6 months. At 2.5 minutes running a 3/4" hose, (coming directly after the bladder tank), the flow drops off quickly to a trickle. Almost seems like I'm emptying the well, not sure. After a minute the pressure will pick up, but not to the level it was at the beginning. The well is 105' deep. Original. 1973. Thoughts?
I have a small end suction pump that draws water from a cistern through a foot valve and pumps into a bladder tank. The system runs fine, supplies adequate flow and pressure and there is no loss of pressure when when the pump is off. However, when the pumps first starts there is water hammer. This is fairly recent and I am wondering if this could be an indication of a ruptured bladder within the pressure tank
Intereresting idea, Frank; water hammer is generally caused by the combination of high water velocity and sudden stopping of flow by a valve. I don't see how a ruptured bladder would speed the water flow rate, but if the pressure tank has lost its air charge and thus the pump is short-cycling that might be a factor.
I have a 380 ft deep well with submerged pump. was put down about 30 years ago. Always have had plenty of water and no problems. But, now, no water. Have checked and turned off and on the breaker with no results.
What should I try next?
If I need assistance, do I contact an electrician or a deep well person first?
I will try and describe the issue. every so often we go and turn on the water and nothing comes out, head to the well house and flip breakers, the issue is not when it comes back on, it's when it doesn't.
Looks like the box has a 30 amp breaker install and I believe I read the pressure relief switch was a 10 amp. this box has four breakers installed, one for the outlets, one for the inside lighting, one for the pump and one feeds off to the neighboring shed. the pump always seems to work when I have someone here to help or look at the issue. last night the pump was off out from at least 9 pm until 4 am when it finally decided it was time to work.
I went and flipped the breaker on about every hour, when the pump did not come one, I turned it off.
Now in flipping the breaker when the breaker was on the light in the building went from around 60 watts to about 100 watts in brightness. Not sure why it does this.
There seems to be more issues when there are storms in the area, and we have been lucky for a few months now, until yesterday. We also had zero issues over the previous 24 months, so can anyone guide me in a fix or solution. I will not move because it's haunted either. :-)
Have a two line shallow well jet pump,lots of water,when pumps starts ,it runs and runs until pressure is at 60'it also holds psi at 60 ,could small return line have a leak
Yes anon, a piping leak anywhere between jet pick-up and the house can make it tough for the pump to reach cutoff pressure.
Other explanations and a diagnostic routine are found by searching inspectApedia for "PUMP WON"T STOP RUNNING"
My water pump over heats
I suspect that the well is running dry and the pump can't reach shut-off pressure (or search InspectAPedia for PUMP WON"T STOP RUNNIGN for diagnostics)_
or that there is low voltage to the pump
or that the pump impeller or bearings are failing
I have a shallow well pump for irrigation. Was running perfect yesterday, and now all of a sudden will not run. When plugged in, makes a humming noise and trips off (in about 4 sec).
It almost sounds like a small puff of air blowing when it kicks off. I replaced the capacitor, no problem there. I can turn the shaft - with no problem from back of motor with screwdriver. What else can I trouble shoot without having to disconnect entire system or call in a professional?
In the diagnostic table above check out the section titled
Things to Check if the Well Pump Will Not Start
Humming sounds like a seized motor. The fact that you can turn the shaft argues against that so we might have instead a seized switch or control.
If the motor is drawing high current (amps) that's a good reason to leave it shut off.
See also WATER PUMP WON'T START FAQs
Continue reading at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE for table listing causes & cures for well pump or water pressure problems, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see WELL PUMP DIAGNOSTIC FAQs-2 - more diagnosis & repair questions and answers for well & water pumps
Or see WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home
Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
See also WELL PUMP DIAGNOSTIC FAQs-2 - more diagnosis & repair questions and answers for well & water pumps
See WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home
Also see LOW WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - water pressure is weak
Also see NO WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - no water is being delivered>
Also see WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS FAQs - various odd water pressure problerms: comes and goes, air bubbles, other
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