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Troubleshoot & fix well pumps, set #4

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Well water pump repair FAQs:

This article, third in a series of well and water pump troubleshooting & repair FAQs, 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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Questions & Answers about Repairing Water Pumps

Two line jet pump  (C) Daniel Friedman

These questions & answers about diagnosing and fixing problems with well pumps or water pumps were posted originally at WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE

On 2017-09-02 by (mod) -

Kurt,

If you can try the InspectApedia search box on this page to find our article PUMP RUNS for NO REASON or for WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING you'll see the common causes of this problem and some recommended steps in its diagnosis and repair.

Please check that out and then don't hesitate to ask for further help.

On 2017-09-02 15:39:36.121965 by Kurt

My well pump runs when there is no demand for water. I have a backflow preventer and a shutoff valve to the entire house. The pump still runs?

On 2017-08-25 by (mod) - no water motor is running fine

Cliff

If you run a water pump "dry" it is likely to be damaged. Turn it off.

Then see NO WATER PRESSURE at https://inspectapedia.com/water/No_Water_Pressure.php for a series of diagnostic steps.
Let me know what questions remain.

On 2017-08-25 02:25:56.834417 by cliff

no water motor is running fine

On 2017-07-24 11:27:50.176723 by (mod) -

Dry the pump off thoroughly and then look carefully to see if you can see is actually where the water is coming from.

If the leak is at a plumbing pipe connection it should be possible to turn off the pump remove and repair or renew that connection to fix the leak.

If the water is coming from a seal between pipe sections the pump may be repairable by replacing a seal.

Also you will be able to double check that you are not seeing simple condensation which would be forming uniformly over the cold portion of the pump assembly.

On 2017-07-24 10:26:58.124586 by Krystal

My house water pump is leaking water from underneath

On 2017-07-15 21:53:42.546482 by Lisa

I have a metal bladderless tank with submursed pump which is about 4 years old. I had a pipe connection leak at the tank, pump was working when I cut the power to fix the pipe the tank emptied out Fixed the pipe turned back on the power and it wouldn't come back on checked my breaker, had to replaced but still not coming on. Cleaned the connectors on the pressure control switch, but still nothing. What else can I check? Im at a loss and not sure if I need an electrician or a well company.

Thank you in advanced.

On 2017-07-15 21:13:32.916242 by (mod) -

Shah

I can't say from just your brief text but I suspect that either the mini pump lacks the same lift capacity as the other pump you are describing, or the pump has a damaged impeller or low voltage or a leak.

On 2017-07-15 15:42:27.694546 by shahnawaz

why my minijet fixed to minicipal water supply is not able to pump water while other's motor pump are doing it, it can only pump water when water flows out of the tap fix net to it.????

On 2017-07-05 19:54:29.209508 by (mod) -

Richard

Using the search box above I scanned our website for "water pump runs for no reason" to find this article that probably explains what's going on in the case you describe:

WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING - at http://inspectapedia.com/water/Intermittent-Water-Pump-Cycling.php

Take a look and let me know what you think

On 2017-07-05 16:21:33.479488 by Richard

My water pump seems to go on at night or once during the day when no water is running. I have shut the toilets down to check to see if there are leaks or water running causing the pump to go on, also along with the sprinkler system. The house shower(3) are not leaking and neither is the outside shower. Do you think the pressure in the tank is causing this to happen? We have great water pressure in all showers and the pump seems to work perfect when the water is running during washing, showers and other water events. The water pump and tank are about 15-17 years old. Thanks for your help on this issue.

On 2017-06-23 16:29:10.537648 by (mod) -

Dina, please use the search box just above to find our article HOW TO PRIME A WELL PUMP


You'll see 2 approaches. Let me know how that goes for you and ask for more help if needed

On 2017-06-23 15:08:47.616324 by dian

we replaced the pump but can not get it to prime put at least 10 t0 15 gallons of water in the pump a little water ran out of the open faucet but only lasted a few seconds.

On 2017-06-22 08:13:21.629042 by (mod) -

Pat,

Because the situation you describe could include improper or unsafe electrical wiring I suggest asking a licensed electrician to take a look at the circuit and at the pump.

On 2017-06-21 18:25:25.092017 by Pat Taylor

I am experiencing unusually high electrical consumption from my well pump. Here are the particulars:

1. Normal electrical usage is less than 20 KWh per day.

2. Usage now = 160+ KWh per day.

3. Electric meter has well pump, irrigation pump and metal barn florescent lights on that meter.

3. Irrigation pump is shut off.

4. Well pump is 5 hp and is not on.

5. Pressure switch recently replaced on well pump in May, 2017.

Consumption dropped to normal for 3 days then spiked back upward to 160+ KWh.

6. Well pump is 17 years old.

7. Well technician checked electric usage problem 10 days ago and the electricity usage plummeted to normal for 4 days - now electrical usage has spiked again.

8. Well technician checked today and the pressure is 70 psi, pump not running intermittently every 15 minutes or so.

9. Technician is the person who drilled and installed the well 17 years ago and is familiar with the well operation. I hope you can help me as this electric utility bill is tracking at $450 per month vs a normal $29 per month bill. What can be the problem?

On 2017-06-21 02:01:03.717586 by Tracie

Pump is running but no water out of faucets

On 2017-06-19 17:20:57.019448 by Mike

My well has good water I can water up pretty quick by priming the had pump and it takes a few pumps the bam water. But when I switch the system over to the electric pump it seems like it runs for about 5 or 6 minutes and then it loses prime

I recently replace the pressure valve figuring this was the issue but no fix. Has great pressure and the system has no air leaks. So what else can it be

On 2017-05-22 23:43:32.201719 by (mod) -

Thanks for the good question, Paul.

No, the diffuser is fixed in the pump housing. Adapting an explanation of centrifugal water pump parts from a Michigan State University course I'll cite below, the impeller and diffuser are indeed the two key parts of a water pump.

The impeller "impels" water, that is, it moves it by spinning. Vanes on the impeller sling water or impart motion to the water as the impeller is spun by the pump motor, imparting velocity to the water in the pumping chamber.

Inside the same pump housing, the diffuser, often made of plastic, collects the liquid velocity of the water that has been moved by the impeller or "volute" (a synonym). Passages in the diffuser direct the flow of this moving water out of the pump chamber towards the entry into the piping system.

In some pumps that have multiple stages, water may be directed into a second impeller stage to get more water pressure. More stages in a centrifugal pump means that the pump can develop higher water pressure.

The number of impellers, the size or diameter of the eye or round opening forming the water exit point at the center of the impeller, the water velocity that is developed by the impeller and diffuser design, and the pump shaft rotation speed determine the pump's output - or really the horsepower that is needed to operate those parts.

"Centrifugal Pump" [Operation], [MSWord .doc file], Michigan State University, retrieved 2017/05/22, original source https://msu.edu/course/tsm/431/PUMP%20BASICS.doc This nice concise document from an MSU course explains centrifugal pumps, jet pumps, and submersible pumps in just a few pages.

On 2017-05-22 19:17:52.457479 by Paul L. Allen

Does the diffuser turn with the impeller on a well pump.

On 2017-05-19 16:18:35.727740 by (mod) -

Sure

Start at the electrical panel, find the breakers; an electrician there can certainly tell what is being delivered on that circuit both by visual inspection in the panel and by using a VOM or DMM.

On 2017-05-17 22:12:45.241248 by JMobley

I guess that could be a major problem, I am told the motor and pump are at the bottom of the 340 foot deep well and pulling it would be a major undertaking, that's why I was wondering if there was any way to tell what the voltage is by going off of how the box is wired, i.e. jumper placement and other wiring placement

On 2017-05-17 21:14:07.234734 by (mod) -

JM

Usually we can find a data tag right on the pump motor. That data will give the specifications for the motor's input voltage and wiring.

It is essential to use the 3 phase wiring diagram shown on the pump motor's data tag or plate.

Leeson and others note that the common 60hz voltages for three-phase motors are 230 volt, 460 volt and 230/460 volt. The latter means that some motors can be wired to run under either voltage level. (What does your data tag indicate?)

Leeson also offered this helpful remark:

Motors rated 115/208-230 volt and 208-230/460 volt, in most cases will operate satisfactorily at 208 volts, but the torque will be 20% - 25% lower. Operating below 208 volts may require a 208 volt (or 200 volt) motor or the use of the next higher horsepower, standard voltage motor. - www.leeson.com/TechnicalInformation/electrical.html

That torque reduction could explain the reduced output from your pump, but so could other problems like:
- a clogged inlet strainer
- low flow rate into the well
- damaged or partly blocked pump impeller

Without data tag information I think you would need to take the motor to an electric motor repair shop to have the technician examine the connections and wiring of the motor.

On 2017-05-17 19:10:27.990653 by JMobley

I have been trying for years to get my well fired up because I could not figure out the voltage. The main problem is that the 25KW Generator walked away years ago and my Dad has since passed away and I have no idea what the voltage is on the submersible pump.

The Magnetic Starter/Control Box is still in place.(I have pictures!). Here is what I know, it is a 10HP 3 Phase motor and the well pumps 100GPM, a few people have told me that it should be 208v or 230v or 240v while others say there is no way, I have had other people say it should be in the 416v to 440v volt range, which actually makes since if you see the manual I have for the pump(which has no name or manufacture, it is from the 70's).

After being convinced by a couple friends I finally rented a $200 generator to do a little test, which was successful, the well fired up with the switch on 220V 3 Phase, but only pushing out less than half of what it should be, I was to scared to switch the generator to 440V 3 Phase(I have pictures).

My question is, is there way to tell to what voltage this is without risking damage to my pump and motor? I want to figure this out before I purchase a very expensive generator. Any direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

The Mobley Family
Off the Grid in the White Mountains of Arizona

On 2017-05-11 15:35:36.626471 by (mod) -

That sounds like either a seized pu no motor or an electrical short circuit. I would leave the equipment turned off and call an electrician.

On 2017-05-11 15:06:52.038799 by Carole

My well keeps flipping my breaker and when I try to flip the breaker back on, it flips it again. What is causing it to do this?

On 2017-05-03 21:13:38.246366 by (mod) -

Jeremiah

Be sure to leave the pump circuit OFF - since you're describing a short circuit or a seized pump motor - we want to avoid an electrical fire.

Then you'll want to call a plumber who is experienced with pumps and pump diagnosis.

On 2017-05-03 16:56:47.042291 by Jeramiah

My well just stopped pumping water this morning, it still tries to kick on and dims the lights but no water.

On 2017-04-17 21:52:52.437227 by (mod) -

Kim:

Once a pump impeller keeps seizing it's really best to replace it or the whole pump as it will continue to be unreliable. I suspect a bearing is shot.

Anon:

It sounds to me as if your pressure switch isn't responding to the pressure drop - often that's due to debris clogging.

On 2017-04-17 14:25:11.155272 by Kim

I have a small submersible pump I use to transfer water from a tote, so it's only used every other month or so. The impeller keeps seizing, but my neighbour is always able to unseize it by hand. The impeller assembly is in a sealed case so I can't tear it down.

Any ideas how I can get this to spin, obviously I'm lacking the strength of my neighbour (who isn't here for a while) but I'm far from weak.

On 2017-04-17 12:57:45.695812 by Anonymous

Pumps runs for 20 minutes or more showing 48 lbs. pressure and then doesn't come back on until pressure is below 5 lbs

On 2017-04-17 02:07:49.503118 by Ralph

I must turn my well switch off in order for the tank to recover and water will than start flowing when switch is back on. I live in Connecticut and we have had a shortage of rain fall , but I had a new tank installed but did not help.

On 2017-04-15 22:56:46.043109 by (mod) -

Yes, Matt, use the Search InspectApedia website box just above to find WATER PRESSURE BOOSTER PUMP

but beware: if your water source is a low-yield private well then adding a more powerful pumping system may exhaust the well entirely

And before spending on a booster pump system, inspect by removing your faucet strainers and shower heads - if pressure and flow are good then the problem was clogging at those fixture ends.

On 2017-04-15 22:19:59.277920 by Matt

Pressure has always been low, but lately getting worse. Is there a presdure increasing pump one can install.

On 2017-04-15 21:18:41.941146 by (mod) -

Andrea:

Let's let the rain stop, the area around the well dry, and then let me know if the wet area remains.

On 2017-04-15 02:35:41.583773 by Andrea

I walked outside by my well today and found a puddle of water around the spout. It doesnt look to be leaking from the spout but the ground all around it is soaking wet. We have had a lot of rain so the water table is very high (2+feet higher than normal) and the spout is about 20 feet from the river.

Water pressure in my house is normal. I'm wondering if there is a leak underground, the well pressure is too high or if the high water table has anything to do with it. Has this happened to others?

On 2017-04-13 19:39:31.334982 by (mod) -


Alice Jones said:

Thank you for all this information for repairing water pumps. My pump has showed signs of low water pressure and I'm not entirely sure how to repair this problem. I plan on calling a professional tomorrow morning. Thank you for listing some potential problems, it lead me to believe that my pump needed to be fix

On 2017-03-28 21:59:21.523265 by (mod) -

Aw jeez.

On 2017-03-28 21:36:01.435941 by Sam

Quoting an old movie " the quarter back is toast " bought auto scaling clamp on amp meter, replaced cover turn on breakers and 8.1 amps draw on red, 24.7 amps on yellow. dont know why breakers didnt throw, new SqD breaker box is an easy fix, new pump not so much. $200 bucks in ( new box / amp meter ), just to find out need new pump..... Oh well.
Thanks danjoefriedman (mod)

On 2017-03-28 20:27:05.047121 by Sam

Sorry that was a typo on my part, is used a stick and a digital gauge, its 18psi. The pressure switch is closed sending power to box. With valve open next to the tank on a t, if the pump was on shouldn't I be getting water? I am heading to HD to buy a amp meter. thanks again, wish me luck.

On 2017-03-28 20:17:09.937328 by (mod) -

Sam:

regarding "tired gauged pressure tank 28 psi, pressure switch is 20psi on 40 psi off. "

That's a problem.

Your tank pressure is ABOVE your switch CUT-IN pressure - the switch will never turn on the pump.

With the pump power OFF and the tank empty of water, drop your tank pressure to 18 PSI - always needs to be 2 psi below the switch cut-in pressure.

On 2017-03-28 20:00:41.964802 by Sam

Just ran a ohm test again Blk-yellow 3 ohms, Red-Yellow 14.1 ohms, switched control boxes, new to old and back to new nothing. Closed shut off valve to house, opened valve next to pressure switch, ran pipe cleaner inside no debris or blockage, remaining water from pressure tank dripped out clear, tired gauged pressure tank 28 psi, pressure switch is 20psi on 40 psi off. ran volt test at pressure switch, and control box 237. I am at a lose.

On 2017-03-28 19:44:25.509808 by (mod) -

OK empty pressure tank - not waterlogged.

IF clicking in the control box is frequent I think that means the control is trying to turn the pump on and off too often - which I call short cycling. Other causes of that can include

- a bad relay in the control box
- a pressure switch that is debris clogged and stuck below the cut-in pressure - ie not sensing that system pressure is above the CUT-IN pressure setting
- a leak in well piping between house and pump (at the well piping bottom in the well)
- a pump that's defective and switching on and off on thermal overload (unusual)

This WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING DIAGNOSIS TABLE at http://inspectapedia.com/water/Water_Pump_Short_Cycle_Table.php may be easier for eyes that are tired of reading through text.

On 2017-03-28 19:31:21.292886 by Anonymous


Thanks, been reading to the point getting blurred vision. LOL. The pressure tank in empty, I opened a valve in the pump house that is just past pressure switch but before tank, and nothing.

On 2017-03-28 19:06:51.474790 by (mod) -

I'd use the search box above to find WELL PUMP SHORT CYCLING to read about the causes - often it's a waterlogged pressure tank.

On 2017-03-28 19:03:18.289892 by Sam

yes its a submersed pump. A new control box, any ideas ? thanks in advance

On 2017-03-28 18:53:47.928764 by (mod) -

Clicking in the pump control box suggests you have a submersible pump and it's short cycling. That can burn up a pump motor (more likely for an above-ground pump).

On 2017-03-28 18:25:52.471139 by SAM

Lost water, tested pressure switch ( working ) control box was making clicking noise. Tested pump wires with Ohm meter as per instruction on here , pump has continuity ( 8 ohms /17 ohms ) . Turned off power replaced control box/ turned breaker on, new control box making same clicking then humming noise, but no water.

On 2017-03-28 18:17:37.882322 by (mod) -

Royal

IF the pump is a one-line jet pump it's probably lost prime - search using the box above for HOW TO PRIME THE PUMP to see ways to address that.

When we are sure the well is full of water then

Usually the root problem is a failed foot valve in the well; occasionally it's a leak in well piping or even an air leak in the pump body itself.

On 2017-03-28 13:22:30.372140 by Royal


It just seems to not pull water into pump. Pump wont fill pressure tank.
We arent allowing it to run dry just while priming it noticing that it wont draw. Should we continue priming or check for something else.
New tank, new pump.

On 2017-03-28 04:37:08.799580 by Royal

Just replaced pressure tank to larger tank 20 gal instead of 7. Replaced convertible jet pump from 1/2 hp to 3/4 hp. Now the pump doesnt seem to be drawing water from well.. Lots of water well is not dry. All pruducts above the check valve are new. Check valve is year old not sure how old foot valve is. Why would the pump not draw water...
Thanks- all primed out

On 2017-03-27 18:44:20.469577 by (mod) -

If the pump was running "dry", depending on the pump type it might be damaged. You'd know of gross damage right away: on return to use the pump would not develop full pressure.

Some water pumps such as Grundfoss new SCALA2 pressure booster pump that doesn't use a pressure tank includes an built-in protection to keep the pump from running dry-damage.

On 2017-03-27 18:42:09.307723 by william haynie

My well pump failed after a local water company changed the filter. They had me turn on all faucets on in the house until there was no water running. Then turned off the water at the inline valve. They did not turn off the pump. When they opened the valve there was no water. Did this proceedure kill the pump.

On 2017-03-25 11:58:59.923461 by (mod) -

Anon


If when you open a tap no water is delivered then the pump is running "dry" and should be shut off immediately - as dry operation can damage a pump.

Using the search box just above to search InspectApedia for "pump won't stop running" finds this key diagnosis and repair advice
WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING at http://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Pump_Runs_On.php

Please take a look at that article then let us know if questions remain. Keep me posted. Daniel

On 2017-03-25 03:42:32.240888 by Anonymous

the pump is continuously running though not in use and no leaks

On 2017-03-19 21:40:59.617862 by (mod) -

Jonnie, if you use the search box just above to find WELL PUMP SHORT CYCLING you'll read the various causes of the trouble. Perhaps the air in your tank is still insufficient (it can be tricky to drain a tank fully) or there may be another blockage such as a dirty water filter or a blockage at the tank inlet.

On 2017-03-19 13:30:30.183238 by Jonnie Hunt

Water well pump is surging on and off. Have drained tank and refilled, but continues to cycle.

On 2017-03-05 14:57:49.904696 by Nellie

The pressure gage at pressure tank surges from 0 to 100 System drops pressure completely leaving no water in the house. Is this more likely pressure control switch it pressure tank

On 2017-03-03 22:47:52.884392 by (mod) -

Approaches to priming the pump is described

at http://inspectapedia.com/water/Prime_The_Well_Pump.php
and
at http://inspectapedia.com/water/Prime_The_Pump_by_Hose.php

Consider that if your well pipe foot valve is leaky you may be just pouring water into the well from your priming bucket. Tryt the garden hose approach in the second article above, if you can.

On 2017-03-03 19:04:28.733872 by Anonymous

We have a check valve but pump still won't prime. Had it priming a little bit yesterday but stopped all of a sudden. He has been working on this heater for 4 days. Please help before he pulls out all of his hair

On 2017-03-02 22:46:49.823990 by Anonymous

Check for a seized motor, or shorted winding, both evidenced by high current draw.

On 2017-03-02 22:21:23.562559 by Anonymous

Pump won't start

On 2017-02-26 16:55:38.499855 by (mod) -

Sounds as if the original problem was not properly diagnosed. Check the water level and flow rate in the well. Search Inspectapedia for WELL FLOW RATE for details

On 2017-02-26 08:12:38.690982 by Gustavo

I had my well pump replaced last week and the water pressure was great again. However, the days ago the pressure dropped again.

On 2017-02-25 17:33:47.658274 by (mod) -

Overload tripping, if wiring and controls are intact, is likely to mean a seized pump motor or impeller.

On 2017-02-25 17:23:36.248331 by Anonymous

Pump won't run, turn it on trips over load after a few seconds

On 2017-02-13 21:09:49.782563 by (mod) -

Jay

I would first look for a closed or clogged pipe, elbow, valve, or fill control at toilet or clogged strainer at the sink

On 2017-02-13 16:19:59.984795 by Jay

Water pressure is fine,except in the bedroom in between the tiolet an the sink

On 2017-02-12 18:25:31.004786 by (mod) -

Tap the gauge gently; does it move? It's probably debris-clogged and needs replacement. It won't affect how your pump runs but the same clogging can foul up the pressure control switch so watch for a switch that doesn't respond to a drop in water pressure.

...


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 WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home

Or see these

Water Pressure & Water Pump Article Series Contents


Suggested citation for this web page

WELL PUMP REPAIR 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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