Copper tubing on pressure control switch (C) Daniel Friedman Water Pump Short Cycling Diagnostic FAQs

  • WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING FAQs - CONTENTS: FAQs about problems with water pumps or well pumps that turn on too frequencly: frequent or rapid on-off cycling of the pump. Diagnose & fix water pump that cycles on too frequently
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about diagnosing problems water pumps, well pumps, pressure tanks that show up as pump cycling on & off too often or too rapidly

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Water pump short cycling diagnostic FAQs:

This article provides answers to frequently-asked questions about how to diagnose short-cycling problems with a water pump or well pump.

If the well pump runs too often or cycles on and off rapidly these diagnostic questions should help troubleshoot the problem.

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Questions & answers about well pumps or water pressure pumps that run too often (short cycling)

WellMate  fiberglass water pressure tank (C) D Friedman J HafnerQuestion: Drastic water pump short cycling every 3-4 seconds, sometimes pump won't come on at all, loss of house water pressure

Mark said: Ok so I have a few problems here. First off my pump is short cycling drastically as in I flush my toilet and within 3-4 seconds I hear the pump kick on. Second, when it kicks on it only stays on for a few seconds before turning off then it only stays off for a couple more seconds before turning back on.

And recently about once a day or once every couple days the pump wont come on at all and I have to go down and tap the pressure control switch housing for it to come on. By the time I realize that, we have pretty much lost all pressure in the house due to normal use.

I haven't quite nailed down any tying reasons or times when this happens like my wife doing laundry or something along those lines. When the pump is working we have plenty of pressure, almost too much (water sprays out hard and makes a mess when doing dishes - "lol"). I have looked through this site and have found a bunch of useful information but am overwhelmed and don't have a clue where to start. Any guidance in this matter would be greatly appreciated. - Mark

(Jan 27, 2013) Hunter said: We have a cistern filled by city water and a submersible pump which pumps to a bladder tank, which supplies the house with pressured water. The water flow from faucets has began to pulse so inspected the pump setup outside and observed the pump shorty cycling. I purchased and installed a new pressure switch thinking it would be a cheap,easy repair, but afterwards, the pump continued to switch on and off, every second. Does this sound like something is clogged?

(Apr 2, 2014) firstclasslimo said: My pump keeps cycling every 1/2 second for about 10 to 15 pulses( on/off/on/off etc.)when it reaches its cut out set at 58lbs psi.with a differential set at aprox. 63 to 65 psi. I can't find a happy medium to shut this thing off. When it does shut off, pressure is stable with no loss,that is IF all faucets are closed: but if shower or faucet is running;the pump won't shut off. I have a new pressure tank with bladder, new pressure switch, new pressure gauge(0/100 range).What do I do? Not sure if i have any valves like a check valve or foot valve etc.installed. Should I ? This is not a new system it used to work fine then started acting up,so i replaced pressure switch as contacts were carboned bad. Didn't fix. Now I can't get thing set right.

Reply: Your pump is rapidly short-cycling and may be overheating, this can lead to a submersible pump motor going off entirely then back on under control of a built-in thermal overload switch

Mark and Hunter:

You are describing a classic well pump rapid short cycling problem. Eventually that condition can actually damage the well pump, resulting in less water pressure and flow than previously. You should be able to obtain satisfactory water pressure with the factory settings of your pressure control switch, typically 20/40 or 30/50 cut-in/cut-out.

Mark I suspect that the reason you sometimes lose all water pressure under these conditions is that the rapid on-off cycling of the water pump is contributing to an overheating pump motor. Many electric motors include an internal thermal overload switch. When the motor is too hot, the switch turns off the motor. Later when the motor cools down on its own, the thermal reset switch resets and the pump will run again.

The rapid on-off short cycling well pump may also have led to burning on the contacts of the pressure control switch. That's why sometimes you have to tap the switch to get the pump to run. There could be other pressure control switch problems such as clogging of its pressure sensor due to debris in the water line.


My best advice about diagnosing short cycling is in the article above. I'm not sure just what's going on in the case you describe but I've seen similar problems with a blocked or dirty water filter, mostly-closed water shutoff valve, or a dirt-clogged pressure control switch sensor.

The stable pressure with pump off argues against a leaky foot valve or piping leak. I don't rule out a sticky check valve or foot valve intake but I'd start with the other items I listed first.

Question: pressure goes up and down fast

(June 26, 2015) pozzi said:
when water is running the pressure goes up and down fast


Poz you are describing classic well pump short cycling that is usually caused by one of the problems described beginning at WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING CAUSES

Or if you want a more concise diagnostic guide to short cycling pumps see WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING DIAGNOSIS TABLE

Question: water pressure goes up and down

(July 15, 2012) me said:
i have drilled well. when pump runs it will have up and down presser then will shut its self off. bought a new one replaced it
and the new one is doing the same. checked everything.


Me: Well we must not have checked absolutely everything or the problem would not be continuing. You didn't indicate what type of pump nor what's in the well. For example, if a well has a poor flow rate a tailpiece in the well, intended to prevent the pump from burning up by pumping dry, will reduce the pump output to the house when water level drops below a certain point in the well - that alone can cause variations in delivery of well water; So can voltage swings, sticky check valves, &c. I'd ask for help from a professional at this point.

Question: pump runs as soon as we flush the toilet

Booster pump on city water (C) InspectApedia reader R3 July 2015 AUTHOR: Ron (no email)

COMMENT:Have a home that has a cistern which fills up via small amount of pressure from city. We have a pump that draws from the cistern for all household needs.

We find that every time we flush the pump gets activated. We have low flow toilets that consume about a 1.5 gallons per flush. We only notice pump running mostly after flushes.

Is the pressure tank too small. Tank looks to about 4 gallons. Can a bigger tank be used? Thank you in advance for any info. Here is a picture. [Above - click to enlarge any image]


Except for "tankless" water pressure booster pump installations, a water pressure tank including the one I think I see at the right in your photo should certainly give more total draw-down in gallons than that needed to fill a toilet. Typically toilets are using from 1 to 3L of water while the draw down volume should be 2-4 times that. So more likely your water pressure tank is waterlogged.

The diagnostics at SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP should be what you need. Let us know if after reading that you need more assistance.


Question: Short cycling well pump, bad pressure settings or bad check valve?

I think my check valve is bad, letting air back to well. Our well pump runs for 3 seconds shuts off for 3 seconds. It does this over and over. I am thinking pressure settings on bladder tank might not be right? - Tim.

Reply: Check for a bad snifter valve and/or a water-logged pressure tank


Before trying to change the pressure settings at the pressure control switch, you should check for a water-logged water pressure tank or another cause of well pump short cycling.

Take a look at the article SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP - usually the first thing to check is loss of air in the pressure tank; it's true that a bad foot valve or check valve that causes water to bleed back into the well (and thus the tank pressure to drop) can cause the well pump to cycle more often, but that alone wouldn't get us to cycling every 3 seconds. That's more likely a lost air charge or a clog that is not letting the pump get water into the pressure tank;

The relation between lost air charge and lost well prime might be that in a bladderless pressure tank system the more often the well pump cycles the faster we lose the air charge in some pressure tanks.

Also, if your well uses a submersible pump and a water tank that does NOT use an internal bladder, your system may include a snifter valve that is supposed to be letting air into the well piping - as a means of keeping the air charge in the water tank. If the snifter valve has failed (as they can by debris clogging) that could explain a waterlogged pressure tank and a short cycling well pump.

Comment: Draining the water tank, adding air, and adjusting the pressure control switch solved the short cycling water pump problem

Bob said:

Problem: Pump cycling every few minutes for months....Your question and answers solved my bladder type pressure tank cycling problem. I drained the tank and added air to 28 psi (was below 20 psi). I filled/pressurized tank and adjusted limits to 30 (low) and 50 (high). And WOW, now it takes 5 toilet flushings before pump kicks on.

I tested the pressure tank psi after pump clicked off and my gauge read 53 psi. So my problem was low air in the pressure tank and limits out of adjustment. Thanks for your instructions that anyone can follow and it saved me lots of money for a plumber.


Bob: Thanks for the nice note; we work hard to make our information useful and unbiased; I'm thrilled it worked for you; we continue to welcome questions or suggestions for our content as together we're smarter than working alone.

Question: My water pressure drops too quickly and reaches cut-out again too quickly

I have a submersible pump and a bladder pressure tank. I have the cut in at 30 and the cut out at 50. My well seem to a lot. If I watch the gauge when pressure hits 30 the pump turns on until it hits 50, but it take only a few seconds for the pump to drop back down to 30, this is with just running a faucet. Should it be cycling that fast? - Robert 7/7/2011

(Oct 23, 2012) Lori said: My water pump/tank turns off and on every 1 min 38 seconds and I hear a brief water trickle in the tank. This is when no water is running in the house. Is that low air in the tank too? or a hole in the bladder?

(Jan 20, 2013) David said: our system is extremely noisy at night. there is a continuous 'clunk clunk' every few minutes, like the system wants to come on, but changes it's mind. there is no water being used. help, my wife can't sleep.

(Oct 31, 2012) Sue said: We can hear the short cycling and what we've noticed is the pressure gauge does not move at all. Is this the problem?

(Dec 17, 2012) Anonymous said: HELP My pump comes on with every flush, is that normal?

Reply: How to tell the difference between water pressure tank is waterlogged, a leak or running water problem, and a clogged pressure control switch sensor port

For fixing a waterlogged water pressure tank

This topic home page organizes key articles on water pressure diagnosis for a private well:


People who don't want to read explanations and just want some diagnostic pointers


Question: my well pump has been running more often that it should and has been louder ...

Pump has been running more often than it should & it has been louder than usual. Never lost any pressure just a little noise. Two days ago the breaker tripped. I reset the breaker and it has been fine. Again no pressure lost. This morning lost pressure and now have no water to the house at all. I checked the breaker and it was not tripped. Where do I start? - Michele S. 3/15/12

I am moving into a house that has been vacant for several years. Prior to the house being vacated, the well was operational; however, the water pressure was not consistent. It would cycle from good pressure for 15 minutes or so to low pressure for 3-5 minutes and back to good pressure.
So now it is several years down the road. I had the electricity turned on, and when I flipped the breaker I heard a sound like the electric kicking on in the control box. After about 10 seconds it clicked off. Then back on after 10-15 seconds. Then off after 5-10 seconds. And so on. It never tripped the breaker. I did flip the breaker to keep it from cycling on and off. Just wondering where to start and what to look at/have looked at. - (Mar 6, 2014) Paula


Michelle, several problems can cause well pump short cycling on and off too often, though the most common one is a water-logged pressure tank.

See WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING for steps in diagnosing and fixing this trouble.


What are we seeing now Paula - no water or intermittent water?

If the switch is not turning on the pump that's one diagnostic route;

If the switch turns on the pump but you are not getting water that's a different one.

For those sorts of trouble see WATER PUMP DIAGNOSTIC TABLE

If you've got water, rapid clicking on and off of the pressure switch, if the pump is a submersible unit in the well, could be telling you the pressure tank is waterlogged. see the WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING link given above.

If you lose water for a time that could be a well flow problem OR a pressure switch clog problem. For that trouble see WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL REPAIR

Paula's follow-up:

No water, no pressure. I don't believe the pump is coming on. I know nothing about wells (obviously) and am wondering if there is something to look for in a situation where everything has been off for several years. The pump is submersible (I am guessing because there is electrical wiring at the well cap). I don't believe there is any water in the pressure tank...the pressure guage reads 0 and the tank sounds hollow/empty when I knock on it.


No water, and pump won't start: I'd start by calling a licensed plumber who has experience with pump and pump control repairs; s/he will doubtless confirm the presence of electrical power, check the pump control switch, then check the pump wiring and possibly the pump motor. To check yourself see NO WATER PRESSURE

Question: water keeps kicking off (or turning on and off)

(Feb 25, 2014) Kathy Kerr said:

Have well water. Water keeps kicking off. New pressure switch, correct amount of pressure in tank. What's wrong? DESPERATE!

Have not taken pump out of well. Have not checked the well at all except to look down in and saw water. Have only checked pressure switch to pressure tank and made sure there is 28# of pressure in pressure tank.

(Mar 28, 2014) cherese said:

hi, I have an artesian well. my pump keeps coming on then off every 2 mins. when we checked we have no water coming into the tank. I know it's prob a problem in the well itself but what could it be?


Kathy & Cherese,, in the event that the problem may not be the pump (though as yet I wouldn't rule out a wiring problem) you may want to take a look at


Or see WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR where we begin diagnosis of a broader range of problems. The live link to that article is in the left column near the top of this page.

Cherese I'm a little confused in that an artesian well sends water to the surface without pump pressure;

Anyway, if you are no longer obtaining water from the well the problem could be in the piping

- a disconnected or leaky well pipe
- a dirt or soil clog
- a check valve failure and clog

or in the well

- dropped water level, loss of artsian flow, or a fallen or failed well spool or seal inside the well

- or something else we've not thought of

Question: well pump shuts on and off

(Nov 3, 2014) Anonymous said:

pump runs for 5 min then stops for about 5 min

(Nov 20, 2014) Anonymous said:

my pump keep shuting off all the time can only get like 2 min of water at a time pump will kick on and then right back off

(Nov 21, 2014) Anonymous said:

pressure comes and goes not steady.


Without more details we don't know that the behaviour you describe is abnormal

I would start with the diagnostics at WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING found at the article index at More Reading.

Question: well pump won't pump water

(July 31, 2014) Henri Picard said:

Small well pump connected to river. Pump will not pump, so I changed the pressure switch. It still will not pump. But if I by-pass the pressure switch, the pump works perfectly, but will not stop of course.
Any idea what the problem is?



Your comment suggests that the pump and its wiring are OK, which leaves the pressure switch OR the ability of the switch to accurately sense system pressure. If you changed the switch and wired it correctly but it won't turn on the pump, and assuming you've checked for power, I suspect the switch is not sensing water pressure - e.g. if the mounting tube is clogged or the switch is not in the proper place.

Reader follow-up:

... thanks for your response. Not certain what you mean by "the switch is not in the proper place". I have changed the switch twice before and it has never been a problem. When I first replaced this last pressure switch; the pump would give me water for about 5 minutes and then the water pressure would drop to zero. If I then did not use the pump for a few hours; I could then get water but again for only 5 minutes. I checked the air pressure in the tank and it is 20 pounds.


IF the switch worked in the location previously you're OK. Some installers might mount the pressure sensor too far from the pressure tank or on piping that can be turned off by control valves - interfering with its operation.

The latter part of your comment certainly suggests a very low flow well - recovering during the time you don't use it - in fact it sounds inadequate.

I add that

Some pressure control switches include a pump protection feature that will shut down the switch if the pump is drawing air. Some such switches have a manual re-set lever.


The fact that you've changed the switch twice suggests a systemic problem: switch burnups from short-cycling or dirt/debris clogging for example.

Reader follow-up:

From Henri, the pressure switch has a small metal lever on it's side to turn the switch on and off. it makes it easier to prime the pump when I put it in the river in the spring.

From your comment; "Some pressure control switches include a pump protection feature that will shut down the switch if the pump is drawing air. Some such switches have a manual re-set lever."
When I by-pass the switch, to pump works very well. Would it still do that if there was drawing air?
Thanks for being here because I live in the country and it is a long way to a water pump company and I would not want to have to pay for a service call.

I am not a mechanical type of person, but your comments made me think. I took off the small clear plastic hose that goes to the pressure switch; I took the fittings off and noticed rust. So I cleaned it up and the pump now works.
The only problem is that the pump come on every 5 seconds. It starts with good pressure but then diminishes for 5 seconds down to almost no pressure and then starts again. If I turned up the cut-off screw would that work? My pressure tank is a very small one, probably the smallest tank available.


No Henri, you're quite right. If the pump were pumping air, that is not able to obtain water, it would misbehave regardless of the use of the pressure switch or direct-wiring to turn on the unit. If the pump provides water at good pressure when you omit the pressure control switch then we think the pump and wires to the pump are OK and we're back to the switch.

The small plastic hose that goes to the pump is how it senses water pressure. If your system is under pressure and you disconnect one end of the hose you ought to see water squirting out of the supply pipe. If you don't, either there's a valve closed or something is clogged.

Re Henri's last update - running pump but short cycling:

DO NOT try to fix that by changing the pressure switch cut-in/cut-out adjustment.

The problem is a short-cycling pump, caused by one of several possible problems (such as a waterlogged pressure tank or a piping leak) discussed in these two articles found in More Reading links TOPIC INDEX you will find


Reader follow-up:

(Aug 3, 2014) Henri Picard said:

Mr. Friedman, thank you so much for your comments. I am not mechanically minded and had no idea what to do to remedy my pump problem. But with your comments and direction I was able to read the articles you recommended, and after having read them many times, I was able to solve the short-cycle problem


Question: pump starts and stops at random times

9/6/14 Anonymous said:

My water stops in shower at sink or hose at random times and starts back after a min or 2. This has been going on for more then a year. The water may stop 2 times a day or twice a week just random


Please see the diagnosis procedure at WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING


Question: well short cycles but the tank pressure reads 50 psi

My well has been short cycling recently so I checked the tank pressure. It reads 50 psi. Wondering what is the cause. Could it still be waterlogged tank? - Chris 11/18/2011



indeed in a waterlogged tank the pressure will still go up to the cutoff point - but you'll see a very short drawdown time from when you turn on water in the building to when the pump has to turn back on - that's "short cycling" as we describe above.

Question: well pump loses pressure too quickly when water is taken from the system - drops in 10 seconds

My well pump seems to lose pressure (cut in?) too quickly when water is drawn from the well system. When the water is turned on the pressure drops from 60 PSI to 40 PSI within 10 seconds. Once the system reaches 40 PSI the switch is activated & pressure is restored within a minute of the water being turned off. I believe that I have a tank with a bladder (it an Amtrol tank) & I've tested the pressure of the tank when the well system is active (it reads 38 PSI).

I've also tested the pressure after cutting the power to the system & draining the tank (0 PSI). I'm not sure why my tanks loses pressure so quickly & i'm afraid the well motor will burn out soon if this is not corrected. Is this an issue involving the thank bladder? Any advice? - Anon 3/5/2012



When the pressure drops rapidly as you describe it suggests that

- there was inadequate air in the pressure tank to deliver a larger quantity of water at higher pressure - that's then turning on your pump at 40

- there are other causes of sudden pressure drop seen right at the plumbing fixture, such as clogged house piping, but that wouldn't correlate with seeing the pressure fall at the tank and pump controls;

Take a look at the air charge level in your tank, or if it's a bladder type tank, look for a burst bladder.

Reader follow-up:

Thanks Joe,
I recharged my tank & everything seems to be working properly now. I also think I found the culprit that caused the pressure drop. After refilling the tank, I could hear a slight hiss coming from the Schrader valve.

I'm assuming this is a slow leak & is what caused the drop in pressure (I recently purchased the home where the well is located). Any ideas for correcting this issue? I'm going to research it now, but would like to avoid buying a new tank if possible. In the meantime, i guess my only fix it to monitor the tank pressure & recharge as needed.

Question: water pump turns on and off a lot, and water temperature in the shower then fluctuates

I have a water pump that seems to turn off and on a lot when we run water, especially in the shower. When the pump turns on, our water temperatures fluctuate. We thought it was the water heater so we replaced that. Water temperatures appear better but the fluctuation is still there. We do have a leaking water hose connection outside of our home but just drips.

Could that explain the water pump running a lot? Since replacing our water heater we also lost some of our water pressure on the hot water, cold water is fine. Can you explain what could be causing the temperatures to fluctuate when the water pump turns on? Our water source is spring fed if that helps at all. Thanks! - Jennifer Beckler 10/3/2012



A dripping hose will cause the water pump to turn on intermittently but infrequently as a drip will take a long time, perhaps hours, before it alone can drop water pressure in the tank enough to turn on the pump (and that's assuming no other water is being run in the building).

However take a look at the gap between cut-in and cut-out pressures in your system. If that gap is too big, say more than 20 psi, at the low-pressure end of the cycle the incoming water into your hot water tank will be at lower pressure, thus the outgoing hot water will also be at a lower pressure; even though the cold pressure is also dropping correspondingly, that may affect the hot-cold mix so that you notice it in the shower.

If the gap is 20 psi or less then I wonder if there is a restriction or blockage in the hot water piping system - a flow restrictor or an accidental blockage such as a solder blob at a pipe connection or a valve partly closed. If so, the lower flow rate permitted through the blockage point will exaggerate the effect of the low-pressure end of the pump cycle.

Question: surging water pressure cause & cure

(Jan 20, 2013) Sam said:

We are in the process of changing the water pressure tank. I noticed yesterday that when running water we would get a blast of strong water then it would go back to normal. It does seem to be waterlogged. Would this cause it or do we have a bigger problem with our submersible well pump?


Sam, I suspect that you are seeing the surge in pressure when the water pump is running, and the more modest pressure when water is being delivered by air pressure in the water pressure tank. I'd start by draining the tank and making sure it had a proper air charge.

Question: Pump runs 60 sconds on toilet flush but runs continuously with other uses

(May 5, 2014) H20 said:

when we flush the toilet or Use the kitchen Faucet the pumps runs for exactly 60 seconds but when we used the washing machine or Take a shower it runs continuously or until the water is turned off then it runs a Min longer before shutting off . i have a 2hr starite on a 30 gallon flotech.



When your system is drawing water at a fast enough rate the pump will run continuously and flow rate will be ultimately the pump's capacity.

When your system is drawing water at less than the pump's total output capacity the pump will "get ahead" and will be able to raise pressure in the system to the cut-off point set in the pressure control switch.

Check your tank and pump frequency to decide if it's short cycling - as described in the article above.

Question: short cycling well pump, very short on cycles, no pressure tank

5/18/2014 ohwell said:

i had a house fire 2 years ago..well pump has not run since today..i had my well pump directly wired from the temp power pole to the pump feeding a wellstand..pump goes on and off at 10 second intervals ..i can hear it down the well pipe..water will run sometimes as the pump cuts in..well is 100' deep..water was brown at first and seemed to be strong untill pump started cutting out..did well pump sit to long??



It sounds as if your pump is short cycling for one of the rasons discussed in the article above. Take a look at the "More Reading" articles listed above and try one of these two diagnostic articles



ohw said:

i discovered today the pump comes on for about 4 seconds full blast and then cuts out for approximately 40 seconds then repeats..i have 30 amp breaker on it..theres no pressure tank..system was configured for a pressure in the process of rebuilding and just wanted to have water for my RV on construction site..i have a simple plug for a switch to turn the well pump on and off..will read the topics you suggested..thanks

after reading the links above im still at a loss still for the reasons ive explained..the system was perfect before the fire..i cut excisting hose shorter in case of blockage and moved the water line over to the side of the property where i put an 8' wellstand 4'up/down..i have a call into the local guy here..its the long weekend still..i will give him a call again tommorow

Reply: no pressure tank?

Well thanks for reading the links I suggested.

You are describing short cycling; I'd be quite interested if we've come up with another cause that's not been cataloged.

When a water pump is "on" for only 4 seconds I suspect that it's pressurizing the system to the pressure switch's cut-off pressure too quickly. Typically that's caused by
- a waterlogged pressure tank
- a water filter that's dirty
- a clogged outlet at the piping or tank
- a water tank bladder that's stuck to itself, not admitting water into the tank

On odd occasions pump behaviour such as you describe could be caused by debris clogging the pressure sensing port on the switch.

When there is NO pressure tank, as in your system, it'd make sense that the pump would run only for seconds before reaching the cutoff limit.

Short cycling the pump risks burning it up.

Question: water pump starts too frequently - like every 5 seconds

(Dec 11, 2014) Anonymous said:
how do I fix a water pump that starts to frequently when we use water like every 5 seconds


An explanation and suggested solutions are in SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP. Please take a look there and then let me know if questions remain. Thanks.

Question: water pump producing surging water pressure

(July 10, 2015) Gene said:
With the water running, and right before the pump kicks in, the pressure drops significantly for a couple seconds. Then when the pump turns on it surges. It's not much of a problem except when your in the shower you get a shot of cool water with that surge then back to normal. What could cause this?

19 July 2015 Marsha said:
This morning, my boyfriends water went off during a showere. It stayed off about 5 min. Then came back on. Jumped back in to rinse and after 5 minutes, it went off again. What would cause this with a well?

Thanks Marsha


Perhaps a sticking pressure control switch - that in turn can be caused by debris clogging


Question: water keeps kicking off (or turning on and off)

(Feb 25, 2014) Kathy Kerr said:

Have well water. Water keeps kicking off. New pressure switch, correct amount of pressure in tank. What's wrong? DESPERATE!

Have not taken pump out of well. Have not checked the well at all except to look down in and saw water. Have only checked pressure switch to pressure tank and made sure there is 28# of pressure in pressure tank.

(Mar 28, 2014) cherese said:

hi, I have an artesian well. my pump keeps coming on then off every 2 mins. when we checked we have no water coming into the tank. I know it's prob a problem in the well itself but what could it be?


Kathy & Cherese,, in the event that the problem may not be the pump (though as yet I wouldn't rule out a wiring problem) you may want to take a look at


Or see WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR where we begin diagnosis of a broader range of problems. The live link to that article is in the left column near the top of this page.

Cherese I'm a little confused in that an artesian well sends water to the surface without pump pressure;

Anyway, if you are no longer obtaining water from the well the problem could be in the piping

- a disconnected or leaky well pipe
- a dirt or soil clog
- a check valve failure and clog

or in the well

- dropped water level, loss of artsian flow, or a fallen or failed well spool or seal inside the well

- or something else we've not thought of

Question: the well pump runs but no water comes out, prime has not been lost

Above ground pump two line. it has water comong out of the primer plug when removed. i replace the plug and turn on the pump no water. cloged jets? - Fred 8/1/12

(June 6, 2015) shaharyar said:
my water pump is running everything is good , i filled thr pump with water but no water is comming only air is coming


Fred, I agree that it sounds as if the problem is not a lost prime at the pump; but quite a few other problems can explain no water, such as

Fred: if the pump was working OK Previously I doubt that the root problem is "weakness" in the pump, and more likely guess that its impeller was damaged or there is a partial clog. But if the pump never worked well then your well guy's suggestion sounds quite reasonable.

Reader follow-up

Well i had a well man look at it and he got us water. He said the pump was week and a cheep one. A new good one would be over $500. No charge this time. thanks for your help. - Fred


Fred if the pump were "weak and cheap" since new, I don't understand why it used to work but now no longer does. Perhaps the pump has become damaged as I described above.

Question: we find water on the floor under our well pump

Our water pump is working fine (knock on wood) but there is some water on the floor underneath/next to the pump. Normally our basements leaks when a big rain storm hits, but it hasn't rained that much to warrant this much water on the floor. I.E.: it's not drying up like it normally does. Is this a sign that our water pump is on it's way out? If so, how much does it cost to replace a water pump that is connected to a private well? - Stephanie 8/14/12



First wipe off all of the wet components and surfaces so that you can see where water is coming from.

Next, when the pump is running, look for leaks at the pump assembly or piping fittings nearby; also look for leaks at or around the water pressure tank

If you don't see any active water leaks watch for condensation forming and dripping off of the piping, pump, or water pressure tank.

I would not replace the pump before you have an accurate diagnosis of what's going on. It would be a mistake to replace the pump only to find that the problem was a plumbing pipe connection leak.

Question: well pump is short cycling every 2-3 seconds and we are not finding air pressure in the bladder. I keep emptying air out and the problem remains

Good morning, I have a rubber bladder tank, water is pumped from a deep water well. We seem to have a problem, the tank was fitted but kept having to be bled monthly as air was in the tank, last week we emptied the tank and found no air pressure in the bladder, so we pressured up the bladder, and now we find its recycling all the time every 2-3 secs when running a house tap. I emptied the air out of the bladder, but re-cycling fault is still there. Help please. I am not a plumber, and there is no decent plumber here in the Philippines! - John Nieurzyla

(July 25, 2012) Lorne said:

N.E. Ontario camp. Pump recycles every second when tap is on. Pressure tank seems to be half full or more with water. Cannot measure pressure with guage most of the time. Cannot release air when depress small needle in air valve. Is the air valve and/or diaphram shot ? Pump kicks in at 25 PSI. Runs up to 40/50 PSI, then quickly slips down to just over 30 PSI. Can't tell what pressure in system ?

(June 1, 2014) Joe T. said:

My well pump cycles on off every second when it cuts on at 20 psi but it still fills the tank and cuts off at 40 psi. I checked the pressure in the bladder and it is 18 psi. When doing this I obviously drained the tank and when I turned the pump back on it ran as normal no cycling. After that when it cuts on at 20 psi it short cycles again on and off every second as its filling. If I turn off the breaker and let the tank run down to no pressure it will again work normally when turned back on.

No cycling. The next time you run water and it reaches the 20 psi cut in pressure it short cycles every second as its pumping up to 40 psi. The short cycling is every second a constant on and off but the tank will fill. I replaced the pressure switch but it did not fix the problem. I turned off the breaker and ran the tank down to no pressure and again it pumped as it should no cycling. However in normal operating mode on at 20 off at 40 it short cycles every second as filling the tank.

(June 8, 2014) Chuck said:

My water pressure has surges. Can hear it surging every couple of seconds. When I look at the pressure gauge it is bouncing back and forth from about 30 to sixty, kicking the pump on and off quickly. Also, have been running out of water about once a week. I was wondering if low water in the well, might cause the surging, or if a bad tank that is surging could be the cause of the total loss of water. Could the well have water and the tank just not be filling up for some reason or more than likely well going bad? Thanks.

Reply: Check for a water-logged pressure tank.
Figure out if we're talking about excess air or simply lost air charge in the water pressure tank


Normally we want air in the water pressure tank to avoid well pump short cycling and we do not bleed that air out. And you are reporting well pump short cycling - which can be caused by loss of air charge in the water tank. So if that's what's going on with your system you should not be bleeding air out, you should be making sure that your pressure tank has the proper charge of air remaining in the tank. See WATER TANK AIR HOW MUCH TO ADD.

If you are sure that you're really seeing excess air entering the water pressure tank, then take a look at AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES. Excess air entering the bladder in a water pressure tank suggests that there is a leak in the well piping that is admitting air, or the water level in the well is abnormally low and the pump is sending up a mix of air and water.

Lorne I'd like to be more helpful than I can with just your question, but my best guesses at possible causes of pump short cycling are in the article above. If you think your tank is waterlogged, another test besides trying to release air would be to see if the tank feels heavy - full of water. Just don't jiggle it around so much as to cause a leak. It sounds like a water logged tank. You can measure water system pressure by buying or making a simple pressure gauge that attaches to a hose faucet anywhere in the home.


This rapid cycling can't be good for the pump nor control.

An obstruction in piping, a partly closed valve, or a waterlogged tank can all cause rapid cycling.

Can you confirm that the tank is actually "filling" - that should mean that you have a draw down of 5-15 gallons of water over 30 seconds to a minute or three ?

Reader follow-up

Yes the tank is filling and it takes a significant time to draw down. I would say the draw down is just like it always was 1 to 2 minutes. Its a 20 gal tank. Since my first post I discovered that if I
turn the breaker off and let it get down to about 17 psi and flip the breaker on it pumps up normally. If I flip the breaker at 20 psi the normal cut in point it cycles as before. If a pump is going bad is it possible that it will only kick in a very low pressure but at a higher pressure it can't get started?


That's a reasonable guess. Also check for abnormal current draw when the pump runs. That can indicate a failing motor or bearing. Also check for low voltage.

Reader follow-up:

I'm drawing about 5.5 amps on each leg.
It's a Grundfos 1/2 hp 230v pump.

Question: Rapid on and off cycling at the low-end of a 30/50 or 40/60 pressure switch setting; why cycling at the low-pressure end?

The article is good. I have a rapid on off cycling problem at the specific low setting of the pressure switch, 30 lb when I used a 30/50 and 40 when I replaced it with a 40/60.

Water pressure tanks, and pressure and filter between pump and tanks (have 2 pressure tanks) are checked and perfect. Have large reserve tank and will check foot valve and try to test for draw side air leaks, but that is buried and not easily remedied. why exactly at low pressure setting does it rapidly recycle? - Graham

Reply: check for a clogged water filter or closed valve or stuck tank bladder

Graham, I am GUESSING that the reason you are seeing the well pump short cycling around the low pressure setting value is simply that that's the cut-on point for the pump, AND that you've got a clog or blockage somewhere downstream from the output end of the water pump.

I've seen this problem when there was a clog or closed valve between the well pump and the water tank (such as valves around a water filter being shut off and then the water filter itself being shut off). If the pump can't push water into the pressure tank, as soon as the pump comes on it reaches the cutoff pressure and BANG it turns off the pump; at that point, anything that allows the pressure to bleed down even a little bit (say a valve that is shut but not totally shut) drops the pressure.

Since the pump cut on at the cut-in pressure, say 30 psi, and immediately reached the cutout and stopped, it doesn't take much volume of water bleed down to quickly drop the pressure to below the pump cut-in pressure.

A similar problem can happen if the pressure switch is not able to properly sense water pressure due to clogging in the small diameter pressure switch mounting tube or within the switch itself. Even if you swapped out the switch, if the switch mount tube is clogged you could have this problem, so be sure to check or swap out that little tube or pipe too.

Question: The well pump was going on and off every 30-40 seconds

Thank you! your info has helped me try to figure out why my pump keeps coming on so often. the pressure in the house has never been to strong but not bad, a little stronger wouldn't hurt. my concern was my electric bill because of the pump going on and off like ever 30 to 40 seconds when im outside watering some flowers. now if i can change it to a longer period then i would. any advice would help. -

Reply: how to fix short cycling well pumps: diagnose cause, add water tank air if needed, adjust the pressure switch if needed

Thank you for the nice note Zisa300. We are dedicated to making our information as accurate, complete, useful, and unbiased as possible: we very much welcome critique, questions, or content suggestions for our web articles.

At SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP we explain why a well pump starts to turn on and off too frequently. A common cause is loss of the air charge in the pressure tank, but there can be other causes as we explain in that article.

Once you have made sure that your air charge in the water pressure tank is correct (see WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD) the frequent pump cycling problem will be reduced and should be eliminated if nothing else is wrong.

In a separate article WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH and articles listed there we discuss WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT - that may help.

Watch out: Just don't set the pump cut-off pressure so high that the pump cannot achieve it. Doing so would mean the pump would never shut off and you'd ultimately burn up the pump motor.

Question: well pump comes on every 1-2 minutes and goes off in less than 2 seconds

We have a captive air tank and a deep well submersible water pump in a shallow well (about 25 feet). Over time the pump has been coming on more and more often even when no water seems to being drawn. It is now coming on every 1-2 minutes and going off in less than 2 seconds. I plan on replacing the tank but wonder but am afraid this might not solve the problem. Can you give me an educated guess as to what the problem might be. - Pat

Reply: waterlogged pressure tank may be the problem, but also check for water system leaks

Pat you are describing a short cycling well pump - the cause might be elsewhere but I'd start by looking into a lost air charge at the water pressure tank.


But your question sounds to me as if there is probably just one cause (a waterlogged pressure tank) but there could be two problems:

The rapid shut-off of the pump can be caused by a blocked water filter or a water-logged pressure tank.

The fact that the pump comes on every 1-2 minutes, with a water-logged pressure tank would be "normal" IF water is being run somewhere in the building - say a filling toilet or a sink or tub faucet on.

But if you think that no water is being run in the building, then there is also a leak somewhere or a bad check valve or foot valve. Diagnosis of those problems begins

Question: well pump turns on every 20 minutes or so even with no water running in the house and no visible leaks

My pump turns on about every 20 minutes with no water running in the house and no visible leaks. also my brine tank which is usually 1/4 to half full is completely dry. i checked my water tank with an air gauge and it read 45psi and appears to be full of water. I changed my water softener to bypass and the pump has not turned on since doing so. any ideas? thank you. - Anon

Reply: intermittent well pump cycling causes & cures


Intermittent cycling well pumps as you describe can be caused by a bad check valve or foot valve or a well piping leak.

Please see INTERMITTENT CYCLING WATER PUMPS for suggestions on how to track down and fix a pump running for no apparent reason.

The rest of your question sounds like a water softener issue. Perhaps the brine float is stuck?

Question: freezing pipes, no water delivery, pump is short cycling

Had a new pump installed 3 weeks ago. no water today. 2 below zero last night, might have frozen pipe from well head, so I put a 100 watt bulb next to it, and an hour later, water began to run (weakly) then pump started to short cycle. I cleaned the house filter, I have some water flowing, but none to upstairs bath, and pump is still short cycling.

In fear of burning out pump, I hit the breaker to turn it OFF. Is this the right thing to do, or do I risk freezing by not letting water run. I've called the well people 4 times today and have not heard, so I'd greatly appreciate any advice. Thank you - Barb

Reply: diagnose & cure freezing pipes before changing the pump pressure control switch setting


Yes turning off a well pump that is rapidly short cycling or that won't turn off on its own is a way to protect the pump from overheating and damage, and to catch one's breath before launching into diagnosing the trouble.

Watch out: In an emergency, if the pump is delivering water OK but won't shut off, and while you're waiting for the plumber to arrive, in order to have some water in the building you can turn the pump on long enough to repressurize the water tank and then shut it back off again. But if the pump is running without any increase in water pressure you should leave it OFF.

Your comments indeed sound like a frozen water line because when you added heat you started to get water. Often if we can get any water flowing at all and if we can keep the pump running without damage, the flow of water through the piping will finish the thaw-out and recover the system. Of course if the piping and equipment are not protected from freezing the problem will recur.

When the pump wouldn't shut off it may be because it was unable to draw water from the well sufficient to reach the cut-off pressure at the pressure tank. You could set the cutoff pressure lower (WATER PUMP PRESSURE CONTROL ADJUSTMENT) but if the root cause is a water flow rate problem at the well or through frozen piping, adjusting the pump control switch may be barking up the wrong tree.

Question: My water pressure booster pump cycles on and off and won't build up pressure

My boaster pump is on and off frequently,and it will not build up a pressure,this pump is pressure tank bladder type /pressure switch equipped with,it will work normal, but after 3 to 4 days it will come back to the problem again how can i fixed this type of trouble to our pumping system thanks. - Maximo Genese


If your problem is a water pump not reaching cut-off pressure and it's intermittent, I suspect that the water source is intermittently low. If it were a damaged pump itself, I think its pressure troubles would be more constant.

Question: Water leak damaged the pump controls. Could a water leak cause well pump short cycling?

I have a summer place that has a outside community well, and I had a water leak last winter, which caused the controller on the well to go out, and the association is saying it was do to the problem that I had with my place causing the well to short cycle. I have talked to other well companies and my plumber, and they say my problem had nothing to do with this happening. What is your opinion - Ron

Reply: Short cycling is a separate problem from a water leak but here's how they might be related

Ron, in general, running water continuously would not damage the control switches for the equipment nor cause a well to short cycle. Short cycling of a well pump is caused by a loss of proper air charge in the pressure tank (or other problems as you can read in our articles here).

If the water pressure tank on your community system uses an internal bladder it should not run out of its air charge and that would be the end of this question.

If the water pressure tank on your system does NOT use an internal bladder and if the water was kept running for days or longer, it is conceivable that because of the volume of water that was run out of the system the air charge in the pressure tank was lost and the well pump then began short cycling, which could burn up points on a pressure control switch, for example.

But for the air charge to be lost in a bladderless tank we need a second defect: the air volume control device that should have been installed and should have been working to maintain the air charge in the pressure tank must also have been absent or broken.

If the air volume control device was absent or broken, it's not at all likely that that defect was caused by your running water - the chances of that multiple fault are just too small - it would have been a pre-existing condition.

Therefore the short cycling well pump may have indeed happened and burned up a control because your property had a water leak, but behind the damage was either a defective bladder-type water pressure tank or a defective or missing air volume control on a bladderless water pressure tank, or there was another problem that caused the loss of air charge in the water tank.

Question: Water flow stops when filling the clothes washer traced to sudden changes in water pressure

I recently replaced my old water pressure tank with a new Red Lion 20 gallon tank. Also replaced the 30-50 pressure switch.

My problem started with low pressure when the clothes washer was being filled (and the bath tub). The washer would fill normally (large load setting) to about a third capacity then the water flow would stop for about 20 seconds and come on again for another 20 seconds and stop again and repeat this process until the washer started its cycle.

So,I crawled under the house and noticed that the pressure gauge would drop to nearly zero psi, then I could hear a gush of water flow to the tank where the pressure would rise to 30 psi and then quickly drop to zero again as the washer was filling up. For some reason, when the pressure drops below 30 psi, the pump will kick in but only increase pressure back up to 30 psi.

Shouldn't it be reaching the 50 psi cutoff point? The pressure switch is set for 30 - 50 and the air charge is 28 psi. I was told that my control box may be the problem?? Same issue was occurring when the bath tub was filled. The water would flow normally for a while, then stop altogether, then flow again, etc. Any suggestions? Water seems to work fine at the faucets although since I replaced the tank with a new one, the pressure is a little less than what it used to be. Any help would be greatly appreciated. - Kevin Andrews

Reply: Check the pump relays and switches

Kevin: it sounds as if your system uses a submersible pump (in the well) so you can't see nor hear it running; all you might hear is the pressure control switch clicking on and off and maybe, if your pump uses one, a separate pump relay.

If your system uses a separate heavy duty relay to run the water pump, the pressure control switch is serving as a light duty switch that in turn activates the heavy duty switch that powers the water pump on and off. When you replaced the pressure control switch you probably never touched the actual pump relay switch.

If the pump relay switch has dirty or burned contacts it might be sticking and causing the problem you describe.

Verify that you have a separate pump relay, turn off (and confirm off - SHOCK HAZARDS) all electrical power to the system, inspect the pump relay contacts for evidence of arcing or burning; the switch may need to be replaced though in an emergency sometimes we can carefully clean the relay contacts to keep going.

The other sort of problem that can cause intermittent pump operation is clogging in the pressure sensor of the pump pressure control switch or its mounting tubing.

Question: water pump continuously runs on and off when the water tap is turned on

How do you fix The pump from continuously running on & off when tap is on? - Brad

Reply: Short cycling well pump is not the same as a low-flow well and pump system

Brad depending on the water outflow rate at one or more plumbing fixtures it's normal for the well pump to cycle on and off. But if the cycling is rapid, say every few seconds, then the water tank has probably lost its air charge.

Take a look at the diagnostic discussion for well pump short cycling in the article above, and if it looks like a saturated water pressure tank (lost air charge) try recharging the air using one of the methods we describe.

On if the pump keeps running when you're running a single water tap, it may be that the pump (or perhaps pump and well) simply can't keep up with the water flow rate being used in the building. A well with a poor flow rate might be paired with a pump and controls that are set to never exceed the flow rate of water entering the well - that prevents pump burnup.
See WELL FLOW RATE if you suspect this problem.

Question: How do I install a filter on the well water system?

How do I install a well water filter? Michael



see WATER FILTERS, HOME USE to see details on water filter types and where they are installed on the system. It's usually pretty simple plumbing to install a filter near the point where water enters the building.

Watch out: a clogged water filter is a common cause of poor building water pressure and flow as well as well pump short cycling

Question: why does water come out of the air fitting at my water pressure tank?

What causes water to exit the air fitting when fitting is depressed? - Georgewilk

Reply: Water coming out of the air inlet valve may be normal or it may indicate a saturated water tank or a burst internal tank bladder


If the air inlet/adjustment valve is located high on or near the top of a water pressure tank, under normal conditions air will be released if you press the pin in the center of that valve.

If an air valve in that location on a water pressure tank squirts water then the water pressure tank has become filled with all-water: it has lost its air charge. If it's a bladderless type tank the "fix" is to add air back into the tank.

If this is a water pressure tank with an internal bladder and you're seeing water at the air inlet valve, the bladder has probably burst.

An air valve on a typical well and pump system is designed to allow air to be pumped into the water pressure tank when the air charge has become lost in a bladderless water tank. If this valve is located on a water pipe (typically near the pressure tank bottom but possibly even on the tank itself) and if that pipe is filled with water, not air, then pressing the pin in the valve center will send water squirting out.

Some air valves used on submersible well systems are actually a snifter valve that is designed to automatically allow air to enter the well piping at the end of a pump-on cycle. Working in concert with a vent or drain inside the well, this system attempts to maintain the air volume in the pressure tank automatically. These valves too will squirt water if the pin is depressed.

Question: Air comes out of my water lines? How do I fix it?

How do I get the air out of my water lines? - Tony


Tony, take a look
at AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES for a guide to correcting air discharge at plumbing fixtures. Typically excess air in the water piping system will purge itself through fixtures but if you keep seeing air discharge at plumbing fixtures then there is a source of excess air in the water supply system - that will need to be tracked down and corrected.

Question: My water pump runs ok but won't come back on on its own

My water pump is giving trouble, when its turn on and you are using the water everything is okay but it comes off it's not coming back on unless you turn off the switch and then put it back on. What is the cause off that? - Shane


Shane if your water pump is not turning on when it should the pressure switch may not be working properly. A common cause is burned contacts or debris in the switch mounting pipe nipple or in the switch pressure sensor opening.

Also see WATER PUMP PROTECTION SWITCH - which requires manual reset.

Question: My water pump runs, gets hot, won't turn off. Can I adjust it to stop when it should?

I have two Grundfos pumps, one for backup. I had to replace one last week, it stopped pumping, I tried to get it on. but nothing, so I installed the back up, primed it, but it wouldn't start right away. It took me about 6 times to finally get it going, but come to find out it stopped too. The pump was hot. I let it cooled down and tried it again, finally I got it going, but discovered, it wouldn't shut off. So I turned the main electric switch off, then I turned it back on, it would still continue to run.. Is there an adjustment to where I can adjust it to stop when it's suppose to? - Ernie

Reply: Check for lost prime and maybe a bad check valve or foot valve before re-setting the pump pressure switch


I can't be sure with so little information, but your question sounds as if your well system is losing prime. If the pump motor runs but doesn't deliver water, especially if it's a new pump, I suspect loss of prime.

Under WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS you 'll find articles describing how to prime the pump WELL PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE

and under WATER PUMP CONTROLS & SWITCHES you'll find articles on bad check valves or foot valves that might explain the loss of prime.


Question: tic tic tic noise from the pump

(Oct 9, 2011) summer said:

Hi i recently replaceds pump and tank. And switch ever since when the pump turns on you can here the pump tic tic tic tic then stays on and when it shuts off it goes tic tic wondering what could be the cause of this help would be very grateful


If your well pump is not starting when it should, making a noise instead, the pump motor or pump assembly could be jammed or defective, or your system may need a motor start/run capacitor.

Question: our pump seems to be coming on when no water is being drawn in the house

We have a captive air tank and a deep well submersible water pump in a shallow well (abt 25 feet). Over time the pump has been coming on more and more often even when no water seems to being drawn. It is now coming on every 1-2 minutes and going off in less than 2 seconds. I plan on replacing the tank but wonder but am afraid this might not solve the problem. Can you give me an educated guess as to what the problem might be. - Pat 12/15/11


Pat you are describing a short cycling well pump - the cause might be elsewhere but I'd start by looking into a lost air charge at the water pressure tank.



But your question sounds to me as if there is probably just one cause (a waterlogged pressure tank) but there could be two problems:

The rapid shut-off of the pump can be caused by a blocked water filter or a water-logged pressure tank.

The fact that the pump comes on every 1-2 minutes, with a water-logged pressure tank would be "normal" IF water is being run somewhere in the building - say a filling toilet or a sink or tub faucet on.

But if you think that no water is being run in the building, then there is also a leak somewhere or a bad check valve or foot valve. Diagnosis of those problems begins at INTERMITTENT CYCLING WATER PUMPS.

Question: can power transformers near a building cause too much air pressure that damages our well pump

The electrical company has three transformers going to our building, two were down and one was working. Can this cause a back feed to the bladder causing to much air pressure breaking the bladder and causing our pump to run. - Sandra D. LaMothe 12/16/11


No, Sandra, electrical power transformers near a building don't have anything to do with a well pump nor pressure tank. If your water tank bladder has too much pressure and has broken the root cause would usually be a bad pressure control switch.

Question: our backup water pump and storage tanks work backwards and lose their water

At work we have a backup pump and storage tanks next to our office trailers that we have to use on occasion. We're having a problem with the pressure tank. When the pump builds up pressure and shuts off, the pressure tank decides to backcycle and empty all of the water out of it forcing it back through the pump into the water storage container making some horrible noises until the pump decides to kick back on. Any suggestions. - Chris 1/1/12


Chris it sounds as if your system has a foot valve or check valve that has failed, or there could be a leak in the water piping itself.

Question: our Goulds shallow well pump boosts pressure from a municipal supply - day time pressure is too low

I have a Goulds shallow water pump model BF03S fitted with a furnace pressure switch (cat. no. 69ESI09048U) series C. The pressure setting on the switch is 20-40. Our water supply comes from a municipal water supply tank. At night, when the water demand is low, the pressure is around 30 psi.

But during the day, it is sometimes too low, around 10 psi, and so the pump keeps recycling constantly. Even worse, when we operate our washing machine, which recycles too often, so the pumps goes crazy, recycling too rapidly.
How do I fix these 2 problems ? - Yousef Ali 1/27/12


Rapid cycling of your water pressure booster pump means that either you don't have a pressure tank installed at all - a big mistake - or your water pressure tank is waterlogged and has lost its air charge. See SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP

Question: my well cycles on and off, on at 70 off just under 100 psi, and the water tank is full.

My well cycles on and off. Turns on at 70 psi and stops just before 100 psi. My tank is completely full of water but it not use to be this way. It use to only fill up just above half way or even two thirds. Does this change in the winter versus summer and how can I diagnose the problem. The tank being completely full is my main concern. - Jack 2/28/12


Watch out: your well and pump system are operating at a dangerous pressure risking a burst water tank or pipes and injury to anyone nearby. Turn off the pump and call your plumber for proper repair. It sounds to me as if

- you are missing a pressure relief valve safety device

- your water tank is waterlogged and has lost its air charge

- your pressure control switch is improperly set to too high an operating pressure range, or your pressure gauge is inaccurate

Question: well pump won't turn on

pump wont tune on - anon


Check for power to the pump and pump relay; check that the pump relay is responding to a drop in water pressure by first seeing if manually turning on the relay causes the pump to run; you may need to replace the pump switch.

Question: our Gould well pump runs for about 30 seconds then shuts off regardless of water pressure.

I have a deep well with a submersible Gould pump. Pump seems to run about 30 seconds and shut off of its own accord, regardless of pressure state. Checked preassure switch and it is kicking in and out properly at 30/50. What happens is, when switch triggers pump turns off in 20~ 30 secs even if it has not hit 50. It then turns on again about a minute later, then off again, then on, etc., until the pressure switch kicks at 50 PSI.

Under high water demand, house preassure settles to zero eventually, since pump spends too much time off. I checked electricals and even though the pre assure switch contacts are closed, there seems to be no current across the switch contacts when the pump has short-cycled off -- suggesting that the circuit has been interrupted somewhere other than at the switch. Could this be the pump kicking itself off for some self-protection reason? How can I diagnose? Thanks for your thoughts. - Jeff 5/16/12

(Dec 14, 2012) Mary said:

My water pressure is weak then gets normal, and when it does this it goes from hot to cold.


Jeff, the usual event that turns the pump on and off is the pressure switch - barring odd loose wiring etc. If the switch is not properly sensing pressure it will behave badly. Sometimes crud in the water supply or rust clogs the sensor port on the switch bottom or in the attaching tube or nipple that conducts water and pressure to the switch sensor port. Try replacing those.

Question: can you put a submersible pump too deep into the well getting it stuck on the bottom?

Can you theoretically lower a submersible pump too far into a well casing and get it stuck on the bottom of the well? Or is there a prevention method in place for this? Mine is running out of water at the height I have it set at, and I am going to lower it, but don't know how far I can go without causing harm. - Matt 5/20/12



Usually the pump is kept 5-10 ft above the well bottom not because it gets stuck so much as to avoid picking up silt and mud. If your pump is much higher than that off the well bottom you can drop it a bit to increase the volume of static head water available to it - but if the change is only a few feet it doesn't buy much = about 1.5 gallons per foot in a 6-inch diameter casing.

If the well pump has gotten stuck on the bottom there are a variety of tricks well drillers use to try to free it up and retrieve the well and its piping. But you'd be best off calling a well driller or pump installer for that service, as they have the necessary equipment to pull the well piping and pump without dropping the whole shebang, losing it all down into the well.

Question: short cycling well pump problem

Having a problem with short cycling. Just prior to the pump shutting off after, the pump will short cycle 5 or 6 times. I can isolate the water pressure tank and the pump still short cycles. In fact, I have a valve on the water supply line before the water pressure tank. If I shut this value while the pump is on, instead of the pump immediately shutting off, the pump will short cycle 5 or 6 times. Any suggestions? - Jeff 5/21/12


Jeff: when a pump rapidly short cycles on and off right around the cutoff pressure the problem could be a clogged pressure sensor on the switch or the pipe that feeds it, or perhaps dirty burned switch contacts.

About the effects of closing the water supply valve on the line that feeds the building from the water tank, the state of this valve should make no difference to the pump cutoff AS LONG AS no water is being run in the house. Normally the water supply piping between water pressure tank and individual fixtures remains full of water all the time.

That leads me to wonder if your water tank is waterlogged - has lost its air charge. If the pump always turns on quickly when you start running water, that's a clue for a waterlogged tank.

Question: water filter clogs

We have a problem with our well water system filter getting clogged frequently (less than a month after replacing we loose water pressure) After removing filter we notice lots of slime and dirt. Please tell me what I can do to fix this problem. - Sharon Martinez 5/21/12


Sharon: if your water supply has high levels of silt or mud, a typical cartridge type filter won't handle it and will clog quickly. I'd talk to a local water treatment company, ask them to take a water sample and report to you on its level of sediment, debris (or other problems); If the root cause is high levels of silt, mud, debris in the water supply, and presuming the debris source is not something that can be fixed at the well, a larger capacity sediment removal system may be needed.

Question: water runs out when we run a lot of water for plants and lawn

pressure switch kicks in at 30 and stops at 50 as it should. problem is that when running a lot of water [watering flowers, showers, washing machine etc. the tank runs dry when pressure drops to 40 and then starts up again at 30. is there an easy fix for this? Jack Holleran 5/30/12



I don't understand the question. Tank runs dry??

The pressure tank is filled by the well pump, contains air and water, and is intended to act as a buffer or spring to smooth the delivery of water and to allow the pump to cycle on and off less frequently.

If you are running out of water when using a lot of it, you are more likely exceeding the well recovery rate.

Question: our well used to water the lawn leaves water running out of a pipe

I use my well to water the lawn. I have 3 stations that run in 45mim. at a time. After the cycle is done
all the water runs out of a pipe. I don't understand this reason. Also if i use the water hose from the tank
it has a rapid on off cycle. Can you help with any ideas? - Kim 7/4/12


I'm not sure what's going on, Kim. Do you live in a freezing climate? If so the lawn watering system may have been designed to drain dry after a lawn watering cycle so that you avoid freeze damage to the system.

Question: my well is only 50-100 ft deep, I have great water pressure but it goes away for 3-4 days

i am told my well was only drilled 50 to 100 feet,i have great water preasure when it is on. it will stay on for about 3 to 4 days ands stay off for about the same,what will make it do this? - John 7/15/12


John, the well depth has nothing to do with water pressure in the home.

But a shallow well has a small reserve of water inside the well itself - the water supply depends on the rate that water flows into the well - the recovery rate. If your well has a poor recovery or flow rate, then it may stop providing water or if a special tailpiece was installed in the well it may keep providing water but only at a much slower rate.

I'm not sure what is "staying on for 3 or 4 days" so I don't know what else to make of your question. If you mean that the well is running out of water and takes 3-4 days to recover again, that is an inadequate well and you need to look at ways to increase the well yield.

Take a look at How Much Water is In the Well? to understand the question of well flow or well yield. Then see How to Get More Water From a Well.

Question: surging water at the fixtures, almost as if there were air in the system

Can you tell me what the probable trouble is with my well pump. When I run the water or flush the toilet, the water surges, almost like there's air in line? Does it when flush the toilet as the water is filling up the bowl etc. when you run the water runs and surges, weak and strong. What could be the problem and solution. I do not have city water, only the well pump, please and thank you. -work email or cell 423 902 0070. Thank you in advance. - E.N. 12/24/2013


Just a guess since we've got no other info for your home: take a look at SHORT CYCLING CAUSES - [the article beginning at the top of this page] - your well water pressure tank may be waterlogged - that's where I'd start.

Usually the air charge in the pressure tank acts as a "spring" that smooths out the flow of delivery of water at the plumbing fixtures. If we have no air in the tank, as soon as you open a faucet or flush a toilet the pressure in the water supply piping system drops almost immediately (depending on just how much air remains in the pressure tank) - which turns the pump on. But since the pump can typically deliver water faster than you're running it (at one fixture) it will quickly push pressure up to the cutoff point and will be shut off. You'll cycle back and forth between those two states - how rapidly depends on how much air remains in the pressure tank.

If you had air in the water piping system, which is a rather different problem, you'd see actual air spurting out of faucets. That topic is discussed separately at AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES

Question: sanded the points in my pressure control swith

(Aug 9, 2012) Judy said:

My water pump pressure control switch I'm sure is bad. I cleaned the points with a little sand paper and cleaned out dirt and ants and it's working but still won't come on all the time. I use to be a car mechanic and not sure if you can just replace the points as if it was a distributor. Should I just replace the whole pressure pump switch? and does it come all together where I don't have to do anything with the new points in it. Do they come all together with new points and just replace the whole thing. Thank You. I will wait for a reply.



I would replace the whole pump pressure control switch assembly; that'll get past those burned sand-contaminated points that won't be long term reliable anyway once sanded, and also might discover and fix a clogged switch sensor port on the switch bottom. No I don't see replacement points - just the whole switch.

Question: how can adding air to the water tank stop the pump from turning the pump off?

(Aug 11, 2012) Murray said:

I need some help with my house water pump.
I have a bladder-type cylinder. Pressure switch was fine but I pumped a little air into the bladder today with a hand pump (it may have let more out than I added, do't know for sure) as I suspected it was getting low, and now the pump will not switch off, just keeps running and the pressure gets so high I need to turn the pump off at the power.
The pressure switch is one year old and I have not altered it at all, the only change is the amount of air in the bladder. I've now pumped the bladder to 25psi with a compressor.

I have no gauge on the pump but if I put a tyre gauge on the bladder valve it shows about 50psi and then does not go any higher. The gauge is a cheap tyre gauge so probably not accurate.

My question is, how can altering the pressure in the bladder (less or more) stop the pressure switch from turning the pump off? And what is the suggested next move (other than try to find a shop locally with a decent water pressure gauge on a Sunday!)

Also, is the air pressure in the bladder equal to the water pressure in the cylinder, ie if water pressure is 45psi does that mean the bladder pressure would also increase to exactly 45psi?




The air in the air bladder in a pressure tank would only get low if the tank had a leak. Inspect for rust perforations and try a bubble of soapy water or spit on the air valve to see if a leak is there.

Pump not switching off most often says the pump can't reach cutoff pressure, either because of low water supply in the well, a well piping leak, or a switch with cutoff set too high.

But the fact that your pressure gets very high tells me a different story. Assuming you are seeing that high pressure at a guage on the system, it's possible that the pressure switch itself is NOT seeing that high pressure. That can happen because the sensor port on the switch base or the tube feeding water pressure to the switch or both have become clogged. Try changing the switch and the sensor/mounting tube or pipe nipple.

And set the air in the water tank bladder to a proper starting pressure with an empty tank.

Question: water pressure drops off very suddenly

(Aug 12, 2012) Lynn said:

So much information here - Thanks. We have a 1hp deep well jet pump. Not quite 3 years old. It had just started to short cycle - I am guessing from what I have read here. The water pressure tank seems fine. The piping, foot valve and all other parts are about 11 years old. The problem we are experiencing is the pressure on the tank, when water is running, goes from 50psi steady to about 40, then plunges quickly to 20-25 before the pump kicks on. It does a hesitated start starts stops starts again to get back to 50. Would this be do to a leak, foot valve problem, or what? Just trying to decide where to start next as time is not something we have to spare. Thanks for any information!


Usually a rapid pressure drop points to a water logged tank, easy to check,
But the hesitating start suggests a bad switch, perhaps the switch sensor port is dirt clogged.

Question: rapid cycling at end of pump cycle

(Aug 20, 2012) Ignacious said:

My pressure switch (brand new) kicks in @ 30psi just the way it should but rather than building to 50psi and shutting off it cycles (every 30 seconds or so)in short 2 lb bursts until it obtains 50psi - then shuts off. I can hear the water coming into the house from the pump with each cycle. And, there's a buzz coming from the breaker in the electrical panel with each cycle. Ideas?

(Jan 1, 2013) Anton said:

I replaced my 1/2 HP, 10 GPM submersible pump a couple of weeks ago. I noticed the pressure switch was not working and replaced it. Pump and switch are working fine, however, when pump is cut off at 50 PSI, system pressure rapidly (5-10 secs) drops and pump kicks on again at 30 PSI. I've checked the pressure tank (28 PSI). Any thoughts on where I am losing pressure?

(Apr 2, 2013) andrew said:

just replaced the pressure switch 30/50 and it is short cycleing what did i do wrong


Try lowering the cut-out pressure setting as your pump may be having trouble achieving that pressure - a sign of a damaged or worn pump or low voltage.

Question: problem with extreme pump short cycling

(Aug 22, 2012) ROCKY said:

I have a 300 ft deep well and two 30 gallon bladder tanks. I have been having a problem of EXTREME short cycling, once the pressure switch cuts in at 40 psi it will run and build pressure but most times before it gets to 50 psi it will short cycle on/off every 1/2 of a second sometimes I have to reset the red button on the bottom of the well box where the run start capacitors are. I have changed out the pressure switch as well as the pump capacitor box and drained both bladder tanks of water and charged the air side to 38psi...what's left to check?

Dec 28, 2012) Jill said:

My pump motor cuts on for 1 second & then shuts off. I just replaced the pressure switch & gauge, thinking that was the problem. The tank pressure is set at 2lbs less than the cut-in pressure. The cut-in on the pressure switch is set at 38 and cut-out at 60. When I turn on a faucet, the pump turns on and immediately reaches cut-out pressure and turns off. About 16 seconds later, it turns the motor on again for only 1 second. What can I do to keep the motor running longer than 1 second? I am afraid of burning up the pump motor with the frequent cycling.


Usualy I find that a filter is clogged or a valve is closed between pump and pressure tank.


(Aug 26, 2012) nageshdobi said:

My borewell is 305 feet water what we got is 2& half inch when we start motor in the morning its fills 2500 ltr water within half hour & againg i switch off & on after 30 mins water will come only for 10 min with same pressure motor will be running there is no water flow will be zero againg i leave 2 to 3 hrs & on the motor water will be filled what is the problem source is down or motor problem please let me as soon as possible



Question: normal well pump cycling times on and off

(Sept 14, 2012) M1helmethead said:

So I had a pressure tank installed on my well today because the system of short cycling bad. I would turn the water on and it would go up to 50 PSI and drop down to 30 PSI and repeat every few seconds. The tank I installed is a 20 Gal. now when I run the water the pressure goes up to 50 in about 2 mins. and then down to 30 PSI in about the same time. Is this a normal rate? or is there still a problem? I was under the impression this tank was suppose to keep that from happening.



You are describing what sounds normal for a small sized water pressure tank.

To get a water draw-down time that is longer there are two approaches - choose depending on your equpment's capability:

1. install a larger capacity water pressure tank - 20 gallons is not much drawdown, but you won't want to do this having just installed a new tank

2. adjust the pressure control switch to widen the gap between cut-in and cut-out pressures. Just be sure not to set the cut-out to a pressure higher than your pump can maintain. For example, if you set the cut-in DOWN to 20 or 25 psi and keep the cut-out at 50 you'll get a longer draw-down cycle.

The draw down time for a properly-charged water pressure tank (with proper air pre-charge) depends on tank size, water pressure, and the flow rate out of the tank.


(Sept 26, 2012) John said:

Hey guys, I have a 20/40 pressure pump with an internal bladder. When running a garden hose, the pump runs continously like it should. But when we have a shower, the pump runs for about 20 seconds (hits cut-out pressure) then shuts off, 20 seconds later it will fire up again. This is only a problem because of the infinity gas water heater. The heater is programmed to heat the water at a certain rate but because the pressure & water flow changes, so does the temperature. Meaning one minute the water is boiling then it goes luke warm. we have had the plumber sus out the water heater and it checks out, he says it is due to the pump shory-cycling. Any help or sergestions would be appreciated, John


John that 20 second drawdown time sounds too short - I suspect the tank has lost its proper air charge or more likely the bladder is damaged and leaking; I'd first check out the tank for proper operation; Second you can install a flow rate regulator ahead of water coming into the water heater; a third step: some of the pressure tank producers now offer a model that includes technology to smooth out the variation in water pressure delivered to the home due to pump cycling on and off - let me know if you need those details.

Question: proper pump air pre-charge pressure

(Nov 29, 2012) Jerry said:

pump runs short cycle recharge tank when drained water what should the pressure be and when filled what is its pressure to be for 40-60


With an empty tank and pump off the air precharge should be set to 2 psi below the cut-in pressure

Question: intermittent pump troubles

(Dec 22, 2012) Francis Nwabueze said:

My water pump is a household 1.5hp surface pump. It has just developed a fault pumping intermittently. I had changed all the valves and the problem seems not solved.I have checked if there is a loss circulation and the circulation appears ok. I Suspect water level has gone down and the is not getting much water to be delivered by the pump. What is your comment



Question: hissing air leak sounds coming from the well

(Feb 17, 2014) sue said:

I can hear what sounds like a small air leak down in my shallow well and the pump will not run.I am wondering if I could have a bad foot value? We have just replaced the air tank,pressure switch and well is only about 8 feet deep and has had a good supply of water for approximately 50 years.please respond asap as I have been without water for 2 weeks and am very homesick.I'm on a fixed income and trying to figure all this out myself,with only help from a sister.



I'm of course not sure what you're hearing but:

Assuming you've got a one-line jet pump (which would work for a well just 8 feet deep) and the pump is above ground, with a simple foot valve at the bottom of your well pipe in the well, THEN if you hear hissing I suspect that the pump is running but a leak at a pipe fitting connection or at a hole in well piping could be allowing air INTO the well piping;

Air in the line will cause air cavitation inside the pump body and the pump will run but not pick up water.

WATCH OUT: do not leave the pump running with no water - it can damage the pump.

As you just replaced the pressure tank I wonder: has your pump always been above ground? If so you can ignore my remarks below about snifter valves.

Start by using a good flashlight to look into the well casing: with the pump running you expect to see a single pipe in the well casing and from the above we expect to hear air entering the well pipe; but there might be something else going on.

Less likely, but you could be hearing air escaping from a bad snifter valve though I'd expect a snifter valve ONLY on a deep well with a submersible pump - search InspectApedia for "snifter valves" to read about that topic.

Question: Sudden water pressure surge to high pressure 80b psi

(Apr 26, 2014) Dave Jones said:

My water pressure suddenly went to 80 psi. It blew a water line. I’ve adjusted the pressure switch to 60-70 but cannot get it to drop below 60 psi. Is this due to a bad pressure switch? Thanks!


David sometimes municipal water supply pressure varies quit a bit but if you have a pressure regulator installed and it is not keeping the pressure down to where you want to set it most likely the control needs to be replaced.

Question: short cycling pump traced to bad start capacitor

7/23/14 M.H. said:

my deep well submersible pump was short cycling, 4-5 seconds every minute or so. I changed the pressure switch but the problem continued. further troubleshooting revealed very high amp draw from the pump while it was trying to turn on. The reason for this was the pump control start capacitor had burned out. The pump requires a "boost" of electrical energy to get started and run. When the capacitor goes bad, the pump is unable to start and run, causing a high amp draw and short cycling. replacing the start control box fixed the problem. Hope this helps.



Thanks for the comment.

Usually short cycling is caused by a waterlogged pressure tank.

But some pump motors use a start capacitor that can fail - just as you cite.

Or a pump motor may be old, worn, and have trouble starting - needing a stronger, booster start capacitor.


But because a waterlogged pressure tank can cause short cycling that can in turn damage pump controls or starting capacitor, or the pump motor itself, I'd double check that the pressure tank is not itself waterlogged.

Question: sprinkler system pump short cycles

(July 30, 2014) Anonymous said:

just had new pump and switch installed for my sprinkler system. Pumps runs for while then goes into on/off mode of about 15 - 20 seconds. Am also starting to get sand build-up in the pump resovior. What do I need to do??



Question: spring water, no pressure

(Sept 7, 2014) Corey said:

Hi I get water from a spring i have been doing this for 5 yrs now and been buying a pump per year due to gravel eating them up then they run but won't build pressure ! So I bought a bigger 1hp shallow well and put a whole house filter between foot valve and water pump will this work ? Or is there something else I need to do with this ?



A better solution is to build a spring house or box that accumulates a reservoir of clear clean water, protected from surface runoff, and deep enough that you can use a foot valve or strainer to keep dirt, gravel, debris out of the pump.


(Sept 12, 2014) Kathie said:

one miniute i have water and a little while later there is no water what causes this



In the More Reading links above, either of these articles should help you with diagnostics


Question: short cycling farm well pump

Our farm well pump is short cycling when the water is run. A constant pulse or surge. It is supposed to cut in at 30 psi and cut out at 50 psi. However, the system shows 110 psi at the gauge. Turn the water on and it quickly drops to 80 psi where the pump cuts in and pegs the gauge, pulses between the peg and 100 psi until you shut off the water. Then it short cycles and settles at 110 psi. Although gauge shows 110 psi, water pressure appears normal..not 110 psi. I'm stumped.

Water pressure gauge shows 110 but I know pressure is not that high.

Also, the short cycling is a pulse or surge with constant clicking of the relay.


Monte, this sounds like classic short cycling due to a water-logged tank and probably a debris clogged pressure gauge.


Monte replies: We also found that the pump starting capacitor seems to be corroded and leaking dielectric.

Reply: sounds like the pump needs repairs to start and run normally.

Monte Myers follow-up:

The gauge face was bent causing the dial to spin on its' shaft. It wasn't clogged. I installed a new gauge. The tank had lost its' air. I added air and the short cycling stopped. However,I couldn't find any cause for the air loss.


Thanks for the update Monte. Air may be lost from a pressure tank by absorption into the water passing through if the tank is *not* one that uses an internal bladder to keep water and air charge separate. Air can also leak out through a pinhole leak in a tank or from a leaky air fill valve.


(Oct 20, 2014) yanna said:

My pump turn on and after 3sec the pump stopped and run again and stop again,,how to fix it

(Oct 29, 2014) Jackie said:

My pump stays on longer than it used this short cycling?


Jackie long pump on cycle says the pump can't reach cut-off pressure - this is not short cycling, but long cycling - perhgaps low water level in the well or a damaged pump or pressure switch set too high.

Question: wierd gauge pressure readings

(Oct 29, 2014) Anonymous said:

my guage goes to 50 drops to 10 water comes on and then at 50 pump stops and losw water pressure then goes down to 10 and repeats


Sounds as if either water is running or there is a significant pipe leak somewhere, or perhaps a totally failed foot valve.

Question: hot pump motor, no water

(Oct 31, 2014) Anonymous said:

I have a water pump that I don't use often. Today when I turned the water on I did not have any. I check the pump and the motor felt warm to the touch. I disconnected the power supply and turned the shaft. I plugged it back up and it eventually started back pumping. It stopped again and I replaced the pressure switch. It worked fine for several hours but now I have not water and the pump is not cutting on again. What could be the cause of this?


Sounds as if the motor is seizing; you might try checking for lubrication requirements or for an impeller that is debris clogged. IF the pump is removed and disconnected from power and the motor won't turn freely, replace it.

Question: water pressure problems in Peru

(Nov 14, 2014) Anonymous said:

Hello vi am John Bickerton and live in Peru.
i have a problem with the pressure in my System and it is making a lot of pipes leak. When the Pump starts the pressure shoots up to 5 bar and is designed to run at 1 bar. Can you tell me how to reduce the pressure. it is a fairly new system
Help please



Your pressure control switch may be improperly set, the pump may be over-sized, or you may need to install a pressure regulator on the house piping or at the pump outlet.


(Nov 16, 2014) greg lehman said:

twice this last weekend the water almost completely stooped flowing in the house . and then about 10 seca later started back up- there was also light sediment in the toilets when we got to the house and the aerators in the shower heads and faucets had small silt in them - pressure tank was about 70 lbs -any thoughts?

(Nov 26, 2014) Anonymous said:

why would my water pressure tank have no water in it?

(Nov 28, 2014) Paul said:

I have a issue with my switch short cycling , we replaced the pump, the water tank and the switch... ...for a few weeks, no issues, then it was short cycling so I just adjusted the pressure and it cleared up for a few weeks... ...but is now short cycling again, bouncing like a rabbit and not even reaching the 60lbs it should... ...what's next. I am so frustrated after spending a small fortune.


Usually when a pump is switching on and off too often it's one of the causes above - such as a waterlogged tank. If you are dead sure the water tank is not waterlogged then check for a debris-clogged sensor port on the switch OR a blockage in the water output such as a dirty filter.


(Nov 28, 2014) Anonymous said:

...there is no pre-filter, the tank is not waterlogged... ...have replaced the switch and checked the stem into the switch, no problem there.

(Nov 28, 2014) Paul said:, I was thinking the issue may have been the charge in the tank (even though I had checked it when purchased and rechecked it)... ...there was over 50lbs of pressure in the tank so I let off all but around 40 just out of precaution... ...seems to have solved the problem.
...the irony here is, the comments on Lowes ad online pointed to cautions on the pre-charge, most of which were under-charged, mine was over charged then and I set it correct as I have read many times prior to putting this all in.

...I am starting to understand why plumbers charge the rates they do... ...I went into the wrong line of work.

...thanks for the help, DanJoeFriedman... ...I will be passing along this link to others.


Paul the pre-charge in an internal bladder tank is indeed usually set 2 psi below the cut-in. If the bladder is ruptured, for example, then the tank becomes waterlogged.

Question: pump short cycles but pressure tank does not seem water-logged

12/11/2014 Ron said:

I have a Well Rite WR60 tank in my house system that was completely overhauled 4 years ago.
I'm experiencing short cycles and an extreme drop in pressure just as the pump is about to kick in at 40 psi.
First I replaced the 40 - 60 switch and no luck.
Then I checked the tank air pressure when drained and it was high - close to 50 psi.
Reset the air pressure to 38 psi and thing ran OK for about a week and then back to the short cycling and surging at cut in.
I've reset the air pressure several times but it never seems to last more than 4/5 days.
One thing that confuses me is that when I relieve the excess pressure there is no water coming out.
For what it's worth the tank is still under 5 year warranty but - probably pro rated ?



Have you checked for a pressure switch that is not sensing water pressure due to clogging due not to the switch(which you replaced) but due to a clog in the small diameter tubing on which either the switch mounts or that conducts pressure to the switch sensing port?

High air pressure in the tank after it's drained: could be a small leak in a tank bladder - in odd cases water leaks out of the bladder into the air space enough to keep pressure there abnormally high. If you think the tank is "empty" of water but it still feels heavy it may contain water.

I know we expect water to squirt out of the air valve when a tank is fully waterlogged, but it is possible for some water to be in the tank bottom but air still at the tank top (the water should be in the bladder not outside it in most designs).

I think of this as described by a few other readers as "pinhole leak in water tank bladder results in abnormally high air pressure creeping up in the pressure tank"


Keep us posted.

Ron said:

I have a Well Rite WR60 tank in my house system that was completely overhauled 4 years ago.
I'm experiencing short cycles and an extreme drop in pressure just as the pump is about to kick in at 40 psi.
First I replaced the 40 - 60 switch and no luck.
Then I checked the tank air pressure when drained and it was high - close to 50 psi.
Reset the air pressure to 38 psi and thing ran OK for about a week and then back to the short cycling and surging at cut in.
I've reset the air pressure several times but it never seems to last more than 4/5 days.
One thing that confuses me is that when I relieve the excess pressure there is no water coming out.
For what it's worth the tank is still under 5 year warranty but - probably pro rated ?



Have you checked for a pressure switch that is not sensing water pressure due to clogging due not to the switch(which you replaced) but due to a clog in the small diameter tubing on which either the switch mounts or that conducts pressure to the switch sensing port?

High air pressure in the tank after it's drained: could be a small leak in a tank bladder - in odd cases water leaks out of the bladder into the air space enough to keep pressure there abnormally high. If you think the tank is "empty" of water but it still feels heavy it may contain water.

I know we expect water to squirt out of the air valve when a tank is fully waterlogged, but it is possible for some water to be in the tank bottom but air still at the tank top (the water should be in the bladder not outside it in most designs).

I think of this as described by a few other readers as "pinhole leak in water tank bladder results in abnormally high air pressure creeping up in the pressure tank"


(Dec 26, 2014) Mike Wells said:
I keep having to tap the control box to activate the pump. Everything works fine for most of a day, then the pump won't start unless I tap the control box. I have replaced the control switch in the box in the last month. In the control box for my pump there are two capacitors. What is their purpose? Do they assist in the activation of the control switch? One may be faulty. The pressure switch is usually activated (I can see it is closed), but the control switch seems to need help activating sometimes.



In my experience when tapping the pressure switch activates it I need to look for either a debris-clogged sensor tube or port or burned contacts. The capacitors in the higher-amperage or voltage control box for a well pump are probably a start/run capacitor for the pump. These are solid state but might be behaving oddly if there is a loose or corroded electrical connection. If I were shotgunning this repair I would

1. check or re-make all of the electrical connections in the control box

2. replace capacitors (cheap, easy)

3. Look for a bad relay and check for burned contacts or switches

(Jan 5, 2015) Mike Wells said:
Replaced the control switch. The contacts were all but burned off. Seems to be working.


Sounds right Mike.

Watch however for short-cycling of the pump: a condition that can cause burned contacts.


(Feb 6, 2015) Anonymous said:
sometimes when my shallow well pump turns on and 30lbs it will not pump up i have release all the pressure from the tank and then it will prime itself and it will pump back why please



Question: pump cycles for no reason

My pump seems to run on cycles even when we're not using water.



I'd start by looking for a leak in the building or well piping. Turn off water into the building: if the cycling continues the leak is on the well side.

Question: pump turns on and off several times before stopping, then pressure holds.

(Apr 5, 2015) Jim said:
well pump pressure switch set at 20 on 40 off keeps turning on an off for 4 to 6 times then holding pressure


Jim typically I see this when

- the pump is having trouble reaching the cut-off pressure due to pump damage, a leak, running water, or a defective pressure switch


(Apr 4, 2015) dave m. said:
this site has got to be the most complete and easist site i have ever used thank ypu so much for all this valuable info. dave m.


Thanks so much Dave for the nice comment. We work very hard to provide useful information - so your comment is really encouraging.


(June 7, 2015) carolyn said:
Should my pump kick on and off when using water? Or should it run the entire time the water is being used? Ty



If water is being run faster than the pump can deliver it from the well then the pump will run continuously.


(June 8, 2015) Anonymous said:
problem with water turning off sometimes (daily) and restarts a minute later or maybe 10 minutes later. have already tried replacing pressure switch.
M Johnson


Anon the article at More Reading above


should help you out.


(June 15, 2015) short cycle said:
I just changed my bladder tank with the same size that what there before, i set the air to the required -2 so 18 because 20/40. pressure gauge shows 40 and when the pump is on it reads 40. Now the pump turns on about every 2 minutes and surges with NO water running. There is nothing dripping or leaking and not sure what I am missing. Any help would be helpful. Thank you



It sounds to me as if there is a leak or water running or a bad foot valve or check valve. Your leak could be back into the well or anywhere in the well piping system

Question: more help for short cycling pumps: diagnosis & repair

19 August 2015 Sandra said:

I spoke with you (I think) about my pump short cycling. Short review. Pump began short cycling about 5 days before water stoppage. Turned running water off and didn't give it enough time and when I checked the water it stopped within the first minute or so. I keep forgetting to stop by the auto parts place to pick up an air gauge. I wanted to see if there was air in the tank at empty so I took a screwdriver out to open the air valve. Before I did that I shook the tank and it was empty.

I left a short burst of air out of the tank after which the pump turned on in a short cycle and turned right back off. I noticed a very low hum coming from the box that sits atop the pipe coming up out of the ground. I hit it with my hand and it faultered a little but went back to the hum. So I hit it harder with my fist and it stopped and didn't start the hum again. Shortly after that the pump came on and ran a considerably longer time than the short cycle and the tank now had a good amount of water in it as I could no longer shake it.

I then turned on a hose and let it run full force and the pump didn't turn on right away and do the short cycle as it had been doing. When it did turn on it ran for a more normal time and then cut off. There has been no further short cycling but I am afraid to leave it on so I have it turned off at the breaker in the house. Now my question is, it's a submersable pump, what is in that silver box atop the pipe that could stick or cause short cycling?

Reply: bad pressur switch?

Sounds like a bad pressure control switch or a sometimes- or intermittently-seized pump motor.

I'm not sure what silver box you mean, nor where it is. Some submersible pumps use both a pressure control switch and a heavy duty relay switch. The pressure switch turns on the relay that turns on the pump.

19 August 2015 Sandra said:

Wouldn't I have no water at all if the pump motor were seized? After I hit the box (looks like some kind of control box) the pump began working normally with good pressure. Now the pressure gauge is reading "0" but I don't know if that is an accurate reading, it was replaced two years ago along with the pump. I didn't try hitting it, lol. I would imagine that you would recommend changing that out too? I'm really nervous around electricity so I didn't open the "box" that humming, I just wacked it a good one. It's about the size of a piece of paper 8" x 5"ish as I didn't measure it that's an estimate of the size but it's not the little one that houses the points. I am making a special trip to the auto parts place to pick up an air gauge. I would also like to thank you for being available like this to ask questions of. You have certainly helped a lot of people by doing this.

Reply: whack-a-mole water pump repair methods


Yes if the pump is seized it won't pump; though a damaged impeller or low voltage or a blockage or leak in well piping can cause a reduction without total cessation in water delivery.

Hitting the parts to make them run suggests that the pressure sensor port on the pressure switch or the tube that conducts water pressure to it may be clogged.

Whackamole is satisfying but it's not a durable repair.

20 August 2015 Sandra said:

Finally got an air gauge. the pressure in the tank with the power on is 46.It has not short cycled since it began to work again. Now what do I do?


I don't know what "46" means. The pressure in your water system will change constantly as water is run and as the pump cycles. You want the air pressure to be set at 2 psi below the pump cut in pressure.

If the pump is only intermittently short-cycling the problem could still be at the pressure switch: debris clogging, burned contacts, or at the water tank if an internal tank bladder sometimes does not accept water into the tank. Also look for water that has been running somewhere in or at the building.

22 August 2015 Sandra said:
Well, I have another stupid question for you then. How do I know the cut in pressure of the pump? and the 46 was the air pressure in the tank while there was power to the pump but the pump was not running and there was no water use.

Sorry that pressure was from a tire air pressure gauge.


The "CUT IN" pressure is the pressure read on a pressure gauge when, as water is being run in the building the fall in system pressure causes the switch to turn on the pump.

No individual water pressure number (suich as your 48 psi) can be interpreted clearly unless we know where we are in the pump cycle. For example:3
Water run, pressure falls to 30 psi, pump turns on, water is turned off, pump continues to run until water reaches 50 psi. Pump turns off. Someone tuns a small amount of water dropping the pressure to 40 psi then turns the water off. Because pressure has not reached the cut-on pressure (say 30 psi) the pump doesn't run.

23 August 2015 Sandra said:

Can that pressure, the "cut in" be measured with the water running and using the tire air pressure gauge to check the air in the tank? Or do I need to go buy a new gauge that goes on the pipe coming out of the tank? It seems to be frozen at "0"

I know some of the questions I ask are rather dumb. I'm not used to doing these types of things, my husband used to do them. You know fix the pump, work on the cars, I took care of the house and garden. Anyway I just wanted to thank you for your patience with me. I just don't have the money right now to call in someone unless it's something I absolutely have to do.



well sort-of; when water is running you cannot get a very accurate pressure measurement as pressure in the system will be varying; but you can get close if you are monitoring pressure and get a reading right at the moment that the pump cuts in.

Easier is to watch the installed pressure gauge right at the pump system while water is running.

Your questions are always welcome: working together makes us smarter.

25 August 2015 Sandra said:

I believe then my best option will be to buy a new gauge and install that. I assume I will do that with an empty tank. I have had no further problems with the pump short cycling, I have not opened the humming box, but, what is the chance something got into that box, and when I hit the box it knocked it loose? I think, when the pump burned out 5 years ago, that I was told they found a rather large lizard that was lying on the switch, and my neighbor told me his father once had problems with his pump and when checked it was filled to the top with roach droppings. I do live in a rural area and it is a wooded area close to the tank.


Keep in mind that the gauge is only giving information; the pressure gauge itself has nothing to do with when the pump turns on and off.

Question: can I turn water off to diagnose a short cycling well pump?

21 August 2015 char said:
If your pump cycles every 9 or10 min can I turn water to house off if it still cycles to often then the leak is not in house?


Exactly right, Char. If you turn off the water supply into the building at the pressure tank and if the pump keeps cycling on and off then we know that the problem is at the pressure tank, pressure switch, or in the well piping, such as a leak in well piping, a leaky foot valve, etc.


Water Pump Short Cycling Articles


Continue reading at SHORT CYCLING WATER PUMP - home, the home page for this water pump topic, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING CAUSES for more detailed diagnosis of pump on-off cycling problems.

Or see WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE for table listing causes & cures for well pump or water pressure problems


Suggested citation for this web page

WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING FAQs at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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