Copper tubing on pressure control switch (C) Daniel FriedmanWater Pump Diagnostic FAQs-3
Problems with the well pump Q&A

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Well water pump diagnostic FAQs set #3:

This article provides more answers to frequently-asked questions about how to diagnose problems with the water pump bring well water to a building or boosting water pressure at a building.

If the well pump runs too often, is noisy, seems weak, runs intermittently with no apparent reason, or is otherwise misbehaving, these questions will help sort out what's wrong.

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Problems with well pumps

Priming plug on a jet pump (C) Daniel FriedmanQuestions & answers about well pumps that run too often (short cycling), well pumps that won't stop running, noisy well pump, well pumps won't start.

Recent questions & answers about well pump diagnosis and repair, originally posted at the end of this article or at other water pump diagnostic articles such as WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home.

On 2017-07-26 by (mod) how to stop burning up the irrigation pump


You raise a common concern: I often hear from people having water equipment or well problems particularly for systems that are used in irrigation or lawn watering systems.

You'd need one of the following to avoid over-taxing the pump and perhaps burning it up:

- a new pump motor with a duty cycle rated for continuous-on usage. Such motors are designed to avoid overheating and to tolerate long on cycles. Look at irrigation pumps. Talk to the pump manufacturer if you can't find the usage duty cycle in the pump's specifications.

Example: the WAYNE PLS100 1 HP Portable Stainless Steel Lawn Sprinkling Pump rated for continuous duty and capable of 20 ft lift.

Another excellent continuous duty pump (from my reading not my experience first hand) is the AMT High Head Straight Centrifugal Pump - 4900-98, 118 GPM, 1.5" x 1.25", 3 HP, 230v, water pump is, according to the manufacturer's specs, rated for continuous duty. However the AMT pump is not self-priming and is not designed for application where a water lift-height is involved.

You probably need an irrigation pump or sprinkler system pump model that can lift your water.

- a restricted water flow rate + pressure tank that lets the pump stay off for 10-20 minutes at a shot

- a quite large water pressure tank and a pump that could get ahead of the water usage rate, fill the tank and then stay off for 10 or 20 minutes at a time,

On 2017-07-26 by Larry

I use my water well for irrigation. My pump motor had to be replaced after about 6 years.

I open enough valves so when watering the pump runs continuously without turning off and on hoping to increase motor life knowing that these motors are designed to start and stop over and over am I causing early pump failure by leaving it continuously running for hours at a time?

On 2017-06-14 by (mod) we used oil to prime the pump, now we can't get rid of the oil in our water


Is your pump a single line jet pump, or a two-line jet pump? The difference could be important in the if it's a two-line jet pump your plumber pump oil into the well itself, making it harder to remove.

If you have a one-line jet pump system you may be able to remove the smell by draining the water tank and water heater tank and piping and then refilling with clean water and flushing them out.

On 2017-06-14 by Kathykarn

When our water was turned on this spring the plumber put oil in the water pump to get it primed now we can't get rid of the oil smell coming thru all the water lines and hot water heater it is a pump hooked up to a water holding tank any suggestions

On 2017-05-30 by Dami

4 days ago, while my kids filled a small pool with the hose, I noticed significantly reduced water pressure in my bathroom. I didn't really think much of it but told them to turn the hose off. I went to work not long after. I didn't get home until after midnight that night.

When I went to shower I had no water pressure top speak of. Pardon the expression but the best way to explain it would be that it was "pissing" out. Yet my boyfriend showered just fine that evening before I got home. The following day, Friday, I left for work early and was exhausted by the time I got home so I went straight to bed.

Saturday I had to get up before 5am for work again. I got home, took a short nap and then went to check out the pump. I thought it lost its prime from them running water into the pool for so long. It was too dark to try to prime it so I waited until Sunday morning. Yesterday. But it's been years since I've had to prime a pump and I was stressed over my son's birthday party that was scheduled just hours later so lord knows if I was doing it right.

Pretty sure I wasn't. I gave up for the day. Today I had a friend come over that knows much more than I do. We replace the gauge, pressure switch, even the breaker. Bc the problem isn't just water pressure. When you turn the power on to the pump it's doing the same thing it did to me yesterday. Sometimes it kicks on, sometimes it doesn't. Idk what's going in with it but I know I'm stressed to the max. I can't figure this out and I'm at my wit's end. I can't afford to call someone out here and tbh the qualified people that I know in this area are in no condition to work on it. Any advice I can get here is GREATLY APPRECIATED.

On 2017-05-30 by (mod) there's no water coming out of my line



You will find a good sequence of diagnostic steps that you can follow to help determine why you have no water pressure. Please start there, let me know how you make out, and ask further questions as needed.

On 2017-05-29 20:07:34.952995 by Artninja

I have a surmisable well pump that's getting power from the breaker box but there's no water coming out of my line what could it be a bad surmisable pump

On 2017-05-28 13:14:15.249785 by Anonymous

All great suggestions and I will work on this asap. Again, thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my questions. I certainly do appreciate your suggestions.

On 2017-05-27 by (mod) 6" of standing water and the well pump is smoking


Water was running out of the bottom of which component: the softener itself or its brine tank? Whichever, that will need replacement if, as you suggest, the tank itself is leaking.

It sounds as if your well pump was overheating dangerously, perhaps because the leak used so much water that the well ran dry - thus overheating the pump.

Leave water off for 4 hours or longer if you can.

Put the water softener in bypass mode so that it is not in use and not connected to incoming water.
After waiting a time to allow a marginal-capacity well to recover, you might try turning on the pump, but I'm not optimistic. A "smoking" electric motor is most-likely badly overheated and damaged.

The risk is an electrical fire or shock from the equipment. So if you turn on the pump and it sounds loud or funny or not normal, or if you have no water, or if the pump sparks, smokes, etc. turn it off immediately. You'll need help from a plumber to replace the damaged equipment.

On 2017-05-27 by Marissa


The noise of my water softener woke me up because it was so loud. I went to go look at it and there was water running out the bottom

. I looked in the crawl space and there is about 6" of standing water and the well pump is smoking. I turned the water off at the water softener and it all stopped. What is the problem and how do I solve it?

Thank you!!

On 2017-05-25 by (mod) need system flushout after installing a new pressure tank?

It should speed up draining suspect water to drain both pressure tank and water heater tank.

Depending on piping arrangement one can also try taking a water sample from ahead of the rest of the home by drawing water from an outside hose bibb (faucet); we want to know if the ugly water is coming up from the well water source or if debris or stains is from indoor components.

On 2017-05-25 by Anonymous

Thank you for your reply. I just got my pressure tank replaced in December 2016 - do you think that needs to be flushed? Definitely think I will do the water heater which is about a year old. Thank you for your information. I really appreciate being able to ask a question online and get a good answer.

I think I will ask the plumber who put the new tank and pump in for me - hoping he has some experience with this type of occurrence in my area.

On 2017-05-21 by (mod) stains in the toilet which keep coming back

I'm unsure as well, Suzanne, about what has happened. A new pump would not itself be expected to change water color nor quality, but it is possible that the disturbance of a well, well piping, well casing, etc. that happens in the course of pulling an in-well pump and replacing it might both stir debris in the well as well as in the well piping.

Good practice is to flush out the plumbing lines, faucets, fixtures (with strainers removed, shower heads off, etc). But if well crud was also pushed into a water pressure tank, or water heater, those too may need to be drained.

I'd try those steps first. Let me know how that does or doesn't help.

On 2017-05-21 by Susanne

I have owned my home since 2007 and always have had good water - no iron. No stains in toilet and no softener or filter.

Several months ago my pump died and a local plumber put in a new one. Several weeks later I noticed stains in the toilet which keep coming back after I get rid of them. Yesterday I replaced the under the kitchen sink filter for my drinking water and noticed that the old filter was orange with rust. In the past when I changed this filter, it was white.

I can't figure out what has happened. Why would a new pump change the quality of my well water? Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

On 2017-05-08 by (mod) can a garden hose restore a driven point well?

Steve I'm doubtful that there'd be enough pressure to restore your water pickup screen but it's certainly worth a try: you don't need to jam a hose down the well pipe and that won't work, but if you can connect a water pressure source to the top of the actual well water pipe and push water back through it that may do something and give temporary respite.

See DRIVEN POINT WELL RESTORATION for better suggestions

On 2017-05-08 by Anonymous

thanks! would a garden hose fished down the well pipe do the trick you think?

On 2017-05-08 by (mod) clogged driven well point

Steve I suspect your guess is right - that the well intake is clogged OR the water level has fallen. If the problem were the pump it'd probably not be able to pump your other water supply up to normal cutoff pressure.

On 2017-05-07 by Steve

I have an outdoor well with an external pump that turns on with a timed irrigation system. The pump is new in 2015, the well has been there for 10+ years. We store the pump indoors in the winter. When I hooked it up this season, it won't pull water. I've tried hooking a hose to it to prime it, which boosts the water pressure, but then when I open the valve to the irrigation system, it just doesn't pull from the ground.

It circulates water from the connected hose fine enough. Either the pump has lost the ability to pull from the ground, or maybe the intake in the well is clogged? How to I find out which? Or maybe there's another problem? We've had a ton of rain here so I don't think it's an issue with the ground water and my neighbor's well is fine.

On 2017-04-30 by Harry

This morning there was no water coming from the taps. We live in the countryside and have our own well with the pump in the shed. There is a little lever/switch on the side of the pump with what looks like some kind of pressure gauge beside it. When I lift the little switch for a few seconds the water starts pumping again. And there will be water in the taps for another while. But an hour later there is nothing again. I have repeated this process many times today. What could be the issue?

On 2017-04-30 by Jim Taylor

My water
Pump is in the basement. About every 5-7 minutes it kicks on for 10 seconds then cuts off. I have no leaks anywhere in the house. Could my air pressure in the tank be a little too low or high?

On 2017-04-30 by (mod) a bad start capacitor can leave a motor humming

Bill, yes a bad start capacitor can leave a motor humming - turn it off right away to reduce the chance of burning it up - if it's not too late already

On 2017-04-30 by Bill

water pump under house humming but not pumping water, could it be the capacitor?

On 2017-04-26 by (mod) can a pump run if its pressure switch is removed?


That's unlikely in most circumstances as removing the pressure control switch interrupts the path of electrical power to the well pump.

However an exception could be a higher horsepower well pump that is operated by a separate well pump relay switch. IN those systems when the pressure control switch closes to turn on water it is actually switching a separate heavier-duty relay in a separate control box. The second relay turns on the pump.

In that second situation, even without operation of the pressure control switch at the pressure tank, a short circuit or defective relay or manual intervention in the separate pump control relay box might turn on the pump.

On 2017-04-26 by axel hischer

is it possible for a in ground well pump to turn on if the psi switch is removed or disconnected

On 2017-04-26 by (mod) will shocking the well damage the pump?


Putting chlorine bleach into a well is a common well sanitizing procedure, but it has to be done using the proper amount and type of bleach or you may have trouble flushing the chlorine out or the amount could be ineffective. Use the InspectApedia search box just above to find our article on HOW TO SHOCK THE WELL

On 2017-04-26 by mary

pls can putting chlorine into the well when pumping machine is inside spoil it?

On 2017-04-24 by (mod) well light went out, now losing pressure


If you mean that your home lost all electrical power for a time and now you have no water pressure, this is a common situation when the well has a bad foot-valve;

With power when water leaks back down the well pipe from the pump and pressure tank the pressure falls and the pump turns on and recovers water and pressure before losing all water out of its piping and tank.

But without electrical power when water leaks back into the well through a leaky check valve or foot valve then the pump loses prime completely.

Search InspectApedia for HOW TO PRIME THE WELL PUMP for a temporary recovery, but really your well probably needs a new foot valve.

On 2017-04-24 by Anonymous

I have well water and my light went out last night. Now im losing water pressure. Whats happening

On 2017-04-24 by (mod) new pressure switch, short cycling pump

David, other common causes include a waterlogged water pressure tank. Use the search box above to find our article on WELL PUMP SHORT CYCLING or else on WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD for detailed help.

On 2017-04-23 by David

Changed pressure switch on well pump but it still only runs a few minutes and cuts off

On 2017-04-22 1 by (mod) pump runs, no water delivered

JOhn if the pump runs but no water is delivered, the problem can be any of several listed in a nice diagnostic article found by using the Search InspectApedia box just above to find LOST WATER PRESSURE

On 2017-04-22 by John

I have power at my pump but it is not letting the pump push water through the house or through the outside hoses

On 2017-04-19 by (mod) vapor lock pump when running the sprinkler system?

Perhaps a sticking valve or control

On 2017-04-19 by Benny

I have a shallow well at 23 ft depth , I havery 60 psi and about 15 gallon per minute, occasionally when running my sprinkler system.

I don't know what it would be called but it seems as if I get a "vapor lock" my well pressure stays the same but the sprinkler heads don't come up the sand filter is clean. ...any help would be great

On 2017-04-14 by (mod) cleaned pressure switch contacts, pump won't run


Since your pump is submersible it's down in the well. To me that means it would be difficult to hear noises that are originating at the pump itself; more likely you're hearing noises at the water pressure tank or the control(s) that switch the pump on and off.

Before pulling the pump itself I'd try using a mechanic's stethoscope (do not touch live electrical contacts or you may be, by death, unable to give me follow-up on what you found - see if you can isolate the noise to a control or component and let me know what you find.

On 2017-04-14 by Joel Gerow

I have a submersible well pump. The pressure is fine, but it has started to make a bad grumble and growl (from the well) every time, just prior to the pressure reaching cutoff.

I looked at the pressure switch and cleaned the contacts. The pump is 220V and both sets of contacts are opening cleanly and together. I am planning to replace the pump, but thought I'd ask, in-case it could be something else.

On 2017-04-14 by Joel Gerow re: growling noise from submersible well pump system: check first before pulling the pump

I have a submersible well pump. The pressure is fine, but it has started to make a bad grumble and growl (from the well) every time, just prior to the pressure reaching cutoff. I looked at the pressure switch and cleaned the contacts. The pump is 220V and both sets of contacts are opening cleanly and together. I am planning to replace the pump, but thought I'd ask, in-case it could be something else.

On 2017-04-14 by (mod)


Since your pump is submersible it's down in the well. To me that means it would be difficult to hear noises that are originating at the pump itself; more likely you're hearing noises at the water pressure tank or the control(s) that switch the pump on and off.

Before pulling the pump itself I'd try using a mechanic's stethoscope (do not touch live electrical contacts or you may be, by death, unable to give me follow-up on what you found - see if you can isolate the noise to a control or component and let me know what you find

On 2017-04-01 by (mod) re: air discharge at faucets (Original question follows this reply)

Lisa, please use the search box just above to search inspectapedia for air discharge at faucets. I think that the diagnostic and repair suggestions there will help you out. You keep me posted.

On 2017-04-01 by Lisa

I just bought a new house that's been rerenovated . When I take a shower .

Wash dishes ,do laundry seem like there's alot of air in my water cause when the water comes out it spits hard and some water comes out and some doesn't ? What should I do to check it out I'm pretty handy ?

On 2017-03-24 by (mod) re: identifying a well pipe leak


That sounds to me like a well pipe leak

Perhaps you can find a service who can lower an inspection camera down the well bore - before just pulling the piping to inspect and test it.

Also look for openings in or damage to the casing.

On 2017-03-24 by l d hall

With well head off can hear water running in well while pump is on and can continue to hear water running thirty minutes after pump is turned off. Pressure will only get to 36psi have 40/60 pressure switch. takes forever to fill tank.

On 2017-03-19 by (mod) re: well pump turning on and off to often (Original question follows this reply)


Please use the search box at the top or bottom of this page to find WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING - home, to see the ususal causes.

Perhaps the pump is short-cycling when it's reaching the cut-off pressure: that can be a failing pressure control switch, burned contacts in the switch, or ... I don't know I'll think more about the question.

On 2017-03-19 by Andrew F

Often after I turn off the shower or tap, the water pump makes a funny noise, in that it sounds like it is starting and stopping.

If I turn the shower/tap back on and then slowly turn it off, the noise stops, what could be the cause/what is the fix?

On 2017-03-14 by (mod) re: water pressure goes away sometimes, then returns

Pat use the search box at the top or bottom of this page to find WATER PRESSURE INTERMITTENT LOSS to see some helpful diagnostics.

I suspect that your well water level is low and flow rate is low.

On 2017-03-14 by Pat

While taking a shower,we seem to run out of water or water pressure. When I turn the water off for a few minutes the pressure comes back but only for a few minutes.

On 2017-03-14 by (mod) re: hearing sound of air in water pipes

I suspect the pump is not in deep-enough water or there is an air leak in the piping

On 2017-03-14 by PRAKASH RAI

I have a 140ft sumersible pump,here we call it boring of underground water.Our house is in the high altitude.The pump is unable to pump the water.The technician told us that the wire was shortcircuit then we changed the wire but water didnt came.

Then the technician took out the pump and he checked it in a drum full of water the machine worked.

But when we put the machine inside, the sound of water moving is heard but only air comes out.What is the reason behind this?Is it the water level that dropped down than machine or anyother technical problem? Please help us with this.Thankyou-Prakash

On 2017-02-07 by Kathy

My pump was not cutting on...the point system was not working properly,I had to hold it down manually, I bought a new one...same thing,as soon as I plugged it in it cuts on then trips off, I can hold it down with my fingersand it stays on but when I let it go it won't stay on

On 2017-01-25 by shawn

my well tank float seems to work but the pump in the ground won't shut off. i pulled the float and can hear it click when i point it up to down and vice versa. any suggestions?

On 2017-01-09 by (mod) re: clogged pressure control switch doesn't sense actual water pressure


I suspect that the pumps pressure control switch is not correctly sensing water pressure. This can't happen from debris clogging the small diameter pipe or tube that conducts water pressure to the switch. You might find that replacing the switch will fix the problem. Keep me posted

On 2017-01-08 by Justinsayne

So we had a freeze and I had a piece of pipe that burst. After I replaced the piece of pipe my well pump is now acting weird. once I run the water to where there is no pressure, the well pump does not kick back on automatically as it always has. I now have to go outside and switch it on manually, then once the pressure is full again, it shuts on and off about 10 times quickly before it turns off for good.

The man who replaced the piece of pipe said it was because my filter was dirty but I put a cleaner filter in there and it is still acting weird.. HopingFor Help...

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

(Mar 6, 2014) Paula said:

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.

(June 5, 2015) Christie C said:

Our pump was short cycling. We replaced the pressure switch and checked the pressure in the bladder tank. Pressure was very low. Its a 40/60 pressure switch so the psi was set to 38. We turn the pump back on and shortly after flushing a toilet, we just keep hearing what we believe is the pressure switch rapidly clicking every second or less. We dont have good water pressure which has been an issue for quite some time now. What could this possibly be?


Michelle and Christie:

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 pressure goes high then very low and a device keeps clicking

the pump at 400 feet was re placed

10 tears ago the old one lasted 26 years today when water is on the presser goes really high like normal then it decreases then goes up again it goes high than low cant find any leaks along the pipes thing on the wall in bathroom witch ther are several devices there is one that keeps clicking the others in there have been replaced

when we have a leak the pressure just goes donn this time it goes up and down can you help


Loss of well water pressure means that the pressure with which water enters a plumbing fixture has become too slow, or is sometimes too slow or weak in water flow rate, or water flow may stop entirely.

In the Article Index found at More Reading,

See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR where we describe Water Pump Problems? How to Diagnose & Repair Poor or No Water Pressure.


and check out that short cycling article.

Question: pump pumps very little water and we run it out about three minutes

(June 22, 2015) theresa said:
we are having water problems. pump pumps very little water and we run it out about three minutes and no more water is the well drying up or is it the pump

hubby said the water tank pressure ok


Sounds like the well. See WATER QUANTITY IMPROVEMENT

But also see WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING - home

Question: black oil came out of my water pump

Turned on pump before hooking to tank, looks like black oil came out, what did I do wrong? - Michael 7/29/12


Michael, I agree it sounds odd to get oil coming out of a water pump; sometimes however when we've been hooking up new plumbing fittings and equipment, the first time we turn things on we see solder paste and oxidized debris in the flush-out of the system. It's a good idea to flush out the water system after working on it. YOu may not have done anything wrong.

Question: how much electricity does my well pump use?

how can i find out how much electricity my well head and pressure tank are using? The well pump is 1/2 horsepower. The pressure tank has no label or information on it. I am in the process of installing a back-up generator and I need to know the amount of power consumed at start up by these systems. - Anon. 3/5/12

Reply: some ways to figure out how much electricity an appliance or well pump is actually using

Anon, here are several approaches to finding out just how much electricity your well pump or any other electrical appliance in your home is actually using:

  1. You can record the information on the data tag for your pump motor, noting the RLA figure. See DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL TERMS and understand amps, current, volts, watts, and you can calculate the theoretical electricity use.
  2. You can turn off every single electrical thing in your building except the well pump, then watch your electric meter spin. That timing or LCD readout combined with the meter specifications from your electric company can give you a good idea how much electrical power the pump is actually using when it's operating. To that you'll need to monitor how often and for how long the motor runs during an average month.
  3. You can also measure the pump's current draw using a clamp-on ammeter.
  4. You can also rent or buy electrical use metering equipment that you'd hook into the circuit.

To compare the energy efficiency of different versions of a home appliance such as an air conditioner, refrigerator, or heat pump, see SEER RATINGS & OTHER DEFINITIONS.

Water Pump Preservation or Mothballing or Taking out of & Returning to Service

Question: How to preserve or mothball a submersible well pump for later use

What needs to be done to save a used submersible well pump for later use?

Reply: tips for preserving and storing submersible well pumps:

Jim assuming the pump was previously running and there's no question about the condition of its motor, the minimum is to be sure that the pump is drained of water and stored in a cool dry place.

A more extensive job could include disassembly and inspection/cleaning of the pump impeller assembly to remove any mineral deposits, debris, crud, and to be sure that it is not damaged

Question: At our cabin the well is only used a few times a year - power otherwise left off; lost water pressure: cabin lights dim when pump tries to turn on.

I have a question about a well problem at a cabin in the mountains. The well is only used a few times a year and the power is turned off during the periods of non use. The water has been without problems for years.

More recently the pressure seemed to surge at one point then the next time we used the cabin the water would come on, run for 4 or 5 minutes then the pressure would drop to zero. Then a few minutes later the water would be at full pressure then 4 or 5 minutes later it would drop to zero flow. I turned off the water and when I returned to the cabin again it was the same except this time after three of the above cycles the pressure dropped to zero and didn’t come back.

The next time I returned to the cabin there was no water at all. I replaced the pressure switch and there is no water flow. I noticed something odd, about every minute, the cabin lights would dim slightly for 5 to 10 seconds then return to normal. So, I measured the voltage at the pressure switch and it’s 240 volts then when the light’s dim the voltage drops to 232 volts.

When I turn off the well braker the lights stop dimming. When the pressure switch was replaced water freely came up out of the fitting telling me two things, there was water in pipes of the house and the well probably still had a prime. - Well Pump Problems 6/22/12

Reply: common causes of dimming lights or flickering lights in or around buildings

Well Pump Problems:

Dimming lights sounds like a motor that is seizing and drawing high current. Especially if that's a new condition. Check the current draw on the well circuit and figure you've either got a wiring short or a seized pump motor.

Note: the discussion of diagnosis and cure of flickering or dimming lights occurring when the pump motor turns on has been moved to


Question: house winterized, pump not working

(Feb 11, 2013) Diana Y said:
getting ready to close on house and it is winterize but we are wondering how it was winterize when the water pump is not working in the well pit..So does this mean that it was not winterize as said? And we may have bigger problems.


I can't understand the situation from just this note; you need an onsite expert.

Water used to recover overnight but now the pump won't start and we have no water

5/16/14 David said:

I used to be able to just wait overnight or so and restart the pump and everything was fine. Now, IF the pump starts up (which it won't right now)the flow is abt. 1/2 of what it used to be and trickles down to nothing. This is a Sta-right 1.5 hp motor/pump. Sounds like it's an electrical problem. Any ideas from you pros?



It sounds as if your well recovery rate has been slowing for some time. If a pump is run continuously without water it's likely to be damaged. So you may be facing a double problem: low flow rate in the well and a damaged pump.

Question: irrigaion system water flow rate problem

(Feb 23, 2014) edmond said:
Low water rate on irrigation system from a shallow well


Edmond, if the problem is a low flow well, see WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT

otherwise search InspectApdia for WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR

Question: need a water pressure booster pump?

(July 22, 2014) Stan Johnson said:

Have a well with a 3/4 hp submersible 10 gpm pump on it and a 30/50 pressure switch. The pipe(3" I believe) runs ~3500 feet with about a 50' rise.
Flow at outside hydrant is 7-8 gpm but only getting about 21 psi at the house. Putting in a booster pump and pressure tank along with a filtration system that includes an ozone injector, catalytic carbon filter and water softener. Should we first put a 40/60 pressure switch at the well?

When the water gets to the house, it will first go to a sediment filter and the the ozone injector, carbon filter and water softener. For optimum results, where should the booster pump go in that line, should it also have a 40/60 pressure switch and should the pressure tank be in line right after the booster pump?



Best results in my OPINION might be obtained by installing a booster pump and water pressure tank on the house side of all of the other water treatment equipment you describe. In that case you can still choose either pressure switch operating range depending on your building needs, height, pipe conditions.

Question: need a cheap flow test on my well


What's a way to test well flow rate by just using cheap methods like lowering a float into the well and seeing how quickly the water level drops when the pump runs?

I realize this is not the whole accurate well flow story.



I agree that an accurate well flow test is one that is performed over 24-hours, though you can certainly get an idea of what's going on with a well using a short interval test too.

To test a well flow rate without strings, floats, weights and physical measuarements, a well driller uses an adjustable-rate pump that can be used to pump water for a longer interval to determine the accurate well flow rate. Usually that's done at the time a well is first drilled but could be done later as well.

Watch out: if you just monitor the drop in well water level in the casing when the pump is running you are mostly measuring the rate at which your pump draws water out of the well, affected partly by the water flowing into the well during that interval - the recovery rate. The results are ambiguous.

Question: well not used for 7 years, low yield, should we drill a new well for our irrigation system?

(Oct 8, 2014) LauraC said:
We recently had someone test a well in a house we just purchased. Our understanding is that the well has not been used for more than 7 years. We would like to use the well for irrigation for a fairly small yard. The people who tested it said it only yields 4gpm and that is not enough to supply a pump or irrigation and that we should have a new well drilled. This doesn't fit with what I am reading on your page. Am I misunderstanding something?



If the true 24 hour flow rate of your well is 4 gpm, your irrigation system is limited to a maximum water flow rate of the same number. That's 4x60=240 gallons an hour. The adequacy of that water volume for your needs depends on the area to be irrigated, planting types, soil properties, and climate as well as the irrigation method. Delivering water directly to plant roots such as is done in Israel is orders of magnitude more efficient than rubnning a lawn sprinkler. In sum, as Mark Cramer says, ... It depends.

5 gpm is a common minimum standard for delivering drinking water to homes. That figure does NOT include using that same 5gpm source for any sort of irrigation. So unless your irrigation needs are either very modest or are highly efficient and sophisticatednMark and I would probably say yes, you misunderstood flow rates, your well is rather marginal for irrigation.

Before drilling a new well, however, look into companies offering methods to increase the yield of the present one and into alternative irrigation methods for your (unstated ) irrigation requirements.

Question: well runs out of water

(May 17, 2014) David said:

I used to be able to just wait overnight or so and restart the pump and everything was fine. Now, IF the pump starts up (which it won't right now)the flow is abt. 1/2 of what it used to be and trickles down to nothing. This is a Sta-right 1.5 hp motor/pump. Sounds like it's an electrical problem. Any ideas from you pros?



It sounds as if your well recovery rate has been slowing for some time. If a pump is run continuously without water it's likely to be damaged. So you may be facing a double problem: low flow rate in the well and a damaged pump.

Take a look at the diagnostics at

Question: flushing water noise coming from well pump

(May 25, 2014) Carol said:

When water is continually running such as sprinkler is on, the noise of water flushing coming out from my well water pump. Is it normal?


Not sure from just the info in your query. Perhaps the well is running out and the pump is sending up some air

Question: well pump trips the circuit breaker

(May 27, 2014) Anonymous said:

breaker trips after ten seconds

(Aug 25, 2014) ken said:

I have a dead short in the well that knocks out the breaker as soon as I pull the breaker

(Aug 27, 2014) joan said:

ive replaced my pressure switch several times and it still keeps shorting out and my water shuts off


Most likely the water Pump or its control or wiring is shorted or motor is failing and drawing high current.


Leave electrical power off on the tripping circuit and call a licensed electrician for diagnostic help and repair.

The short could be in the motor, the pump control switch, or in damaged wires anywhere between house and your well pump motor.

Joan if the pressure switch is shorting out I'd be looking for damaged or shorted electrical wiring or a shorted or seized pump motor

Watch out: you describe an unsafe condition: shut off the system until a proper diagnosis and repair can be made.

Question: lost all water pressure

(June 3, 2014) Karen Galvin said:

HELP! water just stopped. replaced control box, fuses are good. Where do I go from here? An electrician or well person? I live 25 miles East of Sterling, CO - not a lot of help out this way. I've been without water for almost a week.


Karen, this diagnostic article should get you going

Question: lost water pressure after a power outage

(June 5, 2014) Dan said:

Had a power outage, then ran out of water. Power came back on and full water pressure. 2 showers and a load of wash later, water stopped. Breakers not tripped.?


Look for well pump or piping losing prime or well pump / wiring damaged by lightning.

Question: sprinkler system runs out of water; irrigation well troubles

(June 7, 2014) Chuck said:

My sprinkler system is run off a water storage tank and a pump. Two days ago I turned the system on and everything was working. I came back an hour later to change the areas recieving water. The pump was running but no water was coming out the sprinklers. Today I cleaned the intake tube, which wasn't really dirty, turned the system on and all I get is a puddle that forms around the sprinkler heads. It seems to me the pump isn't generating enough pressure. Yet it sounds like it's working prefectly. Any ideas on what to try next?

(June 12, 2014) Jay said:

Had good water pressure then turned on one of the zones for sprinkler which had leak in line which is repaired but still no water at all not sure what to do next

(Aug 26, 2014) Link said:

I have a shallow irrigation well. The pump directly feeds an array of sprinkler heads. There is no water and no noise (normally you can hear the pump). How do I go about troubleshooting? Or is this something I'll need a pro for?

Assuming pump needs replaced, what's a reasonable cost? Thanks.


Commonly sprinkler systems run into a low well flow rate problem, especially in dry weather or when the water table is lower at your well. At that point the pump impeller may be damaged and even when water returns in the well the pump can't develop pressure.

Check also for a leak in the well piping.


Diagnostics for pumps that won't start are given in the More Reading links above

Perhaps our pump diagnostic table will work better for you


Question: well pump hums, well pump won't start

(July 17, 2014) John said:

Motor only hums when plugged in.

(Aug 13, 2014) raykan said:

Pump not starting unless you spin fan by hand


John, look for a seized pump motor or bearing or impeller or a bad motor start capacitor

Raykan: your pump probably needs a start capacitor replacement

Question: slow pressure loss until no water at all

(June 9, 2014) charles said:

my well pump slowly lost pressure until no water worked at all. the relay in my control box would do nothing but "chatter". i replaced capaciter and i have 240 volts all the way to the control box. could the coil be bad?


Sounds like a low flow rate well - provided the pump was continuing to run.

Question: delivered water into well, today it's all gone

(july 17, 2014) adam said:

Had 1700 gallons of water delivered to tank yesterday as well seemed dry, today, all 1700 gallons is gone is it a leak or could it be something else?



Unfortunately, if the 1700 gallons was pumped down into your well, and was gone the next day, and presuming no one lewft water running at a rate sufficiently to run out so much water over night, indeed that was probably a total loss - you were back-feeding an exhausted aquifer.

If you have a large cistern or water storage tank and the 1700 gallons was pumped into such a container, either there's a leak in the container or in its piping system.

Question: well pump won't pump water - short cycling?

(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 in the Article Index at the end of this page.



Reader follow-up:

(Aug 3, 2014) Henri Picard said:

Dan 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

FAQs about a Water Pump That Won't Stop Running

See WATER PUMP WON'T STOP RUNNING FAQs or see the home page for this topic: WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING

Water Pump Will Not Start


Pump Cannot Reach Cut-out Pressure - weak well pump, leaks, low voltage & other causes

For a well pump that cannot reach the cut-off pressure most likely it just keeps running.


Water Pump Noise FAQs


Water Pump Short Cycling FAQs


Pump Protection Devices Make Sure water pump shuts off



Continue reading at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE for table listing causes & cures for well pump or water pressure problems, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see WELL PUMP DIAGNOSTIC FAQs-2 - more diagnosis & repair questions and answers for well & water pumps


Or see these

Water Pressure & Water Pump Article Series Contents


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