Priming plug on a jet pump (C) Daniel Friedman Well Pump Priming Diagnostic Q&A
FAQs about how to prime a water pump

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Diagnostic FAQs on how to prime a water well pump:

A "dry" above-ground water pump such as a 1-line jet pump or a 2-line jet pump won't work - the pump has lost its prime. This article provides diagnostic questions & answers that can help you if you're having trouble priming the pump.

This article series describes how to prime a water pump to restore water pressure to a building by priming the well pump to restore the pump to operation after it has lost prime.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved.

Simple & Fast Well Pump Priming Method Using a Garden Hose

Copper tubing on pressure control switch (C) Daniel FriedmanRecently-posted questions & answers about priming a well pump using water from an outside source: a hose from a neighbour

These questions and answers were posted originally either at PRIME the PUMP, HOW TO or at this very FAQs article WATER PUMP PRIMING DIAGNOSTIC FAQs

On 2017-03-18 by (mod) - reasons to suspect a leaky foot valve: can't fill the pump prime chamber

Yep; perhaps before your system's foot valve or well piping wasn't leaking.

On 2017-03-18 by Anonymous

Thank u. I was thinking it was going down line but never had this issues before. So thanks again I will check this out

On 2017-03-18 by (mod) - can't fill the pump prime chamber


I suspect that you're filling a jet pump that has no check valve at the pump, so your priming water is running down the pipe back into the well. If the foot valve in the well is not working, then you'll never get the pump primed by simple manual filling.

First try priming the well by garden hose if you have a nearby independent water source - search (use the box just above) PRIME THE PUMP WITH GARDEN HOSE to see details.

Else you can try to pour say 5-gallons slowly through the pump priming opening: if you never see the water level drop rate slow or stop, you may have to have your plumber install a new check valve or foot valve.

On 2017-03-18 by Anonymous

ThT question from lsdclinton
I keep putting water in housing but it don't seem to fill up. What should I look for

On 2017-01-31 by (mod) - pump loses its prime, it will pump up to 12 pounds

Not sure what "the pusher" is, Anon, but if your pump is losing prime you'll want to repair or replace the check valve or foot valve or leak that's causing the prime-loss.

Otherwise there's risk of damage to the pump and, of course, loss of water.

On 2017-01-31 by Anonymous

if my pump loses its prime/it will pump up to 12 pounds and if u shut it off the pusher will drop

On 2016-08-16 by (mod) - pump quit while filling the swimming pool

You can

1. SHUT OFF the PUMP IMMEDIATELY so as not to burn up the motor or its impeller

2. Wait. Wait 3 hours or longer for the well to recover. Then turn the pump on. You may have to re-prime the pump. If so see WATER PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE at WATER PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE

3. Don't expect to be able to fill a swimming pool, other than maybe a 50-100 gallon kiddie pool, from your well

4. Detailed diagnostic and repair suggestions can be found by searching for NO WATER PRESSURE

On 2016-08-16 by susan

My family and I live in a century old farmhouse served by a well and pump system. We have had a particularly hot and dry summer so far. I bought a swimming pool and while attempting to fill it the water quit working, not a drop coming through at all.

We do not have another water source in which to prime the system so what else can we do? We really can't afford to have someone come to diagnose and repair the system, please help - thanks

On 2016-02-24 by (mod) - so how do I prime the pump?

Sure Jedd

See the live link just above in this article on this line

Continue reading at PRIME the PUMP, HOW TO ... there you'll find detailed procedures for priming a water pump

On 2016-02-24 by jedd

Asking how to prime a well pump

On 2016-01-24 by (mod) - pump "primes" for 5-10 seconds then is quiet

I suspect a failing check valve or foot valve.

When the pump impeller chamber is filled with water it's pretty quiet.

When the pump impeller chamber is filled with air or part air and part water, that is, it's not fully primed, the pump will be much noisier.

On 2016-01-19 by Justin

when switching on the pump it primes for about 5-10 seconds max, after that its quiet.

now usually when I use water in any means, flushing the toilet, bathing, washing etc. the pump will prime itself after every time, but today no such thing, it stays quiet. Any suggestions?

On 2015-10-10 by Nick

Replaced well pump with Dayton 1hp pump.

Pump is not building pressure so no water is coming to the hose or house. Tried to prime right at the pump with close valve still not drawing up water and 10 psi pressure.... What to do next?

Question: shallow well pump keeps losing prime

I have a shallow well that the pump will lose prime. It will prime up to pressure at currently 45 psi, once demand increases the pressure will go gradually down and suddenly drop 10 - 12 psi thus losing prime at 10 - 15 psi to never recover until I prime again.

Attempting to prime, there's alot of air bubbles. I just replaced the check valve and bladder tank. I times i can take a long hot shower with no problem or if I just flush the toilet it will lose prime. Can anything be drawn from this?


Bob: on intermittent loss of well prime, you'll need to determine if the leak is in well piping between house and well bottom ( perhaps a leaky well line or bad foot valve) OR a leak at the water pressure tank or an above ground well pump.

Shut off all water to the house and watch pressure in the system. If it drops then the leak is outside.

See PUMP PRIME, REPEATED LOSS of if you can't keep the pump primed

On 2017-04-06 07:20:05.287205 by Joe re: Why my brand new we'll pump turns on buys sounds funny and doesn't have the pressure

Why my brand new we'll pump turns on buys sounds funny and doesn't have the pressure

On 2017-04-06 14:37:26.363554 by (mod) Re: check that the pump has been primed successfully (Original question follows this reply)

Joe I can't guess from just your email, but I'd start by confirming that the pump has bene properly primed - do not let a pump run "dry" or it will be damaged.


Question: well pump piping hook-up troubles - need help priming the pump

(Apr 10, 2014) ashok said:

i have 2 water lines connected to an above ground water pump which is attached to a tank. last winter i could not get water and i checked the pump and found it had a crack at the impeller housing.

I got a used pump and attached the lines to it. The pump works fine but is not pulling any water. also there is no place to pour water to prime the pump so i installed a T with a shut off nut. I did pour plenty of water in this T at times i get some pressure , maybe for a second and then nothing. I am wondering if i may have switched the pipes supply to discharge or vice versa. please advice


Ashok, you might have switched lines, or the same freezing that cracked the pump may have cracked a well line leading to leaks or loss of prime. Check out our alternative methods for how to prime the well pump by starting at


in the More Reading links above. Keep me posted.

Question: how do I find out what kind of pump I have

well water in rural area, no home within range. pump under ground other suggestions. How do you determine what type of pump you have? - Anonymous 6/11/11

Reply: how to figure out what kind of well pump is installed

What type of well pump do I have?

See WATER PUMP LIFE EXPECTANCY for details about different types of well pumps.

Question: Problem with loss of pump prime, water pressure drops, supply to house shut off

800 gal reservoir is full to ground level and impeller style pump is on basement floor. I installed a new foot valve in the well. Pump is three yrs. old. Pressure set between 40/50 psi
Tank bladder at 38 psi.

When pressure gauge shows 50 psi and I isolate the house with a gate valve, the pressure gauge drops below 40 psi and the pump starts but 40% of the time it doesn't deliver any water and at this point I need to open a tap near the pump before the water flows again. When I open this tap I hear air for a few seconds before water starts to run from the tap and at this point the pump will start delivering water.
Whats my trouble and your response. hanks, Shep

(Mar 23, 2014) Clinton said:

we have a shallow (about 10') hand dug older well and have installed a newer pump similar to the old pump we replaced, installed new lines from the pump to the supply lines to the house and primed the pump by filling the pump housing and lines, however we did not fill the supply line coming from the well to the house, and the pump is working, but not drawing water from the well.

we filled the line from the pump to the supply line, but not the supply line that runs from the well to the house under the ground. My question is, does the supply line running under the ground from the well to the house need to be filled with water in order to properly prime the pump and draw water from the well? the well has water.

Reply: check for a bad foot valve, check valve, well piping leak


regarding "the pressure gauge drops below 40 psi and the pump starts but 40% of the time it doesn't deliver any water and at this point I need to open a tap near the pump before the water flows again. When I open this tap I hear air for a few seconds before water starts to run from the tap and at this point the pump will start delivering water. "

and your title, indeed it sounds as if the pump is losing prime. If you're sure the foot valve is good, I'd look for an air or water leak in the piping between the pump and the foot valve bottom.

If I understand correctly, "and I isolate the house with a gate valve" means you are closing the valve feeding the house from the pressure tank - thus making sure no water is being run in the house that might drop down the pressure you see at the pump and tank = correct procedure for this diagnosis.

See the more complete diagnostic checklist for water pressure or flow loss at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE.


Yeah, with a one-line jet pump you will best results if you can get it filled. The alternative is to keep priming the pump, letting it run until its sound changes (indicating it's got air inside the impeller), stopping it, then re-priming. It's for this reason that I like the "garden hose" pump prime method. Don't run the pump dry as it may be damage.

See PRIME the PUMP using a GARDEN HOSE for how I use a hose (which of course is only useful if you either have a close-by neighbor with water OR you can fill a 5gallon bucket and siphon-feed the pump prime that way.

Question: pump loses prime, plumber replaced pressure tank, didn't help

22 July 2015 David said:

Good morning, first let me say your site is amazing thank you. I have a 2 line jet pump I don't know the well depth. It appears to have been working fine however the shut off valve between the pump and the pressure tank developed a leak so I replaced this along with the T and pressure gauge located at the top of the T.

Got the pump primed and running again and the pressure switch line sprung a leak (pin hole) so I replaced this as well. After these repairs the pump will not shut off it appears to be producing roughly 25-30 psi of pressure so not enough to have is shut off. I call in a plumber to diagnose the issue they determined that the pressure tank was bad, blatter would not hold pressure and that the pump needed to be replaced because it was running hot.

nes it still will not hit the factory set 50psi switch. I then shut the valve between the pump output and the pressure tank (per your guidance) to see if the lines into the well could have holes, watched the pressure gauge on the pump and it appears to hold pressure at least over the 5-10 minutes that I had to observe. Is this long enough or shall I observe longer?

I ask because I ended up reducing the pressure switch so that the pump would shut down at a lower point and lower the tank pressure to coincide (2#'s lower) This seemed to work however the pump then lost it's prime and after re-priming it seemed to work again abet it still won't produce more than the 25-30 psi of pressure.

Is this indicating that I have a faulty valve in my well or a leak in one of the lines in the well?
Thanks in advance for your help.

This question was posted originally at WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home


David, I don't understand the plumber's conclusion.

Even if a pressure tank bladder had failed, the pump would pump the tank up to cut-off pressure and then switch off.

You've done some good diagnostics. I suspect that either the well water level is low or that the pump or impeller is damaged and simply cannot reach cutout pressure. Other problems could cause the same symptom such as a leak in well piping but if that were the case when you shut off the pump you'd see the system pressure drop as water leaked back out through that opening.

Lowering the cutout a bit so that the pump can reach it is an acceptable fix if the lowering is not too much - which you tried.

But the fact that the pump is losing prime suggests an air leak or water leak in the piping or at the pump itself (which, I admit, contradicts the earlier "no pressure drop" that you observed). So we may be looking at a foot valve that fails or fails intermittently.

Over at a companion article WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING at

we list reasons that a pump may keep on running, that is, not get to the cut-out pressure. Please take a look there and let me know if questions remain.

David said:
Again thank you for your support. I agree I don't understand the plumbers conclusion on the pump the pressure tank I understand it wasn't holding pressure. Pump hot, well the brand new one gets hot to if it runs for a while. Lesson learned I have a back up pump now it was installed in 1992 so I thought it made sense. So what is baffling me is prior to fixing (replaced) the leaking shut off and the pressure switch line the old pump worked and kept it's prime.

Is it possible the foot valve failed at the same time, this seems odd but possible. I am assuming that my water table is still very high based on the constant rain we've been receiving. My next move is to check again for leak down after I shut the valve and pump and give it a longer time to confirm there's not a leak or faulty foot valve.

My challenge is locating the well as the prior owners didn't have a clue and the bushes have grown extensively to where the logical location would be. On the bright side I've done everything myself and not paid the $2000 to the plumber to replace a pump that doesn't appear to had a problem. Any additional guidance would be greatly appreciated. David



Double-faults can occur but Occam's razor says we should look first for the simplest explanation as it's most likely.

Is it possible that during the repair a pipe connection simply was not perfectly tightened. For example I've found air leaks into piping (and thus potentially loss of prime) when a hose clamp on plastic piping at joints was not quite tight.

A problem is that air leaking in to the lines may not be so easy to detect unless your system has a clear plastic water filter in which you'd see bubbling and frothing. But you might start by tightening or double-hose-clamping every accessible connection.

Question: pressure switch keeps tripping, have to re-start pump, no water enters the water ank

I have been having problems with my pressure switch, it keeps tripping, I always have to go out and restart the the pump. I figured the switch was bad so I changed it. Now the tank won't fill and so there is no build in water pressure. I can turn the pump on but it quits running after a few minutes. Its a submerged pump. - Chris 7/17/2011


Chris, if no water is entering your water pressure tank you could have a tank with a collapsed internal bladder; that would be the case if the pump actually runs and is delivering water, but no water enters the tank.

Conversely, if the pump runs but never delivers water, say because well water level has fallen too low or because the pump itself is damaged, the pump motor may run until it overheats and goes off on thermal reset.

See our diagnosic suggestions at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE

Question: does a home water pump need a water tank?

does a home water pump need a water tank. can i run the water pump without a water tank. some days no water will reach 2nd floor. and some days even on the 1st floor water is weak. currently running no pump. - Ian 9/25/2011


Why do we need a water pressure tank?


with a water pressure tank and the air "spring" that it contains, the pump will short cycle on and off rapidly in many circumstances, delivering water in spurts and short cycling the pump on and off rapidly in any case at which water is being run more slowly than the pump output capacity.

That's because water is practically non-compressible.

The air charge in the water pressure tank acts as a giant "spring" to give a continuous flow of water and to work with the pressure control switch to turn the pump on and off at a range of pressures typically about 20 psi apart, such as on/off at 20/40 psi or at 30/50 psi.

An exception, where no water pressure tank is needed, is when a water pump is being used in an open system, such as pumping water out of a creek or pond into an open stock watering tank or planting field

. In that case, because the pump is picking up water from its source and pushing it to a destination without a restriction in the system, the pump moves water continuously as long as it is on and does not stop until it is turned off.

Question: pump priming success using a garden hose connection

I used this workaround with great success. It saved me from having to mess with the pump at all. With this solution you really don't need to touch the pump or any of the plumbing. Very clever! DanMan 9/30/2011


Quite so

In fact we started using this procedure of finding a way to "back prime" the well pump and piping by connecting a garden hose to a good water source (say a nice neighbor) when dealing with pumps that were so old and rusty that it was perfectly obvious that trying to open a pump priming plug or well pipe connection was going to lead to a whole day or more of repairing and replacing parts.


(May 29, 2011) loyd said:

thank you for your help

Question: we run out of water

(Oct 29, 2011) JAMES BIXBY said:

Pump runs and pumps water until water is gone from pipes and pump housing water is gone.


James, please see WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE and let me know if you have further questions.

Comment: multiple pump-prime attempts needed

(May 26, 2012) mrac5 said:

After 3rd time it worked like a charm. Thanks!


(Sept 1, 2012) Evelyn said:

We are losing our prime, we have a one line jet pump, 1 1/4 inch line, 140 feet to well and about a 19ft drop, the pump sits below the water line, we have primed from the foot valve many times,

we are priming from the foot valve and had the water working, but have lost the prime again, this is the third foot valve, and we have replaced the pump with another one and made sure the pump worked before installing. Help!!

(Oct 28, 2012) Dave said:

my well is on a hill about 15 higher than my basement where my pump and tank are located..spent all day trying to prime my 2 line jet pump and push that water up the hill to fill all my lines..

tried the garden hose method...pump was primed and running under 15 minutes...thans to whoever came up with this idea!

(Nov 18, 2012) karen said:

motor to electric well water pump running, but no water is pumping through. What can we do?


If priming the pump still gets no water then there is a piping leak, a damaged pump, or similar problem.

If priming the pump gets water but the pump keeps losing prime, most likely there is a bad foot valve, check valve, or a piping leak....

Or of course your well could be dry.


(Nov 27, 2012) Stacie Andrews said:

Hi, My switch reads 58 psi but I'm getting nothing but air throughout the house. We have a submersible pump. Where should I start?


If yours is a submersible well pump, priming isn't the issue as the pump is under water in the well. In that case I suspect a defective air volume control system problem or a piping leak problem.

Question: ssssss noise at the pump

(Nov 30, 2012) David L said:

My pump runs 5 min build up the pressure to 50psi, then stop, the pressure keep dropping for about 2 min, then down to about 40 psi, the pump starts again. I use 20kwh electricity a day just the pump. I can hear the water running back down to the pump with the "sssssssss" noise.

There is no control value between the pump and the wall leading to the well. If I add a check value between the pump and the wall, do you think it will solve the problem?


That hissing noise is typically air escaping from an air volume (AIR VOLUME CONTROLS, WATER TANK) control that is releasing excess air.

Your well may use one of several types of SNIFTER & DRAIN BACK VALVES

Question: my pump won't catch a prime

(Dec 30, 2012) cory said:

my pump won't catch a prime


Cory if you are priming through the pump opening you may have success with the garden hose approach in the article above. Othewise I suspect a well piping leak or loss of water in the well or a damaged well pump.


Question: jet pump ran constantly after an electrical power outage

(Jan 8, 2013) Billy Ray said:

After loss of power during a short blackout the Jet pump constantly ran and no water as coming into the house. I attempted to prime the line via an opening on top of the jet pump which house a pressure gauge.

The water would come to the top and blow out of the opening. i continued on with this for days, adding water till it gets tot he top and re screwing the gauge back on then tuning the pump on to no success. I finally decided to check the foot valve and found that it was broken; so I replaced the foot valve; still no water.

found a crack on the larger pipe where it was connected to the jet pump; so I cut the length of the crack off, then purchased new pipe and cut it to length and attached with a connector. still no water is coming into the house whatsoever and I'm not sure what to do at this point.

I do however hear water coming into the larger pipe when I'm in the man hole that the well originates from and can hear water running back down the well when the pump is shutoff. it's almost like the water is coming up to the pump, but stopping there and not entering the house.


Billy Ray,

Often a bad check valve or foot valve is slowly leaking water from the pump back into the well, but because we have electical power, when pressure drops the pump comes back on and restores pressure and water to the water tank often enough that the system never loses prime.

We describe this process as one of th causes of WATER PUMP INTERMITTENT CYCLING

But when we lose electricity the pump can't keep re-priming itself so we lose prime and lose water.

You may need to prime the system.

If that doesn't work and if we are sure there are no other well piping leaks (check in the well too), then possibly that long run-time on the pump ran the pump dry and damged the motor, bearings, or pump impeller.


Question: trouble with pump drawing water from a below-ground cistern or tank

(Mar 1, 2013) Dan said:

Hello, I'm trying to troubleshoot a problem with the water system in my home. The information at this site has been a big help thinking the problem through, but I haven't figured it out yet. I'm hoping you may be able to help.

My home has a pump and pressure tank that draws water from a buried 1500 gallon water tank in the yard.

The buried tank is filled from a well with a well pump which is triggered by a float switch in the tank. Recently the pump to the pressure tank in the house started to run continuously without increasing pressure in the tank. I shut the pump off via the circuit breaker and found the water line into the house from the buried tank was empty (that pipe has heat trace to prevent freezing and so was hot to the touch, indicating it was empty).

I checked the buried tank through the stand pipe and found it was over 1/2 full and so that was not the problem. I then reset the circuit breaker to the pressure tank pump and after about 30s of running it began building pressure to 50 and shut off and there was water in the waterline to the pump again.

However, a day later the problem reappeared: pressure tank pump was running without building pressure and water pipe into the house was empty despite the buried tank having water in it. Again, I tripped and reset the circuit breaker and the pump ran and built pressure and all was well. This problem seems to reoccur every day or so.

The only change I've made to the water system in my house recently was replacing the hot water heater last month. When I replaced it, I added 2 ball valves to the waterline upstream from the pump. All the soldered connections seem good.

It seems there might be a problem with the line between the tank and the house, but I don't understand why resetting the the pump solves the problem for a day or 2. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Question: should I replace the pressure gauge when I replace the pump pressure switch?

(Mar 11, 2013) jessica 3/11/13 said:

my question was should i replace the pressure gauge now that i already replaced the pressure switch due to kept on tripping and had to refill water for repriming pump, not building any pressure.??


It's very inexpensive and now is a good time to replace a gauge that is damaged or ot working. And if the root problem was debris clogging at the pressure switch then the gauge may be clogging too.

Question: pump doesn't lose prime or I primed it but still have no water. How do I diagnose & fix the problem?

Jan 25, 2014) Anonymous said:

my pump doesn't loose prime, but it still will not bring water into the basement--why?

(Mar 7, 2014) Kevin Airheart said:

My pump came on and pumped water for about 10 mins then shut off...Now when U turn it on U can hear the pump running but no water...


Anon, if you get no water into the building and the pump has prime there may be loss of water in the well, a well piping leak, or a frozen pipe.
Search InspectAPedia for

Diagnose loss of water pressure

To see a list of things to check


Since you had water for a time, if you lost water while the pump was still running that suggests that either the well has run out or there has been a leak in well piping, or the pump itself is damaged;

If you lost water after the pump shut off, then turned back on, the well may have lost prime, perhaps from a bad foot valve or check valve.


Question: I have water pressure but the pump is running a long time

(Mar 11, 2014) connie said:

A friend came this afternoon and primed the pump . He also added air to the blue tank.

So I have water pressure in the house but the pump is running a long it refilling the water heater?

I now, have turned the pump off was hot. The pressure wouldn't go above 20 even though we were at 45 or so when he left.



We can't tell without further diagnosis, but the problem could be

- a leak in the well piping
- low water in the well
- a damaged pump that can't reach full water pressure
- low voltage to the pump
- or water running in the building that you didn't notice

If you turn off water into the building and the pump still can't bring the pressure tank up to pressure high enough to turn off the pump, then the problem has been narrowed down somewhat.

For a diagnostic procedure see WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING

Question: primed the pump but still get no water. What might be wrong?

5/27/14 George McVey said:

Shallow well is 15 meters deep, 5+ meters of water. A 1hp jet water pump is rated for 22 meters head pressure, but NO water comes out.

Foot valve was checked and working properly. Primed pump using prime hole, after filled with water, water level stayed up. Returned prime screw, turned on pump...and still very little water for a few seconds, then nothing. Is pump worn out? What does it take to repair pump?


George the pump impeller could be damaged, but before replacing the pump I'd try a more thorough priming.

Often if you are filling the pump cavity with water (priming the pump) but the whole line to the well is air-filled, that single water dose isn't enough. The pump quickly draws air into the pumping chamber and is air bound again.

The solution is repeated priming through the pump prime opening, or easier is to use the garden hose hookup for priming as described in the article above.

If that still doesn't work see See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR

Keep me posted

Question: have to keep re-setting my Utility-Tech pump controller

(May 29, 2014) jerry said:
why does my utilitytech 30/50 Pressure Switch have to be reset everytime the power is turned off


(May 29, 2014) (mod) said:
I'm not sure, Jerry. Usually this sort of problem comes up because while power is off a leak, say at a foot valve, causes the system to lose prime. Some pressure switches have a safety feature (to protect the pump) that switches off the pump until manually reset if the switch sees that the pump is running without delivering water.

It might be that a cycle or two is in your case enough to restore prime and thus water.

Question: how much air to put into the pressure tank

(June 9, 2014) Alex said:
I have a submersible pump system with a 62 gal tank w/bladder and I have a water leak somewhere.

I assumed my system was quite old (installed in 1973) so I installed a new tank, switch & guage. DIDN'T HELP. I also have a frost free spigot which could be bad.

(July 3, 2014) James said:
Do you know how much air i'm supposed to put in the air tank?




we explain how to figure out how much air pre-charge to put into the pressure tank. Please take a look at that data and let me know if it's unclear in any way.

Question: water pressure surges every few seconds

(July 5, 2014) Bobby Loepz said:
I have a well that I use only to water my property. Over the last few weeks the flow has diminished greatly and it surges every few seconds. What could be causing that?


Bobby for surging water pressure please see the diagnostics at


Question: submersible pump + jet pump installed at the same building: keep losing prime

(July 13, 2014) Ray said:
We live in a rural wooded area. with a submersible well pump out side and a jet pump sitting on top of a pressure tank in the basement. Cycles between 30-50 psi. Everytime we lose power, I have to prime it again and it takes about 10 gal into the jet pump than I'm good again.

Doesn't matter if I use no water and the power is only out for an hour, I still need to prime it.

When we do have power, the jet pump gauge drops slowly and will cycle on and rebuild pressure also if don't use any water. I have turned off the water line coming off of the jet pump when the power goes out to avoid losing prime, but that still doesn't work. Im just starting to get annoyed with priming everytime the power goes out.

Do I need to replace the pressure tank? or something in the outside well?



Surely you don't have two pumps,ma submersible in the well and an above ground jet pump. I'm unclearmhowmthat system would work. The rest of your query suggests a leaky foot valve in the well.

See PUMP PRIME, REPEATED LOSS of if you can't keep the pump primed

Question: well pump runs hot

(Aug 6, 2014) Pump is runing hot said:
Pump is runing hot


Hot pump

Check for:

long pump on times because well water flow rate is poor or lost completely, or because of a leak or excessive use

worn pump bearings

low voltage

keep us posted -

Question: franklin j-class series v pump that is constantly running and not pumping any wate

(Aug 14, 2014) Barry said:
I have a franklin j-class series v pump that is constantly running and not pumping any water.

The pump is only three months old. It is installed in a large holding tank that is part of my water treatment system. The problem started after I drained the tank to clean it. when I fillled the tank back up, I turned on the power, and the pump ran constanty without pumping any water.

I believe this pump has a check valve...but not sure how to get it to start pumping water. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Some pumps, run for a time dry, can suffer a damaged bearing or impeller. I'd pull the pump and inspect it.

Look for a damaged impeller.

Question: hole in tank bladder causes loss of prime?

(Oct 17, 2014) Roy E. Pierce said:

If bladder has a hole in it and you trying to prime your pump will that make the pump not want to prime?


Yes, no, yes as follows:

  1. Yes: in the very short run, water seeping out of the tank and pump into a LARGE pressure tank with a burst bladder might lose pump prime a time or two.
  2. No not directly - loss of prime usually means that water has drained backwards out of the pressure tank and pump body and well piping and into the well (or outside somewhere where there's a leak in the well piping
  3. And yes indirectly: the short cycling from a waterlogged pressure tank can damage a pump so it will no longer prime. So if the bladder leak caused a waterlogged than that might be the end result.

Question: putting chlorine into the pump?

(Oct 23, 2014) compton said:

I have a well with a submersible pump I open the plug on top of the well and throw in a mixture of 3 gallons of water and 4 pints of chlorine sanitizer into the well

then I put my garden in the hole on top of the well from my out side faucet try to flush the system out and

about 15 minutes after I started to lose water pressure very fast i close off the faucet and the pump takes along time to build back pressure when I open a faucet could anyone tell me what I did wrong and how to get back my normal water pressure.



I can't quite see from your message what went wrong. I'd look for a leak somewhere in the piping system or loss of water in the well itself.


(Nov 29, 2014) Eric said:
I have a water pump which flooded 3' of water. I acquired sump pump to get rid of the water. I noticed the small hose on the pump was disconnected. after cleaning the pump I turned on electrical power which blew a circuit. Is there a way to prime the pump?



Watch out: flooded electrical equipment is unsafe, may be shorted, may risk shock or electrocution hazards. Best advice is to have the equipment and circuit inspected by an electrician who is familiar with water damage.

Second your pump may have been damaged and thus will bind or is stuck and thus cause a circuit breaker to blow. I would leave the pump off.

There is no point in talking about priming the pump motor when the pump does not run and the electrical circuit is unsafe.

Question: Sue doesn't have a neighbour with a long hose and good water pressure

(Feb 18, 2015) sue said:
well that PRIME the PUMP using a GARDEN HOSE is useless. Nearest neighbor is a mile away.


Thanks Sue. Obviously the hose procedure for priming.a well pump is not for everyone. This article series explains other pump priming methods for
people in your position and disposition.

At WATER PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE you can read how to prime a well pump directly through the pump's priming port.

Before assuming that a water problem is due to the well itself, remember that there could be other troubles, even simply a loss of power to the pump.

See WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.

Question: lost prime after broken PVC well pipe

(July 15, 2015) William F. said:
My lawn tractor recently broke a PVC pipe coming out of my well pipe. The PVC pipe contained a check valve. I replaced the PVC pipes and check valve, but cannot figure out how to prime this lawn sprinkler system. I removed the cap in a tee at the top of the well and ran water from a hose into the well for some time without noting any difference.

Should the well fill? It has been dry lately. I could and may prime the pump itself, but I imagine that if I haven't primed the well, the pump will not pull water with an air pocket in the well pipe. Any advice?

I called a pump person to come out to prime the system. It was not as hard as I imagined.

We put water in the pump and turned it on. It eventually pulled water up into the sytem. The pump person had a hand held pump that was attached and used it though I doubt that it was doing that much since the pipes going out of the pump were left open.

So apparently the pump pulls air as well as water. Next time I'll know what to do.

Reply: how the water pump sound changesd when the pump and pipes are successfully primed


Thanks for the comments. In fact some pumps can pull a limited amount of air out of well supply piping and can re-prime themselves with a little help.

When water enters the pump the sound it emits changes significantly - usually to a quieter hum.

If I don't hear that sound and don't see water being delivered after a minute or two I turn OFF the pump and prime further.

WATCH OUT: running a pump dry can destroy the impeller assembly or bearings.

Question: how much water to prime a pump?

Oct 5, 2015) wilsq36 said:
How much water should it take to prime a deep well jet pump? My well is 60'.

I have a two-line Gould J05 jet pump mounted to my tank. I have lost all water pressure and I tried to prime through the plug on top of the pump.

I don't have a close enough water source to use the garden hose method, so I will need to prime it manually.



You may need enough water to fill the volume of the pipe from pump to foot valve in the well as well as the pump body itself.

If you need to actually calculate that volume you need only to know the length and internal diameter of the piping that you need to fill, plus allowing a few quarts of water to fill the pump body.

See STATIC HEAD, WELL DEFINITION for calculation details that will let you compute the volume of water needed to fill a pipe.

Question: prime not lost but pump stops

(Jan 15, 2016) Tracie said:
Well isnt losing prime but water flow stops after bout ten minutes. When i check the pump is running and its still primed. Checked for leaks. None. Now what do i try?


Tracy, turn off your well pump for half an hour.

If water pressure returns then you know the problem is not your pump so that you're well flow rate is very poor and you are running out of water.

Question: prime lost after we primed the pump

(Jan 18, 2016) Lora said:
After priming pump it builds pressure kick pump out then when you open the valve the pressure drops and pump kicks back on but then you lose prime


Maybe a bad foot valve or check valve

Question: no plug to open to prime the pump

(Feb 13, 2016) buster said:
My pump is small with no primer plug. It's a shallow well. Can i prime it by filling the tank?? It's the only thing with a plug.


IF water from the pressure tank can back-drain into the pump (that depends on where the pump is located) you can probably make that work. Take care not to run the pump dry or it may be damaged.

Or connect a garden hose to the tank drain and back-prime the tank and pump from a nearby source that has water pressure.

Question: pump can't lift water the required distance even after priming

(May 18, 2016) Anonymous said:
we have motor pump now we use priming proper also but the motor pump cant pump water up from the sea, the distance of our pipe going to sea is 300 meters away we used also check valve,can you please advise what to do.


I suspect that the pump impeller is damaged, the piping is leaking, or the pump is under-powered for the lift height. Also check for a stuck check valve.

Question: What is the black valve under the pressure switch for?

(May 23, 2016) Bryan said:
On the image of the F&W. What is the black valve under the pressure switch for? I have one on my F&W and wondering what its for, haven't had something like it on other pumps.


Sorry Bryan I'm not sure to which image you refer.

Reader follow-up:

The second pic, the one of the F&W right under the heading "Detailed Step by Step Procedure for Direct Priming a Well Water Pump" the black valve comes off the back of the pump head and the pressure switch is on top of it and then it looks like cooper pipe coming off its side.

Just trying to figure out what the purpose of that regulator thing is for on the F&W pump. I only see 2 pics on this page.

Moderator reply:

That's an adjustable pressure regulator. The water leaves this pump and tank system through the upper right side of the pump housing.

Question: pump won't build pressure above 12 psi

2016/07/18 said:
I have a new shallow well pump that will pump water but not build pressure above 12 PSI. And sometimes fluctuates rapidly between 10-30 PSI. Well has 3 Ft Point (new). and 1 hp new Pump. Why wontit build pressure?


Mark we list the causes of this problem at

Question: pipe on top of the pump blew off, trouble priming the pump, spigot left on

2016/07/19 HBaz333 said:
Yesterday the pipe on top of the pump blew off (most likely because it was PVC instead of a galvanized pipe 😡), fixed that but now no water, tried priming it but the person priming left a spigot open the whole time

and also did not notice leaks coming from the pipe that supplies the house. Does this sound like a well problem or that it was just not primed correctly yet? Waiting on a plumber now but if I can do this myself then I'd rather



Let's first be clear, as there are some very serious safety concerns about over-pressure conditions in water systems. If what broke was a plastic pipe part rather than the pump housing itself, then the failure was in the piping not the pump assembly.

Nevertheless, your pressure tank and pump system should include a pressure relief valve, required on all pressurized tanks or vessels by building codes and standards. That will protect against not only damaging but potentially fatal bursting of plumbing system components.

If your pump pressure control switch is not working properly (debris-clogged perhaps) it might fail to properly shut off the pump at a safe pressure.

So after you have restored water by priming the pump as described in this article series, and before using the system, you'll want to assure that the system is safe, the pressure control switch working properly, and that a relief valve has been installed at the pump and tank.

I doubt you can successfully prime a pump and well system if at the same time the water system is draining water out of a faucet or spigot. Close those and try again.

Question: water comes out of the top of the pump when I prime it

(May 17, 2015) Dave said:
I have a old A.o Smith Corp Well Pump, when i Prime it the water comes to the top of the pump where i install the water,but i have to hurry and put cap on and turn the pump on or it loses its prime,

And it got to where the pump would go off every two min.because it was losing pressure, so i change the pipe and foot valve.I tried to prime it but the water keeps going down

so i toke it apart and the pipe had water in it, so the foot valve is working.there is a small opening under cap where pipe hooks up to. it looks like a air opening the think water might be going though that and going down between pipe and outer pipe casing.



When the pump is losing prime as you describe I think water is running back down a pipe into the well or possibly out through a piping leak.

I'm not sure what opening you are referring to - use our CONTACT link to send me some photos if you like and I can comment further.


you'll find these articles giving alternative ways to prime the pump

May 17, 2015) Dave said:
I just emailed you the two pictures, from my wife's email.

Mod said:

Got em. This looks like an older model Sta-Rite jet pump with an adapter that perhaps mounted the pump atop the well casing or water tank. (If you can see a model number on the data tag that'd be helpful).

You can also get help from Pentair or direct from Sta-Rite -

Dave when you say the water keeps going down - it's got to be going somewhere, right? That should tell us where the leak is.

When you fill the pump through the priming opening if the water is leaking out and it's not visibly leaking at the pump itself then it's either passing into the water tank or into the well.

Double check your piping and connections.

Question: pump lost prime while running

(Sept 18, 2015) JC said:
Pump lost prime while running. Re-piped from well to pump. Primed easy, but stopped pumping water while running after 10 min. No casing pipe drop pipe only, well is about 80'.


I suspect you exhausted the water in the well; else a pipe has broken.

Question: will pump keep prime while turned off?

(Oct 12, 2015) RG said:
I have a jet pump inside my house. I will be going away for several months during the winter and will be turning my main water valve off and leaving the pump power on. Will the pump be able to maintain its prime or do I need to periodically have someone run the water?


Perhaps if there is no leaky check valve or foot valve you'll be OK.

Search InspectApedia for FREEZEPROOFING to read some important suggestions.

Question: Davey pump keeps losing prime

(Dec 5, 2015) Jorg Backhaus said:

I have a Davey Pump where I have replaced 2.5 years ago, 28 meters of poly pipe, 1x1.5 & 1x2" long

, I checked the footvalve, was ok, now 2.5 years later I had to bring all back up again because I kept losing water and had to prime overnight again & again, I replaced the footvalve lowered the whole lot, it worked for three days and now when I switch the pump on in the morning I need to prime again!

The Bore is 35.7 m down, with the footvalve sitting @ 32 m and the depth of the Water level is 15.7 m! Could you please tell me what I need to do to over come this problem! Kind regards, Jorg


(mod) said:
Loss of air in the tank, Jorg, will cause short cycling on and off of the water pump but not intermittent or unexplained cycling.

If there were an overcharge of air in the pressure tank that air normally exits and is discharged at the building plumbing fixtures but it could enter the pump.

(Dec 6, 2015) Jorg Backhaus said:
Thanks for all your suggestion dan joe friedmann!
Kind regards


Continue reading at PRIME the PUMP, HOW TO through the pump priming plug If you do not have such a source available, we provide alternative methods, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see PUMP PRIME, REPEATED LOSS of if you can't keep the pump primed

or if priming the pump is just not working for you see WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR.

Or see this

Water Pressure & Water Pump Article Series

Suggested citation for this web page

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


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