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Well water pump won't start or won't run, diagnostic FAQs:
This article provides answers to frequently-asked questions about water pumps or well pumps that will not start or will not run.
If the well pump or control switch makes no noise at all, just hums or clicks, and when the water pump simply does not run these diagnostic questions may help track down and repair the trouble.
This article series gives diagnosis & repair advice for well or water pumps, controls, tanks, water pressure, water flow, water quantity.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2017 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
These questions & replies were posted originally at TABLE 1: PUMP WON'T RUN so be sure to check out those diagnostics too.
On 2017-06-05 by (mod) re: what to do when the pump motor hums but won't start
Just about any electric motor that hums but wont' run
should be TURNED OFF right away to avoid further damage, possibly a shock or fire hazard
Ok now that that's done, I'll continue:
Common causes for a pump that won't run are in the parent article to this page:
TABLE 1: PUMP WON'T RUN
There you'll several causes for a pump that won't start.
I suspect your humming water pump has one of the following
- a bad or failed start/run capacitor
- a seized impeller or pump motor bearing
- low voltage
- something else I've included in the table
On 2017-06-05 by Tyler
It will only hum***
My pump want run, it will him for a few seconds and kick back off, the pump is hot to the touch
On 2017-05-31 by Ed
My old began to have problems . I replaced it with a new one same HP and style (convertible shallow well pump). The first new pump worked but the became hot and shut off. I called the pump manufacturer and they told me it was defective. Returned and decided to go with a different brand.
Installed that one and everything seemed fine while testing after install. Took a shower and the next time the water was following that shower there was no pressure. I checked the pump and its humming. Turned it of and on several times and it kicked off and ran. Built up pressure, when the pressure dropped it the contact engaged and the hum started again. Now I'm concerned there may be a deeper problem since I had a problem with two different new pumps. I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks
On 2017-05-06 by (mod) re: pump runs but no water comes out
Please use the search box just above to search this website for
NO WATER PRESSURE
To see several really helpful diagnostic articles that will List the common causes of the problem you described as well as the steps to correct the problem
On 2017-05-04 by Shubhashis ghosh
My submurshible pump motor is working but water is not comes out
On 2017-04-09 by (mod) re: smoking pump motor: turn it OFF right away
Smoke means I would turn the pump OFF pending a proper repair since you're risking an electrical fire.
when a motor runs when given a push usually that means there's a bad start/run capacitor.
On 2017-04-09 by Steff
I have a 1.5kw pressure pump which when connected straight to a wall plug without the pressure control unit its starts fine when I twist the impeller and runs beautifully but looking at the connection box for the wiring I can see smoke coming from the electrical coils compartment.
When I tested it it was on n dry run just to see if their is power to the pump. Does the lack of water cause the smoke or is there something else wrong? The wiring is connected as per the diagnostic diagram on the inside of the junction box.
On 2017-03-28 15:25:00.318566 by (mod)
I too have read about the difference in power curve properties between backup battery systems (square wave) and grid power systems (sine wave) but I don't think we have to focus on that difference to solve this problem.
You'll want to either buy a self-contained battery-backup aquarium pump (the less expensive solution) or to buy a true battery backup system - also referred to as "double conversion" power backup systems. The DC battery is charged from line voltage (until a power outage) but the power the unit produces from the DC battery is converted back to normal or standard AC power. These will cost 3-5 times a battery-backup acquarium pump but could be needed to handle either longer power outages or larger pumps.
Indeed many battery backups don't provide the same current draw (amps) that a motor might use briefly at start-up; but I'd expect that if you try out a larger battery-backup system that will solve the problem.
One thing that always gives me courage in attacking a question like this is that I figure someone has already had the problem and has come up with a solution. I looked around and found that several companies sell battery-backp pumps specifically for aquariums, since obviously we don't want a power outage to kill the fish or whoever else is living in the aquarium.
Some battery backup aquarium pump vendors include
APC Smart-UPS aquarium backup systems
Azoo whose pump will run for 10 or more hours if there is a power failure
On 2017-03-28 by Tim
Hi I have a small water pump that I use for a saltwater aquarium. I live in a country that power comes and goes, so we use automatic invertors and run off batteries when there's no power. Trouble is the pump has trouble starting on batteries - just click and rattles and takes about 15 minutes to start. I've checked the voltage at the plug - 120 same as with power from the company.
I've tried other pumps, and other outlets - same result. The only difference I can see is that the invertor is quasi-sine (or modified sine)... would this make a difference? Are pumps sensitive to this?
On 2017-03-25 by (mod)
Start at the electrical panel to confirm that the breaker or fuse is intact.
Confirm power at the pump wall switch
Confirm power at the pump pressure-control switch
Watch out: opening any cover or box that exposes live electrical connections or wires risks death by electrocution if you are not familiar with and trained in safe practices.
On 2017-03-25 by pat
Well pump no power
On 2017-02-26 18:01:03.680023 by (mod)
Sounds as if your pump has been running dry, overheating, and is in danger of being damaged; if it's not delivering water, leave it off. The problem could be that there's no water in your well. Search InspectApedia for DIAGNOSE LOST WATER PRESSURE
On 2017-02-26 17:49:00.824879 by nancy
The water pressure has been dropping low then comes back for a few weeks now last night lose water all together try to prime it will kick on and suck water pressure goes up but once I put hose back on pressure drops to 0 . I did pour water over pump to cool because it was very hot now when I try to prime the pump smells like wire burning and smokes white smoke could the smoke be cause the water I poured on it . and the reason pressure drops back to 0 when I put hose back on.
On 2017-02-12 02:02:39.629171 by Peter
Well pump hot to touch. Low water pressure. Turned pump off but now it won't come back on, just hums.
On 2017-01-14 18:36:52.154031 by (mod)
Sounds to me like a wiring problem, perhaps damaged wire or a bad connector. Less likley but possible: a failing pump motor that's drawing high current.
On 2017-01-14 12:51:17.343047 by Niranjan Shukla
I have a 2 pump submersible system for my residence to pump water - both are 1/2 hp. I have set it so that the pumps run alternately to lift water to the overhead tank.
One of the pumps often fails to start - the same pump always - and the display panel shows 'U.C' (for under current). However, if I start the other pump manually for a minute or so, put it back to the Auto mode (so that it goes on Standby) and then switch over to the U.C. pump in 'Auto' mode, it starts running perfectly till the upper tank is full. This happens regularly but not every time. What can be the reason for the same pump to display under current - I have set this at 5.3 Amps, and to start functioning normally if the alternate pump is operated for a minute ( or less even ) ?
On 2017-01-03 22:20:45.143708 by (mod)
It sounds as if you've found a bad wire to the pump, but honestly I'm scared you're going to get electrocuted. If you've not got expertise in electrical wiring it'd be better to ask for help from an electrician to be sure that the wiring is safe for you and anybody else around.
On 2017-01-03 22:04:35.255960 by Kyle
Ok question my well motor stopped working so I went looking at it pulled the pressure switch top thing off and filed the points.nothing so I seen a half cut wire running from the back inside of the pump to 1 of the four things were you screw the wires down and I took the one cut wire fixed it still nothin but I touched the wire to the grounding wire on the inside bottom of the points pressure switch and it sparks and the motor kicks on what could be the solution
On 2016-11-25 00:23:07.988287 by Jennifer
Ive been living here 10 yrs never had a problem with my well except for having to change pressure switch and the past couple weeks my water pressure has been surging I thought maybe its cause of the drought we are in...but tonite I was washing my hands and the water was fine one min. And then just stopped the next. I went out the power pole and the breaker was on but no sound from my well at all...what could it be?
On 2016-10-18 22:00:00.825221 by Melanie
We ran out of water but now that we have the pump wont start at all is a star rote for a house
On 2016-09-14 02:48:36.431161 by (mod)
Yes, a water pump that has running dry can suffer damage to a bearing or a pump impeller or even a pump motor causing it to fail to deliver adequate water pressure or flow rate.
On 2016-09-10 19:09:32.284357 by Kelly
My well tank bladder ruptured and caused my well pump to constantly short cycle do not know how long this went on for work. I replace the well tank pressure switch and tank T. Then I started having loss of water and water pressure. So then I pulled the well pump figuring it may be the check valve so I replace the check valve and reinstall the pump in the welland two weeks later it started doing the same thing again. Could this be a problem with the pump because it was short cycling so often it seems like there is enough water in the well.
On 2016-08-24 19:04:14.835649 by (mod)
If the new pump runs (briefly so as to avoid damage) when connected to power separately then the problem is in the existing pump circuit or control. See if your control has a pump protection switch or feather that's tripped.
On 2016-08-24 18:22:28.401794 by Richard Boll
Was using my hose the other day - pump shut off pressure dropped to zero. Pump is less than a yr old. Has been working fine til now. 230v Red Lion Shallow well jet pump. Checked the breaker was still on - shut off & on again - nothing ! Checked the Electric line - no problems - checked power at the pressure switch 115/120 both sides. Still not working. Bought a new pump - changed all the fittings - primed - ready to run - hooked up power & nothing again !! Extremely frustrated! Bad Capacitors? Bad Pressure tank ? Something easy and stupid ? I'm at a loss !??
On 2016-06-09 18:05:51.345938 by (mod)
Check for a water-logged pressure tank. Or search InspectApdedia for WATER TANK AIR HOW TO ADD
On 2016-06-08 13:30:26.255942 by Angel
Water pump would hum for approximately 30 seconds then stop. We thought it was the pressure switch and replaced it. Pump is doing the same thing. Is my pump bad or should I have checked bladder tank pressure? We also checked for prime but plenty of water still in lines.Don't know what to do. Please help.
On 2015-11-03 14:04:31.532508 by (mod)
Dave, find our email at the page bottom CONTACT link and send me some sharp high-resolution photos so I can understand what's going on and what you're looking-at. I'm not sure if we're seeing rust, a simple leak, a failed tank, mud or debris contamination of the water supply or what.
On 2015-11-03 13:41:12.699362 by Dave
I have a large amount of orange/brown mud that has oozed out of the rubber hose that connects between the tank and the top priming valve. It is at the top of the hose around the clamp. I am not well versed on the names of parts. But the orangish mud leaked on to the electrical plug for the pump and tripped the breaker. Is this a major headache that will require a professional?
On 2015-09-15 13:25:58.493093 by (mod)
Terri I suspect either a wiring error or capacitor of wrong specs. Look first for a short circuit in the well wiring.
On 2015-09-15 09:17:43.463248 by Terri
Turned on new 3/4 hp deep well 220 volt pump and it blew the capacitor.It was a new control box.
I have a approx. 10 year old well pump that hasn't been ran in about 2 years. The motor ohms out good but just hums. Is there an easy way to break it free from not running for an extended period. And will just taking the pump out and turning the impeller by hand and then cycling power to run it back in to free it up cause any kind of water logging or vapor locking of water side? - Ken 3/18/12
(June 28, 2015) richie said:
pump won't start
Ken the motor could be frozen - it may be freed by a complete disassembly and cleaning of the pump motor. OR the problem could be a broken or jammed pump impeller. If you disconnect the impeller assembly from the pump motor you can see which part is jammed, and what to replace.
If the pump motor and impeller will both spin by hand (power disconnected so you don't get killed), then the problem could be a bad pump motor start capacitor if your pump uses one.
See CAPACITORS for HARD STARTING MOTORS for details.
Richie: Start by checking power, then the switch, wiring, and pump current draw.
(Feb 3, 2014) Donna Giles said:
we have a well and the pump froze up. so we purchased a new pump we made sure that there is water in the well. we wired in the new pump put it in and it would not start . we pulled the pump checked the wiring and made sure that the pump worked. it started fine .we put in back in the well and it will not start. what could the problem be?
This question makes me a bit nervous.
IF I've got this right, when you connect the pump while it's out of the well it runs, but when it's in the well it does not.
You could have an electrical short or improper wire connections at the well or in the well - which sounds like a hazard.
Or it could be that your out-of-well test did not run the pump through the pressure control switch. If the problem is in the pressure switch or its pressure sensor that could leave the pump "off".
Is your pressure switch turning on the pump?
(June 1, 2015) Jimmy Arnold said:
well pump capacitor keeps blowing ever few months?
Look for a shorting pump motor, failing pump motor, or shorted wiring or switch - assuming the capacitor is properly selected and wired.
(July 3, 2015) David Watts said:
Have Rona 1/2 hp pump and when pressured up the motor comes on for 10 seconds then shuts down and comes back on in 1-2 minutes - when not pressurized seems to run fine - 110v - 11/4 inlet - 1" outlet
I agree that the symptoms you cite are a bit confusing. I'd check for a bad pressure switch or pressure sensor tube connected to the switch.
My submersible pump will not start. It is getting power to it but it wont come on. I tested it before putting it in the well and it was fine but now I cant get it to come on. Power is there at the pump but it just wont come on. What is wrong with it. Its only a couple years old. - Joe 8//3/12
Joe, check the amps - current draw when your pump switch sends current to the pump; If there is no current then there is an open break in the wiring; high current sounds like a seized motor.
Similarly, with power OFF and the pump wires disconnected from the circuit above ground you can use a VOM to check for a short, open wire, in the pump circuit and motor.
Unfortunately, unless you find a wire damaged or bad switch above ground it probably means pulling the pump and wiring again. See WATER PUMP WIRING DAMAGE
Can I use solar power to run my well pump? I had a solar power hookup but now the pump has stopped running. Gary 7/13/12
We have a summer cabin in the mtns. Two yrs ago we had a deep well submersible pump put in our well. At this time there are no componets to the well pump. We have the wiring to the pump and that is all. When power was applied at the time the pump was put in, all worked well. The system has not been used since then. We tried to start the pump with solar power from the cabin (extension cord) the pump would not start. My question is, why wont the pump work now, when it did two yrs ago? Thanks for any info. - Gary 7/15/12
About using solar power to run the well pump:
First check that all of the wiring is intact, continuous, without shorts or breaks.
Then check the voltage delivered by your solar converter as well as its current capability (amps) against the pump specs. And if your well pump uses a separate start relay (separate from the pump pressure control switch at the water pressure tank) check for a bad start/run capacitor. There are also resistance tests that with power off can tell you if the pump itself has frozen up.
(Sept 7, 2012) jamie said:
just had a lightning storm blow thru and now my well quit.i can push in the reset button and pump comes on but after a few seconds it trips again.
Look for a damaged pump wiring, lightning damage to the pump, pump control, even a leak in well casing or piping. Start with following the pump controls and wiring. I suspect lightning damage to the pump motor.
(Sept 6, 2014) Marc said:
Previous pump failed after a nearby lightning strike. A new pump on an existing well begins to pump water and build pressure 35-40psi in the collector tank. Then suddenly the water flow seems to stop and impeller portion of the pump gets hot as if the water source has dried up. Could there be something going on down at the water source?
Ask your well driller to check for a damaged well casing and a reduced water level in the well.
(June 6, 2015) Ted said:
water did not come on after electrical outage. What might be wrong?
Check all of the circuit breakers/ fuses for loss of power; also a lightning strike can damage well pump, well piping wiring, or the well itself.
(June 6, 2015) kevin kleinsmith said:
I found pump blew breakers and then replaced pump presure switch, worked ok but took awhile to pressurize but found out the 75 psi pop off valve was spewing water, when I forced the pop off valve closed it now blows breakers twice the amperage, from a 6amp to 10amp and blew a 15amp as well? thinking it could be wiring short in the well? any suggestions?
Watch out: turn this water pump system off and drain water pressure immediately as you are describing possibly fatal hazards of electrical shock or injury from explosing pressure tank or piping.
It sounds as if the pressure control is defective or its pressure sensing port or tube is clogged.
A failing pump motor will also trip breakers.
(July 18, 2015) al said:
I installed a brand new pump, it isn't drawing water from the well, its pumping and then the hose collapses and then shuts off. Water is not being drawn, then it shuts off, went to my other well and it is doing the same. So I don't think the well is dry or clogged, why would the same thing happen on 2 wells. I didn't have a problem with water before installation just replace the pump as I had a leak in the bladder. Thank you.
(July 18, 2015) george said:
I have water in my pump but cant figure out why its not pumping into the house and coming out of the taps.
26 July 2015 Joseph said:
I have a shallow well pump for irrigation. Was running perfect yesterday, and now all of a sudden will not run. When plugged in, makes a humming noise and trips off (in about 4 sec). It almost sounds like a small puff of air blowing when it kicks off. I replaced the capacitor, no problem there. I can turn the shaft - with no problem from back of motor with screwdriver. What else can I trouble shoot without having to disconnect entire system or call in a professional?
In the diagnostic table at WATER PUMP DIAGNOSTIC TABLE check out the section titled
Things to Check if the Well Pump Will Not Start
Humming sounds like a seized motor. The fact that you can turn the shaft argues against that so we might have instead a seized switch or control.
If the motor is drawing high current (amps) that's a good reason to leave it shut off.
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.
The circuit breaker for my well puump has tripped twice today. Well pump is 20 years old. This occurred both times when we had outside spigots open for watering flowers. - Dean 7/1/12
Watch out: for electrical shorts, fire hazards, shock hazrds - if a breaker keeps tripping, leave that circuit off until it's properly diagnosed and repaired.
Circuit breaker trips could be due to a pump motor that is seizing, or a fault in the circuit, wiring, or control switch.
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
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:
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.
(June 4, 2014) mike said:
pump starts then in 10 to 20 seconds either kicks out or blows capacitor in control box. 3/4 hp 230v 6.8 amp with max of 8.0 amp. Pump system has been installed and running for 2 years plus.
When a pump trips a breaker or blows a capacitor I suspect shorted wiring, shorted switch / control, or a failing pump motor.
(Oct 11, 2014) char said:
hardly any pressure of water in our showers etc. we have well water with a pressure tank.
(Nov 22, 2014) sherri said:
I woke up this morning to no water, i have a sump pump, what could be wrong.
(Nov 29, 2014) Anonymous said:
no water to house
12/17/14 Tim Wright said:
I had good water pressure and all of sudden. I had very little pressure
The pump is in about 80 feet of water.But the pump is about 20 years old too
(July 1, 2015) John Stauffer said:
My water well will work for about 20 minutes, then it shuts down. I can re-start it by depressing the disconnect switch. What is my problem ?
Most liklely the well flow rate is very poor and your are pumping water out faster than the well recovers.
A second possibility is an overheating well pump motor. But if that were the case it would not re-start immediately on stopping, as time would be needed for it to cool down.
(July 11, 2015) Anonymous said:
Dear Dan, i have an irrigation network in my home garden using sprinklers that connected and supplied from my home water supply network (bathrooms,showers water faucets and so on..) which supplied from upper roof tank by a pump (booster). and the water supplied to this upper roof tank by another pump located at the entrance of my home (at ground floor),
when the irrigation system stop, no water come down from the upper tank because both two pumps are shut down and needed to be reset manually from their electronic pressure controller, i don't know why? and shall i do to solve this problem?
It sounds to me as if you ran the water out of the rooftop tank and ran the supply pumps dry until they shut off on thermal reset.
Continue reading at DIAGNOSTIC TABLE for WATER PUMPS for table listing causes & cures for well pump problems, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see WATER PUMP DIAGNOSTIC FAQs
Or see WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home
Or see this
Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
See WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE - home
Also see LOW WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - water pressure is weak
Also see NO WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSTIC FAQs - no water is being delivered>
Also see WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS FAQs - various odd water pressure problerms: comes and goes, air bubbles, other
(May 21, 2014) Anonymous said:
at our house trailer in northern Michigan. a lot of snow melt and water rise lifted the pump until it fell over. never happened before so the hose may have tipped it over. when turned on, it hummed for a moment then stopped. power is off now. would water in the pump short it out so it will need to be replaced or can it easily be fixed. getting water is no problem as there are many springs in this lake area.
Sorry Tom Sydor, I'm not sure what the question is. You described a ruined water supply system that sounds as if it needs to be rebuilt, and what sounds like a shorted, burned-up motor or motor start capacitor or control.
(June 27, 2014) Asad said:
it needs a slight push to start the pump. switch was on when ran out of electricity and i forgot to switch it off. after an hour when the light came, since switch was on so pump stuck and did'nt start.. and after half an hour smoke started coming out of wires of the pump... there was a little blasting sound too. what do i do now??
Sounds as if the pump as well as possibly some wiring burned up and need replacement. Also check for proper fusing.
Then check for a failed start or run capacitor.
(July 9, 2014) brian said:
i just replaced a faulty pressure switch and now it keeps tripn the breaker on the out side control box like once a day.
If a breaker keeps tripping there is most likely an intermittent short in your wiring or an overcurrent caused by a failing pump motor.
(Jan 21, 2015) Ray said:
My pump (from tank to house) has been running intermittently and actually shut down twice in the last 24 hours. I went to the pressure switch and was able to manually restart the motor twice, once last night and once this morning. It happened a third time this morning and I was unable to restart it. When I try the manual restart the switch sparks and then I hear only a hum rather than the pump kicking on. I replaced the pressure switch because the contacts looked burned. Still no pump start. I also cleaned out the filter and checked the pressure in the bladder tank. Pressure was very low so I added air up to 25 psi but still have no pump start. Pump is at leat 10 years old. What next?
This sounds like there is a leak somewhere, perhaps a bad foot valve, a leak in well piping, or water running somewhere - that is exhausting water in the well. If the pump no longer starts it may have been damaged by running dry. Start by checking for power, reset switches, etc. to be sure the pump gets power.
If you added enough air pressure to put the tank pressure above the pump cut-in pressure, of course, it'll never start.
(Feb 21, 2015) calvin said:
well water. the gage is reading is over 100ps, I bleed the tank and it went back to 60ty and the pump came on the pressure went back to 100ps which cut the relay off, no water getting to water heater,
Watch out: If the pressure really is that high the situation is dangerous as you can blow the tank or piping, causing injury.
Or the gauge is debris clogged and or faulty.
Check the actual system, pressure independently.
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