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Well Pumps and Troubleshooting

A malfunctioning well pump can create a major hassle in your home and the problem should be handled right away. There are three issues commonly involved when it comes to defective well pumps; troubleshooting tips can be helpful. You know there is a problem when,

  • The well pump motor will not start.
  • The well pump motor starts too often.
  • The well pump motor runs continuously.

Well Pumps Troubleshooting Tips

It is helpful to note the time when the well pump’s motor malfunctioned because an unusual occurrence during the same time period, such as a storm, may have affected the system. But the pump can also experience a variety of other problems due to incorrect installation, manufacturing faults, accidental damage, as well as the normal wear and tear over the years.

The cause for the malfunction may be obvious, so the first step is to examine the pump and its surroundings carefully for anything that may appear out of order.  If all seems right, then further investigation will be required.

If the Well Pump Motor Will Not Start

There are a few possibilities when a pump motor does not start and they usually involve a problem with the electrical system or wiring, so run through these diagnostic steps:

  • Check the circuit breaker or fuse - something may have caused the breaker to flip and the simple action of flipping it back will re-establish electrical power. A faulty or burnt-out fuse would have a similar effect on the motor; it just needs to be replaced.
  • Check the voltage as well as the voltage transfer between the terminals - if there is a problem with the voltage, the best course of action is to call your technician or maintenance provider. Issues with the voltage transfer may be caused by a faulty pressure switch or control box. Replacing the broken part will result in restored power. Take a look at the pressure switch nipple as well, as it may have become clogged or plugged; it is easy and affordable to clean or replace.
  • Check for higher than normal amperage - this could indicate a few problems, including a faulty motor (which will need replacement), a blockage in the impeller housing (which can be removed) or a misalignment between the impeller and motor (which would require realignment).

If the Well Pump Motor Starts Too Often

The diagnostic steps for this issue are as follows:

  • Check that the correct pressure modes have been set - as indicated in the pump's manual, there should be a certain pressure between the On and Off modes of the pump. When that pressure is not set correctly, the motor will act up. This problem may be due to a faulty pressure switch.
  • Check the pipes for leaks - this will require you to inspect both the exposed pipes and the buried ones, as a leak could repeatedly trigger the motor.
  • Check the foot valve for obstructions – any debris in the foot valve will result in continuous priming, which is a waste of power and unnecessary wear on the well pump.

If the Well Pump Motor Runs Continuously

Some of the diagnostic tests for this problem are similar to those done for a motor that does not start or one that starts too often. Follow these steps:

  • Check for voltage transfer between terminals - this is often the result of a faulty control box or pressure switch. Inspect the pressure switch itself for solid and consistent welds.
  • Check intake screen (submersible) or foot valve screen (jet pump) - Obstruction will cause a decrease in water flow. Removing the debris will restore easy flow and give your well pump a rest.
  • Check the well - when a well collapses, it clogs up the piping and the pump, often resulting in a motor that will not shut down until it is worn out. The well must be cleaned out and stabilized.
  • Check the pipes – Examine all the piping to be sure that there is no leak that would cause constant activity in your well pump.

Note that a well pump that is too large for the well can also cause the motor to run continuously.

When encountering faulty or inactive well pumps, troubleshooting often involves many stages of inspection. Your well pump is an important piece of equipment in your home. If in doubt of your ability to resolve the issue at hand, do not hesitate to call in the professionals.