How to Tell if You Need a New Well Pump

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated July 19, 2021
Man testing water pressure in bathroom sink
Maridav / Shutterstock.com

Common signs that you need a new well pump include a lack of running water, poor water pressure, and dirty water

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A water pump is a device that sits above the ground and pulls water from the well and into the pipe system that connects to the home. If a well pump is working as it should, you'll never notice it. The water will run just fine when you turn on a faucet, flush a toilet, or run the shower.

But if the well pump is going bad, it will cause all sorts of problems. And it’s often hard to figure out what went wrong: perhaps it happened suddenly, or maybe you left town and noticed a water pump problem when you got back. Here are some signs to look out for so you can catch these problems earlier.

No Water

The purpose of a well pump is to, well, pump water. So if your well pump isn't working, you’ll probably notice that you cannot get any water from it.

If nothing happens when you turn on a faucet or flush your toilet, that's a sign of the pump not functioning properly. It may not be pulling from the well at all, or you could have a major leak on your hands. Either way, this is a sure sign you need immediate action.

Air in the Pipes

When you turn on the faucet, and there's air coming out in addition to water—and you'll be able to hear a “spitting” sound as the air mixes with the water—then the pump could be the problem.

It could be that the water pump has been installed higher than the water level in your well, so it is poorly pumping water and pulling in a lot of air at the same time. You could also have leaks in your pipes, which are letting out water and letting in air. Either way, you should consider hiring a plumber near you to inspect your system.

The Pump Is Constantly Running

A pump that seems to be running all the time is a pump that is struggling to properly move water through the system This indicates that there may be a leak in the system or some issue with the pressure tank. You may also have a leak in the suction line, which means your intake pipe needs to be primed. Or, you could have a faulty pressure control switch.

Eventually, the pump will wear down and fail completely, so it's an issue you need to address even if it's doing a decent job of pumping water in the meantime. This problem has numerous possible causes, so a professional inspection is likely your best course of action.

Poor Water Pressure

If the water comes out in a dribble when you turn on the faucet or start the shower, your pump could be to blame. Naturally, this is often due to an issue with the pressure tank specifically, but it could also mean a low water level in the well or that your pump isn't the correct size for your well.

Not all pumps are the same; they need to be the correct size for your home, which is determined by factors like overall water usage and how many faucets and toilets you have. If you have a pump that’s too small, the heavy demand on it may cause low pressure problems. A professional can help you to determine whether that’s the case.

Dirty Water

If the water is coming out with dirt or sediment, your pump may be to blame. Dirty water could be a sign the pump is actually too powerful, and so it's pulling everything up from the well, including debris.

But that's not the only possible cause. The pump's filter may be damaged, and therefore, dirt is getting into the pumps. Or the pump may have been installed in the wrong location.

If the water appears dirty, don't consume it. Call a professional to diagnose the problem and avoid using the water until then.

Don’t Ignore Water Pump Issues

If you’ve noticed a problem with your water pump, don’t ignore it, as it will only get worse. You may create health risks by allowing dirty water into your pipes. You could also risk an expensive replacement by allowing the pump to get worn down: A well pump replacement costs between $850 and $2,250.

A well pump repair service near you can inspect your pump and provide a recommendation and a quote so you can deal with the problem immediately and sleep easier.

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