How can you tell if your well pump is bad?

how to tell if your well pump is bad

Modern wells are innovated and upgraded to work better in this era. If we compare it to the traditional method of manual digging to the current practice of well drilling, we can certainly say that modern wells are more efficient to use.

Wells nowadays also have a lot more parts. One of the essential components of a well for modern use is a well pump. Basically, a well pump functions to push water from the well into the owner’s home or irrigation system. By doing this, we no longer have to manually scoop water from a well using a rope and a bucket. Water pumps make it possible to transport the water directly to wherever location we want it to be.

Wells can be seen on islands, states, and far-flung areas that do not have access to potable water. Indeed, a well pump makes our well water system more convenient to use. Unfortunately, there will come a time when we need to fix or replace them. But how can we tell if our well pump is going bad?

The common indicators of a well pump going bad

A functional well pump is considered to be the heart of a water well system. If your well is not doing its work efficiently, there is a huge chance that your pump may be bad.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are seeing the signs of a bad well pump. Just remember that though it is likely that a faulty pump causes the problem, it is always possible that another culprit may be the one that is causing your water supply to be out of touch.

Sign #1: Is there no water coming from your faucets?

well pump no water

One of the most common indicators of a bad well pump is when you open your faucet and nothing comes out. If there is water, you may notice that it has a low pressure compared to its normal state.

Sure, there are many factors that may be at fault in this case. If there is not enough water supply in your area, then drought may be the reason. It can also be due to a low water level or slow recharge of your aquifers. If this happens without a drought announcement or electrical outage, your well pump may be faulty.

Sign #2: Is the water from your well discolored or murky?

If you have water coming out from your faucets but it appears murky, then a bad pump may be at fault. In this situation, your well pump’s filter may not be functioning properly and could be trapping air with the water. Check your water and see if it appears cloudy. If it does, the trapped air bubbles due to an inefficient well pump may be the culprit.

Aside from the well pump, some factors can be causing the appearance of discolored water. This can be due to too much magnesium which can turn the well water black, or a rusted pipe that causes water to turn brown.

Sign #3: Is there a clicking noise on your tank?

Do you hear weird noises coming from your pressure tank? Is it a clicking sound? Or is it more of a banging noise? Yet again, these are the indicators of a failing well pump. When the pump has worn bearings, the drive shaft will make noises as it hits the impeller. This is because the pump’s bearings will eventually thin out after a couple of years. If this is not the case, the pump pressure control switch may be the issue.

Loud noises coming from your well water system are not usually a normal occurrence. It may also be due to a failing motor part that can cause air to be trapped inside the pressure tank.

Sign #4: Is your water smelly or has a weird taste?

Did the quality of your water suddenly change? Does the water from your well give off a faint odor? Is it tasting weird? If the answers to these questions are yes, then your well pump may be causing the issue. If the well pump filter is not able to do its job efficiently, it can also affect the other parts of the system. This can happen when the pump is not filtering out debris which can make its way into your water supply.

Aside from the pump causing the bad odor or taste, then another culprit may be the presence of sulfur bacteria. If you notice a change to your water’s quality, refrain from using it in the meantime and get a water test.

Sign #5: Is your faucet sputtering or spitting air?

Do you hear a rumbling noise coming from your faucet? Does it spit air or sputter when you open it? If this is the case, then there is a high possibility that a bad well pump. This happens when the pump also lets in air bubbles that disrupt the flow of water in your pipes.

As with other indicators, these signs can also be caused by other issues to your water well system. For example, the water level of your well may be too low and as a result, your pump is also trapping air bubbles on your plumbing. Aside from this, the reason can also be an issue with cracked pipes or a leaking pressure tank bladder.

Sign #6: Is there sediment on your water?

Did you get a glass of water from your faucet only to see some sediments or sand on the bottom of your drink? In this situation, it is highly likely that you will need to replace a bad well pump soon. This happens when a faulty pump struggles to push water and also includes the silt sitting on the bottom of the well.

If the pump is not the reason, it is also possible that the screen of your well is already damaged. This causes the sand, sediments, and debris to be on your water supply. In this case, your well pump will also be doing double the work which significantly lessens its lifespan.

Sign #7: Is your water pump running all day long?

Well owners know that their water pumps are not meant to run constantly. If you notice this happening, then it can be a sign of a faulty pump. If the well pump continues to run all day long, then you may need to fix or replace its pressure switch. In some situations, just priming your well again may be enough to solve the problem.

Aside from the pump itself, plumbing leaks may also be the culprit. This is because they may affect the pressure of the water from building properly. As a result, the pressure pump is not able to turn itself off.

Sign #8: Is your electrical bill for the past few months significantly higher?

Finally, one of the signs you may notice if you have a bad well pump is a high electricity bill. The reason for this is that when the equipment is no longer running properly, it overworks itself instead. Well pumps need electricity to run. If it needs to work harder, it does so for a much longer time, and as mentioned earlier, may not turn itself off. This makes your electrical bill skyrocket.

If you are not able to replace your faulty well pump, your bill will stay up until you address the problem. Waiting too long to fix it may even cause a whole load of issues in your well and the water quality.

How a well pump works

In order for us to determine whether our well pump is already going bad or not, we need an idea as to how it works. This knowledge will help us later during the assessment of our water pump and for the troubleshooting we will do.

Owning a water well makes our everyday tasks more efficient. Modern water well systems have to make use of a pump, which is a piece of equipment that pushes the water from your well to your home. Wells get their water supply from a layer of aquifers underground. After a well is excavated and an aquifer supply is drilled into, groundwater will flow from the layers of rocks into the hole.

If an owner does not install a pump in their well, the water will just stay in the hole. This means that he or she would have to manually get water from the well by scooping it into a container. However, if the owner installs a pump, it will be possible to transport the water upwards into the home or designated water system.

There are two popular types of well pumps - the jet well pump and the submersible pump. When you are still choosing which one you should use, your choice will highly depend on the type of well you own.

Shallow wells

Shallow wells are the type of wells that are not considered to be very deep. Hence, most shallow wells are around 25 feet deep or less. During this situation, most wells that are shallow are for residential use that does not need a high amount of yield. However, it is also possible for an owner or contractor to only have to dig less if there is already a sufficient supply of water in the area.

Jet well pumps are often the partner for shallow wells. If the well does not have to be very deep, then drilling may not be necessary. Dug wells are often seen in some remote areas in the United States or in certain islands around the world that do not have access to municipal water.

Deep wells

Deep wells are the type of wells that can easily be hundreds of feet deep. In certain states or islands that are near to latrines or potential sources of contaminants, it may be crucial to drill deeper to the ground to avoid getting contaminated water.

Submersible well pumps are often the partner for deep wells. In situations where the owner lives on an island, drilled wells are necessary to make sure that the structure will not dry out during the low tide. This also ensures that the possibility of contaminating the water during high tide is minimal.

Troubleshooting common well problems

If you suspect that you have a faulty well pump, then it is your duty to determine whether it is really the case. After all, no well owner would want to drink dirty water or risk damaging the well components further. Of course, getting the help of an expert is better, but if you want to try to assess the problem yourself, you can certainly do so.

Listed below are some of the indicators you may notice from your system and tips on how to fix the issue.

The problem: No water or low water pressure

If the reason for this issue is a low water level, then leaving the supply alone for a couple of days may be enough to replenish it. However, if a couple of days passes by and you are still not able to get water, the problem may indeed be caused by a faulty pump.

Steps to fix the problem

  1. Do you currently have electricity in your area? Or was there a power outage? If this is the case, you may need to prime your well pump.

If you want to prime the pump, make sure to turn off your power once it returns and access the pump system. Take a hose and open the relief valve, and then run the water to fill the tank.

  1. If there was no power interruption in your area, then the issue may be due to a low water table. You can try measuring the level using a tape if you have a shallow well. If you own a deep well, then you will need a more accurate tool to assess your water supply.

Once it is clear that the level is low, the best thing you can do is place your well pump lower until it is able to get access to the water table.

The problem: Sand and sediment on the water

It may be surprising to see sand or sediment on the water you meant to drink or use to prepare meals. However, this is always a possibility that many owners experience. This often happens when the level of the water table is too low, resulting in the pump getting the silt on the bottom of the well and into the plumbing. If your water level is normal, then your well pump may be to blame.

Steps to fix the problem

  1. For this issue, the main culprit can be your pump filter. In the situation where the filter is faulty, the best thing for you to prevent sand and sediment from entering your supply is upgrading your filter.

Most professionals and well owners use filters that use activated carbon. This is because carbon filters are very effective for absorbing contaminants and keeping sediments from getting to your water. Also, activated carbon is known to rid sulfur, bacteria, iron, and lead from well water.

  1. In some instances, your well’s screen may also be the reason for the sediments. To fix the problem, you may need to have a professional driller replace the screen.

It is important to note that once the replacement is complete, you should test your water for contaminants just to be sure that it is still potable.

The costs of well pump replacement

One of the few downsides of having your own well is that you are the only one responsible for it. Hence, you must be prepared to do the tasks in order to maintain your water supply. Once you determine that your well pump is bad, you should have a budget for the necessary expenses.

The cost for replacing your faulty well pump ultimately lies in its type. Solar and submersible well pumps are the most expensive, which retails at 200 to 2000 dollars. On the other hand, jet pumps cost around 100 to 800 dollars.

In situations where it is still possible to repair the pump, owners can expect to pay around 300 to 1,500 dollars. Since it can be very expensive to fix, most owners may decide to replace their units instead.

Should you hire a professional?

Nobody wants to be ripped off. Due to the bad rep contractors may have, this does not mean that all workers mean to get your hard-earned money.

When it comes to maintaining your water supply, it is always best to rely on the experts. After all, it can be very easy to unknowingly contaminate your well water while trying to fix or replace your pump. Hiring a pro allows you to have the peace of mind that you are putting your well in good hands.

Also, as mentioned earlier, it is possible that your well pump may not be the problem. In this case, an expert will easily diagnose the issue of your well and solve it in a day.

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