Well pumps have been used for thousands of years to provide a fresh supply of clean water. You may not realize it, but wells are still used by millions of people worldwide, but these days it’s all mechanical and electrical.
Well pumps are used to drive the water up from deep underneath the ground into your home. They work pretty effortlessly, but you need to make sure there’s enough pressure so that the water can rise up the pipes and into your storage tank.
This guide will show you how to prime a well pump so that there’s enough pressure in the pipes to give you ready access to clean water.
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Types of Well Pumps Explained
A well pump is an old-school way of getting water into your home. A hole is dug down into the earth to give you access to your water supply, and piping is fitted with an electrical pump that draws the water out and allows it to flow into a storage tank. This then allows you to access the clean water from within your home.
There are a couple of types of well pumps, and each uses a different method to give you access to clean water. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Centrifugal pumps are pretty common and the most affordable type of well pump. They use a fan to create suction which then forces the water to rise through the pipes. The mechanism for a centrifugal pump sits next to the well in a separate housing unit.
This makes it easier to clean and maintain the mechanism without disrupting the pipes. Centrifugal pumps only have enough power for shallow wells and shouldn’t be used on anything below 25 feet.
This well pump is the most common on the market because it gives a great deal of flexibility. Submersibles operate from underwater within the well. The watertight pumps use motor impellors to force the watch up the pipes and into your tank.
The pump itself won’t work unless it's totally submerged, allowing it to turn off automatically when the watch runs low. These types of well pump are suitable for shallow or deep wells but can be tricky to repair. You’ll need to pull the whole pump out of the water so that a technician can get to work on it.
Jet pumps are the most expensive option which provides the most power. There are two types of jet pumps, single-drop or double-drop. Single-drops are used for shallow wells, and the mechanism is housed outside of the well.
Double-drops are used for deep wells with a split mechanism, the motor is above ground, and the jet is within the well. A jet pump is used to force the water up with a great deal of force, giving you water much faster than alternative types of well pumps and give you the best pressure.
Why Priming a Well Pump Is Necessary?
Priming your well pump is essential if you want it to run correctly. Priming is the process of manually creating a vacuum in your pump so that water can be pulled through your pipes and into your storage tanks. You will need to do this when the pump is first installed and if there are any sudden dips in pressure.
There are two main types of well pump, submersible and non-submersible. Submersible pumps are used for deeper wells and generally won’t need to be primed because they operate completely underneath the water. Non-submersible pumps are used for shallow wells and need to be primed more often, particularly during installation.
How To Know A Well Pump Needs Priming
When your well pump loses pressure, it will probably need to be primed. There are a few key reasons why this happens:
How To Prime A Well Pump (Step-By-Step Guide)
A well pump needs to be primed so there’s adequate suction to allow the water to be drawn upwards. The majority of well pumps are self-priming, which means they create a partial vacuum in the pipe, which draws water upwards. For this reason, you’ll probably only need to prime your pump during installation.
Here’s a guide of how to do it:
Steps For Priming a Well Pump
- 1Shut Off The Pump
Completely disconnect the well pump from the electrical outlets.
- 2Check The Pump
Check for any visible damage, cracks, or other issues which might impact the pump's functional ability.
- 3Remove The Prime Plug
This is usually located on the head of the plug and should be simple to remove.
- 4Open The Release Valves
This will stop the pressure from building up within the pump.
- 5Attach A Hose
Clean out a hose and attach it to the pump. Make sure there’s no lead or other contaminants in your hose.
- 6Run The Water
Keep running water through your pump where the prime plug was. Keep it running until the pump starts to overflow. Remember, the water you use at this point should match the type of water you’ll be drawing. If it is pumping drinking water, then make sure you use drinking water for this stage.
- 7Replace The Prime Plug
Replace the prime plug and reconnect the pump to the power source. If it’s all working normally and cycling correctly, then you've done the job. If not, then repeat these steps until it starts working.
Jet pumps are designed to draw water from very low depths. To do this, they have two sets of pipes, one for suction and one to direct water towards your outlet. To prime a jet pump, you will need to follow all the steps above, but make sure you run water through both pipes.
Shallow Well Pumps
Shallow well pumps are not submerged, which means they need to be primed when they’re first installed. You can do this by following the steps above. Sandpoint wells operate in depths of less than 25 feet and need to be primed to work effectively.
You’ll need to open up the check valve and fill it with water so that the pressure can be maintained in the pump, allowing water to be pumped to the surface.
Well Pump with Pressure Tank
Pressure tanks are used to help keep the pressure in your water consistent so that when you turn on a tap, shower, or other outlet, it's always the same. To prime a well pump with a pressure tank, you’ll need to follow all the steps above, but make sure you open up the valve on the pressure tank itself to remove any air. This will allow you to pressurize the whole pump, not just one part of it.
After a Water Outage
If your water goes off unexpectedly, your water will lose its pressure and need to be reprimed. Following the steps above should work; just make sure you flow enough water through the pump until it cycles correctly. You may need to repeat the process 3-4 times before it works correctly.
What To Do If Your Well Pump Is Losing Prime?
If your well pump is starting to lose its prime, there's a couple of things you should look out for:
People also Ask (FAQs)
Does the pump lose its prime when turned off?
No, your pump shouldn’t lose its prime when turned off and if it does, it could mean there's a leak somewhere in the system.
What happens if you don't prime your well pump?
Without a primed well pump, you won’t have any water flow because the water won’t be drawn up the intake pipe.
How long does it take a well pump to prime?
It only takes a few minutes to prime your pump and a few more minutes on either side to disconnect and reconnect it.
How much water does it take to prime a well?
It will typically take a couple of gallons of water to prime a well pump.
How do you prime a Goulds Jet Pump?
You can prime a Goulds jet pump using the instructions above, but you need to:
- 1Completely turn off the power
- 2Remove the casing and the vent plug
- 3Pour running water into pump until water comes from the vent hole where the plug was
- 4Reattach the vent plug, top off water at the gauge and put the casing back on
- 5Turn the power back on
- 6Open faucet pump to remove air from system
- 7Repeat as needed
Well pumps are the modern solution to an age-old problem, and most of the time, they run without a glitch. They must be primed, so there's enough pressure to allow water to be drawn, but thankfully it isn't too difficult to prime a well pump yourself.
Hopefully, this article has given you some useful information about when you need to prime your pump and given you the confidence to prime it yourself.
Josh enjoys researching, testing and diving into home improvement & DIY products. He has a passion for tools, learning new skills and fixing the everyday problems that arise around the house.