5 Signs Your Well Pump Is Not Well

by Connelly Bock
Angry Driver

Well Pump Problems at a Glance

  • Lower water pressure
  • ‘Spitting’ faucet
  • Clicking sounds
  • Egg smell
  • Rising utility bills

If you live in a densely populated city or suburb, you probably don’t think much about where your water comes from. However, for those who live in rural areas, a private well system is the only available option for a home water supply. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 13 million households in the U.S. use private wells as their primary water source.

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These wells are complex systems with many different moving parts, nearly all of which are prone to breaking. Here’s what you need to know about your well pump — including the telltale signs it needs to be repaired.

What Is a Well Pump?

A well pump extracts water from your well and pumps that water into your home. According to World Water Reserve, the two most common types of well pumps are submersible pumps and jet pumps. Using centrifugal force, they propel water upward and out of the well. Jet pumps sit above ground and use suction to suck water out of the well. Submersible pumps work best for deep wells and sit under the water level. They use spinning rotors to pump water upward.

A well pump also has a pressure tank that stores water so the pump doesn’t have to run constantly. The tank and its sensors are located in your house. While the water pressure is within a set range, the pump remains off. As you use water in your house, the water pressure drops, causing the pump to turn back on.

Understanding how your well pump system works will help you know when it’s time for repairs or replacement.

How Often Do You Need to Replace a Well Pump?

Your well pump is responsible for pumping the water you use to drink, shower and wash clothes. How long your pump lasts depends on several different factors, including the equipment type, manufacturing company, surrounding environment and usage.

According to CroppMetCalf Services, your well pump system will typically last eight to 15 years. The more you use the pump, the more often it will need to be replaced. You can help extend the lifespan of your pump by getting regular maintenance checks.

Signs You Need to Replace a Well Pump

As your pump gets older, you may begin to notice its decline. If you notice any issues, you should reach out to a plumber or well expert for assistance. They can help determine whether the system needs to be fixed or replaced altogether.

Here are five signs your pump is in need of repairs or a full replacement:

1. Lower Water Pressure

The entire pump system is based on water pressure. If you notice the water pressure in your sink or shower is lacking lately, there may be an issue with the well pump.

2. ‘Spitting’ Faucet

This issue is usually indicative of a problem with your pressure tank rather than the well pump itself. If your pressure tank is leaking, air can get into the water line and cause air bubbles to come out of the faucet.

3. Clicking Sounds

Another sign of a faulty pressure tank is a noisy system. If you can hear clicking sounds coming from the pressure switch near the tank, Kobella Plumbing, Heating and Cooling recommends you call a plumber.

4. Egg Smell

According to A&T Well and Pump, if you notice an egg smell coming from your fixtures, something may be going wrong with your pump. Usually, the smell is from sediment that is getting pulled up from the well along with the water. The pump may be too big, or it may be sitting too low in the well.

5. Rising Utility Bills

If you’ve noticed a spike in your monthly utility bill, it could be due to issues with your pump system. As your well pump ages — or if it’s in need of repairs — its efficiency may decrease, driving up your utility bills.

What Are the Components of a Well Pump?

As we mentioned earlier, understanding your well will help you better troubleshoot the system if issues do arise. These are some of the main components of a well pump:

Well Casing

Think of this part as the body of the pump. It’s a long, tube-shaped structure that forms the wall. It also keeps contaminants and sediment from getting into the water.

Well Cap

These caps, made of aluminum or plastic, sit above the ground. They keep bugs or small animals from crawling into the well.

Well Screen

Well screens act as strainers, preventing bits of dirt, rock, sand and other sediments from getting into the well.

Pitless Adapter

The pitless adapter keeps the water-carrying pipe below the frost line so it doesn’t freeze during the winter.

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Why Do Well Pumps Break?

Your well pump is a delicate machine. If any of its parts break, the entire system is likely to go down. According to Rapid Service, here are some of the most common causes of well pump issues:

Water Quality

Poor water quality does not just concern drinking water; it can also damage your pump. Minerals, sediments or bacteria can build up in the pump and clog it.

Bad Weather

While very rare, lightning strikes can damage your pump.

Dry Well

If you are experiencing a dry period or drought, it could cause your well to run dry. When you turn on the faucets, the pump will run even though there is no water. This is especially hard on your pump. You can avoid this by installing a low-water cutoff switch.

Wrong Size Tank

If your well tank is too small, it will have to run a lot to keep up with the household demand. Running the pump too much can cause it to burn out quickly.

Normal Wear and Tear

Just like any other system in your home, your water pump will be affected by age. The older your pump is, the more likely it is that it will suffer damage and need repairs.

Can I Replace a Well Pump Myself?

While it is possible to replace or repair a well pump yourself, it may be a difficult task for those without experience or training. The difficultly level will also depend on the depth of your well. It should be noted that making a mistake while repairing your well pump could lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.

For the most part, it’s recommended that you contact a plumber or well expert to help you replace or repair your well pump. Remember: This pump is responsible for getting water into your house. You might want to leave something so crucial to the professionals.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from HomeServe is important. Having a plan in place gives you peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.