Homes that draw water from a private well get the benefits of low-cost, fresh and clean water. But with this benefit also comes the responsibility of fixing any problems that arise with the well water system. Occasionally, homeowners will turn on the faucet to find there’s no water coming out, or that the water spits and sputters. While there can be many causes of a no-water emergency, one place to start troubleshooting is the well pump.
What is a well pump?
Most homes in New England have bedrock wells which use a submersible pump, a mechanism placed within the well underwater. When you turn on a faucet or a water-using appliance, water is drawn down from the pressure tank and a signal is sent to the water pump to start pumping more water up from the well into the home.
Check the power
How many times have you tinkered with a broken gadget only to realize that the thing wasn’t plugged in? Before getting too concerned about your home’s lack of water, make sure power is running to the water pump. Check that the electrical circuit for the well pump has not tripped. A surge in power, or increased power usage, can trip the circuit. If it doesn’t look like it’s been tripped, turn the circuit on and the off again to make sure.
Has the weather been dry lately?
If you’ve noticed some spitting and sputtering from your faucets, your well may be affected by drought conditions. Other signs are if your tap water looks murky or muddy or the taste of the water has changed. Long periods of dry weather can cause a drop in the level of water within your well, or it could mean the water pump is placed at the wrong depth in the well.
Is the pump in the wrong spot?
Like we mentioned above, water pumps must be placed at the right depth within a well to reliably deliver fresh water into the home. When a pump is installed, it is usually deep enough so that when the water draws down there is still ample water above the pump to draw from later. When water is drawn down close to or below the pump level, the pump will bring air into the system instead of water. Calling in a professional to measure the water depth and lower the pump can easily fix this problem.
Is the pump too small?
The size of this pump is determined by the size of your home, the number of plumbing fixtures, and peak water demands. A typical water pump for domestic use can usually pump 10 gallons per minute out of the well using a ½ horsepower motor. Some homes that use a large amount of water for irrigation, a home business or feeding animals may need a larger pump. If your home was once smaller and you’ve added an addition, especially one with an additional bathroom or new kitchen, the size of the pump may be too small.