If you live in the country, you probably get your water from a nearby well. That means fresh water is pumped from below ground up to your home and into a pressure or holding tank. Under normal circumstances, the well pump functions for years, providing you with an abundance of water. But sometimes things go awry and you may find yourself without water. When this happens, it is important to determine the cause before you jump to the conclusion that your well pump has failed. Here's how:
Check that the well pump has power. Open the breaker box or circuit box to your home and check to see that the circuit breaker to your well pump has not been tripped. Turn the circuit breaker off and then back on again to reset the power to your well pump. Occasional tripping of the circuit isn't an immediate concern, but if the circuits continue to trip, call in a professional to assess the problem.
Check the pressure switch. This switch is located beside the pressure tank and is designed to shut down if your system calls for water for too long. This prevents the pump from continuing to pump water into your home if a pipe breaks, but it can sometimes be activated if you are using several appliances that are calling for water at the same time. Reset the pressure switch.
Check the pressure tank. If the pressure tank malfunctions, it won't send the message to your well pump to call for water. Here's how to check it:
- Disconnect the power to your well pump.
- Open the nearest faucet to the pressure tank and drain the water from the tank.
- Locate the charging valve at the top of the tank.
- Measure the pressure inside the tank with a pressure gauge. The pressure should read 2 psi less than the pump cut-in pressure, explains Water Technology. For example, if your pressure tank is set for 30 psi, the pressure in the empty tank should register 28 psi. if the pressure tank registers below this level, the pressure in the tank needs to be adjusted. You can add pressure yourself with a compressor, but if you are not comfortable, call a professional plumber to do it for you.
Check the faucets. Try to run water through your faucets. If they sputter and spit dirty or discolored water, or if you get water intermittently, your well may be going dry. This is common during periods of drought, especially if you have a dug well. Check with your friends and neighbors to see if they are experiencing similar problems. Typically, low water levels affect several wells in the same location. Check that all faucets in the home are experiencing the same problem to eliminate problems with your plumbing or hardware.
Check the well. You will need to check the water level in your well to determine if your well is going dry. To do this you can insert a probe into the well to measure the water level or call a professional to do it for you, but there are some signs to watch for that indicate your well is at risk of going dry.
- Discolored water from the faucet. When the water level drops, the dirt and sediment at the bottom of the well may be sucked into the pipes with the remaining water.
- Lack of water after heavy water use, such as watering the lawn or filling the pool. This can also occur if you are running the washer while water is being used for showers or the dishwasher.
- Frequent cycling of the water pump. If the water level is extremely low, the pump may run continuously.
- Excessive drought in your area.
- Neighborhood wells going dry.
- Good water pressure and flow in the morning, but low pressure and flow in the afternoon and evening or whenever your family uses water the most.
If you suddenly discover you do not have water, don't jump to conclusions and assume your well pump has failed. Take the time to troubleshoot other causes before you make arrangements to replace the pump.
For more information and assistance with repair or replacement, talk with a well pump company, such as County Pump & Supply Co.