How to Tell if Your Well Pump is Bad – Signs & Troubleshooting

What can cause a well pump to go bad and how to tell if one is bad are two very common questions with no simple answer. Well pumps can be affected by a wide range of external factors such as weather, water quality, power spikes, physical damage, and so on.

I don’t think I even have to mention that no such device can ever be flawless. Whether it’s human error or computer error, a lot can go wrong on the manufacturing line too. And in some cases, you can’t spot those mistakes early on.

Here are some common causes of well pumps breaking down or underperforming and how to spot them.

Zero Flow

One of the first and most logical signs that you have a bad well pump is if you turn on the water and nothing comes out. Of course, there could be something wrong with the well. But, if you look inside and it still has water, then the issue probably lies with the pump.

Of course, to ensure that this is the case, you should also check to see if the well pump is powered. See if you can power another device from the same outlet as your pump. If it works, then it could be an electrical issue with the pump.

Subpar Pressure

It often happens that well pumps don’t break down on the spot. They gradually underperform until a problem truly becomes noticeable. That’s why it can take you a while to notice that you’re getting poor water pressure.

At the same time, your well pump might break down but not completely to turn itself off, just enough to give your low water pressure.

So how can you figure out if it’s the pump or something else? After all, low water levels can cause low pressure, too. You have to check your pump. If you live in an area with hard water, then it’s likely that the hard water caused scaling on the inside of the pump.

It can also be a pressure tank issue. It’s best to use the manual and check to see what the recommended values should be on the gauge.

Fluctuating Water Pressure

Don’t think that subpar water pressure is the only sign of a well pump underperforming. The same can be said when you notice fluctuations in water pressure.

Therefore, you should inspect the well pump even if you’re only noticing periodic drops in water pressure.

The reason is simple. Most well pumps are installed on wells that should give a consistent water supply. Therefore, with no projected variations in water levels, the issue must lie with either the pump or the pipes.

The pump is easier to inspect first.

Continuously Running Water

What’s worse than having no water or not enough? Having water dripping constantly. That’s a big waste and a hazard for your home and garden. True, it’s possible that your pipes just sprung a leak.

However, when you notice your pump running even though you didn’t try to use it, it means that something could be wrong with the pressure tank. Either that or the pump can’t draw the amount of water it’s supposed to.

When the latter happens, some pumps will try to compensate by running continuously to ensure that your home is well-supplied.

It’s important to find out which is which because a pump running non-stop is not good at all. It can overexert the engine, blow fuses, or grind away at the pump, shortening its lifespan.

Not to mention the extra fuel or energy it goes through.

Is Your Water Too Hot?

Here’s something you may not immediately associate with a bad well pump. If you have very hot water, more than it is supposed to be, especially when another faucet or toilet is being used, then you could be looking at a pressure tank malfunction.

That’s easy to determine if you live in a home with no pressure-balancing spools on the shower and tub valves. That’s because any drop in pressure can allow much more hot water through, thus creating those unexpected and dangerous surges of hot water.

Never Allow Well Pump Malfunctions to Go out of Control

Set aside the fact that a bad well pump can cost you a lot of money on both maintenance and bills. There are plenty of other things that can happen, including a pressure tank blowing up, or wells getting drained because too much water is being lost before it reaches your home, and so on.

All manufacturers recommend performing regular checks on your well pump. So, you should set aside a few minutes at least, every weekend as far as I’m concerned. More so if you’re noticing inconsistencies. Whether you use the manual or call a professional, is entirely up to you.