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Thread: well pressure and pump problems

  1. #1

    Question well pressure and pump problems

    We have reached a breaking point. We bought our new house on July 15 and have never had a well before. When we were having the house inspected (end of April or early May) the well inspector ran the water on FULL (tub and kitchen sink) for 90 minutes with no loss in pressure or quality - well system passing the test (150 ft deep, draws at 120) We are in the Albany, New Yok area. Since we have moved in, we have had intermittent decent water flow. For example, we have lost pressure down to zero on the pressure tank gauge and we have had trouble running laundry and a shower at once, but there is no apparent pattern. Sometimes it seems intuitive - two showers, dishes and a load of laundry - oops, no pressure. Adding water to the pool and flower garden - opps, no pressure. two showers, laundry, dishes, watering garden - what? no pressure changes? We have replaced the well pump switch - no solution. Weather-wise, it has been dry... no rain. The pressure gauge, through unscientific sampling has been 60%-70% maintaining around 30psi or 40%-30% 50psi when there are no water loss issues.

    Help. What can be going on here? Do we need to lower the pump, replace the pump, clean the pump? Is it the pressure tank? What more information do you need?

    Thanks from a novice well owner,

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England


    When the pressure is low, is the pump trying to run? My unprofessional opinion is that now that it is summer, your water level is lower than it was in the spring and your well is not supplying enough water at the level the pump is. This might require lowering the pump, deepening it, or other maintenance to improve the flow.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3


    I hope I do not come off as dismissing your suggestion - as it is the one we are least comfortable with. My father (who is in the area) said that they have had the 7th wettest July on record. So, for the area there is no overall drought - despite the appearance of lawns. Also, when the well inspector tested the well in May, at the very end of the test, there was a slight sulfur smell which was unpresent at the start, he said at the time that the odor may be an indicator that the water level is getting low, and the well is drawing water from an alternate source - and we have not detected any sulfur odor since we moved in.

    With all that said, this morning the pressure gauge is reading 50psi and so far the system appears to be behaving nomally (no one has taken a shower, yet, just toothbrushing, toilets, and coffee). When we were trying to do laundry yesterday, the pump was struggling to keep up with the flow of the water into the washer. This sounds like, to me, that the well is recharging at a slower rate than the gal/min of the washer and the pump is desperately trying to keep up. Maybe after a struggle such as that, the pump overheats and shuts off - sending us into a panic. How long does a pump have to sit before it is cool enough to start working again?

    I am also unsure how to be certain that the pump is working if it is 120ft or so at the bottom of a well.


  4. #4
    Previous member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Riverview, Fl.


    Putting your head in the sand isn't going to fix the problem. When you have a lot of rain in one month, that doesn't necessarilly do anything for the aquifer in that same month. It takes time for the rain water to seep into the ground through all the different layers of soil/rock and find it's way to the aquifer after picking up a bunch of mineral along the way and also making a change in the PH.

    The best thing you can do, since you obviously don't know what is wrong, is call a local well driller or pump company and let them fix it before the pump blows up.


  5. #5
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.


    Ah yes, we always discount the idea of what is wrong, although we originally come up with the idea as a possible cause, because we don't want to have to deal with the cure but... What I hear is a well that is not producing enough water OR, the pump is not set in the well where it should be and possibly is too small for these times when the water level in the well is much lower than 'normal' and where the pump would work just fine.

    Try this, run water and not the pressure that the pump comes on at and shut off the water. Then note the gauge reading when the pump shuts off. That is the pressure range the switch is set to operate the pump at; like 30/50 psi. Now when you run out of water, you should determine if the pump is running. You can do that by feeling the plumbing while the pump is running and know it is when the reading on the gauge is rising. If the pump is not running and you're out of water, that's the reason for no water. Now to determine why the pump isn't running is a bit difficult but if you were just using a lot of water, it indicates the level of water in the well is a lot lower than it was before using water. If you ever get air in the water after being out of water... then the motor could be overheated and the thermal overload opened shutting off the power before burning up the motor. It takes a few minutes for the motor to cool and then the thermal overload closes and the pump runs until it gets hot again and the pump shuts off. If this is what is happening, the pump has to be lowered, or cooled by the installation of a 'tail pipe' to cause water to come UP over the motor for cooling purposes or, the well needs to be drilled deeper or the correct pump needs to be installed deeper in the well.

    Only a pump guy or well driller can determine which.

    Quality Water Associates

  6. #6


    Thanks, Gary.

    Your input has reinforced our own conclusions from reading, troubleshooting, and what our well guy told us over the phone, but of course, it is not what we were hoping for one month after moving into our house...

    We should know quite a bit more after our well/pump guy comes tomorrow.

    Thanks, again for your response - it was informative and helpful



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