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Well Pump Repair | How to Diagnose the Problem

Well Pump Repair | How to Diagnose the Problem

Well pump going out, running sluggishly, or constantly running? That’s why we built the well pump repair guide below. Read on to learn about quick fixes, things to consider, and when to call a pro.

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Uh Oh. Well Pump Broken?

For a piece on well pump repair, a camera looks down a long and dark and deep well and you can see the water at the bottom

TS Photographer/Shutterstock

When there’s a problem with your well pump, there’s always the concern that it’s a major issue that will be expensive to fix. Knowing how to diagnose a problem with your well pump can save you a lot of money and time.

You might even discover that the issue has a simple DIY fix you can take care of in a few minutes. But well pumps don’t last forever, and most will kick the bucket within 8-15 years.

Our troubleshooting guide will help you determine if you can get by with DIY repairs, professional repairs, or if you’ll need a complete pump replacement. We’ll look at some of the most common symptoms of a well pump problem so you can try to self-diagnose the issue.

But if it appears it’s not going to be a simple DIY fix, you should have a good plumber you’re ready to call. 

Since well pumps are deep underground, getting a look at the pump to diagnose the problem isn’t easy. Lifting or pulling the pump involves lifting and removing the water paper and well pump up and out of the well for inspection. 

This is a complicated job that is easy to mess up and should never be done by an untrained homeowner. Never attempt to pull your well pump out yourself. Always call a plumber if your well pump issue requires inspecting the pump to fix! 

Troubleshooting Well Pump Repair

Below, you’ll see some of the most common symptoms of a well pump problem. Some, thankfully, are very easy and cheap fixes! Others indicate bigger issues that requires the expertise of a professional.

So don’t get in over your head – leave any technical solutions and well pump repairs to the pros. 

1. Symptom: No Water in the House

If you’re not getting any water inside your home, you might assume it’s a well pump issue. There are a few things that could cause the lack of water flow inside your home. 

  1. Tripped circuit breaker: If your circuit breaker connected to the well pump trips, it’ll shut off the power to the well pump until you reset the breaker. Flip the breaker to the on position and check to see if your water has been restored. If so, congratulations – your well pump is fine. You might want to have an electrician look into the reason the breaker tripped originally. But if it doesn’t continually trip the breaker, you’re in the clear. 
  2. Low water level/dry pump: During the warmer months of the year, increased water usage and reduced rainfall can make the water level in your well dip below the pump. If that happens, the pump can’t send water to your home. Try limiting your water use for a few days while the well naturally refills to the pump’s level. If that doesn’t work, you can call a plumber to have them install your well pump deeper inside the well. They’ll need to install more water piping to lower the pump’s level and ensure it stays submerged in water even in the dryer months.

2. Symptom: Cloudy Water

Cloudy or muddy water is a sign that your well pump is in shallow water where there is more settled silt and sand. The additional silt and sand is what creates the cloudy or muddy appearance in your water. 

This is an indicator that either your water table is sinking or your well pump is beginning to fail. You should call a plumber immediately to have them inspect the well pump and water table. Let them know you’re seeing cloudy or muddy water and that you suspect it could be your well pump. 

If your plumber does find that your pump is failing, they’ll need to replace it ASAP. It won’t take long for it to stop working entirely. Silt and sand are very abrasive and wears the pump out rapidly. So if you see cloudy water, don’t wait to call a pro. 

3. Symptom: Increased Utility Bills or Pump Constantly Running

If you’re seeing higher and higher utility bills each month, it’s an indicator that something is wrong – and it’s possible it has to do with your well pump. Higher electric bills may be related to increased electricity usage due to a constantly running well pump.

That can happen for several reasons:

  • Pump malfunction: A problem with a part or component in your well pump (like air leaks, valve problems, or leaks) may be causing it to run constantly, jacking up your utility bills. Only a professional plumber can diagnose why your pump is malfunctioning by pulling it out of the well and inspecting it. Do not attempt to do this yourself! 
  • Water is low/dry pump: During warmer months, increased water usage and reduced rainfall can mean the water level inside your well is lower. If the pump is partially dry, the pump can’t maintain the right pressure levels and suction, so it may continually run. Reduce your water usage to increase the water level a bit and call a plumber to check it out. 
  • Pressure switch issue: A faulty pressure switch (mounted on the storage tank) or pressure gauge can cause a well pump to run constantly. This would definitely result in increased utility bills, and eventually, the pump will burn itself out. Call a plumber to determine if your pressure switch needs to be replaced. It’s possible that the four contact points on your pressure switch are just pitted or burned. If that’s the case, you can cut off the power at the breaker – and make sure the power is off – before buffing the contact points with a nail file or sandpaper. This can restore the contact points enough to get your well pump working again. 

4. Symptom: Sputtering Water Flow

Air in your well pump system will result in sputtering water flow. If your water sputters out rather than smoothly flowing from your faucets, it could be an issue with the well pump or the water pipe above the pump that carries water into your home. 

  • Malfunctioning well pump: A malfunctioning well pump can let air into the system,causing the sputtering water you’re experiencing. This could be due to a bad check valve preventing the water from pressurizing the water pipe above the pump. In any case, the well pump will have to be pulled to officially determine the problem. Call a plumber for this, as it’s a difficult job not appropriate for DIYers. 
  • Cracked water pipe: A cracked water pipe will result in sputtering water from your fixtures because air is getting into the pipe. A plumber can inspect the water pipe for cracks or breaks to determine if this is the issue. 

Well Pump Repair Costs

Well pump repair man fixing a pump inside a brick structure above a well

Grandpa/Shutterstock

Many times, people hold off on needed repairs and inspections by a professional because they’re worried about the cost. You might be surprised at how little some well pump repairs can cost! It’s smart to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay for well pump repair.

Here are the current average costs for well pump repair. Keep in mind that costs may be a little lower or higher in your area, depending on the plumber you work with. 

Well Pump Pressure Switch Replacement Cost

If your plumber finds that the pressure switch is faulty, it’ll need to be replaced. Replacement pressure switches cost about $25 on average. Then, you’ll pay for labor and installation, which doesn’t take long at all. Most plumbers consider this a quick and easy job, so you likely won’t be charged much for it. 

Well Pump Controller Replacement Cost

If your plumber determines the pump controller is the problem and needs to be replaced, expect to pay around $75 for the replacement part plus labor. The pump control helps start the pump and is mounted either near the pressure tank or inside the well pump itself. 

If it’s inside the well pump, your plumber will have to pull the pump to replace the part. This would increase labor costs. You’ll need to get a quote from a plumber to determine how much the project would cost in total. 

Well Pump Pressure Tank Replacement Cost

A waterlogged pressure tank may be the issue your plumber uncovers with your well pump. If that’s the case, you’ll notice water that “pulses” at the spigot rather than sputtering.

A replacement pressure tank costs around $200, plus labor and installation. It’s the only option if your pressure tank is waterlogged or overdue for replacement. 

Well Pump Replacement Cost

If your well pump needs several new parts or components, you might be better off replacing the entire pump. Your plumber will recommend whether it’s better to make repairs or replace the pump. Remember that well pumps only last somewhere between 8-15 years.

So, if you’re getting close to that 15-year mark, it may be better to go ahead and replace it. A new well pump will cost you somewhere between $200 and $1,200There’s a wide cost range due to the power and size of the well pump you need. Smaller, less powerful pumps used in shallow wells are cheaper, around $100.

Larger, more powerful high-pressure submersible well pumps used in deeper wells cost more (up to around $1,200). If you’re looking for a solar pump to save long-term on energy costs, you’ll pay more upfront. Solar well pumps run anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 upfront.

You can see significant utility cost savings down the road. When you factor in the cost of installation and labor, getting a new well pump costs anywhere from $300 to $2,250.

This is the price of the well pump plus installation and labor costs, which range from $200 for easier jobs (like installing small, submersible pumps) to thousands for larger jobs involving deeply submerged pumps, new wiring, or tank replacement. 

Call a Pro for Well Pump Repair

Well pump repair man crossing his arms and standing against his van while gripping a wrench

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Well pump repair isn’t typically a DIY-friendly project. There are some tasks you can handle without training or technical knowledge of how a well pump works, like flipping the circuit breaker to see if it comes back on or reducing water usage to let the water table rise. 

But most well pump repairs are technical and complex. They require the skill and knowledge of a professional plumber to be safely and properly completed. Since your well pump is likely located deep underground, it’s necessary to call a plumber to inspect a well pump that isn’t running properly. 

Don’t make the mistake of taking well pump repair into your own hands. You could end up cracking a water pipe and creating a much bigger, more expensive issue. You might misdiagnose the problem and end up spending money on parts you don’t need.

You could even improperly install replacement parts and damage the pump to the point you’ll need to buy an expensive replacement.

Get a Quote
Find Local Well & Septic Tank Experts

We partnered with Networx to help you find well repairmen in your area. Click to below to get a FREE quote.

Get a Quote
We may earn a commission when you click this link, at no extra cost to you.

So, How Do You Fix a Broken Well Pump?

There are so many fun DIY projects homeowners can try, but well pump repair just isn’t one of them. Call a plumber near you if you’re experiencing no water, a constantly running well pump, sputtering water, increased electric bills, or cloudy water with silt or sand in it. 

Quick attention to a problem with a well pump can be the difference between spending $25 on a new pressure switch or spending thousands on a new well pump replacement!