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Troubleshooting Submersible Well Pumps 101: Motor Starts Too Often

Is your submersible well pump turning on more frequently than it once was?

Does the rapid clicking of your pressure switch match your heart rate?

If you answered yes to either of the questions above, your water system may be suffering from rapid cycling. Rapid cycling is a condition in which the pump turns on and off (cycles) too frequently. If left unchecked it will significantly decrease the life of almost every component in your water system, especially your pump. If you notice your pressure switch is cycling more than once every 30 seconds, or more than it used to, this troubleshooting guide is for you.

Before we begin I want to remind everyone that working with electricity can be very dangerous especially if you are inexperienced so be sure to always use caution working with electricity and turn off power supply breakers when testing components within the electrical system. If during testing you are not 100% confident you can perform any of these tests safely call a professional.

So if the motor starts to often that could be indicating something wrong with one of the following pieces of equipment;

  • Pressure Switch - Check your settings on the pressure switch and examine for defects and wear. You may need to readjust the settings, or replace the switch. If you are in a situation where you have hard water, or sediment in the water system the pressure tube can also become clogged so check this as well.
  • Waterlogged Tank - If your tank becomes waterlogged it is likely a result of a failed tank bladder on a modern tank or failed air volume controls if you have an old style bladderless tank. On a modern bladder tank it is best to drain the pressure from the system and check the pressure within the tank, the pressure should be 2-3 psi below the pump cut on pressure, so for example on a 40/60 pressure setting, the tank needs to be at roughly 38 psi. If the tank is not holding air I recommend replacing your tank with a modern bladder pressure tank. If you do end up replacing your tank check out our video on sizing a pressure tank to get all the info you will need.
  • Leak in the System - if you go through everything else and still are unable to find the problem then you likely have a leak within the system. You can test for leaks in the supply pipe (from the well into the house) if you have a pressure gauge near the pressure switch and a main shutoff valve located AFTER your pressure switch. Close the shutoff valve so no water can pass into the home, if the pressure still it indicates water is going somewhere - and since we know it’s not into the house it may be time to call a professional.
  • Check Valve - Stuck Open - If a check valve has failed you will see the system not holding pressure when the pump shuts off. Typically when this happens it's a failed check valve located between the pump and the pressure tank. You will need to replace the check valve in this situation. Depending on the depth of your well, you may need to call a professional.

Hopefully this guide helped you solve your problem. If it didn’t, check out our YouTube video video: Troubleshooting Water Well Pumps: Motor Starts too Often or give our experts a call: 855.329.4519.