How To Prime A Well Pump (Quickly & Easily!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

In many parts of the country, getting well water is a mandatory part of your daily lifestyle. Wells remain a major source of water for many households in America. However, if you have a well, you’re going to have to pump out the water that is in there if you want to drink something. To do this well, you will need to know how to prime a well pump. The question is, how?

Though specific details can vary, priming a well pump requires you to turn off the pump, and remove the plug. Then, you will need to open the release valves and use a clean hose to fill the pump housing with water. Once the casing is filled, replace the plug. If you have a jet pump, you will need to fill both suction pipes with water as well.

Priming a well pump is mandatory if you want to be able to access the water you need. To help you understand the ins and outs of priming, we’re going to discuss all the features of your well pump and the priming process.

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What Does Priming A Well Pump Accomplish?

Priming a well is a fancy way of saying that you’re establishing the vacuum required to make it possible to suck up water and deliver it to you. Without priming your pump, you won’t have the suction to make your well useful. With that said, most pumps are not going to require regular priming to work.

Do You Need To Prime Your Well Pump?

Assuming that your well was built in the past 30 years, chances are that you probably don’t need to prime your well pump. Most well pumps that are in use today are self-priming. Self-priming well pumps only really need to be primed when they are first installed. If your well pump is already installed, chances are that you don’t need to worry about priming.

On the other hand, if you have a well pump that isn’t self-priming, you might have to consider priming it. With that said, there are still several moments where you may need to prime a self-priming well pump. These include:

  • There is a clog in your pump. If it’s a matter of clogs or similar flow interruptions, there is a chance that the vacuum that makes your pump work is broken. If the vacuum is broken, you have to prime that pump.
  • You notice a crack in the pump or jets of your well. While cracks may seem innocuous, they wreak havoc on water vacuums. Along with replacing the cracked pump, you’ll need to prime any pumps associated with the well.
  • The check valves, foot valves, or fittings aren’t good anymore. Loose fittings and bad valves will wreck any vacuum your well may have. Though it doesn’t seem that major at first, repairs mean a priming session is a must.
  • The seals are broken or the pump sustained any form of damage. After you replace the seals and check the pump, you will need to re-prime your pump.
  • Your well dried out. If there is ever a situation that involves a dried-out well, then you will need to repair the well and also prime the pump once water’s reintroduced.

How Long Does Priming A Well Pump Take?

Though priming a well pump sounds like a major ordeal, it really isn’t. A typical well pump only takes between five to 15 minutes to prime. Even then, 15 minutes is usually a major stretch. In most cases, you may have to prime your pump a second time or take extra time to fill your pump casing with water. Aside from that, you shouldn’t need much help.

Why Don’t Deep Well Pumps Need To Be Primed?

Deep well pumps are the exception to the priming rule, and for good reason. The reason deals with the water level depths that deep well pumps work on. There’s already a natural vacuum that occurs in deep wells, and adding more water to the mix is just plain redundant. While other pumps might take more time to set up, deep well pumps (at least) offer this perk with their install.

Priming The Well Pump: A Detailed Look Into Things

Well pumps might be complex, but they are not rocket science. It’s a simple procedure. The only thing you need to know is whether your pump is a shallow-well pump, a convertible jet pump, or a deep well pump. Deep well pumps never need to be primed. If you have either of the other types, this is what you’ll need to do…

  • Start your priming by turning the pump off. Do not try to prime a pump while it’s on. You’ll regret it. Disconnect the pump from the electrical outlets. Give your well pump a quick once-over to see if there is any damage that needs to be addressed. Then, slowly remove the prime plug from the pump.
  • If at all possible, open your release valves. Not all well pumps have those! If your pump does not have a release valve, just skip this step.
  • Grab a hose and clean it out. The hose you want to use will be certified lead-free. After all, this is going to be your drinking water you’re funneling in there. When choosing a hose, opt for one that is clog-free. Ideally, it’ll be brand new. In lieu of a hose, get a bucket of water.
  • Fill your well casing with clean, potable water. You should be able to see the water pouring out of your relief valves and prime plug. Once you’ve fully filled the casing, put the plug back in. If you have a convertible jet pump, make sure that you also fill your pump’s two suction pipes with clean water as well.
  • Plug your well pump back in and run it through a cycle. You should be able to see it working well. If it isn’t acting up, close the relief valves and assume that you’re done. Otherwise, you may have to re-prime your pump and go through a diagnostic.

Help! My Well Pump Isn’t Priming Properly!

Let’s say that you’ve attempted to prime your pump at least three times, but so far, no vacuum has been established. You’ve toiled and tried till you just realized that it isn’t working. Sadly, chances are that this has little to do with a bad priming procedure and more to do with a bad well pump setup.

If you notice that your well pump isn’t priming and that no vacuum is established after several attempts, you have to take a closer look at your pump. Is the overall plumbing crack-free and free of holes? Are the seals plugged up? What about the plumbing inside? If your pump refuses to be primed, there is something wrong with your setup—most often, a break you may not have noticed.

In many cases, you will be able to fix the problem by tightening things up or sealing things a little better. Sometimes, you may need to spend some extra cash to replace a well pump foot valve. However, there is the off chance that you have a defective pump. Consider replacing the pump and then try again. (Don’t worry, a well pump doesn’t always cost too much!)

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Related Questions

Why do you need to prime a well pump with potable water?

The water quality you use to prime your well pump is crucial to your ability to enjoy the water that you’re pumping out of the well. Though it seems like a minor detail, if you use unclean water, there’s a chance that microbes will infect your drinking water. The best way to ensure that the quality of your water remains good is to use clean water.While you don’t have to use distilled water to prime a pump, you should try to make some kind of effort to use clean water.

Why isn’t my well pump holding pressure?

Water pressure in a well pump is moderated by two different things: the vacuum in a well pump or the check valve. If you’ve already primed your pump adequately and still notice a pressure problem, it probably is the check valve. To figure out if you need to replace this valve, take a closer look at the part and see if it’s properly secured.If the check valve is not secured properly, tighten it. If you notice cracks or signs of breakage, replacing it is the best possible move.

Why is my water faucet sputtering?

Do you notice a strange sputtering sound when you first turn on your water? If so, then you should be on the watch for air in your water line. When air is trapped in a water line, it will cause a reduction in water pressure as well as a strange, spotty sputtering sound.While you can often just increase the water speed to push out the air, checking out the plumbing is a little smarter. It is a fast way to get a more permanent fix.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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