Residential Wells

Residential Well Pumps Common Probelms

A number of Ralph’s Pump & Well customers are residents with their own wells.

There are a number of advantages to having your own well – including the health advantages of unfiltered water as well as the freedom and flexibility of living in closer harmony with nature – but there are also challenges to the maintenance of and care for wells as well.  Numerous Ralph’s Pump & Well customers have faced these issues over the years.  When you’re looking to hire someone to help you with your water and well issues, you want to make sure you are hiring someone who understands the challenges you face, as well as someone who can perform well pump repair.  Ralph’s has seen it all – it’s part of what makes us specialists in well pumps and water treatment systems in Seattle and Snohomish and North King Counties – and there are several warning signs of well and pump problems that we want to alert our clients (and potential clients!) to.

Common Symptoms 

No water?
You turn on a sink faucet and nothing comes out – the biggest fear for any well owner. While these can sometimes be the result of electrical problems with the pump system or circuit breaker, generally, no water means well problems or pump problems. Most often, well issues result from a lack of water.  This is especially true in the late summer months; water overuse is typical in spring and summer, and the water table can eventually be drawn down so low that it falls below the depth of the pump. In most cases, the well will be replenished if the customer simply reduces water usage for a few days. (Complete replenishment will happen in the winter and spring.)

The most economical way to fix this problem is to lower the pump deeper into the well. This is done by installing an additional water pipe at the top of the well, which will lower the pump enough to be submerged in water. Once the pump is immersed, reconnect everything and make sure the system is working properly. If the pump bottoms out before it’s submerged, this often means a new well has to be drilled.

Tip: A well’s water depth does fluctuate, and you can chart this by doing a simple test. Just lower a fishing line with a bobber attached to the bottom into the well. When the bobber hits the water, mark the line. Then pull it up and measure the distance between the bobber and the mark. Do this several times a week for a couple of weeks to get a sense of how the well behaves.

Sputtering water?
If you turn on a sink faucet and water sputters (or spits out), it means there’s air in the system. This usually comes from two sources: a malfunctioning pump, or a break or crack in the water pipe above the pump. To confidently diagnose and fix these problems, the well has to be pulled.  Ralph’s can perform this well pump repair quickly and efficiently to get your well water system or pump system back up and running.

Cloudy or muddy water?
This sign indicates a sinking water table and a pump that’s pulling from shallow water where the percentage of silt and sand is higher. It can also indicate a failing pump that is not filtering out the silt before it’s pumped to the surface. Once this process starts, the pump wears more quickly because of the abrasiveness of the silt and sand.

High utility bill?
If your power usage for a month is abnormally high and there’s not another obvious reason for it, your pump may be running all the time. This can happen when the well water pump malfunctions, the water is low, and/or the pressure switch (mounted on the storage tank) needs adjustment or replacement.

Poor tasting (or smelling) water?
Sometimes hardware issues, like old corroded plumbing pipes, can cause water to taste or smell off. But usually the culprits are water-based. Wells can suddenly be contaminated with harmless bacteria, silt and sand, and decaying organic waste that comes from the soil above. These can create off tastes and odors that are annoying but not always dangerous. To know how serious these issues are, the water needs to be tested by a state-certified lab.
The proper functioning of a well pump pressure switch takes some experience to understand. But on the most basic level, if there’s no water in the house, this switch may not be calling for it, even when the pressure in the storage tank drops below the limit that should call for more from the pump. A quick inspection of the switch can reveal some maintenance chores. Once the cover is removed, four contact points will be front and center. These points look like the ignition points that used to be in car distributors (for those old enough to remember such things). If the contact surfaces on these points are burned or pitted, they should be cleaned up with sandpaper or an ignition file.

Again, these issues are all common to those with residential wells.  Ralph’s Pump & Well specializes in solving these problems, and we’re happy to work with you to devise solutions.