Why Does My Well Pump Run When No Water Is Running?

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A well pump that is constantly running, or turning on and off rapidly, can be quite annoying. Not only that, but this cycling or consistent running can cause an increase in electric bills while burning out your pump prematurely. We gathered our research to explain possible causes behind a well pump that runs even when no water is running.

If your well pump continues to run when no water is running, you may be experiencing one of the following issues:

  • You have an appliance always running
  • The pump pressure switch has been affected
  • A leak in your piping or water supply
  • Decreased water levels
  • Clogged water pressure inlet
  • Faulty valves
  • Damaged pump

As you can see, there are various reasons why a pump may still run with no running water. Read on as we talk about each issue in more detail and answer how you can tell if your well pump is bad.

Water pumping station with well pump, Why Does My Well Pump Run When No Water Is Running?

My Well Pump Still Runs When No Water Is Running

Once you notice your well pump is running when it's not supposed to be, you can start troubleshooting to find the root cause. Some problems have simple solutions, while others may require an entirely new pump. Let's take a closer look at each issue.

Running Appliance

In some instances, you may not know you have water running, causing your well pump to always be on. Two common appliances that you may have this issue with are a toilet or a dripping sink.

Try turning off the main water supply to your home. If your pump stops running, this can indicate you have an appliance pulling too much water or is leaking.

Pump Pressure Switch

Your pump's pressure switch regulates the pressure and tells your pump when to turn on and off. Burned contact points can cause this switch to stop working, causing your pump to run continuously. Replacing a pressure switch or adjusting the settings on one should be done by a plumber.

Pressure gauge, Pneumatic control system

Leaks In Your Piping Or Water Supply

There are multiple places within your water system that could experience leaks. A leak in your well piping, water supply, or foot valve can cause water pressure to drop.

This drop in pressure keeps the pump running. You know you are dealing with a leak if you are finding wet spots near pipes, your water usage has increased, or there is air in your pipes.

Decreased Water Levels

Your pump may continue running if there is not enough water or the flow rate is off. Double-check your flow rate and adjust as needed. You can check water levels by looking at your water source and taking into account any droughts or increased water usage you have experienced.

Water supply system. Hydraulic accumulator, water pump and other equipment.

Clogged Water Pressure Inlet

Your water pressure inlet can get blocked by silt, minerals, or other debris. This clog can affect your pump's ability to build pressure and keep it continuously running. If you ruled out the above issues, the next step is to remove your pressure inlet and inspect it for blockages.

Faulty Valves

A well pump has a few valves, including the check or foot valve and flow control valve. Leaky valves can cause a loss of pressure within your water system or cause backflow into your well. Valves need to be inspected individually with the help of a professional.

Damaged Pump

Have you ruled out each of the above issues? If there doesn't seem to be a root cause of a constantly running well pump, it may just be the pump itself is giving out. A pump with a mechanical issue may need to be replaced entirely.

Have a look at the video below for troubleshooting a well pump that won't shut off.

How Can You Tell If Your Well Pump Is Bad?

The signs of a bad well pump look a lot like the problems we talked about above. You may see fluctuations in water pressure, strange noises coming from the tank, water spitting out from your faucets, dirty water, or high electric bills.

You may see one or more of these issues start all at once. To reassure that you are dealing with a bad well pump, you should also check the circuit breaker and water source for issues.

There is typically little or no warning before these symptoms start appearing. Routine maintenance checks can help you in catching these issues early, decreasing the chances of these inconvenient symptoms.

Go through this list of issues before deeming the pump bad, as it could be a simple fix. Maybe you need only a new part and not an entirely new pump. Always consult a professional before moving forward with replacing your well pump.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Well Pump?

Knowing the age of your pump can help you determine if it is time for a new one. The lifespan of these units can change slightly based on the model, type, and amount of water usage.

Contractor installing and repairing water pumping station. Borehole water pump.

On average, the lifespan of a well pump is 8 to 15 years. You can extend the lifespan of your pump with regular maintenance checks and invest in a larger motor.

Factors that decrease the expected lifespan of your well pump include increased amounts of sediment in your well and increased or unnecessary use of your pump.

Learn more on our blog post, "How Long Does It Take To Replace A Well Pump?"

How Often Should A Well Pump Kick On And Off?

A well pump should only kick on if you are using water. The pump may continue running for a short time after you turn off the water to bring pressure into the system but should not run if no water is being or has been used.

Short cycling is a term used to describe a well pump that is rapidly kicking on and off when water is flowing. A loss of air in the water pressure tank is the most common cause of short cycling.

Other issues that can cause this includes a clogged water filter, a damaged water tank, and leaks in your system.

Learn more on our blog post, "How Often Should A Well Pump Cycle?"

Why Is My Well Pump Not Holding Pressure?

water pressure motor and it's connected pipe line

A drop in water pressure is what causes a well pump to continue running. What leads to a well pump not holding pressure can be caused by a variety of issues, maybe even more than one happening simultaneously.

The most common issues leading to a well pump that cannot hold pressure include leaks within your water system and a faulty check valve.

The purpose of a check valve is to hold pressure within your system and prevent backflow within the pump. This valve should be checked regularly as it directly affects the ability of your pump to hold pressure.

You can find leaks in your system by checking one section at a time. Turning valves to block water flow from specific areas and inspecting for wet spots or obvious leaks in other areas.

Read more on our blog post, "Does A Well Pump Affect Water Pressure?"

How Do You Reset A Well Pump?

Your well pump can be affected by power outages or surges. You may need to reset a well pump after a black-out or while you are troubleshooting. You can reset a pump in just a few simple steps.

These simple steps include the following:

  1. Shut off your breaker or cut power to your pump.
  2. Find the cut-off switch on your pump.
  3. Remove the cap from this switch and gently clean the contacts.
  4. Replace the cap, turn the breaker or power back on.
  5. Pull the lever down that is under the cap on your cut-off switch.
  6. Continue holding the lever in this position for one minute.
  7. Release the lever, and your pump should be reset and running.

The video below highlights steps five, six, and seven in this resetting process.

Read more on our blog post, "How Often Should You Service A Well Pump?"

In Summary

There are multiple issues that can cause a well pump to continue running even when no water is flowing. To get to the root of the issue, try troubleshooting through the issues we laid out for you today. We hope you found this article helpful when diagnosing your problem, and you can get your well pump back in working order.

Are you searching for more details concerning your well pump? Have a look through our blog post, "Can You Run A Well Pump Without A Pressure Tank?"

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