How to Tell if your Well Pump is Bad – 9 Warning Signs

how to tell if your well pump is going bad

This comprehensive article endeavors to enable you tell if your well pump is going bad or is damaged.

This will entail a check on the warning signs of a struggling pump and troubleshooting a well pump correctly. Also, in conclusion, is our well thought answers to all the frequently asked questions in this area of concern.

A private well for water supply is a fantastic resource with multiple benefits over using the municipal water supply, that is, No monthly costs on the water bill, reliable water supply, and is actually free. Furthermore, there is the availability of clean and healthy water with minimal servicing.

However, for all these benefits to be realized, it is up to you to maintain and always repair your well pump to keep that dependable water supply running through your faucets.

Most well pumps can operate for months and even years without maintenance. That is why many well pump users do not realize the need for routine maintenance until when it is too late.

How to tell if your well pump is bad – 9 Warning Signs

  • Cloudy or Muddy Water.
  • Low Water Pressure.
  • High Electric Bills.
  • Poor Tasting Water.
  • Noisy Spitting Faucets.
  • Your Pump is Running Constantly.
  • Strange or rapid clicking noises coming from the tank.
  • Well Pressure Tank.
  • No Water from Well or Dry Well

Let’s Dive in…….

1. Cloudy or Muddy Water

This sign indicates a failing well pump that is unable to filter out silt before pumping the water up the surface, once you see cloudy or muddy water starting to appear on your pumped water, this is a clear sign that the pump is wearing out at a very high rate because of friction of the sand and silt.

2. Low Water Pressure

The most common indicator of a struggling well water pump is low water pressure in the faucets and showers. This is usually caused by iron bacteria clogging the nipple pipe, leading to the pressure switch.

These iron bacteria affect the pressure switch negatively, leading to adverse pressure outcome. Therefore, there is a need to test the well water for iron bacteria.

If there are traces of iron in water, then the well pump and screen are likely to be clogged with high iron bacteria.

To restore the well pump to a better condition, the pump and well should be cleaned to remove slime, iron bacteria and scales.

3. High Electric Bills

well pump pressure switch problemsIf the power usage for each month is creeping up and there is no other apparent reason, and the well pump is running every day.  Then, there is a high possibility that the well pump is malfunctioning.

Therefore, the pressure switch needs replacement/adjustment. Also, the water level in the well might below, thus requiring more power to pump up the water.

Another common cause is when the pump is blocked with silt, sand or iron bacteria. As a result, the pump is forced to work much harder to draw water to fill up the pressure tank.

4. Poor Tasting Water

Well water can be contaminated by decaying organic waste, bacteria, sand and silt. This usually creates an off taste and odor, Though  not dangerous to human and animal consumption, It is not pleasing.

Additionally, corroded plumbing pipes can cause water to smell and taste rusty. The effective way to identify this problem is to test the water with a Well Water test Kit.

Read:- Well Water Test kits

5. Noisy Spitting Faucets

Spitting faucets issues are caused by air in the plumbing system. To identify this problem, first, check for a leaking pressure tank bladder that always causes a sporadic air spurt in the water system.

Secondly, check for a malfunctioning well pump. Finally, inspect for cracks or breaks in the water pipes above the pump.

6. Your Pump is running Constantly

If the well pump is running continuously, this can be a sign that your well pump is struggling to draw water from the well to fill up the pressure tank.

7. Strange or rapid clicking noises coming from the tank

Water pressure tank contains a bladder that is full of air. Sometimes the bladder may leaks or loses air. Due to this you may hear rapid clicking sounds emanating from the pressure nozzle near the pressure tank.

This air escaping from the bladder may affect the well pump negatively, making it get into a non-ending, stop-start and start-stop cycle. Therefore, it is advisable to inform plumbing experts to come and access the problem.

8. Well  Pressure Tank

Pressure well tank is mostly located in the basement and is used to hold water pumped from the well for consistent home-usage.

If the holding tank capacity is small compared to the family need, Then, the well pump will be forced to run constantly to keep the tank filled all the time. This may cause it to burn out. Therefore, it is advisable to install a larger tank in order to protect the well pump.

9. No Water from Well or Dry Well

Drought seasons may cause the well to run dry, Thus cause the pressure tank to run low on water. This may lead to a “call signal” being sent to the well pump and result into a dry well, causing the pump to burn out.

A low water cut off system is a must-have. This will always sense when the water is running below the set levels and prevent the pump from overheating and getting burnt out.


Nothing is meant to last forever, right! A top high-quality and properly maintained well pump has an average lifespan of 16-23 years. After years and years of service, the parts inside the pump will begin to wear down and need for a well pump replacement is inevitable.

A faulty well pump could be a real disruption in your daily livelihood. Stained water, not being able to get water in your faucets, a noisy pump, high electric bill which are some of the indications your well pump is deficient. The well pump should be able to work efficiently with minimal disruptions, the maintenance of the well pump should not be too costly as the pump is supposed to be convenient for homeowners.

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Top signs of well pump failure

  •  Sudden change in water quality, the water is often coupled with silt, sediments, and sand.
  • High iron bacteria in the water or sulfate-reducing bacteria.
  • A sudden change in water quality such as odor, color or taste, slime buildup in the pump and toilet.
  • Contamination from man-made sources like industrial chemicals.
  • An increase in hardness, manganese, iron, and sulfate, always do a routine of water test.

How to correct well water warning signs:

  • Have your well water analyzed after every six months to ensure it is safe for drinking.
  • Try to identify the contamination and remove the cause.
  • Routinely calculate the Langelier saturation index to know the water’s corrosion threats.
  • Install a water treatment system to remove silt and sand in the well, before it reaches the pressure tank.
  • Install aeration and degassing system to remove excess gasses in water.
  • Inspect the piping system for any corrosion threats.

Troubleshooting a well pump problems

You wake up one morning and realize your well pump has stopped working or pumping water to your pressure tank.

That should not mean you have to purchase a brand new pump or dig another new well.

A well pump system includes many components of which one can stop working and affect the pump from working properly or ground it entirely.

Below are some easy techniques that you can use to troubleshooting well pump problems before calling in an expert.


A power surge or increased power usage can trigger the power circuit and shut down the whole system completely.

So, before doing anything, you need to verify if the electrical circuit has tripped. Power shut down is a common problem in well pumps.

Locate where the circuit breaker is, switch it off and on again; sometimes it looks as if it is on when it isn’t.

Pressure Tank

Another common problem that you need to check keenly is the pressure tank functionality; less air pressure inside the tank can send an incorrect signal to the pressure button to switch on the pressure tank.

The right pressure inside the tank should always be two psi less than the required setting at which the pressure switch comes on.

Discolored Water

A well pump that has black or brown elements and rusty sediments in the pumped water requires a system treatment to correct the problem.

Minerals like manganese can leave black marking/stains on your clothes and a brownish coating inside deep freezers and fridges. Iron bacteria are prone to grow inside your toilet tank and stains utensils.

Kindly note, faucet filters or under-counters are not able to remove these minerals; you can contact your local water specialist to fix this problem.

Well pump keeps on turning on and off:

This a common condition called “waterlogged.” For a pressure system to operate correctly; there must be a certain amount of air in the pressure tank.

well pump pressure switch troubleshootingWhen you turn on the pump, the water in the tank compresses the air in the pressure tank as it begins to fill with water.

As the water volume increases in the tank, the air is compressed further, building pressure inside the tank, so every time you open a faucet the pressure inside the tank forces water through the pipe system and out the faucet.

Over time the amount of air required inside the tank to operate appropriately will decrease, and water will be left inside the tank.

In this scenario, water cannot be compressed to build up pressure that tells the pump to shut off. So when you open a faucet the little amount of water left will reduce the pressure in the tank and the switch will signal the pump to start again.

As long as your tank contains less air and too much water inside the tank, the pump will continue the never-ending cycle of on and off every second.

This is a very hard task for the pump and it can cause serious problems.
To correct the problem, you need to call the people who installed your water pump and explain the problem to them.

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Why submersible pump trip:

Pump tripping is a common thing mostly on old well pumps, the probable reasons might be a worn out bearing that expose shaft when the motors start.

The current might be too high for the circuit breaker or an eroded seal caused by sand frictions allows water to penetrate through the motor housing and short circuit.

If your submersible pump is an inexpensive model, the ideal option is to replace it with a new pump than having someone to dismantle and fix it because it’s very difficult to seal properly when outside the factory.

Air bubbles in well water

It is a common occurrence to see air bubbles appear in a glass of water drawn from your kitchen faucet.

However, whenever you see a large number of bubbles similar to effervescence appear in your glass this can be from natural occurrence and mechanical reasons.

Although they pose no health risk, water testing is required to establish the reason.

Naturally Occurring Bubbles

Pressure and temperature are the two main factors of gasses that are released into your well water in the form of small bubbles.

This natural occurring of bubbles is due to pressure from the bedrock well which is high, and when the water is pumped up straight to the tank, the pressure reduces forming small bubbles in the process.
In most cases, these bubbles are nothing to worry about.

Mechanical Causes Of Air Bubbles

When the water level inside the well run down/low this will allow air bubbles to form in the well pump as it draws water. One of the ideal ways in the short term to prevent this from happening is to reduce the volume of water used in the home.

Homeowners are advised to install a well draw-down cutoff system that will prevent over pumping and motor from overheating, cause well pump stopped working.

Troubleshooting Well Pump Problems