How to Prime a Well Pump: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you priming a well pump for the first time? Bought a well pump but not sure if it needs to be primed? Check out this blog post for step-by-step instructions on how to prime your well pump. If you are concerned about installing a well pump on your property, don’t worry; 43 million people in the United States have faced the same thing! The first step to getting your well up and running is to determine the type of well you have. Deep wells and shallow wells require different devices to supply you with water; Depending on the depth of your well, you may need to purchase a well pump that needs to be manually primed.

What is a self-priming well pump?


Not all well pumps need to be manually primed, even if you are installing them for the first time. To understand the difference, you will need to understand two basic types of well pumps.

  • Well submersible pump fully underwater operation, where the pump unit is located in the well casing and is connected to a power source at the top of the well. This type of borehole pump works best for deep wells, which do not require priming because of their underwater operation.
  • Non-submersible well pump will work best for shallow wells. Because they work on well water, they will need to be primed when they are first installed. Read on to learn the steps to priming a shallow well pump.

For those just starting out with a well pump for the first time, the EPA has a helpful diagram that explains the components of a well pump.

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Why is priming a well pump important?

Simply put, your well pump will need to be primed to function correctly. Priming a well pump is the process of manually creating a pressurized vacuum through which water can be pulled from the well and directed through your water line. Typically, priming of the well pump will only need to be done when your well pump is first installed. You’ll then only need to have your well pump serviced again after any pump failure – one can think of this process as “recalibrating” it.

Step-by-step instructions on how to create a pump well

These steps will show you how to install a shallow well pump (also known as a submersible well pump). At every step along the way, you’ll want to inspect the well pump components for damage, leaks, or cracks in the material. If your well pump is not working properly, damage to the well pump itself could be the reason why.

  • Disconnect pump wells from all power sources.
  • Eliminate main plug. This is usually a square or hexagonal plug located at the top of the pump.
  • Locate and open the relief valves. This will prevent pressure build-up.
  • Run a faucet into the hole where the main plug is inserted.
  • Note: The water you use to install the borehole pump must be the same as it is intended for well water; For example, if you are priming a shallow well pump to pull potable water from a well, you will need to use a clean water outlet hose to refill the tank.

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  • Turn on water and fill the pump housing with water. You should see the shell begin to overflow from the main outlet and drain valves as it fills up.
  • Place return the main plug to its original position and reconnect the pump to the power source. If the cycle runs normally and starts and stops as usual, you’ve succeeded!
  • If you notice that your well pump is working abnormally or the water pressure is not what you want, try going through these steps again.

    What about Switchable Jet Pumps?

    The convertible jet pump is a well pump with an extra hose, which helps it pull water from extremely deep wells over 90 feet deep! Because the converter jet pump has two pipes (one to draw in water and one to push water towards your outlet valve), both lines need to be filled with water, as explained in step 5 above. In addition, the priming process of this type of well pump will be exactly the same.

    Troubleshooting Primed Well Pump

    What should you do if your well pump is not working? If your well pump is malfunctioning, chances are the problem is with a damaged pump unit. These components may include pins or check valves that need to be replaced; leaking pipes or fittings; If you notice your pump is losing pressure (you can monitor the pump’s water pressure by installing an external pressure gauge), the problem is likely due to a blockage somewhere along the your property’s water line. If everything seems to be working properly, but you are still not satisfied with your water pressure, you can also install a booster pump. The procedure to install the well pump with accumulator is the same as the steps outlined above, after fixing the above problems, your well pump will need to be primed again to work properly.

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    Next step

    If you are still unsure of how to prime your well pump or if your well pump is malfunctioning, call a plumber for further assistance. Whether you’re a homeowner or a home builder or renovator, you’ll be able to save time by hiring a plumber who will be able to diagnose and resolve problems more quickly.

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