Common submersible pump problems range from simple fixes, such as a blown fuse, to more complicated issues with valves, seals, and other pump components. Other problems can be blamed on a mismatch between the selected pump and its location, use, or both. This guide to troubleshooting submersible well pumps will explain the most common problems and how to fix them.
The Motor Doesn’t Start
If your pump’s motor doesn’t start, there could be a variety of factors at play. Common reasons for pump motors not starting include:
- Blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker — If a pump trips a circuit breaker or blows a fuse, resetting the circuit breaker or replacing the fuse will get things running again. Repeated overloads may indicate additional problems such as worn parts or a mismatched pump for the job.
- Fuse receptacle — A corroded or dirty fuse receptacle may not make a clean connection, causing the motor to occasionally stop running. Solve this by replacing the fuse receptacle.
- Pressure switch — The pressure switch triggers the pump to run or stop. If wear, dirt, or corrosion cause a poor connection, the motor may run poorly or stop completely. Cleaning the contacts should resolve this.
- Debris & sediment buildup — Sand, dirt, and other contaminants can collect around the pump and impeller, causing it to work substantially harder and triggering a shutdown to prevent damage. In these cases, amp readings may be up to six times higher than normal readings. Fix this by cleaning out the motor.
Water Pump Not Pumping Water
When immersed, a submersible pump has water flow into the pump body, which contains an impeller. The impeller transports the water to the pump outlet. During immersion, the pump house fills with air, replacing the water, but sometimes not all the air leaves the pump house. This could be the issue if your submersible pump is not working.
If the motor runs but little or no water is being pumped out, the problem is likely blockage or air in the pump. Air will rise to the top of the pump house, where the impeller is located, preventing it from operating effectively. Angling the pump once it is underwater can allow the air to escape and water to take its place.
Obstructions due to sand or sludge in the impeller or strainer can also prevent the pump from drawing in or pumping out water. Clearing the blockage should resume proper operation.
Changes in Temperature
An overheating pump will typically shut down to protect the motor from damage. Common causes and solutions for overheating include:
- Reduced flow — Because pumped liquid also serves as the system’s coolant, low flow results in less cooling. Reductions in flow are often caused by buildup, blockages, or improper pump sizing. Addressing flow issues should ease overheating problems.
- Foreign substance deposition or scale buildup — Foreign materials, ochre, or scale buildup can slow water flow, compromising the motor’s cooling. Check for and remove these materials as needed to control overheating.
- Heated liquid — Pumping warm liquid, whether knowingly or unknowingly, doesn’t provide the cooling system the motor requires. Higher temperatures of ambient water could also cause overheating. Shorter runtimes, changing the pump location, or selecting a model designed to handle warmer liquids can fix this problem.
- Low voltage — Operating motorized equipment, including submersible pumps, at too low a voltage causes the motor to work harder, causing it to overheat.
A properly running pump should produce a steady hum. Unusual noises or volume may indicate problems, including:
- Cavitation — When bubbles form in the liquid inside the pump, especially in more viscous liquids, they can make rumbling sounds and create internal shock waves that can damage the pump or decrease efficiency. Make sure the pump and driver are properly aligned. If the pumped liquid is causing the cavitation, adjust the pump to accommodate the viscosity.
- Improper Flow — Make sure there have been no changes to the valves in line to the pump, which may be causing the excess noise. Blockage or friction in the discharge piping can also be the source of noise. Also ensure the flow rate/head ratio is within the pump’s capability.
Submersible Water Pumps From GATOR Pump
These submersible pump problems and solutions work for submersible well pumps and commonly used commercial pumps. If you’re pumping flood water or groundwater from lakes, rivers, or ponds, a GATOR Pump solution can help you avoid all of these problems.
At GATOR Pump, our motor drives are all outside the pumping medium and always above the water level, never below, so you can avoid issues like corrosion and contamination. Our open impeller pumps mean that air is always in our housings, and this is not a problem if the main water lubricated drive bearing stays submerged. In fact, our pumps are superior to most centrifugal pumps because cavitation is not an issue for us.
GATOR pumps have no suction lines, check valves, or mechanical seals. Our designs are rugged and reliable, so you can avoid altogether the common problems discussed in this blog. Contact us today or request a quote or learn more about our products and capabilities.