Monday, 2 November 2009

WellPoint not pumping water any more? Here’s how to prime your pump – the easy way

If your well point pump has stopped pumping water this could be caused by a few problems.  Usually it’s because the pump has lost its “prime” (prime means: to charge a pump with water, in order to put it in working condition).

Another common reason for the pump not pumping is a leak in a join or in a pipe.  Perhaps the gardener has used a fork too enthusiastically  and pierced one of the feeder pipes.  Pump systems are particularly sensitive to air holes in the system.  Check all pipes carefully for tiny holes – you might even have to dig up the pipes to examine them :(

The non-return valve (the brass fitting on the front of the pump) prevents the water from running back down the hole when the pump is not running may sometimes jam, causing the pump to lose prime.

Here are some tips to avoid losing prime and rectifying it if is does occur:
1) Make a habit of shutting off the water stopcock on the pump before switching the power off.
2) When starting up again, switch the power on first, then open the water stopcock.
3) If no water comes out after you have let the pump run for 5 minutes, the pump has lost its prime, and needs to be re-primed as follows:     i) Connect a hose from the pump to a municipal tap, and open both the tap and the stopcock on the pump.
    ii) Let the water run into the pump for at least a minute, then without closing either tap, switch the power on.
    iii) Now shut off both the municipal tap and the stopcock.
    iv) Disconnect the hose from the pump (being careful not to get wet), and open the stopcock a fraction that the water just trickles out. The reason for not opening the stopcock fully is that the pump needs water in the casing to create the vacuum to draw the air out of the system, and opening the stopcock fully would empty the casing. 
     You will notice that the water will trickle for a minute or two, then start spluttering as the air is expelled.
     After about 4 minutes you should notice that water starts to constantly trickle out again.
    v) Now progressively open the stopcock till you have a normal stream again.
Repeat steps ii) to v) if necessary.

Thanks to Precipitec for these tips!
Tips: Some well points that have a low yield operate more efficiently if the stopcock on the pump is choked back until the pump has a faint hissing sound.

It is advisable to have a cover over the motor of the pump, and these can be bought from any Pool Shop.
Most ground water in the Western Cape contains some iron, if there is too much iron in your water don’t use it in your pool or wash cars with it, it will stain them brown.  The iron content can be tested at a Pool shop for a small fee.
If you find that your water stains the walls, you can minimise this by only watering the sections near the walls very early in the morning or at night.  This gives the water a chance to drain off the walls before the iron can oxidise.
Do not leave your pump unused for longer than a month, even in winter. Often pumps that stand unused develop corrosion in their bearings and give problems, so even in winter run the pump for a few minutes a week.
Do not run the pump with the valve shut off for longer than 15 minutes. This is guaranteed to cause it to overheat and burn out.

Do not let your pump run without water – you will burn out your motor.
Additional information:
Water Pumps, Tanks, & Wells - Purchase, Diagnosis, & Repair:
Prime the Pump by Garden Hose:


  1. Hi there
    Can you tell me, if I have to prime the pump everyday, should I replace the non-return valve?


  2. I nearly broke my pump trying to prime it using the above bad advice. This is not the way to prime a well point.
    Thanks to De Wets for fixing my pump properly. Great Service from all.

    1. @Andy, thanks for your comment - do you have any pointers as to the correct way to prime a well point?

  3. Used above advice and it worked brilliantly for me. I was about to call De Wets ( who installed it years back).
    Main thing Iearnt is that alway rather close your stopcock first before switching off the pump.

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  6. My water pressure is very low, I do not have a stopcock from my wellpoint to my pump but a non-return valve on the pump. When I prime it as explained the water from the municipal tap just pours out of the hose from the pump to the garden. What to do to get the water pressure up again?

  7. Hi my suction pipe coming from the ground to the pump, crimps all the time when i use my well Point pump. Can you assist me with this problem?


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