The average lifespan of a below-ground well pump is 15 years, and an above-ground model has an average of 10 years. Being able to differentiate between when it is actually time to get a new pump and when a more minor fix is in order can mean hundreds of dollars in saved equipment and labor costs.
Signs of Minor Problems
If you are not getting any water to any of your appliances or faucets and the tank is empty, not being replenished by the pump, then check the pump’s circuit breaker. Make sure the breaker is set to ‘on’ in the electrical box. This is a common issue after outages.
Another potential electrical explanation for water stoppage could be a malfunction in the pressure switch. Using a voltmeter, you can test the leads of the switch. There should be four pairs of two, and the leads should be unblemished. Clean them off if they are not, and consider tightening the pressure adjustment nut, which should be located near the relays. Be careful to disconnect the fuse to the switch (which will likely be connected through the fuse for the pump) and use caution when checking the voltage. If any of the leads are dead, you should replace the pressure switch. This is luckily a lot more affordable than a whole new pump.
If there is no water coming through or the pressure is too low but the pump is working, still chugging, then it is likely some blockages in the pipes that are causing the issues. There might also be leaks in pipes, which might occur above or below ground. Be on the lookout for unexplained patches of wetness as a sign of a leak.
If you are getting water, but it is murky or off-flavored, then the well may be running low, close to failure. This is more of a major issue, but there is a chance you could wait it out until rain rejuvenates the groundwater supply. Or, you could dig a new well. The pump can be transferred.
Things Indicating You Need a Whole New Pump
If you have recently increased your water draw by installing new appliances, then you might have outgrown your pump. This can be evidenced by weaker pressure and inconsistent water flow. You can also check your switch’s pressure gauge. There should be a psi range printed on the inside of the switch cover, and if the gauge isn’t within the printed range, then you know there’s a problem. This can be remedied either by replacing your pressure tank, your water tank, or both.
If none of the above seems to be the answer, then there could be an internal problem in the pump, such as a clogged or failed intake valve. At that point, it is time to call in a professional. In fact, many of the above tips are best served if you use them to collect information to tell to a professional. Pump fixes and replacements have multiple details and complexities which we glossed over here.