Shallow Well Jet Pump Low Pressure



Aug 1, 2020
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I had a doozy of a night last night. It all began when dark brown, very dirty and sandy water began coming out of my kitchen sink faucet. I was trying to wash some dishes and I was astounded by what I saw. I knew something had gone terribly wrong, so I started things off by investigating inside my well. I have a shallow well (dug well) that's only about 12 feet deep. I'd say I've got about eight feet of water in it. It's a great well that's never run dry. Probably because we have a high water table in my area and the well is situated approximately 50 feet from a stream.

Right after the water ran brown, I noticed that my well pump wouldn't shut off. It's in my basement and I can hear it through the floor. I found that odd. I went downstairs and flipped the circuit breaker to the off position. I came to the conclusion that the jet pump issue had something to do with the muddy water it was sucking up from the well.

I went outside and pulled the concrete cap off the well. Apparently, the end of the plastic water pipe that was once being held about a foot from the bottom of the well had broken and the foot valve was touching the ground. I had looking into the well a few months prior and actually thought the bottom of the well was concrete because it was grey like concrete. Not so. The floor of the well is mucky dirt and my pump was sucking it up.

I used a pole saw (tree pruning saw), blade end down, to pull the bottom of the pipe up off the ground and then I tied two new ropes to a stainless steel hose clamp. I fished the clamp down towards the bottom of the pipe and somehow (very luckily) managed to get the clamp around the end of the pipe. There were other clamps on the pipe as well (securing the foot valve) and they wouldn't let the new clamp pass them. I was able to keep the end of the pipe lifted from the bottom of the well and I tied the ropes off up top. Problem solved.

I went back inside and flushed out my pressure tank and the house pipes. I have a sediment filter installed with ball valves on either side, so this was pretty easy to do. I just removed the filter element and let the water pour out into the basement crawl space. I then connected everything back together and turned the pump back on by flipping the circuit breaker. Again, the pump wouldn't turn off. I knew it had something to do with the fact it had sucked up sand and dirt from the well.

The well pump I have is a Sta-Rite jet pump. I'm not sure of the model number. It's a 1/2 horsepower. I looked all over the place to see what was wrong. I tried Google and YouTube and didn't get very far. I finally came to the conclusion that the sand in the pump had ruined it somehow. Perhaps it destroyed a seal or a bearing. I thought the water was being pumped up and then, because of the bad seal or bearing, not creating enough pressure to activate the pressure switch. The pressure switch is suppose to flip when there's 30 pounds of pressure in the system, but the pump would only create 20 pounds. I even removed the hose (tube) that went from the pump housing to the pressure switch. I thought that might be clogged with sand. Nope. It was clear. And as I ran the pump, I pulled the pressure switch up with a piece of plastic. It worked fine, so that wasn't the problem.

Just as I was losing all hope and began looking for a new jet pump to purchase, I found a page that suggested I try something. It said there's a cleanout plug or bolt that's situated directly below the well water inlet pipe. If removed, any sediment that's collected at the end of the nozzle / jet / venturi inside the pump can be removed, thus increasing the pressure the pump produces. I ran downstairs, turned the electrical power and valves off again and removed the bolt. I pushed a thin screwdriver in the hole and hit something hard. I continued to push and the screwdriver through and it went, breaking through the sediment. Apparently, there's been sediment inside the pump for years and it became rock solid. The additional sediment that was pulled up last night was the icing on the cake. I guess it clogged up the end of the pump nozzle (I'm not exactly sure of the interior workings of a jet pump) and didn't allow the pump to produce the necessary pressure to flip the pressure switch. To make sure I got all the sediment out of the pump, I turned the valve from the pressure tank on a bit. When I did that, water shot out of the pump bolt hole, along with the remainder of the sediment. Feeling confident, I screwed the bolt back into the hole.

When everything was set, I turned the circuit breaker back on to give the pump electrical power. It turned on and after running for about a minute, it turned off at 30 pounds of pressure. I tested it out a few times by running the water in the house and everything worked fine. And then this morning, I flushed out our electric hot water heater to get all the brown water out of the tank. As of this moment, the water in the house is just about back to normal. It's almost as clear as it's going to get.

There should probably be a moral to this story. I guess it would be this: if you suck sand up from your shallow well and your jet pump won't turn off, first fix the well and then flush out the pump. The way these pumps work is that they need the water to move a certain way inside of them to build the proper pressure. If they're clogged up, even a little bit, they can't create that pressure. If there's not enough pressure, the pressure switch won't activate, leaving the pump running indefinitely.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you have any interest in how a well jet pump works, take a look at this video:

The Basics of a Jet Pump

Shallow Well Jet Pump Low Pressure was posted on 09-07-2021 by CampFireJack in the Home Forum forum.

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