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How To: Choose a Well Pump

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If your family relies on a well for water it’s important to have the right type of pump with enough power to keep the water flowing, even on the busiest mornings.  Brush up on a few well pump basics today so you’ll be primed for a smart purchase when the time comes.

In cities and suburbs folks enjoy virtually uninterrupted access to clean, potable water.  But if you live in one of the 15 million U.S. homes reliant on a well, you don’t have the luxury of taking your water supply for granted.  In areas with municipal water the local government takes responsibility for regulating and maintaining service.  If something goes wrong—say if a water main ruptures—repair workers swiftly come to the rescue.  But if your home draws its water from a private well and something goes wrong—if the well isn’t providing enough water, or any water for that matter—then it’s your problem, and yours alone.

 

Fortunately solutions rarely require messy, expensive digging.  Most of the time for the most common issues—pulsing, sputtering water flow or no flow whatsoever—the problem lies not with the well itself, but with the pump that brings well water into the home.  A technician may be able to return an on-the-fritz well pump to working order, often by fixing or replacing parts.  But according to Daniel O’Brian, a technical specialist with us here at SupplyHouse.com, “It’s not unusual for pros to suggest installing a brand-new pump.”  Hardworking, heavy-duty well pumps do last a long time (10 to 25 years), but they don’t last forever.

 

These key points are critical during the selection process of your next pump.

 

WELL DEPTH
There are three main types of wells.  A “dug” well—typically created by a backhoe and lined with stone, brick, or tile—extends down 30 feet or less.  A “driven” well goes a little deeper, to a maximum depth of about 50 feet.  The deepest of all are “drilled” wells which bore hundreds of feet below ground.  Which type do you have?  “It doesn’t really matter,” O’Brian explains.  “When choosing a pump, how the well was constructed doesn’t really factor into the equation,” he continues.  What matters is its depth.  For any well less than 30 feet deep, choose a shallow well pump.  Otherwise, opt for a deep well pump.  “Not too complicated,” O’Brian concludes.

 

PUMP TYPES
From there, however, the process of pump selection gets a little more involved.  According to O’Brian, “The confusing thing is that two pumps designed for wells of similar depth don’t necessarily work the exact same way.”  While they may have much in common, different well pumps are installed differently and transmit water in different ways.

• Centrifugal pumps operate by generating suction through the rotation of an internal fan.  “These are standard, workhorse pumps,” O’Brian says, pointing out that “they usually cost less than other types.”  One important detail is that centrifugal pumps install in a mechanical housing adjacent to the well, not within the well.  That makes future maintenance more convenient, but O’Brian notes, “The catch here is that centrifugal pumps don’t generate enough suction to be viable in the context of a deep well.”  So consider a centrifugal pump only if your well measures less than 25 feet deep.

• Submersible pumps reign as perhaps the most popular type, partly due to their versatility.  “You can use a submersible pump in virtually any well, shallow or deep,” O’Brian says.  True to their name, submersible pumps install underwater, deep within the well.  Watertight and long-lived, submersible pumps rarely require repair, but if the unit ever needs a little TLC it must first be fished out of the well and brought up to surface level.  “That’s no problem for a trained pro,” O’Brian explains, “but obviously the added labor usually comes along with added repair costs.”

• Jet pumps are the most sophisticated and the most powerful, capable of delivering more water, more quickly, than other pump types.  Plus, like submersible pumps, the jet variety may be considered for a well of any depth.  Installation varies according to whether it’s a “single-drop” or “double-drop” model.  The former (best for shallow wells) installs inside, either in the home or an outbuilding.  The latter (best for deep wells) calls for a split installation; while the jet assembly goes in the well, the motor remains above ground.  Though more expensive than submersible pumps, O’Brian says that of the two, “jet pumps are often cheaper to service long term.”

SIZING
No matter which type you choose, bear in mind that before making a purchase, it’s essential to make sure that a given well pump will be able to satisfy your family’s daily water needs.  In other words, the pump must be able to deliver as many gallons per minute (GPM) as your household consumes during peak periods—mornings when more than one shower runs simultaneously for example.  There’s no single, set-in-stone right answer, but according to O’Brian, “Well pumps with flow rates between 6 and 12 gallons per minute are generally considered appropriate for most single-family homes.”

 

A second, equally important sizing consideration: water pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).  “A standard 1/2-horsepower well pump provides adequate pressure in many residential settings,” O’Brian says, “but it’s a mistake just to assume that that’s all you need.”  Instead O’Brian recommends carefully surveying the PSI requirements of each and every water-using appliance and system in and around your home.  “Dishwashers and washing machines typically demand 10 PSI, but for something like sprinkler irrigation, you may need twice as much.”  The best course?  “Seek advice from an expert familiar with your individual home and habits.”

 

Given that it’s a pivotal component of a major household system, you might expect replacing a well pump to cost a small fortune.  Good news: while professional installation certainly adds to the total project cost, the pump itself isn’t likely to set you back more than $1,000.  In fact, many of the most popular and commonly used models retail in the $300 to $500 range.  Don’t know where to begin?  SupplyHouse.com carries a wide selection from the top manufacturers in the category and its customer service experts are always on hand to help you shop.  Above all remember that, as O’Brian puts it, “Water when you want it is important, so be sure to get the right pump for the job!”

 

 

This post was written in collaboration with BobVila.com

 

Posted in All Posts, How Tos + Tricks, Products | Tagged , , ,

16 Responses to How To: Choose a Well Pump

  1. It was quite informative when you talked about the different types of well pumps, especially when you mentioned the jet pump because we had one installed three years ago. According to you, it’s one of the most powerful because of its capability to deliver more water faster than any other type. However, caring for it was not something I’m aware of so it started failing. I plan on calling someone to get it fixed as early as tomorrow morning. After I get it fixed, I’ll make sure to care of it properly. Thanks!

  2. Considering how important the well is for the homes that have them you really do need to look at all of the factors to make sure you’re choosing the right pump. The article brings up a particularly important point about looking at the depth of your well. After all, the deeper down your well goes, the more power your pump is going to need.

  3. My family will have to rely on getting water from a well. I think I should consider the depth of the well that we just drilled so we can get the right type of pump for it. Thanks for clarifying that there are different types of well pumps, so I’ll ask an installation company which type they can recommend for us.

    • Gregory says:

      Happy to help, Angela! Our customer service team is always here to help should you have any questions for us, too: 1-888-757-4774. Have a great day!

  4. I like how you said that a well’s pump size needs to be based on your family’s water needs. My husband and I are looking into well pumps. Knowing what our family consumers in water before we start looking, is a good idea.

    • Gregory says:

      So happy this was able to help you, Elisabeth!! Good luck with your search for well pumps. If you need any help from SupplyHouse.com, you can contact our friendly customer support team at 1-888-757-4774.

  5. Jenna Hunter says:

    It was interesting to learn that there are three main types of wells. My aunt is thinking about getting a water well for her backyard. If it ever got broken or damaged it could be nice to get it repaired by a professional.

    • Gregory says:

      Jenna, we always recommend having a professional with experience and knowledge do the work so that you receive the best service and know the job is done right. If SupplyHouse.com can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and knowledgeable customer service team at 1-888-757-4774.

  6. I didn’t realize that fifteen million US homes rely on well water. Thank you for this helpful article, because I’ve been looking at moving and I’d like to buy a house with a well. I’ll definitely have to make sure I follow your advice for pumps and find a good pump repair service.

    • Gregory says:

      Thanks for your response, David! We are so glad that you found some useful insight from this article. Good luck with your move, and if you have any questions about our well pumps, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service team at 1-888-757-4774!

  7. It makes sense that you should use a shallow well pump if your well’s depth isn’t 30 feet. My uncle is interested in getting a small well installed because he prefers the taste of the water, but he needs help digging a well that will be shallow but effective. Maybe hiring a drilling service would allow him to get the exact depth he needs for his well.

  8. Ellie Davis says:

    It’s interesting to know that submersible pumps are the most popular type of pump due to their versatility. My husband and I are looking for information to choose a water well pump for my mother’s house. I will let him read this article to help him understand the different types of water well pumps available for us.

  9. Thanks for this advice for picking a well pump. I didn’t know that the size you get should be big enough to be able to deliver enough water during peak times where a lot of water is used. I’m interested to learn if there’s a way you can measure this to help figure out what pumps will be able to deliver that.

    • Gregory says:

      Hi Taylor! We’re so happy this article was useful for you. If you have any questions on our well pumps or any other products, feel free to reach out to our customer service and product support teams at 1-888-757-4774!

  10. My brother and I are looking for information on how to choose a water well pump for his house. I like how you mentioned jet pumps are submersible, can reach great depths, and are cheaper to service in the long term. I’ll share this information with my brother so he can choose which pumps he wants for his water well.

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