How Does a Well Pump Work?

Written by dale devries
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How Does a Well Pump Work?
(Bernd Neese)

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Types of Well Pumps

If you live outside the reaches of a public water system than you know that you have a well. But unless it stops working, most of us don't give how it works too much thought. Once the well pump breaks though, how the water got from the ground to our homes becomes a priority. There are two basic types of well pumps used today: submersible and jet pumps. The difference in the pump you use is if you have a shallow or deep well. Pumps also come in different sizes depending on how much water the property needs on a daily basis.

Well Pump for a Shallow Well

The most commonly used well pump for a shallow well is a jet pump. The pump is normally mounted in a basement, well house or crawl space over the well. This type of pump uses suction to pull the water from the well. An electric motor drives and impeller that in turn moves the water. The water is moved from the well into a jet mounted in front of the impeller. The water leaves the jet and causes a vacuum that suctions more water. Behind the jet is a tube that increases in size to slow the water down and increase the pressure. The water is then released into your plumbing system. These types of pumps need to be primed to work. That means you have to put water in to create the vacuum. There is a 1-way check valve installed to keep the water from flowing back into the well. The common depth of a shallow well is no more than 25 feet.

Well Pumps for Deep Wells

You can still use a jet pump for a deep well. However, you must separate the jet from the motor and place the jet components into the water in the well. This is called a double drop jet pump system. This system needs both suction and pressure to function. In this system two pipes are used instead of one. The first is mounted to the impeller housing to push the water into the jet that is between 10 and 20 feet below the minimum water level. The second pipe connects the output back to the pump. The deep water jet pump also needs to be primed.

The submersible pump pushes the water up instead of pulling it up. This makes for a more efficient well pump for a deep well. This type of pump is entirely in the well instead of just part of it. The common submersible pump looks like a long tube that fits inside the well casing. The pump itself is in a sealed compartment that is connected by wires to a power source above ground. The impellers are stacked and separated by diffusers and they push the water up to the plumbing system. This type of pump is very hard to repair being as it is underground and hard to access. However, most last an average of 20 years without needing repair.

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