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How to Troubleshoot a Water Well Pump

Updated March 23, 2017

Learning how to troubleshoot a water well pump isn’t too difficult, especially if you have a piston-type, water pump. These pumps are easier to fix than most other types of pumps, as all or most of the components are easily accessible and visible. Moreover, replacement parts or kits can be found easily at any reliable hardware or water well pump retailers. If you need to do some troubleshooting, or just need to service your piston pump, here’s how to do it.

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  1. Review the power unit of your piston pump. Before you start, verify whether your pump is receiving efficient power from the power source. To do so, check the breaker box, or fuse. If the breaker trips or you blow a fuse, this will indicate the presence of an electrical surge. Should you detect a problem in either, switch the breaker back on or replace the fuse, as the case may be.

  2. Familiarise yourself with the piston pump. Study the owner’s manual to get a clear idea of the different components and their individual functions in the water well piston pump. For example, some important components that you need to locate are the cylinder head, valve assembly and crankshaft. When you have learnt to identify and locate all the critical parts of the piston pump, you can check them in an orderly manner.

  3. Grease or lubricate parts as instructed by the manufacturer. If you check the piston pump carefully, it is likely to include a grease fitting, which is the centrally located area for greasing or lubricating the pump unit. When you locate the grease fitting, use the grease gun and grease coupler that can be obtained from your manufacturer. Wipe this unit thoroughly. Then, place it properly in the grease fitting of the pump. Make sure you do not over lubricate the grease fitting. After you have finished this process, don’t forget to wipe the grease fitting thoroughly.

  4. Check O rings and piston seals. These are usually made of rubber and are liable to crack under prolonged use, or improper functioning of the pump. If you find them in damaged condition, you can purchase a replacement kit from any reliable hardware stores, or water well piston pump retailers.

  5. Inspect the connecting rod, belts and piston. Repair or replace a damaged connecting rod or piston immediately, as this will harm or wear out the motor of the piston pump, if you do not. Do the same for the belts, and replace the belts if they are worn or damaged.

  6. Switch the pump back on. When your troubleshooting task is over, turn on the power supply and listen to any abnormal sounds that emanate from the pump.

  7. Tip

    Keep the owner’s manual in a safe and accessible place. You never know when you may need it. Purchase quality replacement kits or other components from recognised retailers.


    Do not operate the piston pump when dry, as the excess heat caused, can damage critical, internal parts.

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Things You'll Need

  • Owner’s manual
  • Grease gun with coupler
  • Piston seals
  • O rings
  • Connecting rod
  • Belts

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