Owning a private well comes with its fair share of responsibilities. You’re in charge of keeping your well in order – and that includes replacing worn parts that have reached the end of their lifespan.
One of the most important features of any well is the pump. But well pumps don’t last forever, and if you don’t replace yours when it needs replacing, your entire well might end up going out of use.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the common types of well pumps, the factors that may affect the lifespan of your well pump, and ultimately, how long well pumps last. By the end, you’ll know when to replace your well pump – and how to extend your pump’s lifespan.
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📑 Common Types of Well Pumps
If you’re in the process of buying a well pump, or you already own a well pump but don’t know much about it, there are three common types of well pumps you’re likely to come across in the US: centrifugal well pumps, submersible well pumps, and jet well pumps.
Centrifugal Well Pumps
Centrifugal well pumps use centrifugal force to suck water from the aquifer into your home. This type of system consists of a single pipe and is effective for shallow wells. Centrifugal well pumps aren’t ideal for deep wells that pass below 25 feet underground.
Submersible Well Pumps
A submersible well pump is considered the most efficient type of well pump, and, for that reason, the most popular. A submersible pump operates only when needed, rather than constantly drawing water into the home. Submersible pumps use a spinning impeller to draw water into the pump and through to the surface. You can use submersible pumps in shallow and deep well applications.
Jet Well Pumps
Commonly combined with a pressure tank, jet well pumps can be used to obtain water from deep and shallow wells. The design of jet pumps depends on the well in question – while a shallow well of around 25 feet will use a single pipe to draw water, a deep well will require a two-pipe system. Two-pipe jet well pumps are capable of drawing water from more than 100 feet below ground level.
📌 Factors Affecting Your Well Pump Lifespan
There are a number of factors that may affect the life expectancy of your well pump. These include:
One of the biggest influencers of well pump lifespan is quality. While off-brand products may seem like the cheaper deal at the time, they don’t tend to be the better long-term solution.
Cheaper pumps tend to be made from cheaper, less durable materials, which may not be able to withstand daily operation. You may find it difficult to hire a contractor to fit a cheaper well pump, too, as many pump companies will only fit products that allow them to stand behind their quality installation guarantee.
Aside from the quality of the actual pump, the pump’s power supply can also affect how long the pump will last. Too high or too low voltages can reduce a pump’s lifespan and even destroy it. Phase imbalances or loss can have a similar detrimental effect.
It’s important that your pump is supplied with the best power function and quality. If you’re unsure what your pump needs, contact the manufacturer or speak to your installer ahead of time.
The quality of your water will depend on the characteristics of your local environment, including rock and soil type, and possible local pollution.
How long will a well pump last based on water quality? Your well pump will have the longest life expectancy if water is pure and clear. However, it’s rare that the water in your aquifer will have the crystal-clear quality of volcanic mineral water.
Sediment and sand are commonly found in well water. The more sediment in your water, the faster the pump’s internal components, including the well pump motor, will wear out. High mineral content can also cause wear and tear to the well water system, and can even end up clogging the pipes, chambers and ports.
Again, the temperature of your well water is something you don’t have much control over. However, it’s worth knowing that temperature can affect how long your well pump will last.
Higher water temperatures can decrease the motor quality of your pump and affect the plastic components in the well water system. Not all well pump systems contain components that are intended to be used at elevated temperatures.
There are pump systems that are designed to be used with higher water temperatures, which are worth considering if you live in an area with a higher-than-average water temperature.
A well pump’s duty cycle, or how long it needs to run at a time, can affect its overall lifespan.
If the pump runs only when it’s needed, in what is known as an intermittent duty cycle, it will last longer on average than a pump that runs on a continuous duty cycle. This is because the motor will be required to work less frequently, so it won’t become worn out as quickly.
Finding a competent expert to fit your well water system is essential, as poor installation can result in early issues with your well pump.
There are several things that a contractor should ensure when fitting your well pump, including:
- That the correct type and pipe size is used for the pump
- That the pipe’s water pressure rating is accurate
- That the pump has been tested and meets the manufacturer’s specifications
- That the pump hasn’t incurred damage during shipping
- That the electronic components are properly waterproofed
- That the pump can withstand certain water quality aspects, such as corrosion and sediment
- That a flow sleeve will be used to allow the motor to cool properly
- That the proper wire size for the motor was selected
- That check valves have been installed in suitable locations in the pipe
Cutting corners or missing out on important aspects of installation might result in premature pump failure, so it’s very important to find a qualified contractor who knows the ins and outs of well system installation.
💭 So, How Long Do Well Pumps Last?
I can only give an average figure for how long you can expect your well pump to last, based on the factors mentioned above. Typically, well pumps can last between 8 and 15 years.
⏳ How to Extend the Life of a Well Water Pump
While all types of well pump will need replacing eventually, there are several ways to extend the life of your water pump and get the most value for money from your purchase.
Schedule Annual Inspections
Getting your water pump inspected annually is the best way to diagnose issues and fix them before they have any real effect on the pump.
An inspection specialist will be able to examine the mechanical functioning of the pump and look at the overall structure of the well system. They’ll perform a number of tests on your flow rate and water quality, which an underperforming pump might negatively impact. They’ll also suggest replacing worn water well pump components that may affect how long the pump can last.
When you need a new water pump, make sure to buy one as soon as you can.
Check Your Pressure Tank
It’s wise to regularly check your pressure tank to ensure that the switch is working properly and producing the right water pressure for your requirements.
A poorly operating switch may mean that the pressure tank can’t hold enough water. Issues with your pressure tank can, in turn, lead to issues with the pump, as the pump will work harder to replenish the tank. This results in premature wear and inefficient use of energy.
Install a Sediment Filter
How long will a pump last if it isn’t being damaged by sediment? Much longer – a well pump that isn’t exposed to high sediment in water may benefit from up to 5 years of extra time.
To prevent sediment from damaging your pump, pressure tank, motor, pipes, and other well components, there’s a simple solution: installing a sediment filter.
Sediment filters can remove sand, dirt, dust, rust, and other large particles in water. By installing a sediment filter upstream of your water well system, you can extend the lifespan of the entire system significantly.
Perform Necessary Pump Maintenance
You already know the importance of changing the components in your water pump if they’re worn or faulty. But there are other aspects of maintenance to remember, including lubricating the pump.
Pump lubrication is typically required for above-ground pump motors. How often the pump needs to be lubricated depends on the type of pump you own. Consult the user manual for more information.
Install High-Quality Components
Whether you’re looking at jet pumps, submersible pumps or centrifugal pumps, it’s important that the water pump you purchase is high-quality and capable of handling your daily water usage and pressure.
It’s not just the pump that is important, though – the quality of other components in your well system, like the pressure tank, the check valves, float switch, and even the piping, can also affect how long your pump will last. Make sure every element of your well system is designed to withstand the level of water usage required.
Address Issues Immediately
There are so many components in well systems that it’s natural that some of these parts will stop working eventually.
It’s wise to replace any worn or broken parts as soon as you have detected the issue. Certain problems with water flow can be a sign that the water well pump is no longer operating correctly, and you’ll need to hire a contractor to fix the issue as soon as possible.
Related: What to do about a frozen well pump