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How to Diagnose Problems with Well Water Systems

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey explains how a well water pump works and why it could be behind a high electrical bill.

Some well pumps are submersible and sit at the bottom of the well. Others are located inside the home, usually in a basement.

Do Well Water Pumps Use A Lot of Electricity?

Richard explains every time a homeowner with a well turns on the faucet, a well water pump could come on and call for water from the well. The well pump should be connected to one of two pressure systems.

  1. One is a large pressure tank. That tank has an air charge at the top and water at the bottom. The tank is pressurized, so if the pump is coming on and off whenever the faucet comes on, that’s likely an indication that the air charge has become water logged and may need to be recharged.
  2. The second system is similar but has a neoprene bladder in between the air and the water reservoir. That would form a barrier and negate any oversaturation of the tank. If the pump is coming on in this situation, that means the neoprene bladder or a balloon-like material in between has failed, allowing the air and water to mix.

What To Do

A well pump that runs too frequently suggests a problem with the pressure systems, which should be inspected and repaired by a qualified well technician.