So you just had a well installed, and the warranty is only for a short time.  What can be done to ensure your pump system lasts a long time?

First, be sure your understand that when we say “pump system”, we are referring to the entire package, pump and motor and tank.  The first of these systems is the pump itself.  If it is a submersible, there is very little that can fail.  As long as the well has no abrasives such as sand or silt, it should last and last and last.  The check valves within the system are probably the biggest failure point in the mechanical items to be checked regularly.  A properly working water pressure gauge at the top of the well head should be all that is needed to check the function of the check valves.  If the pump shuts off at top pressure and the gauge moves very little in a downward pressure indication, then the check valve appears to be holding.  If it were to drop 5psi or more before holding, then the check valve may be starting to wear.  Be aware that most of the check valves are installed in the vertical piping down to the pump… there should be one every 50 ft.  We see a lot of pump end failures due to too much strain on the impeller stack because of check valve failure or lack of installation (we see it all the time!).  Just because the newer submersibles have a pre-installed check valve, doesn’t mean it’s the only one needed!  There must be a check valve every 50 ft of vertical or horizontal!  So for a 100 ft drop pipe with a 160 ft well, there will be one check valve at the pump end, and one 50 ft up and one at the well head (we install it just under the well seal). Every year the check valves should be tested and a cavitation (well draw-down test) check performed.  This is very simple if you know what to look for.  A quick google search will reveal how to perform the simplest of these tests.  A stopwatch and a bucket is the easiest method.

For a jet or centrifugal type pump, the check valves also are critical, but are of course usually installed differently than a deep well style pump.  The pump may be remotely located also.  In the case of a remote located pump, we recommend that the well head be located each year and inspected for damage.  This would be an excellent time to sterilize the well.

Second would be the motor.  The motor is what provides the energy to turn the impellers and move the water into the hydro-pneumatic tank.   Be sure the pressure switch is clean.  Be sure the tank is properly charged.  If you’re not sure how to properly check your tank, call a professional.  Some tanks require Nitrogen, which if regular air was used could damage the rubber diaphragm.  If the motor is above ground, check the motor vents for spider webs and other creepy crawlies…the nests they try to build will prevent air from getting to the winding.  Also check for ant infestation.  Our biggest call in July is ant infestation.  They are attracted to the electricity and sacrifice themselves to the point that the motor may short out due to too many ants.  A draw-down test as described above will also tell you if the tank is working properly.

Another note on the motor check would be to check the wiring to the motor.  All lugs should be tightened periodically.  The wires should not be damaged in any way.  Chew marks on insulation would indicate a rodent infestation.  Be sure wiring conduit is not damaged and exposed to the elements as water could build in the casing and cause a short. Also, if using “uf” type wire, be sure not to plant anything on top of the line as roots may grow into the wire insulation resulting in a short.

The hydro-pneumatic tank will need periodic maintenance.  Rust on the surface of the tank is usually normal with age, but excessive flaking of rust could indicate corrosion due to chemicals or salt in the air.  If you live at the beach, there isn’t much you can do except install a fiberglass tank if the steel tank fails in less than 10 years.  Usually the rust occurs from the inside out due to low pH of the water.  Again, if the tank lasted 20 years, don’t complain.  Fiberglass tanks are not perfect.  I have seen the plastic bases collapse and the bladders (pre-charge tank) fail prematurely.  They also are usually absent of side ports(actual capacity tanks) which makes for a bit of a challenge if installing an air volume regulator.  There is no perfect tank.   They all will eventually fail due to rust, or cracking, or just normal wear and tear.  But they should be regularly checked and tested to be sure they are doing their job!

The pump depends on the motor, which in turn, depends on the operation of the pump and tank to prevent rapid cycling and proper run time.  If the tank were to fail, then the pump would still turn on, but would cycle so bad, that it may kick the breaker or overheat the motor.  I have even seen this damage the pump beyond repair, and I have also seen it ruin a well and make it where a new well was the only option.  Maintenance can save a lot of money.

I once knew an old man who had survived the depression.  He hired me to do major repairs on his well system.  He did his own maintenance, and it wasn’t often I saw him, but I remember doing a tank replacement (that he had diagnosed himself) and watching him take an entire lawn mower apart and put it in boxes for winter storage

A properly installed Deep well pump system ready for installation to home

.  He took special care with the carburetor and sprayed it with WD-40 before packaging it in wax paper.  I asked him why he did this, and he said he purchased one lawnmower every 20 years, and doing this every year is why it lasts!  We could all learn a lesson from that kind of thriftiness!