If you own a home with a well, you may have heard the time "prime." This term may seem confusing at first glance, but it's relatively easy to understand. A primed pump can pick up water from your well and pull it through the system and into your home. In practical terms, a pump without prime is a "dry" pump, meaning there's insufficient suction to pull water to the impeller.
Losing prime is usually a fairly bad thing for your pump. Pumps rely on water for cooling and lubrication, and a dry pump can burn out relatively quickly. While many modern submersible well pumps are self-priming, repeated loss of prime (or an inability to self-prime) can indicate a more serious problem.
How Priming Works
A submersible pump sits below the water line, which means the entire unit should generally contain water. As a result, these pumps are known as self-priming units. Because it's underwater, you don't need to do anything or worry about the pump's ability to maintain prime. Your installer will ensure good prime during installation by flooding the pump before dropping it into the well.
On the other hand, aboveground pumps (also known as jet pumps) can be a little more complex. These units rely on a suction line to pull water from your well, and the line must contain water at all times. If this pipe goes dry, there won't be adequate suction, and the pump will run continuously. As with submersible pumps, you shouldn't need to reprime a jet pump under normal circumstances.
Why Pumps Lose Prime
For submersible pumps, a loss of prime nearly always indicates an underlying well issue, not a problem with the pump. However, the situation for jet pumps isn't quite so simple. While an aboveground pump may lose its prime due to the well running dry, it may also lose its prime due to a mechanical problem with the pump or an issue with the suction line itself.
Leaks are one common problem that can cause a pump to lose its prime. If there's a leak in the suction line, there may no longer be sufficient pressure for water to reach the impeller. As a result, the pump will run dry. Other possibilities include a faulty pump motor that can no longer generate sufficient suction or a clogged impeller.
What You Should Do
While it's often possible to reprime an aboveground pump, it's important to understand that these pumps should not lose their prime when operating normally. Repriming the pump may restore water, but the pump will likely run dry again. Since running the pump dry can cause serious damage, failing to locate the underlying issue will often lead to more costly repairs.
Instead, consider contacting a pump repair expert if your home's aboveground pump loses its prime. A professional can inspect your pump for problems and determine why it lost its prime in the first place.
For more info, contact well pump repair services.