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Well pumps are used to bring water from an underground water table, which is the level at which ground is saturated with water, into a well. An electromechanical system then moves the water from the well to an individual home or other structure. Different steps are needed for replacing or installing shallow well pumps vs. replacing or installing deep well pumps. Be safe, read your manufacturer's instructions thoroughly before you begin and consult a professional plumber and/or electrician if you have questions about installing a well pump.
Use this guide, which is a general overview, to learn how to install a well pump.
What You Will Need to Install a Well Pump
The tools and materials you'll need will vary depending on the kind of pump you're installing or replacing and on the manufacturer's instructions. These are some commonly used tools and materials. You may need others.
Pliers. Use pliers to attach nuts and bolts to the pump.
Piping. Run piping from the well to the place where the water will be used.
Crimp connectors. Use these to hold the piping to the well pump.
Wire strippers. Use wire strippers, sometimes called wire cutters, to strip wires and hook up electricity to well pumps.
Rope. Use a piece of rope or string to measure the depth of your well. Fasten a strong rope to your deep well pump when lowering it into the ground so you won't lose it.
You'll also need a shallow or deep well pump. Water tables are said to be high or low. The depth of your water table will determine which kind of pump you need and the best place to put it.
A high water table is a stable, potable source of water 25 feet or less below ground. Jet pumps or shallow well pumps are typically used for high water tables.
A low water table is a stable, potable source of water 25 feet or more below the ground. A deep well pump is used for this kind of water table.
How to Install a Shallow Well Pump
Whether you are installing or replacing a shallow well pump or a deep well pump, be aware that all electrical and plumbing work must meet local and national codes and regulations. Be safe and call a licensed professional for installation, replacement and wiring help when needed.
Consider adding a well pressure tank when installing or replacing a shallow well pump. This will help keep the water pressure constant and reduce wear and tear on the pump motor.
Jet pumps, which are primarily used for shallow wells less than 25 feet deep, should be placed in a well housing and then mounted above the well in a separate well house or other structure.
Jet pumps for shallow wells move water by creating a vacuum. Unlike submersible pumps, they must be primed with water before they can draw the water. Some will self-prime after the pump housing is filled for the first time.
To keep water in the shallow well pump and the plumbing system, and to prevent the water from going back down into the well, you’ll need to install a one-way check value in the feed line that goes to the pump.
Before you start to install a shallow well pump, cover the well to keep foreign objects from getting into the well, where they could contaminate the water or damage the system.
Install the shallow well pump according to manufacturer’s directions. Be sure all pipe joints in the suction pipe are airtight and watertight.
Adjust the pump mounting height to meet the plumbing connections as needed. Support the pipe so the body of the pump isn’t pulled down by the piping or fittings.
Run the shallow well pump and check several water samples before you use them. The water should be clean and free of silt, sand or other materials before you use it.
How to Replace a Shallow Well Pump
It’s usually best to replace your old pump with one that has the same horsepower. However, you may want to install a pump with more horsepower if you’ve have a new household member or you’ve added a new appliance or fixture that uses water.
First, disconnect the power supply to the existing pump or motor. Drain the pressure from the system and drain all the liquids from the system. Be sure the discharge line is held down while you are doing this, as it can move around and cause serious injury or damage.
As with a new pump installation, cover the well while you are replacing the shallow well pump so prevent foreign objects can't get into it.
Remove the old pump. Replace the old line if it shows signs of rust, scale, lime or unwanted materials.
Install the replacement pump, following the manufacturer’s directions.
As when installing a shallow well pump for the first time, run the pump and check several water samples before you use them. The water should be clean and clear of silt, sand and other materials before you use it.
How to Install a Deep Well Pump
Deep well pumps are typically harder to install and require more physical work than shallow well pumps because the pump, wires and piping are heavy and have to be lowered as far down into the well as far as possible. Also, if you’re replacing a deep well pump, you’ll have to lift out the old one first, and it will be heavy.
When shopping for a deep well pump, check the ratings to find one designed for the depth of your well. If you don’t know how deep your well is, attach a weight to a string at least 500 feet long and drop it into the well until it touches bottom. Mark the string where it is level with the ground.
If you’re pumping water uphill or over a long distance, you may need a larger pump than your depth measurement indicates. Ask a professional for recommendations if you’re not sure. Generally speaking, you’ll need a pump and a pump control box with the same horsepower rating.
You’ll also need a check valve. Check valves allow water to run in only one direction, so water can’t go back into the well when the pump is off. They also help the water start flowing when the pump is turned on.
Consider adding a pressure tank to the well pump to keep the water pressure constant and reduce the wear and tear on the pump motor.
Consult a licensed professional to continue to install a deep well pump or carefully follow all the manufacturer’s directions that came with the pump. Installing a deep well pump is not an easy DIY task.
Wiring a Well Pump
Wiring a well pump presents several challenges. Crimp-on wire connections can corrode and eventually fail in wet environments. In some cases, the wiring that comes with a deep well pump isn't long enough and additional wire must be spliced, soldered together and/or protected with waterproof, heat-shrink tubing. For these and other reasons, you may want to call a professional when wiring a well pump.
Two-wire deep well submersible pumps have built-in controls. Three-wire pumps need a separate control box. Remember: All electrical and plumbing work must conform to local and national codes and regulations.
Don't worry if you don't own all the tools needed to complete this DIY project. Rent tools for any project at The Home Depot.