How To Prime a Well Pump – Step By Step

Is this the first time you’re priming a pump? Or are you just insecure if your pump needs to be primed? Don’t worry. In this guide, you’ll learn how to prime a well pump.

Having well water is fantastic, and maintaining your pump is essential to keep getting clean water and making it last longer.

The first step to do before starting is that you must know what kind type of pump you have. Since deep wells and shallow wells use different tools to pump water, they need to be primed differently.

Below we will go through how you can do proper priming on your well pump.

When Should You Prime Your Well Pump?

If your pump has been off during winter, it may have low water pressure. Which means it must be primed to work correctly due to the low pressure.

A pump must also be primed in the initial installation or if you’ve had a more extended power outage. The first thing you should do after a power loss is to check your pressure switch and circuit breaker to see if they’re working and if they do, priming your pump will be the solution to get the water flow going again.

Priming a pump is a pretty simple process. Let’s take a closer look at how to do it.

How to Prime a Shallow Well Pump

“A lead-free garden hose will make this process easier.” 

1. Turn your pump off and unplug it from the power supply. 

2. Look over your pump, so there isn’t any damage, like cracks. 

3. Remove the prime plug. You can mostly find this on the head of the pump. 

4. If there’s any possibility of opening pressure valves, this is the time to do it. By doing this, you will prevent any water pressure build-up. 

5. Let the water flow through the hose, so it’s clean. You can use a bucket for the next step, but a hose would make it much easier. 

6. Start by filling the pump’s casing until you can see that water starts flowing from the valve and prime plug. 

7. Now, you can connect the pump and let the system do a regular cycle. You can close the pressure valves and precharge your pressure tank if it works properly. 

PS: If the foot valve or check valve doesn’t work as it should, it might be due to water ending up in the back of the cistern after the pump is turned off.

When this happens, an air pocket can be created in the pipe, preventing the pump from sucking water up. 

Since the motor can burn out, you must shut off your system if you suspect it. Prime your well pump again, and if you still got problems, it might be a good idea to call a professional for help. 

How to Prime a Deep Well Pump

1. Turn off the water pump and unplug it. Open a faucet or any pressure relief valves to release the water pressure. 

2. Remove the prime plug and put a lead-free hose into the hole at the top of the pump. 

3. Start filling the casing until water leaks from it. 

4. Remove the hose and gently put the prime plug back, allowing some gaps around the hole. 

5. Turn your pump system on and let it run until you can’t see any more air bubbles sipping out from the bottom of the plug. 

6. Put the prime plug back and precharge the pressure tank. 

How to Prime a Convertible Jet Pump

You can use the same steps as when priming a deep well pump. The only thing to remember is that a 

jet pump has an extra pipe. One for drawing up well water and one for pushing water into a venturi loop. 

When priming a convertible jet pump, both pipes must be underwater since you’re priming to prevent air from getting stuck in the system. 

Self-priming Pumps

There are two types of pumps. One needs manual priming, and the other doesn’t need any priming. Not even when installing it.

Submersible well pumps

Submersible pumps sit entirely underwater. They’re placed inside the well and are connected to a power source at the top. Since it works underwater, this type of pump doesn’t need any priming. 

Non-submersible well pumps

work best for shallow wells. But they must be primed when installed since they operate above the water. 

Why Is It Important To Prime a Well Pump?

Do you want to get fresh water at all times and avoid any future pump problems? Then it would be best if you primed your well pump when needed. 

Priming is when you create a pressure vacuum to draw water from your well into your house. 

When Should You Prime Your Pump? 

Mostly a well pump must be primed during the first installation. But the pump may need to be re-primed once more during any malfunctioning. 

What If Your Pump Won’t Prime?

If you have issues with your pump, it’s probably because of a broken pump component. 

Look over the foot and check valves. Are there any leaking pipes, fittings, or loose fasteners? 

If your pump got a low water pressure, it might be due to a clog somewhere in your water line. But if you’ve looked over everything but still are unsatisfied with the pressure, you can install a booster pump.

But you would need to re-prime it after the installation. 

Why Does a Pump Lose The Prime?

A well pump can lose its prime for many reasons. If your well water level is too low, you might have drawn too much water from the system. Then there isn’t enough water in the well that the pump can draw up.

Other causes of well pump prime loss may be:

  • A leak somewhere in the water lines
  • Failure of check valves
  • Air gaps in intake pipes
  • Drawdown from hose or faucet left running 

PS: During a power outage, it’s easy to keep using water. So the water may be drawn out from the plumbing lines, which will cause the pump to lose its prime. 

How To Prime a Well Pump Summary

I hope you found this article helpful. As you discovered, priming your well pump is essential and doesn’t have to be so hard. Learn by trying.

Good luck!

PS: Always contact a professional if you’re insecure about priming your well pump or other pump-related matters.