In the United States, more than 13 million homes rely on private wells for drinking water, yet many of them have no idea how or when to replace a well pump. When a well pump is making more noise than usual it is a sign that you your well pump needs some maintenance.
Well pumps can be loud from cavitation, debris in the system, excessive bearing wear, damaged impeller, trapped air, or an incorrect pump speed, pump size or poor installation. Well pumps can make loud clunking, humming, banging, grinding, clicking, rattling, screeching, or knocking noises that indicate a repair or replacement will be required.
Below is an explanation of the different sounds that a well pump can make, and a complete list of why your well pump is so loud – and more importantly, a step-by-step procedure for resolving each issue.
This post is for anyone with a private well that has a jet pump or a submersible pump, whether shallow or deep, and more importantly, a person with a well pump that is louder than usual.
The Different Types Of Sounds A Well Pump Can Make
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A clunk is the sound produced when a heavy object collides with something hard.
Clunking sounds are common near the water pressure tank or its controls. Usually, the sound occurs at the start of a well pump’s “on” cycle. The sound is created when irrigation valves close, and can be caused by a faulty pump relay switch, a failed check valve, or loose piping that moves or rattles when the shock of increased water pressure causes the piping or a water tank to move.
The clunking sound might be subtle or loud; it can chatter with smaller repetitive clunks or appear as a single big blast because of how it travels. The noise may also appear to come from the water well, the walls, or the well house floor.
In simple terms, “humming” is a sound generated by a wordless, constant tone.
A humming sound indicates that the well pump is running dry because there is insufficient water flow. A lack of water is the cause of your pump going dry.
If your pump’s foot valve is leaking, it loses pressure and water, and can also cause the humming sound.
A grinding noise is the sound of one hard object colliding with another. If your Well pump is making a grinding noise, cavitation is most likely the culprit for your excess noise.
A bang is a loud noise, also known as hammering. If your well pump makes banging or hammering noises, it means that the system is cycling on and off and the problem may not be with the pump.
When valves close too quickly, the air gets trapped in the system, causing banging. When this happens, a pressure difference occurs, resulting in a shock wave that rattles your pipes.
A clicking sound is when a slight, sharp sound is instantly evident. When the pump is turned on and off, the pressure control switch regularly clicks.
However, when a well pump makes clicking noises, it is likely short cycling. This is most likely due to a clogged pressure tank.
A rattling sound is a burst of sounds that is rapid and often shaky. The sound can range from grinding to loud rattling, depending on whether it is caused by debris or a faulty assembly.
Rattling from your well pump, usually signifies the impeller has been damaged.
A knock is a rattling sound produced by an engine due to ignition issues or a sound produced by striking, colliding with, or tapping on anything.
If your well pump is making these knocking noises, the valves are most likely worn out. Worn valves can allow water to freely flow in and out of a valve chamber, but not be appropriately discharged from the pump, causing the pump to knock loudly.
Screaming or screeching
A scream is a loud, sharp, and piercing cry. When a well pump makes this noise, it signifies the pump bearings have most likely failed, causing the metal to vibrate and make a dreadful noise.
9 Reasons why your Well pump is loud and how to fix each problem
Not all of the loud noises coming from your well pump indicate that it is broken. A humming sound, for example, suggests that the pump is going dry due to a lack of water. It is important to determine which sound your well pump is making, what the associated problem is and how to fix it.
Here are the 9 reasons why your well pump is loud and how to fix it:
1. Clogged system
Rust and other particles can block the impeller and wear out the circulating pump, creating excess noise.
A clog in the water system immediately results in increased water pressure. The pump will then short cycle once the water supply pipes are obstructed, and become excessively loud.
- Ensure electricity is being supplied to the pump.
- Run the pump for 15 minutes before turning it off.
- Remove the submersible pump from the well and inspect it for visible debris or obstructions.
- Remove any large debris by hand, and clean the intake and screen with a wire brush to remove any debris clogging the pump.
- To clean the intake, use a rag/cloth to wipe it down.
- Replace the well’s submersible pump and turn it back on.
- To properly clean the well, pour a gallon of diluted bleach down the well and pump intake.
- Drain the well with the submersible pump to flush out the system.
2. Incorrectly set speed
Well pumps used to have only one or two speed options. However, modern pumps now often include three flow levels. If the speed is set incorrectly, the pump makes a loud noise.
- Locate the flow switch and turn it down one level
- If you run a small well pump at a fast speed, it can easily stop working. Consider using a smaller one at low speed, where possible.
Cavitation is a common cause of loud noises in a well pump and happens when tiny bubbles of water pound the impeller, generating cavities. Cavitation occurs when a low-pressure liquid in a pump transforms to a vapor.
It happens when there is not enough pressure at the pump’s suction end or enough Net Positive Suction Head Available (NPSHa). When cavitation occurs, low-pressure air bubbles are formed hence a loud noise from a well pump.
- Turn off the well pump straight away if you suspect cavitation is the source of your difficulties.
- Contact a well pump repair service as soon as possible.
- A well pump replacement may be necessary, depending on what the professional decides.
4. Incorrect Installation
If a well pump is not correctly fitted, it will make a loud noise. Like any other piece of machinery, a well pump will not perform effectively if it is incorrectly installed and will produce loud noises.
- Turn off all power sources.
- Ground the System.
- Make the necessary wire connections to re-install your well pump
- Before you install the pump, make sure that it works.
- Mount the Control Box.
- Set up the Pump.
- Fill the well with water (if purged)
- Connect it to the Water Tank.
5. Excessive bearing wear
Excessive bearing wear causes a well pump to make a loud screaming sound, on the assembly or inside the motor. However, keep in mind that not all pumps have bearing assemblies, but all-electric pump motors do.
Bearing assemblies for pumps are often available for purchase, and they are inexpensive and straightforward to change. But always hire a professional to replace your bearing assembling if you unsure how to do it yourself.
Unfortunately, motor bearings are not available separately, so you will have to replace the complete motor if the bearings wear out.
- A screaming sound insinuates bearing failure. To avoid further damage to any linked components, worn or noisy bearings should be changed immediately.
- Refer to your owner’s handbook for instructions on how to disassemble the pump and replace the bearing.
- If you or a technician cannot fix the bearing, take the old pump to the manufacturer to rebuild the bearing.
6. Damaged impeller
Debris can enter the pump housing if an appropriate filter is not utilized on the pump’s intake side.
The debris will damage the impeller, and the pump will produce more noise than usual when pumping water. If the impeller fails, your well pump will be unable to provide cool water to the engine, causing it to overheat and make the loud noise.
- Turn off your well pump immediately and flush it.
- If it does not work, take the pump apart and clean the debris out of the housing.
- Then, on the pump’s intake side, install a filter to prevent future noises caused by debris harming the impeller.
7. Bad pump motor
If the pump motor on your well pump fails, it will begin to make loud noises. Your water pump may start buzzing as it tries to switch on and pump water if it has a damaged motor or low voltage.
- If your foot valve is leaking, it means you are losing pressure and water. Replace it right away.
- Hire a professional to come and fix it.
8. Trapped air
The presence of air inside a pump can have disastrous consequences for a well pump.
Air enters the system through free falling discharge or a leaky suction line.
During free falling discharge the liquid is discharged into a tank near the pump suction line that draws the fluid from the tank. A leaky suction line leads to air pumping through leaks in the suction line at elbows or joints, because fluid is coming out and allowing the air to get in.
The air can also enter the system through air entrainment when the minimum submergence level in the tank is not met. The amount of air that a pump can handle varies from pump to pump.
When there is air in the system, the well pump makes a lot of noise due to excessive vibration. The performance of the pump degrades as the percentage of gas by volume increases.
- Turn off the pump’s electricity.
- Remove the bushing with the gauge and place the vent plug on the casting’s opposite side.
- Fill the pump with water until the vent hole is full.
- Reinstall the vent plug, fill the gauge with water, then reinstall the gauge and bushing.
- Turn on the electricity.
- To bleed air from the system, open the faucet or hose bib at the pump.
9. Incorrect Pump Size
The reasons for incorrectly sized well pumps are numerous. Pumps that are both large and undersized can cause noise in the system.
Regardless of whether you have an over-or under-sized pump installed, it almost always results in excessive noise and vibration.
- Check if your well pump size is correct, this can be done with the help of a professional.
- If it is incorrect, your technician will probably suggest installing soundproof insulators or, better still, installing a new correctly sized pump for your well.
Note: If you cannot fix these problems by yourself, seek the help of a professional to avoid more damage to the well and pump.
Why is there a water Hammer when the water pump turns off?
A water hammer is a shock wave traveling down the pipe due to a sudden flow rate change. It is caused by a valve closing too quickly or a pump tripping or immediately starting up, causing a shock wave to form. It begins at the pump and travels down the pipe, changing the fluid velocity along the way.
The sound of the water hammer varies. Pipe motions, pounding noises, and pulsating flows are signs of minor water hammers. Still, a major water hammer has the same symptoms but is substantial enough to cause serious damage and only happens once. Water hammer may not be a major concern in some cases, but it can lead to catastrophic plumbing issues if left unattended.
Why is my Well pump humming but not pumping?
A well pump can produce a humming sound and still not pump water. The humming sound and lack of water pumping indicates there is no water to move, and your pump is running dry.
Lower a wetted steel tape into the well until the lower part of the tape is underwater to determine the depth of water. The last few feet of tape have a chalk coating that indicates the exact water level. This should confirm for you that there is insufficient water for your pump to function correctly.