Is your well pump cycling with no water running?

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Is your well pump cycling with no water running?

Well, in this troubleshooting article, you’ll find a basic checklist to get rid of this problem. 

Well pump cycling with no water running? Try these ideas….

Here is where you could begin to narrow down on this problem and how to fix the various possible issues causing the pump to cycle for no clear reason (you are not aware of any water running). 

·        The water well system is leaking

One thing you should instantly check when you sadly discover you have no water is your water supply plumbing pipes and other fittings is water leakage.

We all understand that leaking water supply lines do not always drip water where we can see it.

Yet, even a small leakage in your plumbing pipes can make the pump to come on even without any other water use in the house (after all, water is going somewhere).

What you’re supposed to do is to narrow down on the point of the leak.

Could you be having leaky toilets or leaky faucets, perhaps?

Or is water seeping discreetly under the sinks?

Other places you should inspect for signs of dripping are tubs and showers.

Don’t leave out the clothes washer as it might be dripping slowly.

In fact, there are dozens of other candidates.

We explain the most notorious below:

  • Well piping – Typical leak points are where the well pipes connect to the pressure tank, building water supply pipes, etc. triggering a back-flow of the valuable liquid from the building to the well. This may cause the pump to keep cycling on for no evident reason.
  • Water well casings- Leaks could also be happening in the casing that lines the well.
  • Check valve/foot valve- Complications could be occurring due to a troublesome check-valve in your submersible well pump installation or the well piping foot valve near the bottom of your well finally failing and leaking.

The result is water flowing backwards into the well making the pump to lose its prime and the water supply going down. That could explain why the pump is cycling unusually.

  • The connectors – For the well piping, leakage could be occurring in the connectors more so on plastic pipes while for steel pipes, this is caused by rusting of aged piping, a defective connection, and more.
  • O-Rings- Water may also be squirting from the casing because of damaged O-rings.

How to fix the leakage

One way you can check for leakages is to look for any wet spots in the piping and the other mentioned areas.

Luckily, you’re not short of remedies.

First, plug the leaking openings with a good quality sealant if able to. 

Secondly, apply adhesive tape to block all the small leaks.

A better solution for bigger leaks is fixing clamped pieces of rubber.

Adhesive resins also effectively stop leaks in pipes.

Another common solution is to tighten any loose connections if that’s where the leak is.

You might obviously need a plumber for this if the issue doesn’t go away but the above general approach works in most instances.

·        Problems in the water pressure tank

Usually, your home use water stays in a pressure tank (after being pumped out of your private well).

No matter the type of tank used, the tank-pump set up leads to potential weaknesses including the possibility of the tank signaling the water pump to start when you have no water needs.


The tank depends on a system of extremely compressed air to figure out when your domestic water supply has dropped below the optimum pressure level as a result of an undetected air leak.

At this point, it tells the pump to cycle on hence the strange behavior.

Proper balance is vital and it also tells it to halt cycling if it senses that the system is at maximum pressure.

Additionally, the water tank may itself get a water leak.

How to troubleshoot the water tank

A sure fire sign of testing for air leakage is by dripping a soapy solution on the tank’s air charging valve.

In many cases, the source of air and water leaks is a pipe or some connection going to or moving from the tank (Refer to the previous point for guidelines about how to look for water leaks).

If this is the culprit, try as hard as possible to tighten or directly replace the problematic component (for air problems) or seal the water seepage.

This will eliminate the issue if you’re in luck.

Otherwise, the origin of your problems is elsewhere.

·        The water well system could have gotten clogged

We all understand that clogged water supply pipes will block proper flow of water.

But here we’re not speaking about water flowing out of the faucets but about the well pump cycling with no water running.

You see, all clogging is terrible and one thing you should instantly check when you cannot wrap your head around the tendency of the well pump to run ‘without reason’ is whether any vital part could have become plugged.

One example is the tank and you want to inspect the tank inlet port for orange sludge (iron bacteria), mineral buildup, or sediment and clean any found deposits.

If you overlook this, the blockage will likely bring differences in the water pressure inside the water vessel and that in the home plumbing system messing the balance and potentially bringing about intermittent cycling.

How to prime a well pump after a power outage

Wrapping it up

Regular water well pump system maintenance helps prevent issues, plus lengthens the life of your private water supply components.

But even with strict adherence to the recommended maintenance procedures, normal wear and tear from hours of use increases the chances of hitting a mishap from time to time.

Obviously, it can be hard to precisely tell where your well pump system is experiencing problems or the exact part making it to cycle with no water running.

But the most common DIY remedies for many homeowners are eliminating all leakages and/or removing messy deposits found on essentials like the water pressure tank.

There are other advanced solutions including diagnosing and repairing mechanical problems in the well pump but they’re best done by a professional.

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