How to Tell if Your Well Pump Is Burned Up

By Cindy Quarters

Many rural homes depend on a well pump for all of their water. The failure of this pump means no water to the house, garden, barn or other locations. When a well pump is beginning to fail there may be signs, but in many cases you may not know it until the pump has completely burned up. Pulling a pump from a well can be hard work, especially if the well is deep. If the pump is burned up, however, it will need to be done. Check everything possible before pulling the pump.

Water dripping from faucet
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Many people depend on a well pump to deliver water to the house.

Step 1

Turn on a faucet or an outside tap. If there is no water, it might be a sign that your pump is burned out, but it can also be caused by a broken pipe, an electrical problem or a clogged line. Large puddles could indicate a broken line. Try other faucets to see if any of them work, which could indicate a clog. If you are getting enough water, the well pump is working. If you don't get any water and there are no clogs or breaks that could be causing the problem, continue checking.

Step 2

Listen to the well pump when the water is turned on. If you can hear the pump operating or feel vibrations in the water pipes coming from the well, the pump is operating and is not burned up. If you don't hear it running, continue to eliminate other possible problems.

Step 3

Verify that the well has water. Open the well cap by using a wrench to remove the bolts that are holding it in place. Look down into the well with a bright flashlight. If you can see the pump and it is out of the water, lack of water in the well is the problem. It will usually recover within a short time. If you see water covering the pump, or you can see water but not the pump, low water is not the problem.

Step 4

Look at the pressure switch for signs of damage. This switch is attached to the plumbing close to the well. Turn off the power and manually open the contacts of the switch. If they appear broken or discolored, the switch is most likely the problem, and not the pump.

Step 5

Turn the power to the pump off. Replace the fuses that are part of the pump's power system. Turn the power back on and check to see if water returns.

Step 6

Check the electrical wires that go to the pump with an ohmmeter. Turn the power off and put the black lead of the meter on the exposed end of the black wire leading to the pump, and the red lead on the end of the red wire. A reading of "infinite" indicates a problem, but if it shows resistance, test the yellow wire by placing the red lead on it. You should see resistance. If not, the pump either has broken wires in it or is otherwise damaged or burned up. It will need to be pulled from the well and repaired or replaced.