How to Stop a Well Pump From Pulsating

A well pump delivers water from an outside source to your home. However, if there is a problem with the well pump, the water flow will not be steady and smooth and will instead pulsate. Finding out why the water is pulsating is key to fixing it and restoring a steady flow.

Woman touching water from modern bathtub faucet
credit: Hoxton/Tom Merton/Hoxton/GettyImages
How to Stop a Well Pump From Pulsating

What Is a Well Water Pump?

A well water pump extracts water from a well. They're most commonly used to supply water to mobile homes but are also used in houses and apartments. There is a huge variety of types depending on the depth of water, amount of water, well type and more.

Why Would a Well Water Pump Pulsate?

A well water pump that pulsates is usually an indicator that there's not enough pressure in a water tank. The air pressure inside a tank is regulated by an internal air bladder and an external electrical pressure switch. If either of these is worn out or not working, this can cause a pulsating water flow due to water surging in the pipes. One of the most common ways people notice this type of issue with their water pressure is by their shower pump pulsing. Not only is this a less agreeable way for water to flow, but left untreated, it can cause damage to pipes and water fixtures.

How to Stop Pulsating Water Pressure

The first thing you should do is to check the air pressure of your water tank. To do this, first shut off electrical power to the water pump system. Then, drain the water both from the pump system and the pressure tank. Find the air bladder valve, which looks similar to that of a tire.

Unplug the valve and insert a pressure gauge into the valve to measure the air pressure. It should be between 20 and 30 pounds per square inch.

Add air to increase the bladder pressure, then remove the air by holding the valve open with a fingernail. Then, check the air pressure again. If the pressure still reads between 20 and 30 PSI, the problem is not with your air pressure bladder.

The next thing to check is the external electrical pressure switch. This will be on the outside of the tank and have a gray plastic or metal cover. Remove the cover by taking off the attaching nut.

Check the contacts on your pressure switch terminals. These are the round metal disks. If they look worn out, misshapen or burned, they will need to be replaced. You can also clean the surfaces of these contacts with an emery board.

If you have checked both of these things and the water is still pulsating, you may need to remove your pressure switch for well pump repair. To do this, you must find the wires that go to the pressure switch's screw terminals. Remove these and set them to one side.

Next, using a pipe wrench, grip the small pipe which holds the pressure switch to the pressure tank. Turn the pipe counterclockwise, then unscrew the pressure switch to remove it from the tank.

Look into the small hole you've uncovered at the bottom of the pressure switch. If it's clogged, clean it. If it's clean and the water is still pulsating, even after your other checks, it will need to be replaced.


Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.