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Main Content

Jet Pump Troubleshooting

Jet Pumps

Jet pumps can be used for several different types of applications. Whether you are using a jet pump to supply water to your home from a water well or irrigate a garden, crops, or landscaping, you will need to know some common jet pump issues and identify ways to troubleshoot to keep your pump in top working condition.

Here are some common symptoms, possible causes, and corrective actions for maintaining a jet pump.


jet pump troubleshooting middle image

Symptom 1: Jet Pump Will Not Star
If your jet pump will not start, there are a few possible causes:

  • System pressure has not dropped to switch's "On" or "Cut-in" pressure.
  • Fuse or circuit breaker in your fuse box or breaker box has blown or tripped.
  • The pump's motor is set to incorrect voltage, or, voltage being fed to motor does not match the motor's rated voltage.
  • The hose from the pump body to the pressure switch is blocked, clogged, or frozen or has come off one end.
  • The pressure switch contacts are dirty or burned.
  • The power wires are loose or disconnected.
  • The starting component of the pump's motor has failed.
  • The pump's motor has failed.

Go down the list of possible causes to determine the problem with the pump.

Has the System Pressure Dropped?

  • The zone valve may not be opening to allow water to move. Try checking or repairing the zone valve.

Has the fuse or circuit breaker blown?

  • Check all wiring, pressure switch, and motor to make sure there aren't any loose wires or connections.

Is the Motor Set to the Wrong Voltage?

  • Relieve pressure from system by removing the hose from the pump body and pressure switch and see if you can blow through it. If you cannot, it's clogged. Remove whatever is clogging it and reinstall the hose.

Are the Pressure Switch Contacts Dirty or Damaged?

  • Measure the voltage on the motor side of the switch to see if the proper voltage is getting through. If not, replace the pressure switch.

Are Wires Loose or Disconnected?

  • Check the voltage at motor (and/or pressure switch) to determine which wire(s) are loose and repair as needed.

Has the Motor's Starting Component Failed?

  • Test the motor's capacitor and start contactor to see if they are functioning properly. Replace as needed.

Has the Motor Failed?

  • If everything else checks out okay, then the motor on the jet pump has probably failed. Replace the motor or the entire pump.

Symptom 2: Jet Pump Motor Runs but No Water is Being Delivered
If your jet pump sounds like it's running, but you aren't seeing any water coming out, there are a few possible causes:

  • The jet pump has not been primed.
  • The jet pump is sucking air.
  • The depth-to-water in the well is too deep.
  • The check valve is installed upside down or is stuck in the closed position.
  • The pump motor is running on the wrong voltage.
  • There is too much restriction in the suction pipe.
  • The check valve, tee, or elbow is installed too close to the pump inlet.
  • The suction pipe is not far enough down into the water source.
  • The suction pipe is frozen.

Has the Pump been Primed?

  • Follow the directions in your owner's manual regarding priming the pump.

Is the Pump Sucking Air?

  • Your suction pipe may have small leaks around the joints or other connection points where air can be pulled in. The entire length of the suction pipe and all fittings must be completely air tight. You can test this by wrapping every joint with plastic wrap to temporarily seal air leaks.

Is the Well Water Too Deep?

  • The depth-to-water is the height in elevation from the pump to the surface water source. Some jet pumps are not powerful enough to pump water more than 25' up. Check the requirements for horsepower, GPM, and PSI.

Is the Check Valve Installed Upside Down or Closed?

  • The pump's check valve must be installed in the direction of water flow according to the arrow on the valve.
  • Make sure the valve is able to open and allow flow.

Is the Motor Running on the Wrong Voltage?

  • For dual-voltage motors, confirm that the motor is set to the same voltage that you have it connected to.
  • For single voltage motors, make sure you have connected the same voltage that the motor is built to accept.

Is there Too Much Restriction in the Suction Pipe?

  • Using a suction pipe that is too narrow, too long, or has too many elbows can cause restriction in the pump. Never use a pipe that is narrower than the suction port.
  • Limit the number of elbows.
  • Keep the suction pipe as short as possible. If you do have a long suction pipe, increase the pipe size from that of the suction port size.

Is the Check Valve, Tee, or Elbow Installed Too Close to the Pump Inlet?

  • Use a straight section of pipe at the pump's suction port (between the pump and the first elbow, tee, or check valve) that is a minimum of ten times the pipe's diameter. Use 24 inches to be safe. Having an elbow, tee, check valve, or other disruption too close to the inlet of the pump can cause cavitation inside the pump.

Is the Suction Pipe Submerged Deep Enough?

  • Make sure the end of the suction pipe is submerged far enough into the water.

Is the Suction Pipe Burried in Mud?

  • Make sure the suction pipe is not too close to the bottom of the well, lake, or water source so that it cannot pick up mud, dirt, or other debris. Raise the level of the pipe by putting bags of concrete on the floor of the water source so the pipe can rest on top without getting clogged.

Is the Suction Pipe Frozen?

  • Make sure suction pipe is not frozen due to exposure to cold. Bury the pipes below frost line for permanent solution.

Symptom 3: Jet Pump Runs for a Short Time, Delivers Water, but Shuts Off Again
If your jet pump is running for a short amount of time, delivering water, but shutting off again, there are a few possible causes:

  • The voltage is too low.
  • The circuit breaker has tripped or a fuse has blown.
  • The pressure switch is out of adjustment.

Is the Voltage Too Low?

  • Measure the motor's voltage while it is trying to run. Comapare to the base voltage of what is supposed to go to the motor. If the voltage at the motor is more than 5% lower than the base voltage, check for loose connections or wire that is too light in gauge for the horsepower and length of wire.

Has the Circuit Breaker Blown?

  • Inspect the pump for a jammed impeller or other damage. Clear the blockage if possible so the impeller can rotate freely.
  • Ensure that the wire that runs from the breaker or fuse box to the pump is of a heavy enough gauge. Replace as needed.
  • Make sure the power wires are not touching or grounded where they connect into the motor.
  • Restrict the pump's output to keep the pump within its designed performance range. Since the motor on a jet pump is free flowing, it will draw more amps when it is allowed to flow lots of water with no back-pressure.

Does the Pressure Switch Need Adjusting?

  • ·       Adjust the pressure switch on your jet pump properly, or replace the switch if found to be faulty.

Symptom 4: Pump Moves Water, but Will Not Shut Off
If your jet pump is moving water but not shutting off, there are a few possible causes:

  • The power supply wires were connected to the wrong screws in the pressure switch.
  • The pump is not building to the shut-off pressure of the pressure switch.
  • The pressure switch needs to be adjusted, points are welded closed or is defective.
  • The water level in well is dropping below pickup pipe or below the pump's lift capability.
  • The water is being used somewhere in the system at a rate equal or greater than what the pump can provide.

Is the Power Supply Connected Correctly?

  • Check the voltage at the jet pump while it's running. Compare to the base voltage it is being fed. If the voltage the pump is receiving is more than 5% below the base voltage, inspect your wiring for loose connections or insufficient wire gauge.

Is the Pump Building to the Shut-Off Pressure?

  • See the next troubleshooting item below: "Pump won't build to shut-off pressure".

Does the Pressure Switch Need Adjusting?

  • ·       Adjust pressure switch properly or replace the switch if needed.

Is the Water Level Dropping Too Low?

  • Make sure the bottom of the suction pipe is below the maximum depth that your jet pump is capable of pumping.
  • Make sure the bottom of the suction pipe is below the water level when the pump is turned on and fully engaged. This can cause the water level to drop further when the pump is in operation. Check the production of the water well and make sure the surface of the water in the well is not dropping below the pump's capability when the pump is removing water from well. If the water level is dropping too low it may be necessary to switch to a deep well pump.

Is it Pumping Enough Water?

  • Shut off faucets and any other water source that could be causing a loss of water in the jet pump system. If you are using a pump on a sprinkler system and the sprinklers are operating properly, there is no problem. It is better for the pump to run continuously rather than a cycle on and off.

Symptom 5: The Jet Pump Won't Build to Shut-Off Pressure
If the jet pump is not building to the proper shut-off pressure, there are a few possible causes:

  • The pump is sucking air.
  • The depth-to-water in the water well is too deep.
  • There is debris blocking the pump's nozzle, venturi, or impeller.
  • The motor is operating at the wrong voltage.
  • You have the wrong nozzle or venturi in use.

Is the Pump Sucking Air?

  • Your suction pipe may have small leaks around the joints or other connection points where air can be pulled in. The entire length of the suction pipe and all fittings must be completely airtight. You can test this by wrapping every joint with plastic wrap to temporarily seal air leaks.

Is the Depth-to-Water Too Great?

  • The depth-to-water is the height in elevation from the pump to the surface water source. Most jet pumps have a maximum height for pulling water.

Is there Debris Blocking the Jet Pump's Components?

  • Inspect and clean the pump's nozzle, venturi, and impeller.

Are You Using the Correct Nozzle or Venturi?

  • Check the owner's manual for your jet pump to determine which ejector package you should use. Check the ejector package instructions to determine which nozzle and venturi to install in the package for your particular model of pump.

Is the Motor Operating at the Wrong Voltage?

  • If the jet pump's motor is set to run on 230 volts but is only being fed 115 volts, it will run at half speed and cannot build proper pressure. Check the motor's label for proper voltage. If you are using a dual-voltage motor, set the voltage selector to match the voltage that is actually connected to the motor.

Is the Impeller or Diffuser Worn?

  • If all items above check out, overhaul the pump: Replace impeller, diffuser, and necessary seals and gaskets.

Symptom 6: The Jet Pump Cycles Too Frequently
If your jet pump cycles too often, there are a few possible causes:

  • You are using the wrong pre-charge air pressure in the bladder style pressure tank.
  • The standard pressure tank is water-logged.
  • The check valve or foot valve is leaking.
  • The pressure switch needs to be adjusted.
  • The tank is too small for your application.

Are You Using the Wrong Air Pressure in the Tank?

  • Check that the pre-charge in the bladder pressure tank is set to 2 PSI less than the pressure switch's turn-on setting. Follow the tank manufacturer's instructions to check the tank pre-charge and adjust as needed.

Is the Standard Pressure Tank Water-Logged?

  • Shut off the jet pump, empty the tank, and restart the pump. Inspect the air volume controls to ensure they are working properly. Check the fittings and the top of the tank for air leaks.

Is the Check Valve or Foot Valve Leaking?

  • If the valve is not holding the water in the system, the water will go back into the well and the water pressure will drop to the switch's 'on' point. The pump will cycle to rebuild system pressure. In this case, replace any faulty check valves or foot valves.

Does the Pressure Switch Need Adjusting?

  • Adjust the pressure switch properly or replace the switch.

Is the Tank Too Small?

  • The minimum tank size should be enough to allow the pump to run for a minimum of 60 seconds every time it runs. If the tank is too small, replace the tank with a larger one or install a second tank.

Symptom 7: The Pressure Switch "Chatters" at the End of a Pump Cycle
If the pressure switch to the jet pump makes a rattling or chattering noise at the end of its pump cycle, there are a few possible causes:

  • There is incorrect pressure in the pressure tank.
  • The pump or the pressure switch is too far away from the pressure tank.
  • There are too many elbows or other restrictions between the pressure switch and tank.
  • The check valve is installed in the wrong place within the system.

Is there an Incorrect Pressure in the Tank?

  • Check that the pre-charge in the bladder pressure tank is set to 2 PSI less than the pressure switch's turn-on setting. Follow tank manufacturer's instructions to check tank pre-charge and adjust as needed.

Is the Pressure Switch Too Far Away from the Pressure Tank?

  • The pressure switch should be within ten (10) piping feet of the pressure switch. If the jet pump (which has a switch mounted on it) cannot be that close, re-locate the switch to the piping near the tank.

Are there Restrictions Between Pressure Switch and Tank?

  • Too many restrictions will create a pressure differential that will "fool" the switch. Use fewer elbows, 45's instead of 90's, flexible pressure hose instead of pipe and elbows, or anything else you feel will reduce the number of restrictions in the pump system.

Is the Check Valve Installed Correctly?

  • The check valve needs to be in piping between the pump and the source of water (well, lake, etc.). It cannot be in piping between the pump and pressure tank. Re-locate the check valve as needed.

Symptom 8: The Pressure Switch "Chatters" at the Beginning of a Pump Cycle
If the pressure switch to the jet pump makes a rattling or chattering noise at the end of its pump cycle, there are a few possible causes:

  • The check valve or foot valve is leaking.
  • The water is leaking from the system somewhere.
  • If the system was just above the turn-on pressure when the water was last used, and an ice-cube maker ran or toilet leaked a bit, the pump would run.
  • Is the Check Valve or Foot Valve Leaking?
  • If the valve is not holding the water in the system, the water will go back into the well and the water pressure will drop to the switch's 'on' point. The pump will cycle to rebuild system pressure. In this case, replace the faulty check valve or foot valve.

Is there Water Leaking Somewhere within the Jet Pump System?

  • Inspect all piping, tank, toilets, and other household fixtures for water leaks and repair as needed.

Is Something Else Running Water?

  • Occurrences like this would be rare but could happen. If a pump runs more often by itself, see the troubleshooting items above.