How to Prime a Shallow Well Water Pump


Shallow well water pumps may lose the prime. Pumps losing the prime can come from a leak in the suction line. The leaks must be found and repaired or else the pump will continue to lose the prime. Pumps that lose the prime begin to suck in air. This condition causes the shallow well water pump to run out of water. Prolonged operation of a water pump that is full of air will damage internal rubber seals.

Things You'll Need

  • Plumbers pliers
  • Funnel
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Locate the prime plug on top of the water pump suction chamber. The priming plug is square in shape and resides next to the output water connection on top of the pump.

  • Fit the jaws of the plumbing pliers over the square neck of the plug. Turn the pliers in a counterclockwise direction to loosen. Remove the plug from the suction chamber housing.

  • Insert the funnel into the priming plughole.

  • Fill the chamber and the suction pipe with clean fresh water from the bucket. Water will spill from the plughole and funnel when the chamber is full.

  • Remove the funnel. Screw the square prime plug into the plughole. Tighten the plug with the pliers in a clockwise direction. Turn the pump on.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the prime water will not hold its level inside the pumping chamber the lower check valve may be stuck open. In cases such as these, the suction pipe must be pulled from the well and the lower check valve repaired or replaced.
  • Do not use water that is not sanitary. If non-sanitary water is used for priming the pump, the well must be treated and sanitized. See Resources.

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