why do submersible pumps fail

Why Do Submersible Pumps Fail: 6 Causes to Consider

Last Updated on July 16, 2023

Submersible pump failure can be an annoying and costly issue that affects numerous applications, ranging from residential sump pumps to industrial water supply systems.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with submersible pumps that compromise their functionality and reliability. Clogging, a prevalent issue, occurs when debris, sediment, or foreign objects obstruct the pump’s flow, resulting in decreased performance or complete failure.

Electrical faults, such as faulty wiring, motor malfunctions, or problems with the control panel, can disrupt the pump’s operation and lead to breakdowns. 

Understanding the reasons and taking appropriate preventive measures can help mitigate pump failures and ensure their long-term functionality.

We’ll talk about all the possible reasons your submersible pump failed. So, if you want to keep your submersible pump working properly, then read on to find out more.

Why Do Submersible Pumps Fail? Know the Reasons

Why Do Submersible Pumps Fail Know the Reasons

If you’re experiencing issues with your submersible pump, a few common problems could be at fault. Here’s the reason at a glance.

  • 1. Clogging
  • 2. Electrical faults
  • 3. Overheating
  • 4. Cavitation
  • 5. Waterlogging
  • 6. Mechanical wear and tear

Let’s take a closer look at the reason for this.

1. Clogging

Debris, sediment, and foreign objects can all block up a submersible pump, causing it to fail and leaving you with a frustrating and potentially costly problem.

When these materials enter the pump, they can accumulate and form a blockage that restricts water flow. This puts additional strain on the pump and can cause it to overheat, leading to mechanical failure.

To better understand the impact of clogging on submersible pumps, consider the following table:

Type of MaterialEffect on PumpSolution
DebrisCan cause blockages in the impeller or pump housingInstall a strainer or filter to prevent debris from entering the pump
SedimentCan accumulate in the pump and cause wear on internal componentsRegular maintenance and cleaning of the pump
Foreign ObjectsCan damage impeller or other componentsInstall a protective cover or screen to prevent foreign objects from entering the pump

You can avoid costly repairs and downtime by being aware of the potential for clogging and taking preventative measures.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning the pump and installing protective measures, can help ensure that your submersible pump continues to function efficiently and effectively for years to come.

2. Electrical Faults

You may experience issues with the electrical components of your pump, like faulty wiring or motor failure, which can lead to frustrating and potentially costly problems. Here are three reasons why electrical faults can cause submersible pump failure:

  • Faulty wiring: Electrical wiring is crucial for properly functioning your pump. If the wiring isn’t installed correctly, it can lead to short circuits, overheating, or other electrical problems that can damage your pump. It’s important to ensure that a professional electrician does your wiring and that the wiring is regularly checked for any signs of wear and tear.
  • Motor failure: The motor is the heart of your pump and is responsible for generating the necessary power to move water. If the motor fails, it can result in a complete pump breakdown. 

Common causes of motor failure include overheating, low voltage, or mechanical issues. Regular maintenance and inspection can help prevent motor failure.

  • Control panel issues: The control panel is responsible for regulating the pump’s operation, including starting and stopping the pump, monitoring water levels, and controlling the motor speed. If the control panel malfunctions, it can lead to pump failure or other electrical problems. It’s important to ensure that your control panel is well-maintained and that any issues are addressed promptly by a professional technician.

Understanding the common electrical faults that can lead to submersible pump failure is crucial for ensuring the reliable operation of your pump.

3. Overheating

When your submersible pump gets too hot, it can spell disaster for your water system, as overheating can cause serious damage and costly repairs.

The most common cause of overheating in submersible pumps is pumping hot water. When the water being pumped is too hot, it can cause the pump to overwork itself, leading to overheating.

Additionally, overloading the motor can also cause the pump to overheat. This can happen when the pump is trying to move too much water, or when the pump is not properly designed for the amount of water being moved.

Loss of cooling flow is another common cause of submersible pump overheating. When the cooling flow is blocked or reduced, the pump motor can overheat, leading to damage and potential failure.

Ochre or scale buildup can also contribute to overheating, clogging the cooling channels and reducing the amount of cooling fluid that can reach the motor.

To prevent submersible pump failure due to overheating, it’s important to ensure that the pump is properly sized for the intended application, that the water being pumped is not too hot, and that the cooling system is functioning properly.

4. Cavitation

Cavitation can wreak havoc on a submersible pump, causing a host of problems that can ultimately lead to failure. When cavitation occurs, air bubbles form in the fluid and rapidly collapse, causing a loud noise and a significant increase in energy usage.

Over time, this can lead to serious damage to the pump. Cavitation is often caused by issues with the water supply or running the pump on the wrong side of the performance curve.

If the pump is not receiving enough water, it can create a vacuum that causes air bubbles to form. Running the pump at the wrong speed can also cause cavitation, as it can lead to excessive pressure that causes air bubbles to form.

To prevent cavitation, it’s important to ensure that the pump is receiving a steady supply of water and that it’s being operated within the appropriate performance range.

5. Waterlogging

If your pump is constantly submerged in water without proper drainage or maintenance, it can lead to waterlogging, which can cause damage and reduce the pump’s lifespan.

Waterlogging occurs when the pump’s surroundings are constantly filled with water, leading to a lack of air and increased pressure inside the pump. This can cause seals and bearings to fail, resulting in leaks, reduced efficiency, and, eventually, pump failure.

To avoid waterlogging, it’s crucial that the pump is installed with adequate drainage. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and checking for blockages, can prevent waterlogging.

In addition, monitoring the pump’s performance and identifying any signs of reduced efficiency or unusual noise can help catch any issues before they worsen.

Finally, using a pump with a built-in automatic shutoff feature can prevent the pump from running when it’s not needed, reducing the risk of waterlogging and prolonging the pump’s lifespan.

6. Mechanical Wear and Tear

Over time, the pump’s components will naturally wear down from normal usage, causing damage and reducing its lifespan. Mechanical wear and tear is one of the most common reasons for submersible pump failure.

The impellers, seals, bearings, and motor parts are all subject to wear and tear; eventually, they will fail. The impeller is the part of the pump that moves the water, and it can become damaged over time from abrasion or corrosion.

The seals and bearings, which are responsible for keeping the water in the pump and preventing leaks, can also wear out. Additionally, the motor parts can become damaged from exposure to water or other contaminants, leading to motor failure.

Regular maintenance, such as checking and replacing worn parts, can help prevent mechanical wear and tear and prolong the pump’s life.

How to Get Rid of Submersible Pump Fails?

How to Get Rid of Submersible Pump Fails

To prevent submersible pump failures, inspecting and cleaning the pump components regularly is essential. Proper installation and sizing of the pump also play a crucial role in ensuring its longevity and efficiency.

Preventive maintenance, addressing electrical issues, and monitoring and regulating the water supply can help avoid pump failures. By implementing these measures, you can reduce the chances of submersible pump failures and prolong the life of your pump.

1. Regular Inspection and Cleaning

Regularly inspecting and cleaning your submersible pump is like giving it a spa day – it keeps it operating smoothly and prevents any unwanted clogs or buildup. Here are three reasons why you should make this a regular part of your maintenance routine:

  • Prevent breakdowns: Regularly inspecting and cleaning your submersible pump can help you identify and fix any issues before they become major problems. This can prevent unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.
  •  Increase efficiency: When debris and other buildup are allowed to accumulate, they can slow down the operation of your submersible pump. By regularly cleaning and removing any obstructions, you can ensure that your pump is working at maximum efficiency.
  • Extend the life of your pump: A submersible pump that is regularly inspected and cleaned will last longer than one that is neglected. By taking care of your pump, you can extend its lifespan and avoid the need for premature replacement.

2. Proper Installation and Sizing

Ensuring the correct installation and sizing of your submersible pump is crucial for avoiding operational issues and premature failure. One of the most common reasons for pump failure is improper installation.

If the pump isn’t installed correctly, it may not function optimally. This can lead to a host of problems, such as poor efficiency, cavitation, and overheating.

In addition, it’s important to ensure that the pump is appropriately sized for the intended application. A pump that’s too small for the job will be overworked and may wear out quickly.

On the other hand, a pump that’s too big will save energy and money. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully consider factors such as the flow rate, head, and discharge pressure. You should select a pump that’s designed to handle the specific demands of the application.

3. Preventive Maintenance

Maintaining your submersible pump regularly is crucial to avoid potential failures and extend its lifespan.

By performing regular maintenance tasks, such as replacing worn parts, inspecting for corrosion or damage, securing electrical connections, and lubricating motor bearings, you can prevent costly repairs or replacements down the line.

One of the most common reasons why submersible pumps fail is due to neglecting preventive maintenance. Over time, wear and tear can cause parts to become worn or damaged, leading to decreased efficiency and even total system failure.

By incorporating regular maintenance into your routine, you can ensure that your submersible pump is operating at peak performance and avoid unexpected downtime.

Remember, taking the time to maintain your equipment now can save you time and money in the long run.

4. Address Electrical Issues

If you’re experiencing any electrical faults with your submersible pump’s control panel, it’s important to address them promptly and engage a professional electrician if needed to resolve any wiring issues or motor failures.

Ignoring these issues can lead to more serious problems, such as complete motor failure or even fires caused by faulty wiring.

Regular checks should be conducted to ensure that the control panel is functioning properly and that all wiring is in good condition. In addition, it’s important to ensure the pump’s control panel is properly grounded to prevent potential electrical shock hazards.

This can be done by checking that the ground wire is in good condition and connected securely to a proper ground source.

If you need help with how to ground the pump properly, it’s best to consult with a professional electrician to ensure that everything is done correctly.

By properly addressing any electrical issues with your submersible pump, you can help to ensure that it operates safely and efficiently for years to come.

5. Monitor and Regulate the Water Supply

Now that electrical issues have been addressed, it’s important to focus on monitoring and regulating the water supply to prevent submersible pump failure. Here are three key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Ensure a sufficient and consistent water supply: Submersible pumps rely on a steady flow of water to keep them cool and prevent cavitation. With enough water, the pump can overheat and succeed. Make sure the water supply is adequate and that there are no obstructions that could impede the flow.
  • Avoid running the pump on the right side of the performance curve: This means operating the pump at a low flow rate or high head pressure, which can cause inefficiency and even damage to the pump. Consult the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the optimal operating range for your pump.
  • Regularly inspect the water source: Check for signs of contamination or debris that could clog the pump and reduce its efficiency. Also, be sure to monitor the water level to prevent the pump from running dry, which can cause damage to the motor and impeller.

What Are the Telltale Signs of Submersible Pump Failure?

What Are the Telltale Signs of Submersible Pump Failure

When your submersible pump is experiencing problems, several telltale signs point to pump failure. Here are the reasons:

1. Absence of Water Flow

The eerie silence of faucets and the dryness of pipes can signal a submersible pump’s failure. If you turn on the tap and no water comes out, it could mean that the pump has stopped working.

However, before jumping to conclusions, it’s necessary to check other possible causes of the absence of water flow.

Here are some reasons why a submersible pump may not be pumping water: – The pump motor is burnt out or damaged – The impeller is clogged with debris or sediment – The wiring or control box is faulty

If the absence of water flow is due to a malfunctioning pump, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the pump or the well system.

Regular pump maintenance can help prevent pump failure and ensure an uninterrupted water supply.

2. Reduced Water Pressure

If you’re experiencing a decrease in water pressure and weaker flow, likely, your submersible pump isn’t performing as it should.

There are several reasons why this could be happening. One possibility is that the pump’s impellers, which are responsible for creating the water flow, have become worn or damaged over time. This can cause the impellers to spin less efficiently, resulting in weaker water output.

Another possible cause of reduced water pressure is a clogged or blocked pump intake. If debris such as leaves, twigs, or rocks have accumulated around the pump, they can restrict water flow into the system.

This makes it harder for the pump to draw water from the well or other water source, resulting in decreased water pressure.

In some cases, the pump itself may be functioning properly, but the problem lies in the piping or other components of the system. A professional inspection can help identify the root cause of the problem and determine the best course of action to restore your water pressure and flow.

3. Unusual Noises

Unusual or excessive noises from your submersible pump, like grinding, rattling, or screeching, could indicate internal damage or misalignment.

These noises can indicate that the pump is struggling to perform its function, and if left unchecked, the pump may eventually fail completely.

To understand the possible causes of these noises, it is important to consult a table outlining the potential problems and their corresponding solutions. Here is a table to help diagnose these issues:

Worn BearingsReplace bearings
Clogged Impeller or Suction StrainerClean or replace
Damaged MotorReplace motor
Misaligned Pump ComponentsRealign components
OverheatingCheck for proper ventilation and cooling

It is important to address any unusual noises as soon as they are noticed, to avoid more costly repairs down the road. Remember, a healthy submersible pump should operate quietly and efficiently.

4. Frequent Pump Cycling

When your submersible pump cycles on and off repeatedly, it’s like the pump is taking short, frantic breaths, which can ultimately wear it out faster. Excessive cycling puts undue stress on the pump and can lead to premature failure.

Here are some possible reasons why your submersible pump might be cycling more frequently than usual:

  • Clogged or dirty impeller: If the impeller is clogged or dirty, it can’t move water efficiently, which can cause the pump to cycle more frequently as it struggles to maintain water flow.
  • Low water levels: If the water level in the well or sump pit is low, the pump may cycle more frequently as it tries to find water to pump. This can cause unnecessary wear and tear on the pump.
  • Faulty pressure switch: The pressure switch is responsible for turning the pump on and off as needed to maintain water pressure. If the switch is faulty, it may cause the pump to cycle on and off repeatedly, even when it doesn’t need to.

If you notice your submersible pump cycling more frequently than usual, it’s important to investigate the cause and address it promptly. Ignoring the issue can lead to premature pump failure and costly repairs.

5. Increased Electricity Consumption

If you have been experiencing frequent pump cycling, there might be other problems with your submersible pump. Another issue that you should be aware of is increased electricity consumption. A failing pump may consume more electricity than usual.

To help you understand this better, let’s take a look at the table below. It shows the possible reasons why a submersible pump’s electricity consumption may increase, as well as their corresponding solutions.

Worn-out pump componentsReplace the worn-out parts as soon as possible
Clogged impeller or suction screenClean the impeller or suction screen regularly
Leaking pipes or fittingsFix the leaks immediately
Running the pump longer than necessaryInstall a timer or pressure switch to control the pump’s operation
Using the wrong size or type of pumpConsult a professional to determine the appropriate pump for your needs

Will the submersible pump burn out?

Will the submersible pump burn out

The submersible pump will burn out if it runs dry. This happens because the pump requires water to maintain its proper operating temperature and prevent overheating. If the water level drops below the impeller, the pump motor will overheat and eventually burn out.

Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the pump is always submerged in water during operation. Regular maintenance, including checking the water level and ensuring proper lubrication, can help prevent pump burnout and prolong its lifespan.

When should you replace your submersible pump?

If you’re facing frequent repairs, changes in water pressure, increasing utility costs, or the cost of repairs outweighs the benefits, it’s high time you look for a replacement for your submersible pump.

The average lifespan of a well pump is between 15-25 years, but it’s important to keep an eye on these signs to make an informed decision about a replacement.

When these factors significantly affect the pump’s performance, replacing it becomes a necessary and cost-effective solution. 

Protect Your Submersible Pump With Proper Care and Maintenance

You now know why these pumps fail, how to avoid such failures, and when to replace them.

Remember that submersible pumps are prone to wear and tear, and it’s crucial to take care of them to ensure longevity.

You can avoid costly repairs or replacements by paying attention to the telltale signs of pump failure and taking appropriate measures.

As you plan to maintain your submersible pump, remember that “prevention is better than cure.” With the right care, your submersible pump will serve you well for a long time.

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