Why Do Submersible Pumps Fail?

This article discusses why submersible pumps fail. Well pumps are essential for homes that rely on a well for their water needs. Most people have well pumps and it can be inconvenient when the pump stops working. If this happens, it is time to do some repairs or to call the services of a plumber. To determine the damage to a pump, you also need to find out why it fails in the first place. To help you get started, we have shared some of the reasons why submersible pumps fail.

Why do submersible pumps fail? There are many reasons why a submersible pump fails and these include clogging, overheating, water quality, and dry well. The standard types of submersible motors are water-filled which means that the pump relies on water as the internal lubrication for the motor. However, these motors are often used in applications that exceed the design criteria. Hence, it starts to fail and get damaged.

What are the common causes of submersible pump failure? What can damage a submersible pump? Why my submersible pump does not work? We will answer these questions and more. If you are wondering why submersible pumps fail, you are not alone. Let us find out the reasons below.

Why do submersible pumps fail
Image by Fides Paraschiv from Pixabay

Submersible Pump Problems and Solutions

Submersible pumps can be installed at any angle. They can be used for flood control, house water needs, and storm-water drainage. In case something goes wrong, submersible pumps have detailed mechanisms which make them easy to repair. Below are some of the common submersible pump problems and solutions that you can refer to.

Motor Continuously Run

The common cause why the motor continuously runs is because there is a leak in your system. To solve this problem, you need to replace pipes that are damaged or leaking. Also, check the water level to make sure that your pump does not exceed the capacity of the well. The motor will also stay on or have a fast cycle if the pressure switch is faulty. Check the settings, and make sure to clean the contacts. If the motor never shuts off, it can mean that the pump screen is blocked or the check valve is stuck.

Motor Will Not Start

If the motor will not start, you first need to check if there are any blown fuses or a tripped circuit breaker. Next, check if the fuse receptacles are dirty or corroded. You also need to check the voltage at the contact points for the pressure switch. Irregular voltage can be caused by corrosion or debris. Moreover, check if there is anything that bounds to the pump like sand. We have also shared this article that discusses if a submersible pump needs a pressure tank. You can check out the article for more tips and information.

Overload Protector Trips

The overload protector will trip if it is exposed to direct sunlight. The heat from the sun will cause them to trip so make sure that you place them in the shade. Incorrect voltage can also cause the protector to trip. Make sure to check your line terminals.

Little Amount of Water Runs through the Pump System

If there is a little amount of water that runs through the pump system, this can mean that your check valve has failed or is not properly installed. Another reason is that your pump is air-bound or something has caught in the impeller. To avoid this issue, make sure to properly install your pump system. You can also check out this article that we have shared that discusses how long it takes for a well pump to build pressure, We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.

Too Much Noise

If your Submersible pump is making too much noise as it operates, it can mean that something may have changed the flow and dropped the head pressure. Usually, excessive pump noises are caused by cavitation. This means that the pump causes or reacts to bubbles that are formed in the water that is being moved. To fix this, check the alignment between the pump and the driver.

✅ Video – How Do Submersible Pumps Work?

Lesics shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses how submersible pumps work. If you are planning to install a submersible pump in your home, you can check out the video below for more information on how they work.

Reasons for Failure of Submersible Pump

Age, water quality, lighting strike, dry well, and well tank are some of the reasons why a submersible pump fails. Let us find out more about these reasons below.

#1 – Age

If you have an old pump, chances are it may not run properly. Pumps that are made of high quality and are properly installed can last for 15 to 20 years. After that, parts will start to deteriorate and cause a lot of failures.

#2 – Water Quality

The quality of the water can also cause the pump to fail. The reason for this is that minerals can clog up the pump and eventually causes it to burn out. Moreover, bacteria can build up slime and clog up the mechanics.

#3 – Dry Well

A dry well can is another recipe for submersible pump failure. If the well is dry and you continue to run the faucets, it can cause the well pump to call for water and run. As a result, the pump will burn out because there is no water to run. You can install a low water cutoff switch that will sense if the water is low and prevent the well pump from burning out. We have also shared this article titled, at what depth submersible pump should be installed? Check out the article for an in-depth discussion about the topic.

#4 – Lightning Strike

Another reason why your submersible pump can fail is because of lightning strikes. Lightning can strike your pump and cause it to stop working. You may need to pull it up from the well to diagnose it.

#5 – Well Tank

The well tank holds the water that is pumped into your home. If you have a tank that is too small for the amount of water that your house requires, the pump can run too much to keep it filled. Because of this, the pump can prematurely burn out.

Why Does My Submersible Pump Keep Tripping Out?

If your submersible pump keeps tripping out, it might be because of overloading, failed seals, and a clogged impeller. Moreover, the tripping out can be the result of cracks or leaks in the breaker housing. Water can get into the pump through the cracks and cause a short circuit.


A potential overload can cause the submersible pump to trip. If the pump is getting down more current than it has the capacity for, tripping can occur.

Failed Mechanical Seals

Failed mechanical seals can also cause the pump to fail. Damaged seals mean that water can get into the windings of the pump. As a result, the breaker will trip and will only work again f the seal is fixed. Furthermore, the worn bearing could also be the cause of the failure. It can cause the pump shaft to stop because the current is too high for the circuit breaker to safely handle.

Clogged Impeller

The impeller plays a major role in the efficiency of the pump. If the impeller is clogged, your circuit breaker will trip out until it is cleared. To solve the issue, you need to clear the debris that clogs the impeller.

What Can Damage a Submersible Pump?

Wet wipes, latex items, and dental floss are some of the things that can damage your submersible pump. Submersible pumps are reliable and help flush the toilet and drain. However, it is also vulnerable to damages. Below are the things that you need to dispose of properly to make sure that they will not damage your submersible pump.

Latex Items

Latex material materials are strong and are not biodegradable which means that they can damage your pump. Take note that latex will not break up in the water. As a result, it can easily clog the impellers of the pump and cause a breakdown. Avoid wrapping latex items in toilet paper because it will not do any help in disposing of the latex. Hence, make sure to dispose of items like latex gloves separately in the trash can.

Wet Wipes

Wet wipes can also damage the pumps. This is because wet wipes are made from fibers that can get stringy when they get in contact with water. The fibers can be tangled around the rotating parts of the pump, which leads to build-up and cause the pump to stop working. Bear in mind that wipes labeled as biodegradable can still cause problems for the pump. Therefore, make sure to avoid disposing of wet wipes through a water pump.

Dental Floss

Last but not least, dental floss can also cause damage to the pump. Even if dental floss is light and flimsy, it is still strong and does not degrade in water. Aside from that, the floss can get entangled around the rotating parts of the pumps which causes them to fail.

Why Does My Submersible Pump Not Work?

If your submersible pump does not work, some of the reason for this issue includes the power is not supplied to the submersible pump, there is no overload protection, and a damaged pressure switch. If there is no power to the box, get in touch with your power company. If it has been tripped, you need to replace blown fuses and also reset the breaker. Moreover, clean the contact points and the pressure switch or have them replaced. You can also check out this article that we have shared titled, does rain fill your well? We have shared an in-depth discussion about how rainfall affects your well water supply.


In this article, we have learned the different reasons why submersible pumps fail. Take note that any reasons can cause you serious downtime and will also shorten its lifespan. Hence, make sure that you choose the right pump to do the right job for your home. Moreover, properly install, care, and maintain your submersible pump according to the manufacturer’s standards. Thank you for reading!

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