Will a Submersible Pump Run without Water?

Have you ever wondered if a submersible pump will run without water? A well pump is essential when it comes to pumping water into your household. Watering systems uses centrifugal force so that it can push out water from the well directly into your home. But what will happen if a submersible pump runs without water? Will it still be able to run? We will find out the answer below.

Will a submersible pump run without water? If a submersible pump runs without water, it can overheat. You need to be careful when using submersible pumps and make sure that they are submerged in the water. This is because the water around the pump helps cool the motor. When the water level drops below the intake screen of the pump, the impellers will start to melt and fuse. Take note that running the submersible pump without water even once can damage or degrade its performance.

To make sure that the submersible pump is effectively functioning, it needs to have the right volume of water. By doing this, the pump can be able to maintain the right temperature and also prevent the system from overheating. Can I use a submersible pump out of the water? How long can a submersible pump run without water? What is dry running? Read the rest of the article below for the answers to these questions.

Will a submersible pump run without water
Image by JoaoBOliver from Pixabay

Can I Use Submersible Pump Out of Water?

Do not submersible pumps out of water because they are meant to be fully submerged in water. If you operate the pump out of the water, the motor will spin faster than usual and the speed can wear out the components of the pump. While it is true that the system might be able to handle the much higher speed for a few seconds, it will get damaged because it is not meant to operate at that speed for a long time.

How Long Can a Submersible Pump Run without Water?

You will not cause any damage to the pump if it runs without water for less than 45 to 60 seconds will not cause any damage. You can run the pump dry for a few seconds if you are using it for tank transfer and you would like to empty the tank. If you are planning to run dry the pump, you need to make sure that you keep it running for a minimum amount of time and in less than 60 seconds or it will be damaged if it runs longer than that. Take note that pumps that are damaged from running dry will not be covered by a warranty.

Can a Submersible Well Pump Run Dry?

This will have to depend on the type of submersible pump that you have. There are domestic submersible pumps that are designed to have an o-ring seal, a single mechanical seal, or a lip seal. These types of pumps cannot run dry. On the other hand, many industrial submersible pumps are equipped with double seals with a lubricant that allows them to safely run dry for a short time.

What is Dry Running?

When a pump operates without sufficient liquid, it is referred to as dry running. Dry running can result in a surge in flow, pressure, or overheating that can lead to pump failure. Dry Running affects most pump designs which can happen when a pump operates without the right amount of fluid. It can cause cavitations and critical damage to the internal components of the pump. The lobes, impellers, bearings, gears, seals, and casings are usually the ones that are easily damaged by dry running.

What Happens if a Submersible Pump Runs Dry?

If a submersible pump runs dry, it can get damaged. Possible problems that might occur include melting of the shaft which causes the impeller to seize in the shaft, damage to the rear housing of the pump, and damage to the seals. Repairing a pump that is damaged by dry running can be costly as some components might need replacement.

The Impeller Melts along the Shaft

One of the problems that might occur when you run dry a pump is that the impeller will melt along the shaft. Because of this, the impeller will seize onto the shaft preventing it to rotate and causing it to stop. To solve this problem, you need to take the pump apart and use a drill bit to clean the bore of the impeller.

It can Damage the Rear Housing of the Pump

Damage to the rear housing of the pump can also be the result of dry running. When this happens, the liquid will escape or the boss of the rear housing that secures the pump shaft can deform and the shaft will move rather than be stationary. As a result, the impeller can get damaged and the shaft can break from the impeller.

It Can Damage Seals

Dry running can also damage the seals and can lead to burning up and failure. There are many factors that affect the amount of time that it will take for a pump to get damaged from dry running. These factors include the size of the pump, the bore size, and the type of fluid that is used in the pump. In general, it can late as little as 30 seconds of dry running to damage the pump. You can also check out this article that discusses why submersible pumps fail. We have shared different possible reasons for submersible water pump failure and damage.

What Causes Dry Running?

The common cause of dry running is human error. This is because dry running is connected to how the pump is operated, controlled, and monitored. Usually, companies depend on the users to monitor the pumps. On the other hand, there are instances wherein the pump is left running for a long time after the intended operation has been completed. For instance, the pump is unattended while the water on the tank is evacuated and the pump continues to run even if the tank is empty. This can damage the components of the pump.

How to Prevent Dry Running?

One of the steps that you can take to avoid dry running is to install a dry running protection device. This device will stop the pump immediately once it detected a low water level. Moreover, the device can constantly check the active power of the motor. The device is equipped with an adjustable set point and timer. This enables you to set the minimum power and the triggering time of the device. The pump will stop if the power goes under the established minimum power and the device must be manually switched on again.

✅ Video – Dry Run Protector Cycle Sensor Installation

Cycle Stop Valves shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses how to install and adjust a cycle sensor to protect your pump from dry run as well as rapid cycle conditions. You can watch the video below for more tips and information.

How Long Can a Submersible Pump Run Continuously?

A submersible pump that has a continuous-duty motor can run continuously for up to 20 minutes at best. Of course, the time will have to depend on the type of pump that you have. Submersible pumps are commonly used for industrial and economic purposes. The pipes of the pump can suck water from 25 feet underground. Hence, it makes it possible to use the pump for both shallow and deep reservoirs because it has more suction power. Furthermore, a submersible pump is also suitable for deep wells as it can hold and supply more water that guarantees continuous water supply. We have also shared this article titled, can submersible pumps run horizontally? We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.

Can You Leave a Submersible Pump Underwater?

An advantage of using submersible pumps is that you can place it underwater and it will still function effectively. When you look for water pumps, you can find types that will only work when fully submerged underwater while others can work even when they are placed on a dry surface. Submersible water pumps are equipped with the same function as the standard water pumps when it comes to draining water, but there are some advantages that you can avail.

How Many Years Does a Submersible Well Pump Last?

In general, how long a submersible well pump can last will have to depend on its durability and quality as well as the usage, care, and maintenance that you provide. Submersible well pumps can last between 8 to 10 years before they need replacement. On the other hand, well pumps that are used for moderate water usage can last up to 15 years.

How Often Should My Submersible Pump Turn On?

The size of the submersible pump that you have will affect how often it should be turned on. Bear in mind that pumps that have 1/2 HP should have at least a one-minute run time. Make sure that you read the user manual so that you can find out the proper way to operate and use the submersible pump that you have. We have also shared this article titled, at what depth submersible pump should be installed? We have shared tips and ideas when it comes to choosing the right depth for your pump installation.


You have reached the end of this article that discusses if a submersible pump will run without water. We have found out that running a submersible pump without water can damage its internal component. If you need to dry run the pump, make sure to do it in only a few seconds. However, there is still a possibility that it can get damaged. We have also shared tips on how to avoid dry running the pump. We hope that the information that we have shared has helped answer your questions. Thank you for reading!

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