How to Choose the Right Well Pump – A Step by Step Guide

Well pumps are used for delivering water from wells to homes that aren’t connected to a municipal water supply.

If your home depends on a well for water, it’s essential that you have the right type of pump with enough power to draw adequate amounts of water from the well for the entire household. It should be chosen correctly in order to ensure that your family will have an uninterrupted supply of water even on the busiest mornings.

With several types of well pumps available on the market, choosing the right type for your well can be difficult. In this article, we’ve got all the information you need on this topic.

Here are some of the main points you need to consider before you go ahead and purchase a well pump:

  • The type of well pump
  • The depth of the well
  • The number of required gallons per minute according to the size of your household
  • The water pressure of the pump (PSI)
  • Other additional features

Let’s go over these in detail.

Types of Well Pumps

Shallow well pump best

Choosing the wrong type of pump could lead to inefficiencies and unsatisfactory performance from your pump. You may also end up spending a great deal of money for the installation as well maintenance – in vain.

It’s important to know that there are specific pumps for certain types of wells and not every well pump will suit every well.

Here are the most commonly used types of pumps for wells:

Shallow Well Pumps (or Jet Pumps)

Shallow well pumps are designed to be mounted above the ground or in a well housing. They pull up water from the well using suction, but all of the hard work is done by atmospheric pressure. Shallow well pumps are used for shallow wells less than 25ft in depth.

The best type of shallow well pump is the single drop jet pump that features one-way check valves. These help to keep the pump primed and stop the water from flowing back into the well.

These pumps come with an impeller which spins, creating pressure when the pump is operational. It then moves water through a narrow orifice or a jet, located in front of the impeller. Single drop jet pumps require water to draw water from the well. This means that the pump must first be filled up before it’s turned on.

There may be moments due to power outages, leaking pipes, fittings or any other issues that can cause air to be trapped inside the pump. When this happens, the air needs to be removed before the pump is turned on. This is called ‘priming’ and is done to prevent the pump from running dry and burning out.

Deep Well Pumps

Like shallow well pumps, deep well pumps are also made to be placed above the ground and use suction as well as pressure to lift the water from the well and into your storage tank.

There are two main types of deep well pumps including double drop jet pumps and submersible pumps. Let’s have a look at these two pump systems in a little more detail.

Double Drop Jet-Pump System:

These pumps use two pipes to draw water from the well instead of one. One of these pipes is used to draw the water in and the other one to push it up towards the surface. Double drop jet pumps have the ability to draw water from wells that are up to 110 feet in depth but for this to happen, the jet needs to be separated from the housing and placed in the water.

The impeller sends water down into the body of the jet which simultaneously pushes water back up to the pump. Some deep well pump models come with a tailpipe that’s about 25 feet long to make sure that the well will never run the risk of being pumped dry.

Deep well pumps also have a foot valve right at the bottom of the well which stops the backflow of water from your plumbing system and into the well.

Submersible Pumps:

These deep well pump system work in a slightly different way. They are the most popular type of well pumps because they’re so versatile and can be used for residential, commercial and industrial purposes.

These pumps are used to draw water from wells up to 400 ft in depth and are designed to sit at the bottom, fully submerged in water.

The submersible pump is hermetically sealed and close-coupled to the pump body to prevent water from leaking in and causing a short circuit. It doesn’t use suction to pull up water like shallow well pumps do. Instead, its impellers push water forcefully up the pipe and into your storage tank.

Although these pumps are more on the expensive side, they require less maintenance that pumps that work above ground.

Other Well Pump Options to Consider

Apart from shallow and deep well pumps, there are some other options which don’t operate on electrical energy. Some of these pumps include solar, pneumatic, manual and kinetic pumps. These are excellent as temporary or backup options in case your existing pump fails or there’s a power failure.  

  • Air-drive well pumps – these devices, also known as pneumatic well pumps, require air to operate instead of electricity. They are most commonly used for commercial and industrial purposes.
  • Solar-powered pumps – these pumps are powered by solar panels and have the capacity to draw water from wells that are hundreds of feet in depth. They are quite affordable and require almost no ongoing costs. It can even be used long-term.
  • Manual pumps – lightweight and extremely affordable, manual pumps are an excellent backup in case your motor-drive pump fails for any reason. These pumps can be used and removed from wells easily, making them an ideal temporary option.

How to Choose the Right Pump Size

Depth of well

We’ve covered the type of pumps available to you. The question now becomes: Which to choose?

To decide on the right pump size for your well, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what each type of pump can do and for what type of well it suits.

If the pump is too small, you won’t get a satisfactory job done. If it’s too large, its performance will be reduced while at the time creating energy insufficiencies.

The following factors should be taken into consideration when choosing your well pump.

Depth of Well

One of the most important things that will help you decide on the pump size is the depth of the well. The shallower the well, the easier it would be to access water.  If you want to find out the depth of your well, check the well driller’s report. This information should be available.

However, if there isn’t one, try tying a fishing bobber to the end of a piece of string and lowering it into the well until you feel the bobber hit the water. Mark the string at this point to determine the depth of the water. Make sure not to leave any slack for the most accurate results.  

If the depth of your well is less than 25ft, a shallow well jet pump would be the ideal choice. If it’s somewhere between 25ft and 110ft, a deep well jet pump or a submersible pump suit best. If the depth is between 110ft to 400ft, a submersible pump would be the best choice.

The GPM Ratings

Whichever type of well pump you choose, keep in mind that it should be able to satisfy the daily water needs of the household. This means that it should be able to deliver as many gallons per minute (GPM) as is consumed by your household during peak periods, such as in the mornings when more than one shower is likely to be running at the same time. Generally, pumps with flow rates between 6-12 GPM are considered the best choices for single-family homes.

One way of checking the GPM required is by calculating the number of water fixtures in the house. These include faucets, showers, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, and any water spigots located outside. Add one GPM for each of these fixtures and this should give an approximate GPM that your household would need. 

The PSI Ratings

Another important point to consider is the water pressure which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Although a standard ½ HP pump will provides sufficient pressure for residential purposes, horsepower (HP) isn’t enough on its own.

It would be wise to survey the PSI requirements of every water appliance in your home such as dishwasher, showers, faucets and washing machines to check the overall PSI required. The requirement for a dishwasher or a washing machine would be around 10 PSI but if you have devices like sprinkler irrigation systems, you may need twice the number.

When choosing the well pump, check the PSI and GPM ratings of the device. The pump should be powerful enough to pull the water from the underground source, while also keeping the water and the flow consistent to every water fixture in the household.

Some Additional Features to Consider

Pump assemblies usually include the impellers, bearings, electric motors, motor bearings, internal check valves and control switches. However, in addition to these essential features, some pumps have additional features, which may include:

  • Check valves – this prevents backflow of water into the basin
  • Foot valve – to prevent backflow of water into the well when the pump is turned off (especially for deep wells)
  • Safety ropes – these help to access the pumps easily whenever maintenance is needed.
  • Pressure switch – automatically turns the pump on or off depending on the pressure settings. When the pressure increases between 40 – 60 psi, the switch turns the pump off. As the water is used up, the pressure decreases and the switch turns the pump on again.
  • Pressure tank – this tank is important for regulation of water flow and maintenance of water pressure to keep your appliances working efficiently. It ensures that all fixtures receive a consistent supply of water.
  • Thermal/overload protection – there’s a device that’s usually found inside the motor or its compressor that’s designed to prevent the motor from overheating which can result in irreversible damage and ultimately motor failure.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right pump for a well is essential to ensure fresh water is supplied to your household as required. By understanding the different types of well pumps as well as addition considerations, it is possible to choose the right well for your purposes.

Additionally, calling a professional in can be helpful if you are unsure about the right pump for your well.

Read more about well pumps:

Types of Pumps

Best Submersible Pumps – A Complete Guide

Best Shallow Well Pumps

Clean Water Gear
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