How to Prime a Sprinkler Well Pump

Sprinkler well pumps are normally used for lawns/gardens and are centrifugal in nature. These pumps draw water from the ground source via a large pipe - Then, the water is forced through a smaller pipe, thus increasing the water pressure as well. But before these sprinkler well pumps can be used for the initial start-up, they must be primed.

But what does it means to prime a sprinkler well pump? Well, these pumps require enough water pressure to continue drawing the water and to keep the sprinklers running. However, if the pump is not used for a long period of time, air bubbles can enter the pump and cause a drop or complete loss of the pressure. As a result, the pump will have to work harder to draw the water, and it will take more time as well - This can even lead to the burning of the motor as well!

So when we talk about how to prime a sprinkler well pump, it just means removing these air bubbles in the pipes and ensuring enough water is flowing via these pumps. This is usually achieved by flushing the water into and through the pump before starting the pump.

Do I Need To Prime My Sprinkler Well Pump?

It depends on the condition and how often your sprinkler well pump is used. But if your sprinkler well pump is old, then you will need to prime it more often. And if the pump was not in use for a long period of time, then it is also a good idea to prime it before usage.

As a general precaution, you should prime the pump if it is old or is used infrequently. But what would happen if you did not prime the pump? Well, it can lead to a lot of problems such as:

  • No water for your sprinkler system.
  • Overheating of the water pump.
  • Burning of the water pump.

As you can see, it can lead to financial loss as well if you decide not to prime the sprinkler well pump! If you think about it, it would only take you a couple of minutes to prime the sprinkler well pump and can save you a lot of money as well.

If the sprinkler well pump gets damaged or burns due to not enough water pressure in the pipes, it can cost you a lot of money to buy a new pump. On top of that, you will also have to get a professional to install the new well pump if you don't know how to install one!

So to put it short, it is a good idea to prime the sprinkler well pump if it is old, used infrequently, or both!


Benefits of Priming a Sprinkler Well Pump

Let's take a quick look at the benefits of priming a sprinkler well pump:

  • Efficient and optimal working of the pump as well as the entire sprinkler system.
  • Optimal water pressure as priming removes any water bubbles or air bubbles present in the pipes and thus solves the issue of low water pressure.
  • Prevents any potential motor damage, thus prolonging the life of the water pump.
  • Prevents overheating of the pump.
  • Easy transport of water from the source to the sprinklers.


How to Prime a Sprinkler Well Pump

We have created a step-by-step guide on how you can easily prime a sprinkler well pump:

1. Turn off the Power

Before we can start working on the pump, double-check to ensure that the power to the pump is turned off. As a general precaution, you should never work on any electrical devices before turning off the power. Failure to do so can even lead to electric shock (personal injury) and even cause damage to the pump.

You can easily turn off the electrical power through the breaker panel. But just to be on the safe side, you look at the pump's base to ensure that it is indeed turned off.

2. Access the Prime Plug

Now that the power to the pump has been turned off, you need to find access to the pump system. In irrigation well pumps, there is a purpose-built 'prime plug' which is specially built for the purpose of priming! Since we want to flush the system with water to remove debris and air bubbles, access to the system is required.

Now, remove the prime plug (hexagonal shape or square-shaped), which is usually present on the pump's top.

3. Inspect the System

Before we can move toward the next step, we need to properly inspect the pump and ensure that there are no damages or leaks in the system.

Start by looking at the piping and other fittings for any cracks or leaks. If the system was turned off during the winter season or for a long period of time, it becomes more important to properly inspect the system. Another thing to look at is the drain plugs which may need re-tightening as well.

Here's a list of things you should check:

  • All the bolts and nuts must be tight and firmly in place.
  • Al the drain plugs are properly tightened.
  • All the other hardware is in place and tight if required.
  • Check the fittings for any leaks/cracks.
  • Check the safety guards, pulleys, and belts.

 4. Open Release Valves

The next step is to find the release valves of your sprinkler well pump and open them. The reason for opening the release valves is to ensure that no pressure is built up in the system.

5. Attach Water Hose

Earlier, we had removed the prime plug, and now it is time to attach a water hose to the primer plug's hole. You also need to ensure that the water coming from the hose is clean and free from any debris. While trying to prime the pump, the last thing you would need is to get it filled with debris and other unwanted particles! So just double-check before attaching the water hose to ensure that the water is indeed clean!

6. Prime the System

Now turn on the water and wait until the pump casing is full of water and starts to overflow from the hole of the prime plug as well as the release valves. This is an indication that it has been filled with water, and now there are no residual air bubbles in the system.

Now, place back the prime plug and turn on the pump (power it on). If the cycle is normal and starts/stops automatically, it means that you have successfully primed the sprinkler well pump!

Congratulations! You have successfully primed the pump, and now it can be used normally!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why has the pump changed its sound after priming?

This is normal, and there is nothing to worry about. Earlier, there was air trapped in the pipes, and now the pump is drawing water which has caused the sound to change!

2. How long does it take (approximately) to prime a sprinkler well pump?

The whole process should only take a couple of minutes at best. I mean, you just have to remove the prime plug, attach a water hose, and then let the water overflow. Once it is done, simply close the prime plug hole and turn on the pump.

If the pump's sound is normal and it turns on/off naturally, it means that you have succeeded in priming.

3. Why is my pump losing its water pressure?

If you prime the water pump and continue to use it frequently, it will not lose its water pressure. However, sometimes there can be other reasons behind the loss of water pressure, such as a leaking foot valve or an obstruction in the line. You can solve these problems by replacing the foot valve and cleaning any debris present in the line.

4. Is it easy to prime a sprinkler well pump?

Yes, it is fairly easy to do this entire process on your own. All that's required is a wrench or maybe a screwdriver at best to remove the prime plug and attach a garden water hose. But if you are still unsure about it or find it too difficult, you can also hire someone to do it for you.

5. Why is my sprinkler well pump is making a lot of noise?

One of the major reasons for this particular problem is that the pump bearings have worn out. If you notice that your pump has started to make a lot of noise, then that's a warning sign that should not be taken lightly! Correcting the problem will stop the extra noise from the pump.

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