shallow well jet pump system

1/2 hp Red Lion shallow well jet pump, 20 gal pressure tank, well water table was measured 8 feet down the well pipe.

When priming the pump, water came steady but not at a good rate. Not knowing how fast the water should come out without going through the pressure tank I finally just closed the drain and let things fill up. The pump always sounded like it still has air in it or something rattling around.

After several days and some investigating I found at first one leak at the pressure switch line going out from the pump, fixed that and a day later I found another leak of the line going into the switch, fixed that as well. The pump is still noisy and it takes 8 minutes to replenish the pressure tank even though no water is running in the house. It pressurizes with lots of slurping noises to 50 psi and shuts off.

My question is: Where should I start trouble shooting without having to tear everything apart? I already checked for air leaks with soap suds. Is it possible the pump was damaged during priming due to the two existing leaks?

Thank you! Susi

  • I don’t think the leaks on the output would have damaged the pump they would have put an additional load because of the leak but this would be the same as a dripping faucet in the 2 locations you stated. Have you measured the flow to see what it actually is as I mentioned in my answer that pump is only rated 4-6 GPM at 50 psi with a 5’-16’ lift. If you think your drawing air I would probably tighten the Union just prior to the pump.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 13, 2020 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


Were I looking for leaks causing the noise & slow fill issues, I would not expect them to bubble out - they would be leaks on the suction side sucking air in. A shallow-well pump sucks water in (practical limit 27 ft lift from surface of water when pumping - theory might give more than 30 but it's not practical - limited by air pressure and how closely the pump approximates a vacuum) and then spits it out under pressure.

Static Water level is 8 ft down - how deep is the well, where is the foot valve located? Does the water level drop significantly when pumping?

Here's my best guess as to your root problem:

What is your priming procedure? It appears that you have a check valve on the input, which will prevent priming the pipe from the prime port on the pump - so you'll have to also fill the pipe from the plug in the top of the Tee before the check valve.

IMHO that check valve is not a great idea, as the foot valve either works or does not work, and the additional check is not helpful, but many pumbing codes are check-valve happy to the point of not helping things.

  • I always thought I should fill the line down to the well , that's why I put a T with a plug on that end. A friend said no, the water would just flow away. I never did figure out how that pump can pump all that air out of the line. In regards to the check valve, the old set up had one so I figured I'll do the same. I'll pour some water down that pipe and see what happens. Thxs
    – Susi
    Apr 13, 2020 at 19:08
  • There should be a foot valve on the bottom of the pipe keeping the priming water in. A foot valve is basically a check valve with the addition of a coarse screen to keep large debris out of the pump.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 14, 2020 at 2:46
  • I opened the T going down to the well and it was filled to the very top. As it was opened water slowly drained back down into the well. I quick topped it off , closed the T plug and re-primed the pump. Now I'm wondering if the foot valve may not let water enter at the rate the pump is pumping. The reason for me wondering... as I watch the water the flow/stream changes without air being involved. Is that possible?
    – Susi
    Apr 17, 2020 at 17:55
  • I watch the water flowing out a hose at the drain line during priming, that's when I see the change in stream.
    – Susi
    Apr 17, 2020 at 17:57
  • Maybe it's not called a foot valve what I'm referring to is the base of the well where the water enters the pipe.
    – Susi
    Apr 17, 2020 at 18:04

Looking at your pump with a lift of 5’ to 16’ at 50 psi the pump is only rated between 4-6 gallons per minute. So the slow rate you have sounds almost normal for a 1/2 hp shallow well setup. We have many wells like this in Oregon as long as the casing is good there won’t be a problem with ground water contamination in this area.

  • Yes, that union could be a trouble spot, I'll check on that.
    – Susi
    Apr 13, 2020 at 19:11

Make sure that the rotation of the pump/motor is correct. In my area, nobody would use a well where the normal water level in the well with the pump off is 8 feet below grade. Usually the water is not good and may have a lot of ground water and possible bacteria in it. Looking at the motor in the picture, take a flash light and look into the motor at those slots at the front of the motor. start and stop the motor and as it slows down you can see the rotating armature inside. It should turn CW. If it is turning the wrong way it usually can be changed by removing the wiring cover and changing some wires. Check the instructions that came with the pump.

  • 1
    I'm in Michigan, well pipe is in basement which is aprx 15 feet below ground, water was tested, no bacteria, clear of contamination. Why would the rotation not be correct And how would I change it? Thxs
    – Susi
    Apr 13, 2020 at 14:14

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