What is a Well Pump?

Ken Black
Ken Black
Water from a well pump should be filtered to ensure it is safe to drink.
Water from a well pump should be filtered to ensure it is safe to drink.

A well pump is a pump that uses suction and pressure to produce something from a well, usually a liquid substance. The most common types of well pumps are those that are used for water wells and oil wells. For the home user, the most common well pump used will be a water well pump.

Well pumps come in various sizes. Residential well pumps may have less than one horsepower of energy in order to produce water. However, a commercial well pump often will contribute, along with other pumps, to supplying water for the entire community. Therefore, much more power will be needed.

Most current pumps are powered by electricity. However, there may times when there is no electricity or maybe a time when the well pump was installed before a point when there was electricity. A hand well pump is then needed to bring the water up from underground. In most cases, if they haven't been used for a significant period of time, they will require priming.

An electric well pump will often not require priming even after being dormant for comparable periods of time. However, when they are first installed, an electric well pump may need to be primed. This consists of simply using a hose to pour water down the well until water starts coming up on its own.

While a well pump may be a good tool to have when water is not available any other way, those using well water should be careful. Many choose to install filters on the line running into the home if the water is to be used for human consumption. While the underground water is usually pure, contaminants may infiltrate the pipe system, thus causing unsafe drinking water. Installing filters or neutralizing any bacteria in the water can help prevent medical problems. City water prevents this problem by using chlorine and other additives.

If looking to install a well pump, the most important thing to consider is its primary use. To just run a garden hose or two is not a big deal and a smaller pump may be sufficient. However, if it is going to be used to supply water for an entire house, it is best to plan for the maximum amount of daily usage, not just the average amount of daily usage. For a three bedroom, two bathroom home, this is likely to be approximately 14 gallons (53 liters) per minute, or 840 gallons (3,178 liters) per hour.

Discussion Comments


We live out in the boon dots and we have a well pump to prove it. My in-laws, who are city folks for sure, were amazed that we didn’t have pipes from a nearby town to our house for our water.

They were even more flustered that we have a name for the place where our well pump lives. The pump house is aptly named, I think, but they had no clue what we were talking about.

I had to explain to them that if the well pump froze up, we couldn’t have water. As a matter of fact, our pump house has its own light to help keep this from happening. I also tried to explain to them how the pump must be primed, and if it loses prime we can’t have water either.

They looked at me like I had just been speaking Greek and proceeded to speak on the virtues of living in the city.

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    • Water from a well pump should be filtered to ensure it is safe to drink.
      By: Andrey Kuzmin
      Water from a well pump should be filtered to ensure it is safe to drink.