Answering Your Water Pump Questions
with RPS Engineer Mike
Cost of Well Water Pump Replacement: DIY vs Professional Installer
Well water pumps are essential for your rural home, animals and irrigation for plants. Submersible water pumps have a typical lifetime of 15-20 years of operation before you should expect to replace the pump. If you’re unprepared when the pump breaks down, expect that you may have to wait a few days to even weeks for a replacement. Start getting ahead of the challenge of a well pump replacement now!
Importance of timely replacement for maintaining a reliable water supply
In some wells with low quality water that creates additional wear on the pump, expect to replace it sooner. In 2023 and going forward to 2024 and beyond, well professionals are booked months in advance.
Factors influencing the cost of a well water pump replacement include…
- Cost of pump
- Can you just replace the motor?
- Can you just replace the pump end?
- Or do you need to replace the entire pump?
- Cost of control box
- Cost to replace aging wire
- Cost to replace aging or inconvenient PVC or steel pipe
- Cost to hire installer vs DIY installation
Part One - Why Well Water Pumps Fail
Common reasons for well water pump failure
A pump can fail for a number of reasons. Our RPS engineers have observed that the number one reason for premature pump failure stems from using a pump with a low-quality brushed motor, which fails after 6 months to a year of regular use. Other reasons include wear and tear from poor water quality, electrical issues, sediment build up, and more run of the mill age related issues.
1. Wear and tear
Wells with water quality issues will lead to higher wear and tear over time. Here’s a list of water quality issues that will impact water pump longevity…
- High Dissolved solids
- High Sediment loads
- Briny or salt water
- Iron bacteria
RPS uses 304 stainless steel submersible pumps, but even stainless steel when submerged in salt water will start to deteriorate after a few years. If your well has any of the above issues, you should be pulling the pump up to land every few years to check for pocking, rust, holes etc. Our RPS engineers have seen pumps become clogged with debris or slime from iron bacteria. High dissolved solids and high sediment loads create significant wear and tear on pump impellers. If you observe a decreased flow output from your pump, this is a good indication that the pump is beginning to suffer from prolonged exposure to the less than ideal conditions in the well. You should plan on having a backup pump in the garage.
2. Electrical issues
Electrical issues can be harder to diagnose and include…
- Direct lighting strike - you’ll need to replace any damaged wiring, and possibly the pump as well
- Improper grounding
- Breaker issue - overvoltage leading to pump damage
- Nicks / scratches to pump wire resulting in water damage to copper wire, can spread to pump and damage pumps electronics
- Motor Dead - either from running the pump dry or running the pump with locked up impellers from sediment
3. Sediment buildup
One of the most dangerous times for a pump is right after a well has been freshly drilled. Normally, the well driller will “flush” the well to clean out mud, debris, rocks and sediment from the drilling process. However, sometimes that material isn’t cleaned out completely, and your brand new shiny pump ends up pumping out a muddy slurry thats heavily wears on the interior pump impellers. Theres even the risk of the pump locking up from all the mud.
Older wells that haven’t been used for a long time, and most importantly don’t have a well seal or cover, will build up all sorts of debris. We’ve even seen dead animals fall into the well casing!
Most wells have a normal amount of sediment build up at the very bottom of the well. RPS engineers always recommend placing the pump at least 10 feet off the bottom of the well to avoid sediment build up around the pump.4. Age-related issues
High quality submersible water pumps have a typical lifetime of 15-20 years of operation before you should expect to replace the pump. In rare cases, we’ve seen pumps last for 30 years in a well, but those were older generation pumps that aren’t being manufactured anymore.
A pumps lifetime depends on its manufacturing quality. Any pump off of Amazon, Ebay or cheap looking plastic pumps from obvious overseas manufacturers are more likely to only last 6 months to a year. Pumps made of stainless steel and high quality cast iron (with a rust protection coating) should last into the 15-20 range.
Importance of regular maintenance to prevent pump failure
If you’re worried, the best you can do as a well owner is to pull the pump every 5-10 years and inspect the visual appearance of the pump. This is really only necessary if you KNOW that your water quality is subpar. Otherwise, you can do most of the electrical checks at the surface with a clamp multi-meter to check for continuity between wires, electrical consumption and for nicks in the wires.
Part Two - Signs Your Well Water Pump Needs Replacement
1. Low water pressure / Fluctuating water supply
You’ll find that the pump won’t be able to push as much water or as high of pressure as it once was able. This is because the pump is struggling to push the water up to the top of the well. Something happened that’s led to lower power output. In the rare case, your pipe might actually be the culprit, maybe there's a hole or crack somewhere along the line and its bleeding pressurized water.
2. Strange noises from the pump
It's normal to hear some vibration and humming from pump operation when you place your ear close to the well. The worrisome noises would include grinding, banging, jutering and really loud vibration/ humming. Those indicate that the pump is struggling to operate.
3. Increased energy consumption
As pumps age, you should expect for the system to consume a bit more electrical power than when it did brand new out of the box. Our engineers have witnessed 15-20 year old pumps consuming almost double that power they would have as brand new pumps. This just indicates that the internal components are wearing out. There’s not much to do other than watch your energy bill and start to plan for switching over to a new, more efficient water pump soon.
4.Visible signs of wear and tear
As mentioned before, you should look for pocking, dents, holes, abrasions, and rusting as part of the outer inspection of the pump. If any water gets into the sealed motor cavity, your pump is fried.
Part Three - Factors Influencing the Cost of Well Water Pump Replacement
1. Type of pump
Submersible pumps are harder to reach, since they’re located a few hundred feet in the ground. Submersible pumps can require special equipment, like a lift truck, to lower into a deep well.
Jet pumps are easier to reach, as they sit on top of the ground near the well, and no special equipment is required to place the pump.
2. Pump capacity and power
Well water pumps come in a range of sizes rated by HP. The most common HP ratings for residential wells are…
The higher the HP, the more expensive the pump. Pumps of the same HP may vary in price because although they use the same HP motor, their pumps ends differ. Pump ends use stacked impellers to accelerate water to the top of the well. More impellers, means a greater range of ability or “total dynamic head” ability, and are typically more expensive than pump models with less impellers. More impellers can also indicate a pump with the ability to pump a higher flow rate of water.
Well pumps are offered in 110V and 220V options. Both are priced about the same, just differing in what kind of power you can use.
3. Depth of the well
The deeper the well, the higher HP and more impellers your pump will require, which leads to a higher cost.
Conversely, if you have a shallow well, but want a high flow rate (50+GPM), expect to pay more than a pump that produces lower flow.
4. Labor costs + Additional materials and Equipment
If you plan on hiring a company to install the pump, ask if they charge by the hour or just by the job. You’ll be able to easily save some money by procuring all the necessary equipment (wire, pipe, safety rope, plumbing), and even the pump yourself from a direct-to-consumer pump company like RPS, and then just hiring the installer to complete the job.
5. Potential additional costs (permits, inspections, etc.)
You don’t need a permit or license to install or re-install a water well pump. A permit is only needed for the original well drilling. And no inspection is required after the well pump installation. All that is required of you is to abide by the local and state electrical code. This includes…
- Using the proper rated wiring for the submersible pump and breaker box connections
- Installing appropriately rated circuit breakers
Part Four - Average Costs and Price Ranges for well water pump replacement
Pump from distributor pump supplier
Every well driller or pump installer is part of a distributor network. The original manufacturer of the pump sells their product to a regional distributor, who then sells it to local outfits, who finally sell it to you, the end consumer. At each change of hands, that pump is marked up a certain %, meaning you’re paying thousands of dollars more than what the pump is actually worth.
The quote that you would receive for a pump will differ depending on your location in the country. Some areas of the USA have more local well professionals, so prices are more competitive. Other places have very few well professionals, so they can basically set whatever price they want.
The average cost range to replace a well pump with a local installer is between $2,800 to $6,000, with most quotes falling into the $4,000 range. That is typically including labor and parts.
Pump from customer- direct pump company
The average cost to replace a well water pump with a DIY friendly pump company that has customer direct prices is between $625 and $2,600. The upper end of pricing is for 5HP model pumps, which most residential customers don’t need.
With just a few hours on the weekend, you can save an average of $3,000 by installing a water pump yourself.
And here’s a price breakdown of all the supplies you would need to install a well pump for a well up to 100 ft deep, shipped directly to you from RPS…
One and Done Kit : $625
100 feet poly pipe
100 feet 12 gauge 3 + G submersible pump wire
100 feet safety rope
Well Seal or Pitless Adapter
All stainless steel plumbing
Part Five - DIY vs. Professional Replacement
Pros and cons of do-it-yourself pump replacement
Do-it-yourself installation of a well pump is actually a pretty straightforward process, the hardest part of the installation is the wire splice. Wire splicing involves crimping two wires together and then sealing the connection with a rubber tube. For a DIY friendly company like RPS, the splice kit and instructions on how to complete the splice are included in your kit and manual. This is not like learning how to fix your own car, which takes a pretty steep learning curve. Plumbing pieces fit together like legos, screwing into each other.
Pros of do-it-yourself-pump replacement:
- Save lots of $$$
- Learn how to care for your most precious property resource - water
- If you get a pre-made kit, no running around to big box stores
- Never wait weeks for an installer appointment
- If using stainless steel plumbing, quality of installation will be just as good if not better as professional installation, and just as long lasting
Cons of do-it-yourself-pump replacement:
- Takes a little more prep work on your end, instead of letting an installer handle it all
When to decide you need professional installation
RPS engineers always say that you can easily install a pump by hand, DIY in any well up to 300 feet deep. Any deeper than 300 feet, the bundle of wire/pipe/plumbing with the pump becomes too heavy to lower down yourself without some help. Now, we’ve seen lots of customers rig up a spooler they constructed themselves, or make some sort of contraption that helped them lower the pump past 300 feet. If you’re not one of those people, plan on hiring an installer with a boom truck. That boom truck will gently lower your pump down well, and basically eliminates any risk of nicking wire, banging the pump on the side of the casing or accidentally dropping the pump.
HOT TIP: If you hire an installer, you are not required to buy the pump from them. We actually recommend that you don’t, as we’ve heard of them marking up the price up to 10x what it actually costs. Buy the pump yourself from a reputable direct-to-consumer pump company (like RPS), we’ll never charge you middle-men fees. Tell the installer you already have the pump you want to go down the well, and just hire them for their time.
Part Six - Tips for Saving on Well Water Pump Replacement
Taking advantage of warranties and guarantees
Lots of the big european pump companies (Lorentz, Grundfos etc) will VOID your warranty if you attempt a DIY installation, or even attempt to pull the pump and troubleshoot it yourself. Not great for customers who’d like to have some control over costs, learning how to do things themselves, perform some basic maintenance and can’t wait for a professional to show up in a few weeks. Those companies require you to do through a licensed dealer to perform even the most basic tests and maintenance. If you need a pump rebuild or repair, they’ll pull the pump and send it off to a factory, often times overseas, and the pump is gone for weeks, leaving you without water.
Take advantage of warranties that are super forgiving to the American consumer, allow you to do DIY work if needed without penalty, and provide an American based support hotline for you to get questions answered in a timely manner. RPS Water Pumps warranty includes all of these ✅ :)
Need Advice from friendly RPS Water Pump technicians? Own an aging well pump, and need some advice about planning for replacement? Call 855-560-5670
Read the rest of our Blog articles made for educating Well Owners: https://www.rpswaterpumps.com/blogs/water-pump-faqs
Use the RPS Sizing Wizard to size your replacement well pump: https://www.rpswaterpumps.com/pages/tester-rps-water-pumps
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