Is your well running dry? You might have pressure switch problems.

Over 34 million Americans rely on a well for access to water. Well owners know the importance of identifying and resolving issues themselves when possible.

Below, we’re taking a look at how a pressure switch functions, simple troubleshooting tips, and nine common well pump pressure switch problems.

How a Well Pump Pressure Switch Works

In order to troubleshoot issues with your pressure switch, it’s helpful to understand how a well pump pressure switch works. Basically, your pressure switch tells your well pump, which delivers water to your home, when to turn on and off. It does this by monitoring pressure and letting more water flow into the system when the pressure falls to the minimum PSI (pounds per square inch). It turns off when the maximum PSI is reached.

The pressure switch is comprised of an internal spring mechanism which is connected directly to electrical contacts. As the pressure switch ages, these components can weaken and malfunction, at which time replacement is necessary.

What to Check Before Diagnosing a Pressure Switch Problem

Before you begin diagnosing your pressure switch issue, make sure it isn’t something more obvious. Here are a couple things to check:

  • Double-check that power is running to your well and that there isn’t a short.
  • Check the water pump breaker in your electrical box to make sure the breaker hasn’t tripped. If it has tripped, you will want to investigate why that might have happened. Continuous tripping could be caused by a broken wire leading to or inside the water pump.
  • Check the well tank pressure gauge to see if it is at least 40 PSI (or the cut-off PSI for your pressure switch model). If it isn’t, make sure your filter isn’t clogged or in need of a change.
  • Check the pressure gauge to make sure it isn’t stuck or damaged.

Once you’ve ruled out the water pump and other components, you can turn your attention to the water pump pressure switch.

Common Problems with Your Well Pump Pressure Switch

Here are nine of the most common issues you will observe with your pressure switch.

Switch Won’t Turn On

If your switch won’t turn on, this could be a sign your tank pressure is above your switch’s cut-in pressure. Try running some water elsewhere in the building to reduce pressure below the cut-in level.

You can also try gently tapping on the pressure gauge, the switch, and the tank.

Switch Won’t Turn Off

Several problems can prevent a pressure control switch from turning off. It’s important to cut power when this happens so the switch won’t burn out.

Check your water supply from the well, along with any leaks which could be affecting your pressure cut-off.

Switch Won’t Turn On or Off

If the well water pump isn’t creating the appropriate pressure, it won’t signal your pressure switch to turn off and on. Aside from checking the pump, check your water pressure gauge to ensure that it’s working before diagnosing a pressure switch issue.

Switch Clicks On and Off Repeatedly

If your pump seems to be cycling (turning on and off repeatedly), there are a few common causes. One of the most frequent culprits is a blown bladder in the water tank. You’ll need to replace this component, and also inspect the switch contacts to see if they’ve suffered any damage from the cycling.

Leaks in the well system can cause your pressure switch to cycle rapidly, leading to damage to the switch.

Pressure Sensor Clogging

If you live in an area with high mineral content or sediment in your water, your pressure sensor can become clogged.

Try cleaning the tube that connects your switch to the water supply. You may also need to clean the bottom of the switch itself. If you have enough debris to cause a clog, however, it’s often more economical to replace the switch.

Damaged Diaphragm

Water from your supply creates pressure against the diaphragm of the switch to give a pressure reading. When the diaphragm is old, wear and tear can prevent it from sensing the correct water pressure. If this occurs, it’s time to buy a replacement switch.

Failed Connection

A malfunction in your switch could indicate a problem elsewhere in the system. For instance, if your piping is of the wrong size, it can cause a leaky connection. This will stop the pressure switch from doing its job effectively.

Inspect your piping to ensure you’re using the right diameter for the job. Look for any leaks or signs your pipe doesn’t fit snugly to the switch.

Bad Contacts

The electrical contacts in your pressure switch can degrade over time. Frequent cycling of power to the switch and the presence of corrosive substances are two common causes.

You make a temporary repair to contacts by filing away the affected area, though be sure to kill all power to the pump before you do. For a more permanent fix, you’ll need to replace the switch.

Water Is Leaking from the Internal Mechanism

If you notice water leaking under the switch housing or from the switch itself, try tightening the switch’s plumbing connection by turning the brass fitting clockwise with plumber’s pliers to tighten it. If you are still experiencing leaking, it is probably coming from the internal mechanism, which means the pressure switch needs to be replaced.

Identifying Well Pump Pressure Switch Problems

Now that you know what to look out for, you should be able to identify seven of the most common well pump pressure switch problems – and even prevent them from occurring. Good maintenance will save you money and grief in the long run.

Not sure if your pressure switch is bad? Contact an experienced well pump contractor in your area for a second opinion. If you aren’t comfortable replacing your own switch, it is a quick fix for the pros, and you’ll be back to your hot showers in no time.

Looking for more well maintenance tips? Be sure to follow our blog.


Pump It Up Pump Services is a top well pump switch repair company in Phoenix, AZ.  If your well pump pressure switch isn’t functioning, give us a call at 623-582-5069 today and we’ll be happy to fix it for you!

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