How to Prime Well Water Pumps

Keep a 5-gallon container filled with water next to your surface pump. When your well loses its prime, you’ll need it. Surface pumps must be filled with water to create the suction necessary to lift water out of the well and into your system. Submersible pumps need no priming since they sit below the water in the bottom of your well.

Like antique hand pumps, modern pumps also require priming.

Step 1

Turn the pump off. 

Step 2

Remove the fill plug from the top of the pump housing with an adjustable wrench.  On most pumps, the fill plug is a square-headed bolt mounted in the top center of the housing directly above the suction line.

Step 3

Loosen and remove the small vent plug.  This is usually located either directly above the suction line or beside the fill plug on the top of the pump housing.

Step 4

Fill the pump housing with water.  Pour slowly.

The water will flow into and fill the suction line, forcing air back through the pump housing as it fills. 

Step 5

Replace and tighten the vent plug when the pump housing is full. 

Step 6

Replace the fill plug but do not tighten it. 

Step 7

Turn the pump on.  Allow the pump to run until water begins to escape around the edges of the fill plug.

Step 8

Turn the pump off.  Remove the fill plug and fill the pump housing with water again if necessary.

Step 9

Replace and tighten the fill plug. 

Step 10

Turn the pump on. 

Step 11

Open the faucet on the bottom of the pressure tank only enough to allow air to escape.  Once the water pressure inside the tank begins to climb, close the faucet.

Things You Will Need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Water

About the Author

Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.

Photo Credits

  • Old fashioned water pump image by JKeen from Fotolia.com