Mastering How to Fix Short Cycling Well Pump: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you experiencing issues with a short cycling well pump? If so, you’re not alone. Short cycling, or the frequent on and off cycling of your well pump, can be a frustrating and potentially costly problem.

In this article, we will discuss the common causes of short cycling in well pumps, how to troubleshoot and fix the issue, and even provide tips for preventing future problems. Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional in the well pump industry, understanding and addressing short cycling is crucial for maintaining the efficiency and longevity of your well pump system. So, let’s dive in and explore the solutions to fixing a short cycling well pump.

At a glance: What’s behind the topic.What you need to know: An overview of the key information

  • Short cycling in well pumps can occur due to various reasons.
  • Common causes of short cycling include problematic pressure control switches, improper air levels in the reservoir tank, obstructed water lines, and small irrigation zones.
  • Troubleshooting a short cycling well pump involves diagnosing the problem, using the right tools, and following a step-by-step guide to fix the issue.

how to fix short cycling well pump

1/16 What is Short Cycling?

In the world of well pumps, there exists a phenomenon known as short cycling. This occurs when the pump switches on and off at an alarming rate, causing it to suffer from wear and tear, ultimately leading to a shorter lifespan. One of the main culprits behind this disruptive behavior is a malfunctioning pressure control switch .

This switch plays a pivotal role in regulating the pump’s pressure and its on-off cycles. When it fails to function properly, the pump is sent into a frenzy of rapid cycling, resulting in the dreaded short cycling. To prevent any further harm, it is imperative to address this issue promptly.

By implementing regular maintenance and conducting thorough inspections of the pressure control switch, we can effectively ward off the ill effects of short cycling, ensuring that the pump operates efficiently for years to come.

2/16 Why does Short Cycling Occur?

Short cycling in well pumps can occur for various reasons. One common cause is inadequate water supply, resulting in rapid pump cycling. This can happen if the well doesn’t produce enough water or if there are issues with the water source.

Another cause is a faulty pressure relief valve, responsible for regulating system pressure. If it malfunctions, the pump will cycle on and off too frequently. Additionally, incorrect pump sizing can lead to short cycling.

If the pump isn’t properly matched to the system’s demands, it won’t deliver water efficiently, causing more frequent cycling. To prevent excessive wear and tear on the pump, addressing these issues promptly is crucial. Regular maintenance and inspection can help identify and resolve these problems, ensuring a smooth and efficient operation of the well pump.

how to fix short cycling well pump

3/16 Problematic Water Pump Pressure Control Switch

A malfunctioning pressure control switch has the potential to wreak havoc on your well pump. Beware of the telltale signs, such as the relentless on-off cycling that can gradually wear down the pump. Inconsistent water pressure is another red flag that points to a faulty switch.

To restore harmony and fix the issue, embark on a troubleshooting mission. Begin by meticulously examining the electrical connections for any signs of damage. Employ the trusty multimeter to meticulously test the switch’s functionality.

If it proves to be faulty, do not despair; simply replace it with a shiny new one. Never underestimate the power of regular maintenance in the realm of the pressure control switch. Dedicate yourself to the noble task of cleaning and inspecting it regularly, ensuring that no pesky debris tarnishes its performance.

Should the need arise, don’t hesitate to adjust the pressure settings, thereby avoiding the dreaded short cycling. By addressing these issues promptly and tending to the switch with care, you can ward off future complications and extend the well pump’s lifespan. If you find yourself lacking the confidence or expertise to undertake these repairs, it is wise to seek the guidance of a seasoned professional from a reputable well pump service provider.

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Troubleshooting Steps for Fixing a Short Cycling Well Pump – Tabelle

Troubleshooting Steps for Fixing a Short Cycling Well Pump
1. Diagnosing the Problem: – Signs of Short Cycling: Irregular on/off cycling, frequent pump starts and stops, low water pressure.
2. Tools for Troubleshooting: – Pressure gauge: To measure water pressure in the system.
– Screwdriver: To adjust the pressure control switch.
– Air pressure gauge: To check and adjust air levels in the pressure tank.
– Pipe wrench: To remove obstructions in water lines.
3. Adjusting the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch: – Turn off power to the pump.
– Locate the pressure control switch, usually near the pressure tank or on the well pump.
– Use a screwdriver to adjust the cut-in and cut-out pressure settings to the recommended levels. The cut-in pressure is typically around 40-60 psi, and the cut-out pressure is usually set at 20 psi above the cut-in pressure.
– Test the pump to ensure it operates within the desired pressure range.
4. Correcting Air Levels in the Pressure Tank: – Shut off the power to the pump.
– Locate the air valve on the pressure tank, often found on the top or side.
– Use an air pressure gauge to measure the air pressure. It should be 2 psi below the cut-in pressure setting.
– Adjust the air pressure using an air compressor or a bike pump to match the manufacturer’s recommended level.
– Check for any leaks in the tank or fittings and repair if necessary.
5. Unblocking Water Lines: – Shut off power to the pump.
– Inspect the water lines for any visible obstructions or debris.
– Use a pipe wrench to remove any obstructions, such as sediment or mineral buildup.
– Flush the water lines by opening all faucets and letting the water run for a few minutes to ensure proper flow and clear any remaining debris.
6. Adjusting Irrigation Zones: – Evaluate the size and number of irrigation zones.
– Ensure that the pump’s capacity matches the irrigation system’s demands. Consider upgrading to a larger capacity pump if needed.
– Adjust the zone settings to allow for longer run times, reducing the frequency of pump starts and stops. This can be done through the irrigation controller or by adjusting individual zone valves.
7. When to Call a Professional: – If the issue persists after troubleshooting.
– If you are unsure about adjusting the pressure control switch or pressure tank.
– If there are complex issues such as motor or electrical problems, it’s best to seek professional assistance.
8. Choosing the Right Well Pump Service Provider: – Research and select a reputable, experienced well pump service provider.
– Check for certifications and licenses to ensure the provider meets industry standards.
– Read reviews and seek recommendations from trusted sources to gauge their reputation.
– Obtain multiple quotes for comparison to ensure fair pricing.
9. Preventing Future Short Cycling Issues: – Regular maintenance: Inspect and clean the pump, pressure tank, and water lines to prevent debris buildup.
– Check pressure settings periodically to ensure they are within the recommended range.
– Schedule periodic well system check-ups by a professional to detect and address any potential issues early on.
– Consider upgrading to a variable speed pump, which adjusts its speed based on water demand, or a larger capacity pump if the current pump is consistently struggling to meet water demands.

4/16 Improper Air Level in the Reservoir Tank

Maintaining Proper Air Levels in the Reservoir Tank: A Key to Pump Performance In the intricate system of a well pump, the importance of proper air levels in the reservoir tank cannot be overstated. Its impact on performance is profound, influencing efficiency and longevity. Picture this: a scenario where the air levels are not adjusted correctly.

The consequences are dire. Short cycling becomes the norm, with the pump incessantly turning on and off at an alarming rate. Wear and tear become inevitable, leaving your pump vulnerable and compromised.

The cost of repairs looms ominously. On the other hand, an excess of air in the tank presents its own set of challenges. The pump struggles to generate sufficient pressure, resulting in diminished efficiency.

The consequences ripple through the system, affecting its overall effectiveness. To navigate this delicate balance, a few simple steps can make all the difference. Begin by cutting off the power supply to the pump, a crucial safety measure.

Locate the air valve atop the tank, and armed with a pressure gauge, assess the current air level. If adjustments are necessary, a tire pump or release valve can be employed to rectify the situation. However, prevention is always preferable to correction.

Regular maintenance is the key to preventing air level problems. An annual check of the air levels in the reservoir tank is recommended, accompanied by any necessary adjustments. By devoting a small fraction of your time to this task, you safeguard your well pump’s optimal performance and shield yourself from the financial burden of future repairs.

In the grand tapestry of your well pump’s functionality, proper air levels in the reservoir tank emerge as a vital thread. The harmony achieved through diligent maintenance ensures a symphony of efficiency and reliability, resonating with the deep well of our shared desire for seamless functionality.

how to fix short cycling well pump

5/16 Obstructed Water Lines

Ensuring the smooth operation of well pump water lines requires consistent maintenance. Neglecting this crucial task can lead to clogs and decreased pump efficiency. Sediment, debris accumulation, mineral deposits, and scale buildup are common culprits behind obstructions.

To prevent and clear these obstructions, regular maintenance is essential. Flushing the system periodically will remove sediment and debris. Using a descaling agent effectively eliminates mineral deposits and scale buildup.

Regular inspection and cleaning of water lines allows early detection and resolution of potential issues. Installing filters or screens can also help prevent debris from entering the water lines. Regularly checking and cleaning these filters or screens ensures uninterrupted water flow.

By prioritizing regular maintenance and taking preventive measures, you can ensure optimal performance and avoid obstructions in your well pump system.

how to fix short cycling well pump

6/16 Small Irrigation Zones

Ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your well pump and irrigation zones is crucial. Even the smallest irrigation zones can have a significant impact on your pump’s performance. When these zones are too small, they put excessive strain on the pump, leading to a shorter lifespan.

To address this issue, it is essential to assess your water usage and make necessary adjustments to the zones. Additionally, positioning sprinklers correctly can help evenly distribute water, preventing the pump from being overworked. Regular maintenance plays a vital role in preventing problems related to small irrigation zones.

It is important to regularly clean and inspect the pump’s intake screen to avoid clogs. Furthermore, lubricating the motor bearings once a year ensures smooth operation and minimizes the risk of damage. By diligently following these steps and implementing a smart irrigation system, you can proactively avoid future complications with your small irrigation zones.

However, if you find yourself uncertain or experiencing persistent issues, seeking the guidance of a professional is highly recommended. Remember, investing time and effort into maintaining your well pump and irrigation zones not only extends their lifespan but also enhances water efficiency for your irrigation needs.

Did you know that short cycling in well pumps can lead to increased energy consumption and higher utility bills?


My name is Warren and I am a professional plumber licensed and insured in the State of California. I have been in the business for over 10 years and have undertaken small and large projects including bathroom renovation, toilets, garbage disposals, faucets, sinks and kitchen plumbing jobs. This site is based on my experience with toilets. I have installed the best brands and models in all sizes and shapes. I hope this helps you with the unbiased information that you need to make the right decision.


7/16 Diagnosing the Problem: Spotting the Signs of Short Cycling

Spotting signs of well pump short cycling is crucial in order to prevent further damage and ensure the longevity and efficiency of your well pump system. Keep an eye out for unusual noises, frequent power cycling, and fluctuating water pressure. Addressing the root cause of the problem early on is key.

8/16 Tools You May Need for Troubleshooting

In the pursuit of solving the enigma of a short cycling well pump, one must possess the tools of the trade. Here, I present to you three indispensable instruments that will aid you in unraveling the mystery:

1. The multimeter: A device of remarkable abilities, it grants you the power to delve into the electrical realm of your well pump. By measuring voltage, current, and resistance, you can uncover the secrets of faulty wiring or electrical maladies that might be the root cause of the short cycling.

With the multimeter as your guide, you ensure that your pump receives the life force it craves for optimal performance.

2. Behold, the pressure gauge: A tool of great precision, it allows you to peer into the depths of your well pump system. By attaching it to a water line, you gain insight into the water pressure and discern any irregularities or fluctuations that may be fueling the short cycling. Armed with this knowledge, you can determine whether the pressure control switch requires adjustment or if other factors are obstructing the flow of water.

3. In the realm of pipes and fittings, the pipe wrench reigns supreme: With its mighty grip and unwavering strength, it grants you access to the inner sanctum of your well pump. Should the need arise to remove or replace fittings, the pipe wrench is your trusted companion. It provides the leverage necessary to conquer any stubborn connection, allowing you to make the adjustments and repairs required.

Equipped with these formidable tools, you stand ready to confront the challenges posed by a short cycling well pump. However, let us not forget the importance of safety. Should doubt or discomfort arise during your troubleshooting endeavors, it is wise to seek the aid of a professional.

how to fix short cycling well pump

9/16 Adjusting the Water Pump Pressure Control Switch

In order to address short cycling in a well pump, begin by modifying the water pump pressure control switch. Utilize a multimeter to verify the switch’s functionality. If the switch is indeed the culprit, adjust the cut-in and cut-out pressure settings to regulate the pump’s activation and deactivation.

This will effectively diminish short cycling. Should adjusting the settings prove ineffective, it may be necessary to enlist professional assistance in replacing the pressure control switch. Timely resolution of any switch-related concerns is vital to extend the pump’s lifespan and uphold its efficiency.

Consistent maintenance and diligent troubleshooting are essential in ensuring the seamless operation of your well pump.

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how to fix short cycling well pump

How to Fix Short Cycling in a Well Pump

  • Short cycling in well pumps refers to the repetitive turning on and off of the pump in short intervals.
  • Common causes of short cycling include a problematic water pump pressure control switch, improper air levels in the reservoir tank, obstructed water lines, and small irrigation zones.
  • To troubleshoot a short cycling well pump, you can start by diagnosing the problem and spotting the signs of short cycling. This can be done by observing the pump’s behavior and listening for unusual sounds.
  • Tools you may need for troubleshooting include a pressure gauge, a wrench, a tire pressure gauge, and a screwdriver.
  • To fix a short cycling well pump, you can try adjusting the water pump pressure control switch, correcting air levels in the reservoir tank, unblocking water lines, or adjusting irrigation zones.

10/16 Correcting Air Levels in the Reservoir Tank

A short cycling well pump can be a frustrating issue to troubleshoot. To start, take a look at the pressure gauge on the tank. This will give you a clue about the air level inside.

Finding excess air? You can easily fix this by opening the air valve on top of the tank. This simple action will restore balance and put an end to the short cycling.

On the other hand, if you find that there’s not enough air in the tank, don’t worry. You can use an air compressor or even a bicycle pump to add the necessary air. This will ensure that your pump operates efficiently and doesn’t experience any further short cycling.

Remember, maintaining proper air levels in the tank is crucial for the performance of your well pump. Make it a habit to regularly check and adjust the levels to avoid any potential problems. But if you’re still unsure or if you’re dealing with persistent issues, it’s always a good idea to seek professional help.

A well pump service provider will have the expertise needed to keep your pump working optimally, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them for assistance.

11/16 Unblocking Water Lines

Unlocking the Path to Uninterrupted Water Flow In the realm of well pump water lines, obstructions can prove to be a formidable adversary, causing a decline in water flow and potential harm to your beloved pump. To triumph over this challenge, it is imperative to possess the ability to discern the telltale signs of blockage and take swift action to eliminate and thwart obstructions. The manifestations of obstructed water lines in well pumps are not to be taken lightly.

Keep a watchful eye for diminished water pressure, erratic water flow, peculiar noises emanating from the pump, and the appearance of air bubbles in the water. Should any of these signs unveil themselves, it is likely that a blockage has made its presence known within your water lines. To vanquish these obstructions with unwavering efficiency, regular maintenance assumes a paramount role.

Engage in the ritual of periodically flushing your water lines by deactivating the pump’s power and unsealing all faucets. This cleansing act aids in the removal of debris and sediment, which are the culprits behind the blockage. Harnessing the power of a pipe snake or auger is yet another potent method to physically dislodge obstructions from your water lines.

These tools possess the capability to not only dismantle, but also expunge any clogs that dare to impede the smooth flow of water. Additionally, it is crucial to conduct routine inspections of your well pump’s intake screen, ensuring its cleanliness and averting the entry of unwanted debris into your precious water lines. By dutifully adhering to these measures and engaging in regular maintenance, you shall be bestowed with the gift of uninterrupted water flow, bestowing your abode with a perpetually abundant water supply.

Seize the opportunity to safeguard the clarity and serenity of your water lines, and let harmony reign supreme.

how to fix short cycling well pump

How to Fix Short Cycling in Your Well Pump

  1. Check the water pump pressure control switch and adjust it if needed.
  2. Ensure the air level in the reservoir tank is correct by checking and adjusting if necessary.
  3. Inspect water lines for any obstructions and clear them if found.
  4. Adjust the irrigation zones to ensure they are not too small and causing short cycling.
  5. If troubleshooting does not solve the issue, consider calling a professional well pump service provider for expert help.

12/16 Adjusting Irrigation Zones

The Art of Perfect Irrigation In the realm of well pump systems, mastering the art of irrigation zones is paramount. By carefully analyzing your water consumption, you can unlock the secrets to optimizing your irrigation zones. A crucial element in this pursuit is the precise arrangement and placement of sprinklers.

This delicate dance ensures that every corner of your lawn or garden receives just the right amount of hydration, avoiding the perils of overwatering or underwatering. With strategic sprinkler placement, you can transform your landscape into a thriving oasis. Another avenue to explore when fine-tuning your irrigation zones is the realm of smart irrigation systems.

These technological marvels utilize advanced sensors to monitor weather patterns, soil moisture levels, and the unique needs of your plants. By automatically adjusting watering schedules based on these inputs, smart irrigation systems offer a level of efficiency that not only saves water, but also time and money in the long run. Remember, the key to a healthy well pump system lies in the harmonious balance of irrigation zones.

By delving into water usage analysis, carefully positioning sprinklers, and embracing the wonders of smart irrigation, you can unlock the true potential of your landscape while ensuring the longevity of your pump.

how to fix short cycling well pump

13/16 Recognizing When You Need Expert Help

If an unfamiliar scent wafts from your well pump, it’s time to take action. Don’t brush it aside – seek professional assistance promptly. These odors may indicate pump issues such as a faulty motor or contamination.

Ignoring them could lead to further damage and potential health risks. Another red flag is drastic fluctuations in water pressure. This could signal a malfunctioning well pump.

The culprit might be a defective pressure control switch or a clogged water line. Address these concerns promptly to prevent further harm. If persistent leaks persist or your water appears unusual, it’s crucial to seek expert help.

Leaks may indicate problems with the pump’s seals or fittings, while discolored water could be a sign of contamination or sediment buildup. A well pump service provider can accurately diagnose and resolve these issues. Remember, it’s always wiser to prioritize safety when it comes to your well pump system.

If you detect unusual odors, significant water pressure changes, or persistent leaks and discolored water, don’t hesitate to call upon the expertise of professionals. They possess the necessary knowledge and tools to identify and rectify any well pump system problems, ensuring that your water remains both safe and efficient.

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how to fix short cycling well pump

14/16 Choosing the Right Well Pump Service Provider

When it comes to choosing the perfect well pump service provider, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s essential to verify that they have all the necessary licenses and certifications. This is crucial as it ensures their expertise and adherence to industry standards.

Equally important is the reputation of the provider. Take the time to do some research and read customer reviews. This will give you a good sense of their track record and the level of satisfaction among their clients.

Positive reviews are a clear indication of quality service. Additionally, consider the range of services offered by the provider. Opting for a provider that offers a comprehensive range can save you both time and money.

Whether it’s installation, repairs, or maintenance, it’s crucial to choose a provider that can handle all aspects of well pump servicing. In conclusion, when selecting a well pump service provider, it’s essential to consider their licensing, reputation, and customer reviews. By doing so, you can ensure reliability and competence for all your well pump needs.

Short cycling in well pumps can be frustrating and costly. In this video, we explore the causes behind this issue and provide insights on how to fix it. Discover effective solutions to ensure optimal performance and longevity of your well pump system.

YouTube video

15/16 Maintenance Tips for Your Well Pump

Ensuring the optimal performance and durability of your well pump requires regular maintenance. To guarantee years of seamless operation, here are a few straightforward tips to keep in mind. Begin by regularly cleaning and inspecting the intake screen.

By doing so, you can prevent any potential blockages and maintain a steady flow of water. Next, it is essential to lubricate the motor bearings on an annual basis. This simple step reduces friction and promotes proper rotation, ultimately extending the overall lifespan of the pump.

Lastly, take the time to test the electrical connections for signs of wear or corrosion. By promptly addressing any issues that arise, you can avoid performance problems and potential safety hazards. Implementing these maintenance practices will not only provide you with a reliable water supply but also help you avoid costly repairs.

Remember, the key to a long-lasting well pump lies in consistent and attentive maintenance.

how to fix short cycling well pump

16/16 Upgrading Your Well Pump System

Enhancing your well pump system is a wise decision to enhance water flow and efficiency. Consider the advantages of upgrading to a variable speed well pump system, which allows you to adjust the pump’s speed based on your water needs. By increasing speed during high demand and slowing down during low demand, you can save energy and reduce wear and tear.

Alternatively, a constant pressure system can improve water flow and efficiency by maintaining a consistent water pressure throughout your home or irrigation system. Bid farewell to fluctuating water pressure and savor a steady flow. When upgrading your well pump system, it is crucial to seek professional installation.

This ensures proper setup and calibration, minimizing the risk of any potential issues. A professional will seamlessly integrate the system with your existing plumbing and electrical systems, maximizing its performance. In conclusion, upgrading to a variable speed well pump system and opting for a constant pressure system offer benefits such as enhanced water flow, energy savings, and increased longevity for your pump.

With professional installation , you can enjoy these benefits while ensuring the optimal operation of your well pump system.


In conclusion, understanding and troubleshooting short cycling in well pumps is essential for maintaining the efficiency and longevity of your system. By identifying the causes of short cycling and following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can effectively address and fix the issue. However, if you find yourself unsure or lacking the necessary tools or expertise, it is recommended to seek professional help.

By implementing regular maintenance tips and considering upgrades to your well pump system, you can prevent future short cycling issues. We hope this article has provided valuable information and guidance for resolving short cycling in well pumps. For more helpful articles on well pump maintenance and troubleshooting, we encourage you to explore our other resources.


How do I stop my water pump from short cycling?

In order to determine if the short cycling is caused by a clogged filter, you can try the following steps. If your filter has a bypass valve, open it and observe if the short cycling stops. If your filter does not have a bypass valve, turn off the pump and the valves around the water filter. Then, remove the water filter cartridge and clean it thoroughly before reassembling it. If the short cycling ceases after this process, it is likely that the issue was indeed a clogged filter.

What causes a well pump to short cycle?

Water pump short cycling often occurs when there is a depletion of sufficient air charge in the water tank. This issue tends to be more prevalent in older homes that have non-bladder water pressure tanks.

Why does my well pump keep turning on and off every few seconds?

When the air pressure in the reservoir tank is insufficient, it can lead to problems with the pressure switch. This means that the tank may not accurately trigger the pressure switch, causing the pump to turn on and off unexpectedly. It’s important to ensure that the tank has enough air pressure to properly regulate the switch and prevent these issues.

Why does my pump keep kicking on and off?

If the condensation line is located in the upper 70 percent of the tank, it indicates a lack of air charge. This could be the reason why your pump is repeatedly turning on and off. This issue can be addressed by ensuring that there is a sufficient amount of air in the tank. This will help maintain a stable pressure and prevent the pump from cycling excessively.

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