Last Updated on March 01, 2020
Learning how to prime a water pump is very important especially for home owners. When restarting your pump after a long period of dormancy or installing a new pump, there is a high chance that you will not have the required amount of pressure. This is hugely associated with the fact that the pump loses water and air gets trapped inside the pump. Although some pumps are manufactured with the capability of self-priming, most household pumps need to be primed manually. Running your pump without priming first could lead to severe damages that may just cost you a lot of money to repair or replace.
If your pump frequently loses prime, then it could be caused by inadequate water level, poor installation, a slow leak at the foot valve, or a leakage somewhere in the water pipe. You will need to prime your water pump and it is not as hard as it sounds. This step by step tutorial will help you understand how to properly prime your pump quickly and effectively.
Step 1: Find water
Before you start even thinking of priming, you need to obtain at least 2 gallons of water for the entire procedure. Since your pump is most probably not delivering water this may be quite a challenge. Most households use jet pumps or submerged water pumps which when switched off for a long period will not be able to pump water to the household’s faucets. At the bottom of your hot water tank, there is a drain tap that you could connect a garden hose and drain the two gallons of water that you will need for the priming procedure. You could also get water from your toilet tanks and fill plastic containers to use for priming. Now, if there is completely no water in your house then you are left with two possibilities: borrow from your neighbor or buy two gallons of water from the local stores.
It is important that you use clean water since you do not want to end up cleaning your pump and pipe system after a couple of days. Remember that the pump delivers water to your entire household and ‘dirty water’ might cause several problems such as illness and irritation of the skin.
Step 2: Cut the power
Generally, you already understand that electricity and water do not mix. It is very important that you turn off the power completely before you begin doing anything. This is to ensure that you do not run the risk of being electrocuted which can be a danger to your life. Since you are probably not an electrician or handyman, such simple rules are easy to ignore or forget. Double-check as many times as possible until you are entirely sure that the electricity is completely cut off.
It is also important that you also inform members of your household that you want to prime the water pump. This is to ensure that no accidents happen and another member of the household switches on the pump before you are done. This is especially vital if the switch is not located near the pump area. Most electricity accidents happen accidentally and you should take all the steps necessary to ensure that you are completely safe.
It is also a good idea to switch off the mains too especially if there is no urgent need for power. True this sounds a little bit extreme but safety is very important.
Step 3: Relieve the pressure
Relieve pressure from your water system by simply opening any household tap. This will allow any residual water pressure booster pump to escape from your system. The importance of opening your household tap, for some moments, before you start priming is to ensure that you do not get a soaking when you finally get the open the priming port.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I first primed my water pump. All the resources I had gone through did not mention anything about relieving residual pressure by opening a household tap. The soaking I got was pretty epic and I ended up getting embarrassed in front of the entire households. Let my mistake be a lesson to you today, please ensure you relieve the pressure from your system before proceeding to step number 4.
Step 4: Priming
Somewhere on top of your pump is what is generally referred to as a priming plug or relief valve. You need to open it to allow air out of your pump and this can be using a combination wrench. All you need to do is unscrew it off and then you can proceed to get the priming water. You will need a large funnel connected into the hole to make the entire process easy and fast. Funnels can be bought from the local stores or you could make one using some household materials. Pouring the priming water without the funnel will take time since the hole is rather small and you need to empty a lot of water into the tank. The water you pour into the priming hole goes to the well pipe and pump impeller chamber.
Once the entire side of the pump system is filled, water will overflow. Stop pouring water immediately it overflows to save the remaining water. It is important that you wrap your priming plug or relief valve with at least 2 turns of thread-sealing tape before reinstalling. The PTFE thread sealing tape is a great way to ensure that there is optimum suction. You may not have heard of the thread –sealing tape, especially if you have not done plumbing jobs before. However, it can be bought at local stores and is quite in-expensive. Most people will just reinstall the relief valve without using the tape however, it is not recommended that you do that.
Step 5: Prime for the second time
Once you switch on power and restore electricity, then the pump should start working immediately. At this stage, you should pay attention to the water pressure gauge located on the pump. The pressure should immediately jump from zero and register a consistent pressure climb. This is the first indicator that the priming was done efficiently. Next, you should hear the rather loud sound emitted by your plump getting muffled quickly as water pressure fills your entire system. If the two indicators fail to occur, or should they just last for a short period before you suddenly lose pressure, then you need to prime again. All you have to do is repeat step 4 once more and it should take you only a few minutes to do so. When it comes to priming, you may just have to do two or more times before the entire process becomes successful. This is because getting sufficient water in your system may take a few tries but eventually you will be able to overcome this problem.
Most people prime the first time and give up before doing it the second or third time. Some even call professionals thinking their pump is faulty when this is not the case. In my experience, I have always primed my water pump at least twice before registering a success. This is especially true when you stayed for a long period before using your pump, for example, if you went for a month-long vacation.
Step 6: Flush and fill
When you finally get the proper inground water pressure back, it is important that you open a tap in your home and let water flow freely for a couple of minutes. The importance of doing this is to ensure that all bacteria and potential impurities that may have entered your water system during priming are flushed out of your system completely.
This stage is often omitted by people during priming and yet it is truly vital. There are a lot of bacteria and impurities that may have entered your system while you were priming your pump. These bacteria may cause illness to both you and the entire household especially if you have small children. Let the water run out for just a few moments to ensure your water system is back as it was initially. Since water is considered as a scarce resource, please do not let it run for a long period before closing the taps.
Now you need to fill the containers you used during priming with water and seal them tightly. This will ensure that when you need to prime your water pump again, you will have the priming water on the ready. Store these containers somewhere near your pump because you are going to need them in the future.
When it comes to priming, you need to understand that you can do it by yourself and that it will take you several tries. Once you fully understand how to prime a water pump, do be embarrassed to do it a couple of times before it works. This is pretty normal and does not indicate any sign of poor workmanship. Just follow this step by step tutorial properly and you will be able to prime your water pump quickly and effectively. Also, understand that priming your water pump is not a one-time thing and you will need to do it later on in the future.