Well Pump Short Cycling Symptoms

A well pump is a super helpful component to have at home. It helps to pump water from wells inside your house so you can have ever-lasting water delivery without having to rely on residential or tap water.

Of course, like any other type of electrical machine, it tends to malfunction from time to time. And the most common problem it has is short cycling. This happens when the pump starts going on and off by itself.

Well Pump Short Cycling – Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions

It often occurs fast, so you won’t even realize it until the water delivery is not the same.

This is why to initially prevent this, you should invest in a better well pump that is built to last without any defects such as:

However, as the damage is done, here, we’ll explain why a well pump might start short cycling, the symptoms you will encounter, and the different things you can do to fix it.

Want to fix your short cycling well pump? Then read on!

Well Pump Short Cycling Symptoms, Causes & Solutions

Want to know why your well pump is short cycling and how you can fix it? Then read the following section:

1. Loss of Air Charge

The first cause for your well pump to short cycle is a loss of air.


This causes the well pump to turn on and off repeatedly and quickly. It may end up damaging the well pump forever. So it is crucial to fix it before it’s too late.


It often happens with well pumps along with non-bladder pressure tanks. When the tank is too old to handle the well pump, it will lose air charge and probably turn on and off by itself.

You can check this by looking at the condensation line of the tank. It will show the line on the upper part of the tank, which means there not enough air reserves inside to make the well-pump work correctly.


This is not easy to fix, and it can involve several steps and solutions to make it happen. Luckily, the most common solution works at least 80% of the time. Here’s what to do:

  • Check that the volume control valve is not leaking or clogged. If it is, you will need to clean or fix it accordingly.
  • Proceed by pumping water into the tank via the air inlet. This should let air enter into the tank and solve the air loss issue.
  • Also, remember to drain water from the tank so it can fill with air better and prevent condensation.

If the volume control valve is broken, you will need to replace it. Do so accordingly, and it should bring the well pump back to normal functionality.

2. Defective Water Pump Control Switch

Sometimes it is not a loss of air but a problematic pump control switch. It could be either faulty or just clogged.


This will make your pump shut off entirely or never shut off. Like any other switch, it will prevent the pump from working normally, which may end up short-cycling the well pump in the long run.


There are three causes for this to happen. The first one is a clogged tank. When it is filled with silt, debris, or minerals, it will not let the water pump switch work as normally.

Another reason could be an unadjusted switch. It will cause the pump cycling because it is not working as it should. And sure enough, it could also be a switch that’s just defective. Luckily, you can fix this quickly.

Well Pump Short Cycling Symptoms, Causes & Solutions


To fix the switch problem, you can always replace it directly and prevent any checking or testing. Otherwise, you can proceed with the following directions:

  • Check that the water pump switch doesn’t have any mineral or debris clogging its mechanism. If it is clogged, then you will need to clean it. After cleaning, it should start working correctly. Otherwise, you will need to replace it.
  • If it is not clogged at first, then you can check that it is adjusted. It should look fixed and not moved at all. Otherwise, that may be the problem. Adjust the switch accordingly, and it should start working.
  • If it is not clogged or unadjusted, then it is probably broken. You can’t fix this directly, so it is always better to replace it and get rid of the problem.

This should fix any control switch problem you may have. Remember to follow our solution steps, or replace the switch at once if you don’t want to waste any time.

3. Blocked or Leaking Supply Piping

Some water supply pipes clog over time due to minerals, debris, or just dirt. This will cause the well pump to short cycle as well.


This will cause the pump to turn on and off rapidly, as well. You may also experience leaks in the supply pipes, which are both symptom and cause.


When the supply pipes are too clogged, then the water pressure increases. This causes the switch to work intermittently. If the supply lines are leaking and the water pressure is too low, the switch will start compensating for the lower pressure by overworking.

This could also happen directly on the water filter instead of the supply lines.


The fastest way to fix this is by first checking the water filter. You will need to look for any dirt, leak, or blockage. If there’s any, then clean or replace it accordingly.

Here’s how:

  • If the filter is too dirty or clogged, then you can always install a new cartridge. This will probably fix the problem if the screen is too dirty.
  • But if the filter doesn’t work with a new cartridge, then it is time to replace it. Look for the right replacement, and it should fix the issue.
  • For supply lines, you just need to clean them. If you can’t clean or get them off the system, then you’ll need to replace the entire filter supply system.

In short, whenever you see a problem that can’t be fixed by simply replacing the cartridge, then you’ll need to replace the whole filter.

4. Overcharged Pump

While the most common issue is a lack of air inside the tank, you may also experience an “overcharging” problem when there’s just too much air.


This causes the water tank to break or get damaged. It could also affect the pump bladder directly and make it difficult to pump water correctly.

Of course, an overcharged tank will also cause the system to short cycle. It will turn the pump on and off repeatedly.


It mostly happens with captive air-water tanks. When there’s no way to leak the air, then they fill with too much and overcharge. This causes the control switch and other valves to malfunction and turn the machine on and off.


The way to fix this involves taking the water tank to a more open place. Yet, it is not always the solution. You can instead proceed with this:

  • Turn off the well pump. Make sure there’s nothing on so you can follow to let out the water inside the tank until there’s nothing else. This will leave the air go out as well.
  • Once the tank is free of air or water, then you can reset the air charge according to the specifications in the well pump manual. This should make it go back to normal.

In case this didn’t fix the problem, then it could be that the tank or the bladder got damaged. You will need to replace them. This takes more time, effort, and money – but it is the only way to do so.

Final Words

As you see, this problem has a few more causes to consider than you could expect. Luckily, it is always solvable.

You just need to follow our advice and understand what may be happening, depending on your specific problem. This will help you fix a short-cycling well pump permanently.

Start checking your well pump now and fix it! Otherwise, don’t hesitate and call an expert. You won’t regret it.

Last update on 2024-06-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. WaterFilterly is user-supported. We might receive a commission on any purchase you make through clicking links on this page.

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  1. I completely agree with the statement that a well pump is a super helpful component to have at home. I recently moved to a rural area where access to municipal water supply is limited. As a result, we had to rely on a well for our water needs.

    Initially, we were a bit skeptical about the idea of having a well pump. We were worried about the maintenance and potential issues that could arise. However, after doing some research and speaking to neighbours who had well pumps, we decided to give it a go.

  2. 1. Regular maintenance: To ensure the longevity and efficiency of your well pump, it is essential to schedule regular maintenance checks. This includes inspecting the pump, checking for any leaks or damages, and cleaning or replacing filters if necessary. Regular maintenance can help prevent costly repairs or replacements in the future.

    2. Monitor water pressure: Keep an eye on the water pressure in your home. If you notice a sudden drop in pressure, it could indicate a problem with your well pump.

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