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How to Avoid the Running Dry of the Pump? Install a Differential Pressure Switch

Was the pump of your well destroyed by running dry? You might have differential pressure switch problems.

Over 3 Billion people all over the world are relying on a well for access to water. Well owners should know the importance of identifying and resolving issues themselves when possible.

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

Differential Pressure Flow Switches for variable flow primary pumping system

Differential Pressure Switches detecting the water flow of pump
Made by A.YITE TECH, GE-511 series, adjustable differential pressure switch


How a differential pressure switch of Well Pump Works
In order to troubleshoot issues with your differential pressure switch, it's helpful to understand how a well pump differential pressure switch works. Basically, your differential pressure switch tells your well pump by switch signal, 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 differential pressure switch is comprised of an internal spring mechanism which is connected directly to electrical contacts. As the differential pressure switch ages, these components can weaken and malfunction, at which time replacement is necessary.
What to Check Before Diagnosing a differential pressure switch Problem
Before you begin diagnosing your differential 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 differential pressure switch model). If it isn't, make sure your filter isn't clogged or in need of a change.

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.

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 differential pressure switch.

Common Problems with Your Well Pump differential pressure switch
Here are nine of the most common issues you will observe with your differential 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 differential 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 differential pressure switch issue.

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 differential 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 differential 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 differential pressure switch needs to be replaced.

Identifying Well Pump differential 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 differential pressure switch problems – and even prevent them from occurring. Good maintenance will save you money and grief in the long run.

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