If I run out of water, can it damage my pump?


Submersible pumps are more susceptible to damage than jet pumps.  Pumps are cooled and lubricated by the water flowing through them.  The impellers of a submersible pump will quickly begin to melt and fuse together when the water level drops below the intake screen of the pump.  Running without water even one time can cause the pump to lock up or seriously degrade the pump’s performance.  A jet pump may run quite awhile without damage but they can also overheat.  The impeller, diffuser, shaft seal or motor could be ruined.  Because this type of damage is not from a defect in the pump, it is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

A low cut-off pressure switch will prevent damage in most situations but is not foolproof.  A better solution is to install an electric pump protection control.  The pressure switch turns off the pump when there is a drop in water pressure below 20psi.  The pump protector controls sense a drop in electric current as the load on the pump drops when the well goes “dry”.

The low water pressure switch is suitable as a little insurance for a well that doesn’t typically have a problem with water level.  We highly recommend the pump protector for low-producing wells.  If your pressure switch drops out, you will have to wait several minutes or more for the water level to recover, and then hold the lever on the side of the switch up until the pressure increases above 20psi.  The pump control is not only more reliable, it is also much more convenient.  The control has an adjustable timer which can be set from two minutes to an hour or more.  After the preset time, the control automatically restarts the pump.  It sure beats getting out of the shower soaking wet and trudging to the basement to lift the arm on the pressure switch!




  1. Lim kok hui

    can a submersible pump run in dry in the air for 5 minutes?

  2. Lee vasquez

    My submersible pond pump ( for water feature) ran without water for an unknown time while we were on vacation. After cleaning out the pond and restarting the pond pump, there appears to be a lack of pressure. There barely enough water coming out the three water features.. I brought the pump out and checked the propellers and all looks OK. It appears to pump out but maybe not enough to power the three water feature. Since it ran without water, did it affect the water pressure? The pump is a model 18B submersible pump..

    Any help much appreciated. Lee

  3. Hello Lee. Yes you may have done damage to the pump. If you have it removed, it can be tested to see how much pressure it can generate, but normally running a pump dry will either totally destroy the pump or seriously reduce it efficiency.

  4. honey

    Water ran out my water pump when current went and i didn’t no it was running without water and it melted and the spinning thing cant come out please help

  5. Hello I have a submerged boar hole pump and it’s on a timer. It only seems to have ran without water for 10seconds. Is that alright? very low yielding well.

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