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Sunday, March 4th 2012, 5:55pm

New pump, no water flow

Ok, so I blew a 1.5 HP pump that pulled water from a lake behind our house to water our lawn for the last 7 years. The pump was down for 3 weeks before we realized something was wrong and could get it fixed (we water at night when we are asleep).

I installed a new 1.5 HP flowtec pump yesterday and it seemed to be a clean installation, no problems and easy to swap out. I am no plumber/electrician but I'm fairly handy.

So, I go to turn on the new pump after installation and priming according to instructions and it sounds perfect, like it is pulling a vacuum, no problem there. Indeed there is some bubbles/foam coming from the overflow valve, and pressure would build when I put my hand over the valve. The problem is that there was no significant water coming out. So, I primed again a couple of times, just in case...and nothing...same thing, motor runs fine, but no water coming into the system. Finally, I thought maybe my plumbing job was not perfect, so checked the pipes with soap and there was one small hole, which I filled with epoxy. I checked again and the hole appears to have been successfully plugged.

Even still, I am not getting water coming from the lake. I'm thinking that the lake-submerged filter could have clogged in the 3 weeks that the sprinklers were not turning on, is that possible? I don't really want to go swimming to see, but I will if I have to. If it is clogged, is there an easy way to unclog it?

Is there anything else that I could be missing, I am almost certain that I didn't introduce a leak in my pipes. How big would a leak have to be for there to not be any water? (the lake level is ~10 vertical ft below the 1.5 HP pump).

The other problem I was thinking is that the wiring might be backwards in the control box (I double checked my own wiring and there shouldn't be a problem there). What would happen if the wires were reversed? Would the pump run at all or possibly run backward?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I don't have a lot of money, so calling someone out to fix the problem is sort of a last resort.


Supreme Member

Posts: 493

Location: Seattle


Monday, March 5th 2012, 2:11am

The pump could be bad.

I would check you Foot Valve first - time to go swimming. Clean it and hopefully there is a union to take it out and test to see if it's holding tight.

There is probably still air in the pump not allowing it to fully prime. I'll deal with about 100 lake front property pump systems a year - your situation happens to me more often then not.

Having the primer installed right after the foot valve usually does the trick to get it working- It's very important to get all the air bubbles out. On more stubborn pumps it requires a re-work of the plumbing at the pump with a new check valve and bleed off


Monday, March 5th 2012, 8:27am

Before I try to answer this, let me say I am NOT a pump expert. I'm passing on info.

Sprinkler Warehouse has started carrying a new line of pumps. In discussion it was mentioned that most centrifugal pumps can be wired to run backwards.
Apparently the pump will still try to push water and may get some flow but it will be drastically reduced.
So that might be it.

I would tend to agree with Mitchgo. If the foot valve/screen has not been cleaned in a while I would check that. Even if it's not the problem if it's not a self cleaning screen it should be checked periodically.

If you don't mind, let us know how it comes out.
I keep all kinds of notes so I can sound smarter than I am later.

Good luck.


Supreme Member

Posts: 5,326

Location: Metro NYC


Monday, March 5th 2012, 1:27pm

Depending on the pump model, you will have to give it some help in priming. Following the pump outlet should be a drain valve and a shutoff valve. You have the shutoff closed and the drain valve open, so that the pump output flows entirely through the drain (so don't use a cheapo boiler-drain here - they don't allow sufficient flow for a larger pump)

What you are doing, is giving the pump something to "push against" while it primes. To help in this, you may even need to partially close down the drain to a point where it is barely open.

The fact that there is a 10-foot suction lift makes the priming that much more difficult.




Monday, March 5th 2012, 4:57pm


wow!!! you guys are great, you've given me a lot to work on but it gives me hope that I am not the only one who experiences this!!

Thank you all so much for the help, I appreciate it so very much!




Thursday, March 8th 2012, 9:22am


Ok, so I got my problem solved. Turns out that I had to call in help because I was out of options.

I tried all the suggestions that were posted. The intake was clean, so there was no problem there. And the pump just wouldn't pull water, no matter what I tried. I called in a guy and he was very helpful and identified the problem as being me.

You see, while I consider myself handy, I am apparently not that handy. He identified the problem as being the epoxy that I used to seal the little air hole. I had thought I got it, but I was wrong. I'd seen other posts on the net suggesting that epoxy seals are not that great, and I am now saying the same thing: don't use epoxy. I will never use epoxy again, chalk it up to experience.

So that's it. I am just a really bad plumber!!! The worst part: my wife will never let me live this one down, ugg!

Thanks again for everyone's help, I appreciate it a lot.


Supreme Member

Posts: 5,326

Location: Metro NYC


Thursday, March 8th 2012, 9:33am

Thank you for the follow-up. Suction lines do need to be free from air leaks that keep the pump from being able to lift the water.


Thursday, March 8th 2012, 1:10pm

We all need to do something every now and then to keep our wives entertained.

Thanks for the follow up.

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