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Flooded Water Pumps May Need First-Aid

Flooded Water Pumps May Need First-Aid

Pumps swamped by flood waters need to be inspected.

Thousands of private wells and springs from Maryland to Maine were flooded by the recent Hurricane Irene and tropical storms. By now, those wells and pumps may be just in soggy soils. But many of them may need rehab.

If your home or livestock wells or springs were flooded during the recent deluges, those water pumps in them likely need a close inspection – especially if you've had sand and silt in the water. Here are a few tips from Brian Swistock, Penn State University Extension water-quality specialist.

KEEP IT PUMPING: Pumps that have been swamped with silt and/or sand probably need first-aid to keep them from burning up.

Well and pump inspection: If flood conditions are known to have occurred or are suspected at a well, the well and pump should be inspected. Swiftly moving flood water can carry large debris that could loosen well hardware, dislodge well construction materials or distort the casing. Coarse sediment in the flood waters could erode pump components. If the well isn't tightly capped, sediment and flood water could have entered and contaminated it. Floods also may cause some wells to collapse.

Check the electrical system: After flood waters have receded and the pump and electrical system have dried, do not turn on the equipment until the wiring system has been checked by a qualified electrician, well contractor or pump contractor. If the pump's control box was submerged during the flood, all electrical components must be dry before electrical service can be restored.

Monitor pump operation: All pumps and electrical components can be damaged by sediment. The pump, including the valves and gears, will need to be cleaned of silt and sand. If pumps aren't properly cleaned and lubricated, they can burn out.

When in doubt, get assistance from a well or pump contractor who can clean, repair and maintain different types of pumps.

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