Maintenance of Submersible Pumps & Motors

A preventative maintenance (PM) program prevents premature pumping unit breakdown and failures.

A properly installed submersible pump may run for years with minimal maintenance. It’s not reasonable to inspect submersible pumps on a daily, semiannual, or even an annual basis. Therefore, good recordkeeping plays a crucial role in determining when a submersible pump should be pulled for service or replacement. Record the amount of water produced by the well, the pressure gauge readings on the pump discharge pipe, and the electrical meter readings (submersible pump usage). Review this information regularly. An abrupt change, or a significant change that occurs over time, indicates that the pump should be pulled and examined. The importance of keeping records and documenting maintenance activities cannot be emphasized enough. These activities will be useful as you develop a preventative maintenance (PM) program for your water system.

Developing and following a preventative maintenance program will prevent premature pumping unit breakdown and failures, but must be proactive, not reactive. A proactive PM program will optimize reliability, eliminate defects, avoid equipment failure, and save money. A “fix it when it breaks” maintenance program is costly, usually results in a complete water system shutdown, and can destroy customer confidence in you and the water system. As you develop a PM program, keep in mind that seventy-five percent of well problems are reported to be electrical-related; therefore, you will certainly be required to respond to electrical problems. Always keep in mind, electricity is dangerous and can kill you. ONLY qualified electricians and operators, specifically trained in electrical troubleshooting, should work on electrical equipment.

Recording annual well data such as static water levels, drawdown, and well yield reveals crucial information. For instance, declining well yield may indicate pump service or replacement is required, but it may also indicate an incrustation problem. Incrustation occurs when clogging, cementation, or stoppage, of a well screen in a water bearing formation occurs. A properly carried-out PM program will minimize incrustation, and allows for early detection and treatment when it does occur.  

Your PM program will alert you to changing conditions throughout your water system. Being aware of a problem allows you to fix it before a crisis occurs.

More information related to Maintenance of Submersible Pumps & Motors:

Creating a Maintenance Program

The maintenance program is the section of the site sampling plan that communicates the minimum number of routine samples required for each monitoring period. The maintenance program will also describe the location of all routine samples needed to cover all areas in the distribution system, including areas of concern.The address of each site should be listed here, and the sites will be indicated on the distribution map.

The program will also give the sample collection schedule for systems that collect more than one sample per month, if your water system is required to collect more than one sample per month. Remember, samples should be collected at regular intervals, and not on the same day. The program should explain the monthly rotation cycle (if applicable). It is recommended to rotate through each sample site at least three or four times each year and designate five routine sampling sites that will be used for routine sampling the following month after the presence of coliforms has been confirmed.

The program should provide a description of the collection techniques used. This is to avoid false positives from improper collection. In the program, you will also find the schedule for flushing the lines in the distribution system. This is vital to reduce coliform and biofilm buildup. Systems with dead end lines should flush regularly.

In addition to all of this information, the maintenance program will include the name and telephone number of the person who prepared the sample site plan, as well as the date the plan was prepared, and any revision dates, if applicable.

Introduction: Annual Well Inspection/Maintenance (Well Driller/Specialist)

An annual well inspection will help identify and correct well problems before they affect water quantity or quality. However, if you aren't trained to conduct a sanitary well inspection, or to take biological, chemical, or physical water samples, these tasks should be performed by your well driller or well service company.

The annual inspection of your well should include:

  • Inspection of the wellhead and well components to assure compliance with OEHS drinking water regulations
  • Flow test to determine well-yield, static water level, and drawdown, along with a check of the pump motor, pressure tank and components
  • Test for physical attributes such as turbidity, sand, color, or odors
  • Analyses of water quality chemical attributes such as iron, manganese, hardness, and pH
  • Evaluation of biological attributes such as biofouling (accumulation of living organisms) and raw water coliform

The benefits of an annual well inspection (and fixing a problem before it becomes a water system crisis) far outweigh the cost. With that in mind, let’s continue our discussion of the physical, biological and chemical analyses that will help keep your water system trouble-free.

Introduction: Distribution System Maintenance

As you’re aware, a water distribution system is a network of storage tanks, valves, pumps, and pipes that carry finished water to consumers. It must be operated properly in order to safeguard the public health, public safety, and provide safe and clean water to customers’ taps. Once water is pumped from a well, or leaves the treatment plant, its quality must be maintained throughout the distribution system.

As the water system operator, it is your responsibility to ensure sufficient disinfectant residuals are present at all points throughout the distribution system. You must be disciplined when taking bacteriological (BacT) samples to ensure they are representative of the water customers consume. Twice a year, you will need to flush the mains. Once a year, you will need to conduct a pressure test, a valve exercise, a fire hydrant inspection, and a storage tank inspection. These should all be scheduled into your maintenance calendar. 


Introduction: Operation & Maintenance Program

Water systems operators must also function as maintenance technicians. Maintenance, like operation, is an ongoing daily concern. We've learned the necessity for a systematic approach to operation, and the same holds true for maintenance. It is essential that you establish an Operation and Maintenance program. Unless your Operation and Maintenance is performed on a systematic and timely basis, problems in your system will develop, leading to water quality degradation.

The Maintenance of Submersible Pumps & Motors slide is featured in the following lessons:

Well System Components

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