Master List of the Best Shallow Well Jet Pumps Experts Trust

Our team spent over 50 hours of research to narrow down the best shallow well jet pumps—so that you don’t have to.

Updated: October 10, 2023
Jeremiah Zac


Editor's Choice for Best Shallow Well Jet Pump

  • 1/2 HP
  • 120/240 Volt
  • Max Flow: 816 GPH / 13.6 GPM
  • 5.8 Gallon Pressure Tank
  • 2 Year Warranty

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There are over 35 different shallow well jet pump manufacturers to purchase from online.

Some are constructed well enough to manage a few years of good use, while many might not last a season due to cheap parts and poor manufacturing.

But a high-quality jet pump should give a well owner 10+ years of operation if installed properly and maintained regularly.

For your sanity, we’ve uncovered the best shallow well jet pumps that are worth your time and investment.

And we’ve come to that conclusion by researching the different models according to the quality of parts and construction, overall performance, and company legacy.

Yup, we’re water fanatics and have been for over 8 years. And this review of the best shallow well jet pumps is a testament to our expertise and passion.

Best Shallow Well Jet Pumps


  1/2 HP
  Max Flow: 816 GPH / 13.6 GPM
  5.8 Gallon Pressure Tank


  3/4 HP
  Max Flow: 900 GPH / 15 GPM
  6.6 Gallon Pressure Tank


  1/2 HP
  Max GPM: 8.5

Superior Pump

  1/2 HP
  Maximum Depth to Water: 25 ft.


➤  1/2 HP
  2 GPM @ 15 Ft
  3 GPM @ 30 Ft


  1/2 HP
  Max GPM: 8


  1 HP
  Max GPM: 10.5

Best Shallow Well Jet Pumps < 25ft.

Among the multitude of shallow well pump manufacturers, we've selected the most trusted names in the well pumping business. For well owners with depths of up to 25 feet, these jet pumps are the best reviewed for this particular type of application.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to correctly size your water system before selecting a pump

Selecting a shallow well jet pump for your water well system isn't as straightforward as choosing one with the most horsepower or the highest PSI rating. Sizing a pump is a critical process that requires some specific measurements unique to your home's water system.

Be sure to learn how to size a pump before purchasing one. Later in this article, we'll explain the steps you need to take to properly size and select the right pump for your system. This will help you understand the specifications of each pump and allow you to read the manufacturer's performance curves with more confidence. Using an incorrectly sized pump will either not provide water at all or may cause damage to your system.

The following list will display some of the manufacturer's ratings such as Max GPM and PSI. But keep in mind that each pump will only operate at these ratings under certain specific conditions. You'll need to determine if your water system will provide these conditions for the pump to operate at its maximum potential.

Our Top Choice

  • 1/2 HP
  • 120/240 Volt
  • Max Flow: 816 GPH / 13.6 GPM
  • 5.8 Gallon Pressure Tank
  • 2 Year Warranty


Since 1935, Red Lion has remained a trusted brand within the well pumping industry and continues to supply pumps to well owners around the world.

The RL-SWJ50 is a durable shallow well jet pump which features a pre-charged, 5.8-gallon pressure tank. Ideal for rural homes and cabins, the pump and tank combination allows for immediate and easy installation. The 1/2 HP motor is powerful enough for supplying water for 3-4 people with moderate water usage.

The pump is made of durable cast iron and comes with a 30/50 setting pressure switch. With a Max GPM of 13.6, the RL-SWJ50 is ideal for well depths of up to 25 feet.

The RL-SWJ50 is well designed, durable, and powerful shallow well jet pump from a trusted brand. This model comes with a 2 Year warranty.

The jet pump is mounted securely on top of the 5.8-gallon pressure tank

Our experience with RedLion RL-SWJ50

We have the pump drawing water from a 10-foot well and pushing water up another 10 feet toward a yard for irrigation. The property is about 1/2 an acre, and the pump provides enough pressure to supply the entire area even when going through an 80-foot garden hose. It’s turned on at least once daily for about two hours, and the pressure switch engages properly. We’ve attached a 1.25” check valve from the inlet to prevent backwashing.

Priming was easy and required about 2 gallons of water to cover the distance from the source to the yard.

We have the feet of the pump attached to two wooden planks for increased stability and have the pump sitting on the ground, covered in a weather-protected case. It’s fairly quiet for a pump of this size, and the case helps further diminish the sound.

The pump has a built-in pressure switch to regulate pressure in the tank and can be accessed by removing the cover

Securing the feet of the tank to some wooden planks adds some stability

The inlet is 1 1/4" wide. Be sure to coat it with sealant when attaching the pipe.

  What we like most about Red Lion Pumps

The RL-SWJ50 pump is much quieter than other jet pumps in its class, making it ideal if used in close proximity to people or outdoors. It's also easy to install and prime.

  What we don't like

For the jet pump and pressure tank combo, the 5.8 gallon tank is slightly smaller than the standard 6.6-gallon tank that most jet pump combos come with.

  Is it for you?

If you need a quiet, reliable jet pump with a pressure tank built in, Red Lion's RL-SWJ50 is sure to deliver clean water to your small home or cabin.

  • 3/4 HP
  • Max Flow: 900 GPH / 15 GPM
  • 6.6 Gallon Pressure Tank
  • 115/230 Volts
  • Stainless Steel
  • 2 Year Warranty


Burcam, a Canadian well pump company formed in 1978, remains one of the leading pump distributors in North America due to its innovative ideas and expert customer service.

The pump and tank combination by Burcam is entirely composed of stainless steel which ensures high durability without the risk for corrosion or rust.

At 3/4 HP and a max flow rate of 900 gallons per hour, the shallow well pump is capable of providing fresh water to a large home or cabin with well depths of up to 25 feet. Includes high-performance impellers, built for continuous or intermittent use. Comes with a 0-100 PSI pressure gauge.

The 6.6 Gallon pressure tank comes with an internal butyl bladder, eliminating the waterlogging problem.

Burcam provides a 2-year warranty for the pump and tank. Unit is factory assembled for easy installation.

The stainless steel design makes it more resistant to corrosion than other cast-iron builds.

  What we like most about Burcam

The large pump body and water-tight design make it extremely easy to prime. And at 900 GPH, this pump has one of the highest flow rates among 3/4 HP motors.

  What we don't like

Like many jet pumps, this Burcam pump can be a tad bit loud and therefore is best placed in an enclosed location such as a basement or shed.

  Is it for you?

If you want a high-output, reliable jet pump that is easy to prime and has a built-in pressure tank, Burcam's is one of the best you'll find.

  • 1/2 HP
  • Max GPM: 8.5
  • Maximum Depth to Water: 25 ft.
  • Corrosion-resistant Cast Iron
  • 1 Year Warranty

CountyLine is Tractor Supply’s premier well pump brand of high quality, competitively priced irrigation products.

CountyLine Shallow Well Cast Iron Jet Pump delivers water from 25 ft. or less and is built of rugged cast iron construction for long life.

  What we like most about the CountyLine Pumps

The CountyLine pump is extremely easy to install and prime. It's reliable and much quieter than many jet pumps in its class.

  What we don't like

This jet pump has a Max GPM of 8.5 which is a bit on the lower end, but for small homes and cabins, it should be more than enough.

  Is it for you?

If you need a pump for a small home or cabin that is easy to set up, the County Line pumps are more than sufficient.

More Pumps by CountyLine:

  • 1/2 HP
  • Maximum Depth to Water: 25 ft.
  • Corrosion-resistant Cast Iron
  • 3 Year Warranty

The Superior Pump brand is a family-owned company from Minneapolis, MN, and has 150 years of combined pump industry experience.

The Superior Pump 94505 1/2 HP Jet Pump features a rugged cast iron pump body for durability. Designed for shallow well applications, the 94505 will work with wells up to 25 ft. in depth.

The pump features a pre-mounted, fully adjustable pressure switch preset at 20/40 PSI. A dual voltage motor, with built-in thermal overload protection, can be set for 115 or 230 volts. A high-quality glass-filled thermoplastic impeller and diffuser are designed to move up to 600 gallons per hour at 1-foot of lift.

  What we like most about Superior Pumps

The best aspect of the Superior Pumps brand is its excellent customer service. With a robust support and warranty department, you can rest assured that any potential question will be fully answered by their team.

  What we don't like

It might take several tries to get the pump primed, but once it's started it's good to go.

  Is it for you?

If you want a durable jet pump with great customer service, this pump is for you.

More Pumps by Superior Pump:

  • Pressure Switch Setting: 30 - 50 psi
  • 2 GPM @ 15 Ft
  • 3 GPM @ 30 Ft
  • Voltage: 115/230
  • HP: 1/2

Dayton is an American manufacturing company that produces a large catalog of high-quality industrial and residential machines including water pumps, motors, filters, and a range of parts and accessories. Dayton’s submersible pump line sets a standard for residential deep well pumps for their reliability and build quality.

Dayton’s shallow well jet pump has a pressure setting of 30 to 50 psi and can deliver between 3 and 10 gallons of water per minute, depending on the depth. Its corrosion-resistant, cast iron housing protects it from damage and other outdoor elements.

Dayton is owned by TEEL, a pump brand manufactured for Grainger.

  What we like most about Dayton Pumps

Dayton jet pumps are well-built, American-made shallow well pump that are very affordable in comparison to other brands in their class

  What we don't like

Since Dayton pumps are manufactured for Grainger, they don't have their own support team for consultation. Support would have to be sought through the vendor.

  Is it for you?

If you have a well that's less than 25 feet and want a reliable, affordable pump, Dayton pumps are very well-built.

More Pumps by Dayton:

  • 1/2 HP
  • Max GPM: 17.5
  • 115/230 volt
  • Max Temp: 140 degrees F
  • Corrosion-resistant Cast Iron
  • 12 Month Warranty

Goulds Water Technology has been a trusted brand in well pumping for over a century. Specializing in deep and shallow well jet pumps, convertible and multistage jet pumps, and submersible pumps, Goulds combines industry-standard manufacturing with excellent customer service.

The J5S shallow well jet pump is one of their most popular jet pumps for shallow wells. At 1/2 HP, the J5S is sufficient for an average 3-4 person home with shallow well depths up to 25 feet. At the max depth of 25 feet, the J5S can provide up to 8.7 GPM. At a depth of 5 feet, it can provide up to 17.5 GPM.

Built of corrosion-resistant cast iron and FDA-approved tubing. The back pull-out design allows for easy disassembly for cleaning and repair without disturbing piping. The Goulds J5s shallow well jet pump is well built for continuous pump with minimal maintenance and will withstand outdoor elements. At a max temp of 140 degrees, it has a high threshold for overheating.

The J5S shallow well jet pump by Goulds is excellent for rural homes, cottages, and applications with a high water table. Goulds offers a 1-year warranty for this jet pump.

  What we like most about Goulds

This Goulds pump is particularly quiet in comparison to other jet pumps. It also has a high threshold for overheating, making it better suited for long, continuous pumping.

  What we don't like

Due to its resistance to overheating and its workhorse motor, this pump is in an upper price-range.

  Is it for you?

If you need a reliable pump for long, continuous pumping so that it won't overheat, this Goulds pump will outlast most.

  • 1 HP
  • 120V/240V
  • Max GPM: 10.5
  • Cast Iron

Wayne pumps are assembled in the US and distributed worldwide. Specializing in well pumps for residential use, Wayne offers a variety of pumps for various applications.

The SWS100 shallow well jet pump is a powerful pump at 1 HP and can supply a large household with fresh water at depths of up to 25 feet. With a cast-iron build, this pump is very durable and perfect for rural settings.

The motor can pump 420 gallons of water per hour and runs quietly. The cast-iron design adds extra durability.

  What we like most about Wayne Pumps

These Wayne jet pumps are extremely easy to install and prime. At 1 HP, it provides great water pressure for an entire home on a shallow well.

  What we don't like

Since the body is fully cast-iron, it's more suitable for indoor placement or in non-coastal regions.

  Is it for you?

If you need a tough pump for dry, non-coastal areas, the cast-iron Wayne pump is perfect.

More Pumps from Wayne:

  • 1/2 HP
  • Max GPM: 8
  • 115V/230V
  • Corrosion-Resistant Thermoplastic
  • 1 Year Warranty

Flotec, a brand of water pump manufacturing giant Pentair, is a leader in well pump manufacturing around the world.

The thermoplastic design of the FP4012-10 allows for the highest-corrosion resistance among well pumps. With a stainless steel shaft, insulated motor windings, and dust-proof cover, the FP4012 is ideal for outdoor placement for rural homes and cottages.

At 1/2 HP and max GPM of 8, the FP4012 can provide clean water for a small home with a well depth of up to 25 feet. The lightweight build allows it for easy transportation and installation, and its dust-proof cover protects it from outside elements.

  What we like most about Flotec Pumps

These thermoplastic pumps are very resistant to corrosion in comparison to their cast-iron counterparts.

  What we don't like

Due to the lack of a heavy covering, they're much louder than cast-iron pumps.

  Is it for you?

If you live in a humid or coastal region that's prone to weather-induced corrosion, this thermoplastic pump by Flotec will get the job done.

More Pumps by Flotec:

Best Convertible Jet Pumps: 25 to 90 ft.

Convertible jet pumps pump water at depths between 25 and 90 feet, while some multistage deep well jet pumps can reach even further depths. These jet pumps are suitable for well owners whose depths exceed 25 feet, but don't quite meet the need for a submersible pump.

Our Top Choice

  • 1/2 HP
  • 115v/230v
  • Max Temp: 140 F
  • Cast Iron Build

The J5 deep well convertible jet pump is a powerful pump for well depths between 25 and 90 feet. The 1/2 HP motor is ideal for a small home or cottage in a rural setting.

Goulds traditionally manufactures their pumps with corrosion-resistant cast iron to ensure optimum durability. Robustly designed to perform continuously without damage, the FDA-compliant impellers allow for optimum performance. The protected mechanical seal ensures leak protection.

Max temperature of 140 degrees allows for overheating resistance. Goulds is a staple name in pump manufacturing and their convertible deep well jet pump is the top of the line.

  What we like most about Goulds convertible pumps

This cast-iron convertible pump has a high-temperature threshold making it resistant to overheating. This makes it ideal for long, continuous use.

  What we don't like

Due to its temperature resistance setting, powerful motor, and high-quality design, the Goulds J5 can have a high price tag.

  Is it for you?

If you need a strong pump for a well with a depth between 25 and 90 feet and require it to be used regularly and continuously, the J5 is an absolute workhorse.

  • 1/2 HP
  • Max GPM: 10
  • Maximum Depth to Water: 70 ft.
  • Corrosion-resistant Cast Iron
  • 1 Year Warranty

Deeper wells may require a convertible jet pump to account for the increased depth.

CountyLine Convertible Cast Iron Jet Pump delivers water from 70 ft. or less and is built of rugged cast iron construction for long life. It includes a pressure regulator, pressure gauge, and ejector kit for 4 in. wells or larger.

  What we like most about CountyLine

This CountyLine convertible pump covers a wider range of pumping depths, allowing a well owner to pump water from depths of up to 70 feet.

  What we don't like

The 10 GPM flow rate makes it a little on the lower end, but for small homes and cabins, this should be more than enough.

  Is it for you?

If you need a convertible pump for a small home or cabin that is easy to set up, and your well is under 70 feet deep, the County Line pumps are more than sufficient.

  • 3/4 HP
  • Cast Iron Build
  • Max GPM: 7.7

Wayne's CWS75 convertible jet pump is a durable, cast-iron-built pump designed to lift water from depths between 25 and 90 feet. The 3/4 HP motor is ideal for medium-sized homes and cottages in rural areas.

Wayne pumps are a leading manufacturer in the US and distribute pumps and parts to consumers worldwide. The CWS75 pump is self-priming, eliminating the need to prime manually.

  What we like most about Wayne Pumps

This cast-iron convertible pump covers a wide range of pumping depths, up to 90 feet deep. Plus, the self-priming capability makes it very convenient.

  What we don't like

The pump can be a bit loud for a fully-cast iron body.

  Is it for you?

If you have multiple well depths that you need to cover, and don't mind a loud pump, the Wayne CWS75 is a workhorse.

  • 3/4 HP
  • 115/230 Volts
  • 2 Stages
  • Single Phase

Goulds' HSJ07N is a powerful multistage convertible jet pump designed for homes, cottages, and rural settings where well depths might exceed 90 feet. The high-capacity, multistage pump is specifically designed for continuous operation. Includes pressure switch, pressure gauge, and fittings.

Thermoplastic impellers ensure corrosion resistance and lightweight, efficient movement. Includes twin-pipe assembly for both shallow and deep well application.

  What we like most about Goulds HSJ

This multistage convertible pump is the most versatile and powerful jet pump on the list, capable of pumping water from shallow wells but also deep well applications. Its high capacity design makes it capable of handling very high pressures.

  What we don't like

While it is the most powerful pump here, it's also the most expensive.

  Is it for you?

If you need a jet pump capable of handling depths that exceed 90 feet, and require it to run continuously for an entire home, the Goulds HSJ is more than capable.

What to Consider When Choosing a Shallow Well Jet Pump


There are dozens of pump manufacturers available to purchase from online. Brands like Red Lion and Goulds are American manufacturers that have specialized in water pump engineering for decades. Burcam is a Canadian brand that distributes specialty pumps around the world. Other brands like CountyLine, Dayton, and Wayne are store brands for larger vendors such as Ace Hardware and Tractor Supply.

All of the pumps recommended in this article are manufactured by reputable pump specialists with years of experience. We avoid pumps from newer, obscure brands without the significant history of pump making as the aforementioned brands do.

Size: Flow rate vs Demand

The most critical factor in choosing a shallow well jet pump is determining your water needs and the type of pump that can provide those needs. Houses vary in size and in the number of water fixtures throughout the house. Homes with more shower heads, faucets, and water appliances will require more work from the pump than a small cabin with a single kitchen sink. Situations in which the pump will be used for simple applications such as gardening or car washing may require little demand from the pump.

The amount of water that the pump is able to provide is known as the flow rate. The amount of water needed for its intended use is known as the demand. Making sure that the pump you are buying will meet the demand is the most important aspect of pump selection and is known as “sizing a pump.” Later, we explain how to correctly size a pump so that you can determine the best shallow well jet pump for your needs.

Well Depth

Shallow well jet pumps are designed to pump water from wells that are less than 25 feet deep. Any depth that is beyond 25 feet will require a different type of pump. There are convertible pumps that can pump water from depths between 25 and 90 feet and operate slightly differently than traditional jet pumps. Anything beyond 90 feet will require a submersible pump.

Housing Material

Jet pumps come in various materials: cast iron, stainless steel, thermoplastic, or a combination of the three. Cast iron pumps are the most common, priciest, and most durable option. While the heavier of the options, the durability that cast iron offers makes it the best choice for jet pumps. While iron does have a vulnerability to rust, they are often coated with a material that reduces the likelihood of it happening.

Stainless steel and thermoplastic are resistant to rust and are much more lightweight. They are also less expensive. But the tradeoff is that they generally require more maintenance or replacement than cast iron pumps do.

Pressure Tank

Most jet pump applications are combined with a pressure tank to ease the workload of the pump. The pressure tank is often located in a basement or safe location at the side of the house, away from the pump. However, some jet pumps come with a built-in pressure tank, allowing for a very convenient way to reduce wear on the pump without having to purchase and install a separate tank. Having the tank built-in removes the need to coordinate the operation between the pump and a separate tank.

Overload Protection

Many pumps include an overload relay to prevent overheating and motor damage. Without this protection, situations such as a leak in the pressure tank could lead to continuous operation, potentially causing motor burnout. When overload protection detects an overloaded motor, it shuts off the pump.

Read Our Related Article:
Best Submersible Well Pumps

Why Use a Shallow Well Jet Pump?


The two most widely used types of pumps for well systems are jet pumps and submersible pumps. The submersible pump design is a relatively newer concept that allows the pump to remain submerged beneath the waterline, pushing water upwards and into the pressure tank.

Jet pumps have been used as a standard for well systems for much longer and pull water upwards from the surface rather than pushing from underneath.

As the name suggests, shallow well jet pumps are designed to be used with shallow wells – up to 25 feet in depth. Submersible pumps are used for deeper wells – 90 feet and deeper.

Convertible jet pumps are much more versatile in design and allow for depths between 25 and 90 feet deep. Like shallow well jet pumps, convertible jet pumps operate on the ground level and pull water upwards.

jet pump and tank / greenleaf natures solution / youtube

jet pump and tank / greenleaf natures solution / youtube

For those whose water level is less than 25 feet, a shallow well jet pump may be the most practical application for the well system and will save a lot of time and expense in installation.

Since the jet pump sits on the ground surface, the diameter of the well doesn't need to be as wide as a well with a submersible pump.

Shallow-well jet pumps are typically more durable and require less maintenance than submersible pumps. They can also be easily relocated in case of an emergency. In addition, should there be any need for servicing or repairs, an above-ground jet pump is much easier to access than a submersible pump.

Read Our Related Article:
Best Submersible Well Pumps

How Does a Jet Pump Work?


The concept behind the mechanics of a jet pump is relatively simple. Whereas a submersible pump uses force to push water up toward the ground level, jet pumps create a vacuum to pull water upwards from underground.

The idea of a straw or siphon being used to suck water from one source to another illustrates the mechanics behind a jet pump. The longer the distance between the two sources, the stronger the suction needed to move water. This is precisely why shallow well jet pumps can only pull water at a maximum depth of about 25 feet.

In order to create a powerful enough vacuum to suck water upwards against the force of gravity, jet pumps use rapidly spinning impellers which are driven by an electric motor, creating centrifugal force to draw water up.

The pump is attached to a single narrow pipe which drops down into the groundwater and through which water travels up. The pump then forces water into the pressure tank, which provides the entire system with water.

Double Drop / Convertible / Deep Well Jet Pumps

In order to exceed the 25-foot depth limit of most shallow well jet pumps, double-drop pumps, also known as convertible or deep well pumps, reach depths of up to 90 feet.

jet pump / ntccXerblog / youtube

jet pump / ntccXerblog / youtube

Convertible jet pumps work similarly to shallow well pumps in that they operate above ground and use impellers to create centrifugal force to suck water up from the well. But rather than having one drop pipe, convertible jet pumps have two drop pipes running down the well.

One of the drop pipes draws water upward, just as with a shallow well pump, the other drop pipe, known as the drive line, pushes water downward back into the well in order to create additional pressure. The drive line typically extends into the well at 10 to 20 feet deeper than the suction line.

Because of the extra water pressure created by the drive line, convertible jet pumps are able to draw water from depths up to 90 feet.

Multistage Jet Pump

goulds jet pump / zeppone / youtube

goulds jet pump / zeppone / youtube

For well depths greater than 90 feet, a multistage jet pump may be more suitable for providing the required amount of pressure to draw water from the well.

Multistage jet pumps include multiple impellers, which allow for a more powerful draw and, thus, greater water pressure.

Among the above-ground jet pumps, multistage jet pumps reach the greatest depths for well water pumping.

Components and Specifications to Consider

Build Material

Jet pumps are typically housed in a cast iron, stainless-steel, or thermoplastic casing to protect them from corrosion and damage.

Cast Iron vs Thermoplastic - While Cast Iron jet pumps are certainly more durable, Thermoplastic pumps are much more resistant to corrosion. For humid locations and coastal regions near saltwater, a thermoplastic pump may be a better option.

Thermoplastic pumps are also much lighter but tend to be noisier than cast iron pumps.


The impellers can be made of either bronze or thermoplastic material.

While bronze is much more expensive, it is much more durable and powerful in its performance and more resistant to corrosion. Thermoplastic, while also durable, is much more lightweight and therefore requires much less energy to operate.


The horsepower rating of a pump determines how powerfully it can push water through the system. The higher the volume of water that's required to be moved, and the greater the resistance within the piping system, then the stronger the pump needs to be.

Horsepower ratings typically range between 0.5 and 2 HP for domestic purposes.


Pumps will typically have a maximum flow rate rating measured in GPM or gallons per minute. This number indicates the best potential flow rate that the pump can provide in optimum conditions.

But it is important to understand that the max GPM rating doesn't necessarily guarantee that the pump will provide that high of a flow rate indefinitely. It only indicates that the pump is capable of providing a flow rate no higher than its max GPM rating. That's why it is important to size your system in order to select the best possible pump for your requirements.

How to Size a Shallow Well Jet Pump

Jet Pump Sizing Guide / A.Y. McDonald

The concept of sizing a water pump for a well system is a critical step in ensuring your system works properly and optimally. This involves determining two numbers that will be unique to your home's water system.

These two numbers are the GPM and the TDH.

We'll cover some simple methods to help you calculate GPM and TDH on your own, but for a more precise calculation, consult a professional well contractor.

GPM - Gallons per Minute

GPM stands for Gallons Per Minute and refers to the total volume of water that flows through a system. This concept is known as the flow rate.

A pump should provide a high enough flow rate to satisfy all of the home's water needs. And in order to determine the target flow rate that the pump will need to provide, the demand for water must first be calculated.

In a typical residence, the total water demand can be calculated by counting the number of fixtures in the household, which includes all showerheads and faucets. One water fixture in a home roughly operates at a flow rate of 1 gallon per minute.

So, a household with a total of 6 fixtures will have a total flow rate demand of 6 gallons per minute. Therefore, a jet pump capable of delivering 6 gallons of water per minute will be needed.

There are other methods and formulas for determining a more precise flow rate that goes beyond the scope of this article. And for larger homes with many water fixtures, a more precise flow rate will be necessary. But for smaller homes, cabins, and simple applications, the above formula will give you a satisfactory ballpark estimate.

TDH - Total Dynamic Head

TDH stands for Total Dynamic Head (or total discharge head) and refers to the total amount of resistance that the pump will need to overcome in order to provide the necessary amount of water pressure and flow at the outlet. This resistance consists of 3 main factors: vertical lift, friction loss, and operating pressure.

Vertical lift

Vertical lift refers to the total height that water will need to be lifted in order to reach its final destination. Because water is heavy, a pump will have to account for its vertical movement and not only its horizontal movement.

This number is measured in units of feet.

Friction Loss

Friction loss refers to the resistance that water comes into contact with from within the piping system and includes factors such as pipe diameter, pipe material, and even the corners and right angles within the system. Determine friction loss by referencing a friction loss chart.

This number is also measured in units of feet.

Operating pressure / Service pressure

Finally, the operating pressure refers to the desired amount of water pressure that's to come out of the fixtures. People generally prefer high water pressure over low water pressure. Most homes operate at a pressure range between 30 to 80 psi.

Use this calculator to convert psi to units of feet.

Once all three numbers have been determined, add them up to get the Total Dynamic Head. This number should be represented in units of feet.

Pump Curve

Once you have the GPM and the TDH, you'll need to reference these numbers when checking out various pumps.

Each pump will have its own unique performance curve. Match your GPM and TDH with the pump's performance curve to see if that pump will work for your system. Consult a sales associate to help with the numbers; they'll be happy you're providing the GPM and TDH upfront.

Pump Sizing Guide PDF

Pump engineering can be complex, especially when great distances of vertical lift and pipe length need to be covered. Pump manufacturer A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. has published an excellent pumping sizing guide to help homeowners size their pump to a precise degree.

Read Our Related Article:
How a Well Pump Works

How to Prime a Well Pump


The centrifugal force generated by a jet pump relies on water pressure, not air pressure. Because of this, water must first be present within the system in order for the pump to create enough suctioning force to draw more water upwards. The process of preparing a jet pump by adding water to the system is known as priming.

The purpose of priming a jet pump is to introduce water into the pump system and remove any traces of air. About two gallons of water is required for priming, and if the well system is being started for the first time, an outside source of water may be needed.

  1. First, shut off all electrical power to the pump to avoid accidental start-ups.

  2. Be sure to momentarily open a household fixture to drain the system of any excess water.

  3. Locate and remove the prime plug with a wrench and use a funnel to pour water into the priming hole. Be sure to fill it completely until it overflows. Replace the priming plug once enough water has been poured in.

  4. Turn on the power supply and allow the pump to run through a normal cycle. A properly primed pump should cause the pressure gauge to climb, and the dry sputtering sounds should subside as all the air exits the system.

  5. Open a tap in the house to check if the system is working correctly. If water pressure is weak or intermittent, try priming the pump again until water flow is consistent.

Video: How to Prime a Jet Pump

Watch this great step-by-step video by RC Worst on how to prime a jet pump.

Troubleshooting and Maintenance

How to Winterize a Jet Pump

Ideally, a jet pump should operate indoors, preferably in a basement, with the water line extending out into the well. And while a cast iron jet pump is designed to withstand outdoor operation, indoor placement would save the pump from extreme weather conditions.

With that said, should there be a need to keep the pump outdoors, it is best to drain the pump completely during winter seasons so as to avoid freezing. Allowing water to remain in the water lines and jet pumps can cause damage and should be avoided.

The Pump is Running But No Water is Coming Out

A pump that continues to run but fails to produce any water flow may be an indicator of a pump that has lost prime. In this case, it would be necessary to prime the jet pump again.

Shut off the power supply, add water to the pump via the prime plug, turn the pump back on, and repeat the steps as necessary until the pump has reached prime once again.

Pump is Short Cycling

If the jet pump turns on and off too often, a problem known as "short cycling", it may be an indicator of several factors. It may indicate that the pressure tank is waterlogged, or that a valve is leaking, or that the pressure switch needs to be adjusted.

  • Be sure to inspect all valves for leaks and replace them as necessary.

  • Inspect the pressure tank for waterlogging. Shut off the system, empty the tank, and restart the pump. Be sure to check the tank for air leaks.  If the bladder is ruptured, the tank will need to be replaced.

  • If the pressure switch setting is too high or low for the well system, adjust it as necessary and restart the pump. Be sure that the differential between the cut-in and cut-out pressure setting is about 20 PSI.

Pump Won't Shut Off

If the pump continues to deliver water but won't shut off, the system's pressure isn't reaching the cut-off value. This may be because the pressure setting is too high, or because of a clog in the system which is keeping the pressure too low.

Be sure to check and expel any debris in the pump, especially in the impellers. If necessary, lower the pressure setting to a level more suitable for the system.


In regions where the water table isn't as deep as to require a submersible pump, deep and shallow well jet pumps may be the appropriate application for the well system. Shallow well jet pumps are typically used for wells at depths of 25 feet or less, while deep and convertible jet pumps reach 90 feet and beyond. The type jet pump necessary for the well system would depend on the depth of the well and the flow rate required to meet the household's demand.

Jet pumps use centrifugal force to pull water upwards as opposed to submersible pumps which push water from underneath. Unlike submersible pumps, jet pumps need to be primed in order to function properly. Priming a jet pump involves filling it with enough water prior to pump operation.

Finally, be sure to correctly size your water requirements before selecting a shallow well jet pump. An incorrectly sized pump may cause expensive problems to your system in the future.

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I'm Jeremiah, the owner of World Water Reserve. I'm a writer and researcher with a particular interest in sustainability and rural living, water scarcity, and innovative water purification methods. I utilize my multimedia and communication experience in the NGO and humanitarian fields to bring light to important topics. My passion is to educate others on the reality of the global water crisis and on ways to sustain themselves and their families in the midst of it.
Jeremiah Zac