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How to Prime a Lawn Sprinkler Pump

By Julie Christensen ; Updated September 21, 2017
Sprinklers attached to a well require a pump to bring water to the system.
Crop sprinkler image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com

Homeowners believe installing a sprinkler system will solve all of their irrigation issues, but sprinkler systems require yearly maintenance to run smoothly. Sprinkler systems attached to a well use a pump to bring water from the well to the sprinkler system. Sometimes the pump loses its prime, meaning air is running into the pump instead of water. This typically happens after the sprinkler system has been turned off for the winter. The pump motor makes a loud, grinding noise and will burn out if you don't remedy the problem.

Remove the cover that houses the pump. Examine the pump. If the motor is running but no water is coming out, you need to prime the pump. Turn the pump off.

Fill the volute--the part of the pump that holds water--completely with water, using a garden hose. Turn the pump back on.

Run water into the pump for several minutes until the motor sound becomes quieter and smoother. Examine the pump again. Water should flow from the pump. If not, run water through the pump again for five minutes or until water runs from the pump. Turn off the garden hose.

Run the sprinklers for 10 minutes. Turn them off and check the pump to make sure water is still flowing from the pump. If not, complete the process again.



  • If the pump continues to lose its prime, you may need to replace a faulty valve.

About the Author


Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."