Sprinkler & Centrifugal Pump FAQs


Sprinkler & Centrifugal Pump FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

NOTE: In general, sprinkler and centrifugal pumps are designed to move a lot of water (high flow rate) but they do not build a lot of pressure. They are designed to provide water for irrigation systems or for transferring water when high volume is required. They are not designed to run one or two lawn sprinklers.

Q. I bought this pump for my lawn sprinkler and it won’t work right. The sprinkler hardly puts out any water. Why?
A. If you are discharging the water from this pump out through one or two garden hoses, the pump simply can’t perform the way it's designed. It is feeling too much “back-pressure” and can’t flow right. The pump is designed to flow water in a particular range. If you have the pump connected to a system that cannot flow the proper amount of water, the pump will not perform properly. For one or two regular lawn sprinklers connected to a hose or two, you would be better served by a jet pump.

Q. My current sprinkler system has a 1 HP pump made by [brand X]. Will your 1 HP pump work there?
A. The horsepower rating is not the only piece of info that is important. Buying a pump based solely on horsepower rating is like buying a vehicle base on horsepower. A 200 HP vehicle could be a dump truck, car, motorcycle, or airplane. The HP rating doesn’t tell the whole story.
To find out which of our pumps will work right for you, we will need to know how much water your sprinkler system needs (in GPM) and at what pressure (in PSI). Call our customer support department for help choosing the proper pump.

Q. How high can this pump lift water? My pump has to sit [x] feet above the water.
A. All sprinkler and centrifugal pumps are considered to be for “shallow wells.” A shallow well is defined to have a depth-to-water of 25’ or less. Depth-to-water is the depth from the level where the pump will sit, down to the surface of the water. It is NOT the total depth of the well. Please note that in higher altitudes, that depth may be less. Very high altitudes may be only 18’ – 20’ or so.

Q. Can this pump pull water out of a lake or river, too?
A. Yes. Sprinkler & centrifugal pumps can use any source of clean, fresh water. If pulling from a lake, river, or stream, you will want to use a large foot valve with a large screen area so that foreign objects (seaweed, fish, etc.) cannot be pulled in.

Q. I have a well point that I need to pull water from. Will it be able to supply enough water?
A. In most cases, you are going to need more than one well point in order to provide enough water for a sprinkler pump. Most systems are designed to flow between 30 and 60 GPM (gallons per minute) and that much water usually can’t be supplied by one well point. You may need to drive down more and connect them together.

Q. My sprinkler system doesn’t use as much water as this pump will put out. What are my other options?
A. It is best to match the performance of the pump to the requirements of the system. That way, you are not paying for electricity to run a higher horsepower pump than you need. If this is not an option for some reason, you can put in a bypass line. At the discharge of the pump put in a tee. Run half of the tee out to your system. The other half you will run to a gate valve and then back to the source of water. You can adjust the gate valve to a point where the sprinkler system is getting the water it needs, while the excess water is going back into the source of water.

Q. The manual says to connect my power wires to two screws in the motor. Does it matter which screw gets which color wire?
A. No. As long as you have been careful to match the incoming voltage to the voltage the motor is set for, it doesn’t matter which screw gets which wire. There is no “polarity” in the AC voltage these pumps use.

Q. I have 230v at the pump but I have four wires: Black, Red, White, and Green (or bare). Where do they go?
A. When running on 230v you don’t use the white wire. Connect the Black & Red wires to L1 & L2 and connect the green or bare ground wire to the green ground screw.

Q. I’m not sure whether I have 115v or 230v going out where the pump will be. How can I tell?
A. The best way is to check the voltage at the wire where you will connect the pump. (Hire a professional electrician if you are not comfortable with electricity). Match the motor’s voltage to the voltage you read there. You can also trace the wiring back to the circuit breaker (or fuse) box. See if the wires connect to a single pole breaker or to a double breaker. A single breaker will be 115v. The double-wide breaker is usuall for 230v.

Q. I have my pump connected to two hot wires but it won’t run. I checked with a meter and have 115v on each wire.
A. When checking for voltage on the wiring, it’s important that you check voltage between the two wires; NOT to check from one wire to ground, and the other wire to ground. It is possible for a system to be connected with two 115v wires coming out but the two wires may have been connected to the same “leg” of power in the breaker (or fuse) box. This results in a net voltage of zero at the pump. You need to have a double-pole breaker in the breaker box to supply 230v. Consult a professional electrician if you’re having trouble connecting this.

Q. I don’t have the 230 volts your manual specifies. Mine is 240v (or 220v).
A. There are two basic systems in place in the US. The most common one runs on 230 volts but it is also called 220v or 240v. The exact voltage can vary in your area. We consider 220v, 230v, and 240v to be the same and that’s what we’re referring to. The other system in place in very few areas is a 208 volt system. If you have a 208 volt system, it can be too low to provide power to the pump when it’s set for the higher 230 volt setting. In a case like this you may need to switch the motor to run on 115v and supply that voltage to the unit. Be sure your wire is heavy enough gauge to feed the pump (see your owner’s manual for details).

Q. I’ve always heard it’s cheaper to run the pump on 230v than on 115v. Is that right?
A. Actually, this is a bit of a myth. You pay for kilowatt usage. A kilowatt is 1000 watts. A watt is 1 volt times 1 amp. To figure out the math we take the voltage the pump is running on (115v or 230v) and multiply that by the amps it draws. When we look at the performance of a pump we see that the amp draw is when running on 230v is half what it is when running on 115v.

Example: Pump draws 5 amps when running on 230v. It draws 10 amps when set to 115v.
5 amps times 230 volts = 1150 watts.
10 amps x 115 volts = 1150 watts. The power usage is identical.

The one place where you can see a savings by running on 230v is when setting up the system. Because the pump pulls fewer amps hen running on 230 volts, you can usually use a slightly lighter gauge wire. The savings is in purchasing that lighter wire.

Q. I don’t have a green or bare ground wire coming out to the pump. How do I ground this?
A. For safety’s sake we recommend the pump be properly grounded. Electrical codes vary from place to place so we can’t tell you exactly how to do this. You will need to consult your local electrical codes and perhaps hire a professional electrician to help with this matter.

Q. The piping that’s already in place in my system is smaller than the connections on the pump. Is that OK?
A. You should never use a narrower pipe than what the connection on the pump is. If the suction pipe is narrower, the pump will have trouble drawing the water in. This could cause cavitation in the pump and will reduce the pump’s performance. If your depth-to-water is close to the limits of what the pump can lift, a narrow pipe could mean the difference in whether it will pull up the water at all. On the output side, narrower pipe will reduce the amount of pressure that makes it to the far end, and can cause excessive back-pressure in the pump. This will mean your sprinkler heads will not put out the pattern they should and the pump’s life could be shortened.

Q. What size generator do I need to run this pump?
A. You need to know the amp draw of the pump and multiply that by the voltage to get the watt usage of the pump. Example: Pump draws 5 amps on 115 volts. 5amps x 115volts = 575 watts.

We also need to consider the fact that an AC motor can draw three to five times its regular amp draw for about ½ second when it starts up. So to run our example pump, we need a generator that can supply a startup surge of at least 2875 watts (575 x 5) and can continue to supply the 575 watts as the pump runs.
Keep in mind this is accurate if the pump is the ONLY thing the generator is going to supply power for. If you also want to run lights, etc. then that needs to be added to the generator size.

Q. How do I register the warranty on my new pump?
A. We do not ask you to register the warranty. Your receipt is your proof-of-purchase. Keep the receipt safe. If anything happens and the warranty comes into play, your receipt is the proof of warranty eligibility.

Q. Where do I find the model number and date code on my pump. I need that to order parts, etc.
A. The pump info label will be marked with our company name and the info you need. The date code might be marked as “date code”, “code”, or “MOD”. It is usually a combinations of letters and numbers.

Q. Where can I get repair parts for my pump, or accessories I might need?
A. Parts listed in the owners’ manual can be ordered directly through the store where you bought your pump; or can be ordered directly through us. In most cases, the store is able to special-order the parts (they won’t stock them) and sell you the parts for less than you would pay by ordering through the factory. Also, they usually do not charge shipping charges (we do). It is best to talk to someone at the store’s “Special Orders” desk. Have our toll-free number and the part numbers you need with you. If the person at the store does not know how to order parts, please have them call us while you are there.
If ordering directly from us, you would normally receive your order in 7-10 business days. Expedited processing and shipping is available at additional cost. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express (not Discover).

Q. Can I leave the pump right out in the rain and sun?
A. The pump motor is considered to be “drip-proof” but not weather-proof. You need to protect the pump from rain and other water, but still need to allow for air to be able to circulate around the motor. You cannot just put the pump in a big box unless there is a lot of ventilation. Usually, we recommend a sort of lean-to over the pump. Two boards that meet at the top above the pump will keep the rain off but still allow for good air flow.

Q. Do I need to use a check valve or foot valve with this pump?
A. It is recommended that you do use a check valve or foot valve in order to maintain the prime in the pump between uses. If none is present you would need to prime the pump every time you use it. The check valve should be installed in the suction side piping as close to the source of water as possible. It should not be installed within 2’ of the pump’s inlet. A foot valve functions just like a check valve plus has a strainer on it. It goes on the end of the suction line in the water.

Q. Can I use a sprinkler pump to boost the water pressure in my house or sprinkler system? I need more pressure than what I currently have.
A. A sprinkler pump can be used as a pressure booster, with a few limitations in mind. First, the overall pressure that the pump will see must be considered. This is the total of the incoming pressure plus the pressure the pump will add to that. For most thermoplastic pumps that total pressure cannot exceed about 70 psi (each pump may be different). Thermoplastic pumps are not really recommended for boost applications. For most cast iron pumps, the total pressure cannot exceed about 80 - 100 psi. These are maximums. You don’t want to constantly run a pump at its maximum so you should include some buffer if considering this. The second thing to consider is the pump cycling too much. Pumps like to run, and they like to be off. They do not like to be on/off/on/off, etc. If used in a booster application where the water itself can be turned on and off a lot, it is best to include a pressure tank in the application. Call our customer support dept. for details. The third thing to consider is that the sprinkler & centrifugal pumps are not high pressure pumps. They can add a bit to the incoming pressure but not usually a lot. Again, call our customer support dept. to discuss options.

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