The Best Shallow Well Pumps of 2023 - Bob Vila

By Tony Carrick | Updated May 12, 2023 11:48 AM

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Though it typically sits in the crawl space under a home, out of sight and out of mind, a shallow well pump is one of the most important appliances for a home that relies on well water. These machines, with ½- to 1-horsepower motors, supply all the water to the house, drawing it up from the well in the ground to the kitchen and bathrooms. Shallow well pumps move 6 to 12 gallons of water per minute or more from wells up to 25 feet in the ground into a pressurized holding tank that stores the water for use in the home.

Use this guide to learn about the crucial features to consider when shopping for the best shallow well pump, and check out some quality models that suit a variety of situations.

We reviewed and assessed more than 20 different shallow well pumps while researching this article. We used several criteria to evaluate them. Our selections come from reputable pump brands, including Wayne, Red Lion, and Everbilt. Durability is crucial, so we looked at pumps that can endure extended use with either stainless steel or cast-iron construction. Our selections also include pumps with various sizes of electric motors to suit the water-pressure demands of different households. With that in mind, we included ½-horsepower models, suitable for irrigation purposes and smaller homes, and larger ¾ to 1½ horsepower models for full-size homes. All of the units we chose are easy to operate, thanks to features that automatically turn them off and on based on water pressure.

The pumps described here are constructed with durable materials and are powerful enough to meet the needs of small and large houses. Any of them can do a solid job of supplying a home with enough water to meet the needs of its occupants.

Rock-solid construction and size options make this Red Lion pump work for different household sizes. It’s available in ½-horsepower/12 gallons per minute (GPM), ¾-horsepower/16 GPM, and 1-horsepower/23 GPM options to suit small and large homes.

The durable well pump has thick cast-iron construction and weighs 40-plus pounds. It features a glass-filled thermoplastic impeller for optimal flow rate. This pump can work with both 115-volt and 230-volt power supplies.

Get the Red Lion Premium shallow well pump at Amazon.

Outfitting a home with a pump needn’t be a major investment. This Acquaer model offers construction and power similar to other shallow well pumps at a more affordable price. The ½-horsepower pump can move 12 gallons of water per minute, typically enough to handle even larger households.

Although the housing, which consists of cast-iron and steel parts, isn’t as rugged as models with all-cast-iron construction, it’s durable enough to stand up to daily use for many years. And its comparably high flow rate means it won’t need to run constantly to keep up with the home’s water demands. A preset switch shuts off when the tank reaches 50 pounds per square inch (psi) and turns it back on when it drops to 30 psi. This pump works on both 115-volt and 230-volt power.

Get the Acquaer shallow well pump at Amazon or The Home Depot.

With its ¾-horsepower motor, this pump is ideal for homes with low water pressure. The booster will raise water pressure by up to 40 psi and plugs into a standard 115-volt outlet. The pump works by tying into the existing pump system and automatically turns on when water pressure drops below a certain level.

With its stainless steel construction, it resists rust and corrosion. Threaded connections on the top and side of the pump make it easy to connect into the water-supply line entering the house to boost pressure. The pump sits on a mounting plate with four holes, making it possible to mount it to a base for added support.

Get the Simer shallow well pump at Amazon.

With a ½-horsepower motor and the ability to pump up to 7 gallons per minute, this Everbilt pump has a durable thermoplastic housing, which resists corrosion and rust better than other materials. It functions off a pressure switch that turns on the pump when the pressure tank drops to 30 psi and turns it off when it reaches 50 psi.

A fan cools the motor during operation, helping to extend its life. It’s one of the more compact well pumps on the market, making maneuvering it into tight areas, such as a crawl space, more manageable. This model, which can work with either 115-volt or 230-volt connections, weighs 15 pounds.

Get the Everbilt shallow well pump at The Home Depot or Amazon.

This ½-horsepower pump from Everbilt doesn’t require a pressure tank; instead, it comes with its own. The pump sits on a 6-gallon tank, and while this is too small to handle the needs of a house, it can suit homes with a separate well or water source for irrigation or for vacation cabins that pull water from a lake or small well.

The pump and tank produce 7 gallons of water per minute. The preprimed pump can automatically start when the pressure in the tank falls to 30 psi and can turn off when it reaches the tank’s maximum 50 psi pressure level. Made of durable cast iron, the tank is bolted to the steel tank, which provides a solid base for the pump. The unit is prewired to work with either 115-volt or 230-volt power.

Get the Everbilt shallow well pump with 6-gallon tank at The Home Depot.

With an ample output and durable construction, this model from Red Lion is a great pick for smaller homes with a single bathroom. Its ½-horsepower motor is powerful enough to produce a flow rate of up to 7 gallons per minute.Its heavy-duty cast-iron housing is durable, ensuring it can hold up to many years of use.

The shut-off switch turns on at 30 psi and turns off at 50 psi automatically. This pump comes prewired with either 115-volt or 230-volt connections.

Get the Red Lion cast-iron shallow well pump at Amazon.

Unless the home has a water-filtration system, sediment can wreak havoc on cast-iron pumps by causing corrosion. With its stainless steel construction, this pump resists rust better than cast-iron models, making it a great option for those who have a lot of sediment in their water. With its 1⅗-horsepower motor and 5-gallon pressure tank, it produces a max flow of 1,320 GPH.

It also has an auto shutoff that turns the pump on 20 psi and shuts it off at 40 psi. The pump will also automatically shut off if it senses a high temperature, protecting the engine from overheating and burning out. The pump has threaded inlets and outlets and comes with hose adapters, making it easy to install.

Get the Aquastrong shallow well pump at Amazon. 

With its sturdy construction and large motor, this pump is well suited for rural areas that are on well water. It comes equipped with a 1-horsepower engine, a large 1¼-inch input, and 1-inch outlet, making it capable of moving up to 1,200 GPH of water. An automatic pressure switch turns the pump on at 30 psi and cuts it off at 50 psi. There’s also a gauge on the side of the unit that displays the current pressure.

With its large motor and heavy-gauge cast-iron construction, it can handle the high demands of larger homes. The pump works with either 115- or 230-volt power.

Get the RainBro shallow well pump at Amazon. 

This pump from Wayne comes in ½- to 1-horsepower options. Its smallest pump can move 6¼ gallons per minute at 50 psi, which is typically enough for small households of one or two people. Its larger 1-horsepower model can move 8½ gallons per minute, which should provide enough water flow for larger families. A ¾-horsepower model is also available.

With its heavy cast-iron construction (it weighs about 41 pounds), this pump can hold up to daily use. An automatic pump switches on when water pressure drops to 30 psi and off when it reaches 50 psi. This pump can work with both 115-volt and 230-volt power sources.

Get the Wayne shallow well pump at Amazon.

As with any type of pump, horsepower and gallons per minute are arguably the most crucial shopping considerations. Other important aspects include the pump’s durability and the depth of the well it can service. Read on for the factors and features to keep in mind during the search for the best shallow well pump.

Depth is the most important factor to consider when choosing a pump for a well. A well accesses an underground aquifer that serves as its water source. For wells that are 25 feet deep or less, a shallow well pump, also referred to as a “jet” pump, is the best choice. Wells that are deeper than 25 feet require a deep well pump. Shallow well pumps can pump from depths up to 25 feet at a rate of between 6 and 12 GPM.

Shallow well pumps use multiple types of materials for their housing, including plastic, stainless steel, and cast iron. Plastic is the most affordable, but it’s also the least durable. Though a plastic pump can cost less up front, it most likely will require replacement sooner than a stainless steel or cast-iron model.

Stainless steel has natural properties that resist corrosion and rust; however, it isn’t as strong as iron and therefore won’t last as long. Although cast-iron pumps are the most expensive option, their durability may make them worth the larger initial investment since they usually last considerably longer than other materials.

Some exceptions exist, however. Most cast-iron pumps feature powder coatings that protect the metal from corrosion and rust; however, these coatings aren’t impregnable. In wells on properties with a significant amount of sand or sediment, the forged iron may eventually rust and corrode. In these situations, pumps with a thermoplastic housing, which better resist corrosion, are a wiser option.

A pressure switch serves as the on/off button for the pump. The switch detects the amount of pressure in the home’s pressurized water supply tank. It automatically turnson the pump when the pressure falls below a certain low psi and off when the water pressure reaches a preset high psi. The optimal water pressure for most homes is between 40 and 50 psi, which is enough to provide adequate water pressure for most water receptacles in a home. As such, most manufacturers set pressure switches to turn on when they drop to 30 psi and off when they reach 50 psi.

Shallow well pumps work in conjunction with a pressurized tank. The pump moves water into the tank until it reaches 50 psi. That tank serves as the home’s pressurized water supply, preventing the pump from turning on every time someone opens a faucet. As the tank’s water supply decreases, so does the psi. When it drops to 30, the pump kicks on to recharge the tank to its max psi of 50.

Shallow well pumps work with either precharged storage tanks or air-to-water tanks. A precharged storage tank has a bladder inside the tank. As water fills the bladder, the air around it is compressed. When someone opens a faucet, the compressed air squeezes the bladder, sending the water to the faucet.

Air-to-water tanks work similarly, only with no bladder. As the pump forces water into the tank, it compresses the existing air inside it, creating the pressure needed to expel water when someone opens a faucet.

Shallow well pumps work with a variety of well piping, including copper, flexible plastic, or rigid plastic.

In addition to serving as a shallow well pump, some models also can function as a booster pump for homes with deep wells or on city water with low water pressure. These pumps attach to the home’s plumbing, helping to improve water pressure from a municipal water connection. They also can boost the output of a deep well pump that may be struggling to move water from 100-plus feet below the ground to the home’s plumbing. Shallowwell pumps can supplement other water needs, for instance, supplying water pressure for a home’s irrigation system or swimming pool cleaning system.

Like submersible pumps, shallow well pumps are rated by the number of gallons they can deliver per minute. Purchasing the right size is crucial, since a shallow well pump is responsible for supplying all the water a home uses. The general rule is that a pump should be able to supply 1 gallon per minute per water fixture for bathtubs, showers, and sinks. For most homes, a pump that can move about 7 gallons of water per minute is adequate.

Horsepower directly relates to the GPM a pump can move. Pumps come in ½-, ¾-, and 1-horsepower models. Most ½-horsepower pumps can move about 7 to 9 gallons of water per hour, making them suitable for most homes.

Most pumps have an overload relay, which protects the pump by shutting it off before it overheats and damages the motor. For example, without overload protection, should a leak occur in the supply tank that prevents the pump pressure switch from reaching the cutoff of 50 psi, the pump could continually work to reach that threshold, eventually burning out the motor. When the overload protection feature senses that the motor is overloaded, it shuts off the pump.

If you’re wondering about the electrical requirements for a shallow well pump or how to use one, read on for answers to commonly asked questions about these units.

While a shallow well pump doesn’t require a pressure gauge that you can see, it does require a pressure switch. The switch turns the pump on and off based on the pressure in the water supply tank paired with the pump.

Most shallow well pumps are wired to work with either a 115-volt or 230-volt power supply. The pumps are typically prewired by the manufacturer, so make sure to choose the right option for your home when purchasing the unit.

No. Shallow well pumps are rated for use only up to depths of 25 feet, which is beyond the depth of deep wells. Deep well pumps also are submersible, while shallow well pumps are not.

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

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