how does a submersible pump work

If your water is sourced from a well, then you are most likely to be using a pump. A submersible pump is one of the types used to get water from your well. Also known as electric submersible pumps or ESPs, submersible water pumps work by pushing water to the surface rather than sucking it out. 

A submersible pump is a versatile and convenient piece of aqua-equipment that can be used for a variety of purposes.  Placed and used in a well, they can last for between 8 and 10 years before the need to replace them arises, although when used to serve homes with moderate water needs they can last close to 15 years.

Types Of Submersible Pumps

Submersible pumps are available in different types and sizes designed for pumping water mainly for residential water systems. Some are designed for special purposes such as boosting water pressure while others can be used as a distillation system’s special water outlet.

Although they can vary in terms of size, basically there are two types that are used for delivering potable water; deep-well and shallow-well submersible pumps. The unit size of these pumps will depend on the needs of the household and the water well.

Electric submersible pumps are centrifugal multistage pumps that have a sealed chamber section and a 3-phase induction motor. In addition, ESPs have a surface-based power control system for supplying electricity through a cable.

How Do Submersible Pumps Work?

A submersible pump has been designed for operating beneath the water and it will not function optimally unless it’s submerged in water completely. Different from a pumping system located above the ground which sucks out water from the ground, a submersible pump pushes water from below to the surface.

Compared to the depth limitations faced by lots of other types of pumps, these well water pumps are capable of operating at depths going to 400 feet. However, they need to be completely submerged and the motor must be sealed completely lest water seeps through.

A submersible pump works by pushing water to the ground surface through converting kinetic and rotary energy into pressure energy. This is achieved by first pulling the water into the pump’s intake. Here, the impeller rotation will push the liquid through the diffuser and from there to the surface.

Here is a useful guide on how to test your well pump.

Advantages Of A Submersible Pump Work

The unique design of a submersible pump comes with several advantages:

Efficient & Cost-Effective: Using a submersible pump is a relatively maintenance free and efficient means of supplying drinking water for domestic use. Once submerged, it rarely breaks down.

No Cavitation Problems: A common problem associated with above ground water pumps is cavitation. Because a submersible pump operates submerged, that eliminates the need for regular pump priming and that prevents cavitation.

Disadvantages Of A Submersible Pump Work

Along with advantages come disadvantages: 

Possibility Of Overheating: Caution is a must when using submersible pumps because they must be always be fully submerged. It is the water around the pump that helps in cooling the motor and if not submerged, it may easily overheat.

Seals Corrosion: Over time, the seals or gaskets could get corroded. If that happens, water will seeps inside and reach the motor and render your pump useless until you get it repaired. The design of the seals also makes it challenging to access the submersible pump when repairs are needed.

The Location: In the event of failure or problem, by virtue of the location underwater, it’s harder to access.


Submersible pumps are more effective when compared to suction pumps and they can pump liquids further. The submersible pump is a versatile and convenient device that can be used in many aquatic situations. Besides private and commercial use, for example, submersible pumps are also used by the US Coast Guard and the US Navy when dealing with onboard flooding in ships.