Intermittent Water Pump Cycling: Looking at the 3 Most Common Possible Causes

Have the water pumps in your house been turning on and off for no apparent reason? You may be dealing with intermittent water pump cycling. Any type of cycling is not only wasting electricity, but also reducing the overall lifespan of the pumps. Instead of calling a plumber and spending an average of $65 to $90 per hour, you may want to consider looking for the causes behind your problems instead. Here are 3 possible causes. 

Checking for Running Toilets

Running toilets are rather sneaky and can be difficult to spot. They are normally caused by leaky flush valves or fill valves, which can be easily replaced without professional assistance. You can identify running toilets by:

  • looking for ripples in the water in the toilet bowl. This can indicate that the water is slowly being drained.
  • placing several drops of septic dye or even food colouring into the toilet tank to see whether any of the colouring will reappear in the toilet bowl later.
  • wiping the toilet bowl dry and feeling it later to determine whether there is any wetness above the water line. 

If a running toilet is the cause of intermittent water pump cycling, you should consider turning off all of the toilets at their supply valves and replacing the malfunctioning parts immediately to determine if the pump cycling stops. 

Looking for Leaky Plumbing Fixtures

Leaky plumbing fixtures that lead to and from the water line can lead to intermittent water pump cycling as the water pumps will need to compensate for the water that has been leaking out. You should look for leaky plumbing fixtures in obvious areas, such as dripping faucets, or for water stains on walls, ceilings and even at the crawl spaces. 

If you are dealing with leaky plumbing fixtures, you may want to hire a plumber depending on where the leakage is happening. You may be able to reline the plumbing or you may have to replace it entirely in order to stop the leaking. If the plumbing fixtures are leaking at inconspicuous areas, a plumber may use a snake drain to determine whether the leakage is or may even use an infrared thermal imaging camera to look for inconsistencies in the thermal readings of various areas of the house. 

Taking a Look for Leaking Water Tanks

Last but not least, you will want to inspect your water tanks. This can be difficult without professional assistance. If there is an air leak in the water pressure tank above the waterline, the tank will slowly begin to lose air, which will cause the water pump to cycle on. Sometimes the leaks can be easy to determine. You will want to look for a rusty pinhole leak. Depending on the size of the water tanks, you may need to spend a considerable amount of time inspecting the outside of the tanks. Professionals have tools that can detect pressure levels. 

Leaking water tanks can be difficult to determine since most have air volume control. The controls are designed to detect the pressure inside the tanks and automatically add air as needed. 


If your water pumps are constantly turning on and off and there is no running water anywhere in the building, then you are probably dealing with intermittent water pump cycling. Intermittent water pump cycling should be dealt with immediately as the constant stress from turning on and off can cause permanent damages to the condition of the water pumps. By fixing any leaks or investing in any necessary pump repair, you can reduce your energy bills significantly and also preserve and maintain the integrity and condition of the water pumps.