Live Well Not Filling Up

As all of us know, how important live well is for keeping the bait fishes alive. Its popularity has also increased a lot because of the increased tournaments and competition.

But what will happen if the live well doesn’t fill up? Well, it seems like a serious problem to us.

What are the reasons behind live well not filling up?

Well, there are many possibilities which can cause this problem. Like, it can happen due to lack of priming up the pump, clogged valve or spray nozzle, faulty valve, clogged pump lines, crack in the fill lines of live well, failure of the pump, etc. All these problems can be solved with some best solutions.

Wait! We have many more to share with you. It’s still yet to know the solutions. Keep reading to know them!

Live Well Not Filling Up

5 Reasons Why Live Well Is Not Filling Up

Why is my live well not working? What can be the reasons why it not filling up? Is there any problem with the live well or pump?

There are a lot of problems behind this issue like the mercury 9.9 pro kicker has.

Well, here we have come to help by answering all of your queries. We have not only found the reasons but also found the solutions too.

Here are all the possible reasons and solutions for your problem. You will just have to follow our instructions to solve the issues.

Let’s start!

Reason 1: Lack of Priming Up the Pump

Let’s discuss the first reason for our problem. The first reason can be the lack of priming of the pump. Many boat owners have faced this issue.

Do you know what priming up the engine means? Well, priming actually means to prepare something ready for any kind of task or operation.

A pump can’t fill the water in and pump it automatically. It needs pressure to do this. And priming up the engine here actually means preparing the pump to generate that necessary pressure.

Without priming, the pump will not be capable of generating that pressure. And as a result, it will not be able to draw the liquid in. And also the live well will not fill up too.

That’s why it’s very much important to prime up the pump before going in the water.



Now we will teach you how to prime up the pump. First, you should put the boat in the water. Then you should shut off the valve.

Now you will have to fill the live well. Here, the meaning of fill up is actually to fill the live well with water. 

Now we will tell you how to fill live well. For this, you can use a bucket or hose to fill it with water. You will need to fill it about 4 to 5 inches.

Then start the pump switch on. Then you should open the valve. And that’s it. Priming up the pump is complete.

Reason 2: Clogged Valve or Drain Plug or Spray Nozzle 

There is a valve at the back of the pump. Some call it a drain-empty valve, fill valve, or recirculation valve. The valve can also be near the thru-hole fittings. 

This valve is actually like a lever. This lever is controlled by a cable. This valve is actually controlled by the water pressure that can close it to block the directions of flow. 

If the valve is on, the water will drain out from the live well. It actually works like an actuator valve.

As water goes in and out through the valve, there is a lot of dirt in the water. There are some small fish, debris, and other dirt in the water.

Because of this dirty water, some parts of the valves get clogged and it can’t seal properly at all. If the valves don’t seal properly the water will go out from the live well.

That’s why it’s very much important to clean the valve. You may need to open some Phipps Screwdriver to clean the valve.

There is also a spray nozzle on some boats. This spray nozzle is also used to fill the live well with water. So it can also get blocked sometimes. And the water will not come through it to fill the live well.


You can use water mixed with vinegar or bleach to clean them. Then use that to clean the clogged part. 

You can also use some cleaners too to clean the part. After cleaning those parts, the valve will seal completely or the water will come through the spray nozzle.

Reason 3: Crack in The Fill Lines

Still not finding the solution? Wait, there are some more important causes for your problem. One of them is the crack in the fill lines.

The fill-the-lines are also important for filling the live well. The water goes through these fill lines to fill the well.

If there is any crack or leak in these fill lines then while going through this, the water will leak from it. And the water will not properly reach to live well. And the live well will not fill up.


Repairing the cracks and leaks of the fill lines is the only solution here. You can call an expert to repair them.

If they are not repairable, then you may need to replace them.

The cracks can occur during wear, erosion, water pressure, etc. That’s why if you want, you can apply some erosion and wear prevention coatings on these fill lines.

Reason 4: Clogged Pump Lines

To fill the live well, the pump plays a very important part. Most of the time, people use pumps to fill their lives well.

But while filling the water, sometimes the pump lines can get clogged in and a lot of dirt and debris get stuck there.

Because of this water can’t come through the pump lines easily and water will not be filled up in the live well too.


You will need to clean the pump lines and remove the dirt and clogged debris.

You can use vinegar and bleaching powder with water in this case. If you use hot water it will be more effective.

You can also use some pump cleaners here to clean it. They are available in the market.

Here we have recommended some pump cleaners for you.

20% White Vinegar Concentrate Check on Amazon
Clairol Basic White Extra StrengthCheck on Amazon

Hope they will be helpful to you.

Reason 5: Pump Failure

Well, if you can not still solve your problems yet, then there is only one reason left for your problem. And that is the failure of the pump.

Problems related to pumps are one of the most complicated and difficult issues. It’s very hard to deal with them.

What can be the reasons behind the live well pump not working

Well, it can happen due to unevenness of pressure, imposing undue pressure on the bearings and seals, liquid velocity, turbulence, breakdown of wear rings,  erosion, corrosion, etc.

All these can lead to pump failure.


There can be many reasons behind a pump failure. There can be plumbing problems, electrical problems, fittings problems, motor or kicker motor problems, etc behind the failure. Even the pump itself has malfunctioned. 

Capacitors, sensors, sockets, and cables can also be malfunction. The motor can also be improperly connected.


And that’s why it’s difficult to solve this problem. And you will have to solve the problem by thinking of all of these possibilities.

It would be better if you take help from an expert. And in most cases, the pump needs to be replaced with a new one.

That’s all. Hope you have learned all the reasons and solutions to solve them.


What is the importance of an aerator in a live well?

The Aerator is important for keeping the bait fishes alive in the live well. Yes, it’s true that bait can live through the water and there are oxygens in water. But oxygens can fall short too in the water. That’s why an aerator is needed to maintain the oxygen level. As a result, it keeps the bait alive.

How can you clean your live well?

You should fill your ¾ th of live well with water together with vinegar and peroxide. Then you should switch on the pump so that it can mix the water with cleaning agents. Then use a brush or scrubber to clean the screen, drain plug, and other parts and surfaces of the live well. This is how you can clean.

What will be the reasons for the well pump not priming?

Well, there can be many reasons behind this problem. Like it can happen if there are any leaks in the check valves or in the pipe. It can also happen if the foot valves have become defective too. Because of this the well pump will not prime and you will face low pressure during the running of the pump.

Bottom line

We hope you now know all the reasons for the problem “live well not filling up”. 

If it seems risky for you, take help from an expert or mechanic.

That is all. It is time to say goodbye to you.

Happy Fishing!

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