Many homes here in Houston, Texas have a well instead of sewer water. Just like any water system, maintenance is important in order to ensure that the water stays clean to drink and bathe. In addition, as the well ages in years, more maintenance may be needed. Let’s take a look at why well maintenance is important, what to do before testing the water, maintenance schedule, cost and time, how to fix the issues, other well maintenance, septic inspections, and when to call a professional.
Why Well Maintenance is Important
Many of us rely on wells for our water supply. Just like with anything, maintenance is required to get the most amounts of years possible out of the system. There are things you can do to make sure you get the life out of the well such as annual testing for bacteria, every three years and ph. testing.
Before Testing the Water
Ensure that the well system is clean and has been flushed. This will help with making sure you don’t get false positives. Then, taking a water sample from the tap. If you notice cloudy tap water or low water flow, you may have a contaminated system.
Well Maintenance Schedule
Every year, testing the well water for total coliform bacteria, E. coli bacteria, nitrates, radon and arsenic is important. You will need to keep a record of this. Additionally, check the well for signs of damage or contamination.
Make sure that the area around the well is clear of debris, at least 100 feet. Also, checking for negative grading in the yard is a good idea as you don’t want runoff going towards the well.
Well Maintenance Every 3 Years
Hire a professional to testing for the ph. and total dissolved solids. Also tests on the uses of the land that are nearby as that can affect the water supply. The other areas that will be tested are:
- Flow test that determines the output
- Check of the water level
- Pump motor performance
- Pressure tank and pressure switch contact
- Testing of the water quality for bacteria (as mentioned above)
- Equipment is tested to ensure it is sanitary
Every 10 Years
The life of a well is about 20 years, however, it can be shorter depending on the soil, climate, and other factors. HIring a professional to inspect the well every 10 years is important.
Testing That Does Not Have a Timeline
Anytime that you see stains on the well or the water has a weird taste or smell, a well inspection is important. If family members are showing reoccurring signs of gastrointestinal illnesses, this is a great time to have the well inspected and the water tested to rule out contamination.
Cost and Time
A well inspection costs between $300-$500 and takes a few hours. The water testing will be a few days before the results are back. Often home inspectors will combine a well inspection with a septic inspection.
How to Fix the Issues
If negative grading is an issue, you can fix this by adding in more soil or looking into a drainage system. Keeping the water away from the well is the idea.
Well Maintenance Record Keeping
Penn State University recommends the following:
1. Keep a water well completion report or log – this should include information about the water well depth, date drilled, construction (including casing specifications, grouting and screen), and water well yield or flow rate in gallons per minute (gpm)
2. Water quality test reports– when you have the water tested, keep track of the results, along with the past inspection reports.
3.Invoices from work done by water well contractors (including pump replacement and water treatment equipment warranties, invoices, and manuals.
All of this information is important to keep track as you need this in case there are future issues or you tell the home.
Other Well Maintenance
- Keep paints, fertilizers, pesticides and all hazardous materials away from the well in order to avoid contamination with the water supply.
- Mixing chemicals- if you are mixing chemicals, keep the hose out of the chemicals as it can bring the chemicals into the hose and into the water system.
- If it is a home that is new to you, consult a professional to make sure that there is adequate space between the waste systems, home, and well.
- Check the well cap periodically to make sure it is on correctly and not broken. It should also be 1 foot out of the ground.
Life of a Well
As mentioned earlier, wells can last about 20 years with proper maintenance. Keeping up with the maintenance and service will help it last a long time. Once the 20-year mark hits, consult a certified water well driller to close it up and dig another one. However, you can also look into city water as an option (if available) if you don’t like the idea of the well.
Factors That Can Lower the Life of the Well
- Corrosion of metal casing– this can lead to sand pumping and deterioration of the well system. Stainless steel screens are more expensive than carbon screens but last longer.
- Pump damage– this can be due to extremely high temperatures, corrosion of pump parts, and pumping of sand and sediment that is abrasive. Have a professional take a look to see if the problems above can be fixed or a new well system is required.
If you have a well, you most likely have septic instead of sewer. This will need to be maintained and inspected as mentioned above, many companies would combine the well and septic inspections together.
When to Contact a Professional
A professional who knows about wells should do the annual inspection. It is dangerous for a homeowner as electrocution can happen, an object can fall into the well, or a part can break. Leave it to someone who is trained in that area to handle the well.
A well is very expensive and you want it to last for a long time. Maintaining it properly is essential to getting the life out of it and keeping your family healthy. We can inspect your well as one of our services in the Houston, TX. area! Have questions or in need of one of our services? Comment below!