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What are the Best Tips for Well Maintenance?

Terrie Brockmann
Terrie Brockmann

There are many elements to private water well maintenance. Typically, experts advise well owners to learn how to monitor their wells and learn what may cause trouble. For example, few well owners know that if a well stands idle for more than one week, it negatively affects the well. Insect damage, back siphoning, and other problems may also harm a well. An owner may avoid costly repair bills by having a professional routinely perform maintenance checkups.

Hydrogeologists, who study the science of groundwater, advise owners that well inactivity may cause water to not flow into the well. Pump experts advise that letting a pump sit idle may cause the seals to deteriorate. Sometimes an idle well pump loses its prime, causing well owners to buy a new pump. When a pump specialist is servicing a pump, the owner should advise him or her if the well has been inactive.

Well maintenance testing can be done to check for E. coli bacteria.
Well maintenance testing can be done to check for E. coli bacteria.

One of the best ways that a well owner may avoid trouble is to learn how to monitor the well's performance. A person should call an expert when he or she notices changes in the water's taste, color, or smell or when there are small particles in the water. Contaminated water may cause a sudden influx of gastrointestinal illnesses. These problems generally indicate well or the piping trouble.

Cracked or broken well caps or covers are often a source of well contamination, and an owner should inspect them during well maintenance checkups. In some areas where the well cap and cover are exposed to extreme elements, experts advise that owners check on them after heavy rains, heavy snowfall, and other potentially hazardous events. Where the electrical cables enter the well cap, the caulk may shrivel, allowing contaminates to enter the well.

One of the most important elements is the well pump, and some of the things that a well owner monitors are pump noise, water pressure, and vibration. Poor lubrication, bearings, and vibration may cause a noisy pump. Vibration may be a result from an unstable foundation or an unbalance inside the motor. An expert can fix these problems. One important part of well maintenance is for the owner to follow any suggestions that a repair person may offer to prevent previous problems from reoccurring.

Annually, as part of good well maintenance, an owner should have the water tested. Sometimes contaminates enter through faulty or leaking well caps or covers, which is why it is important to check them often. To prevent well contamination through the well cap, only a professional should remove and repair a well cap. Other contaminates may be biological — coliform bacteria, E. coli, and nitrites. Most tests include the results for other hazardous materials, such as arsenic and radon.

Some of the miscellaneous problems that well owners should watch for during the well maintenance monitoring are signs of screen blockage and insect damage. At the end of the water supply pipe, there is a screen to filter out particulates. If debris clogs the screen, water pressure may be reduced. Insects sometimes enter the pump's pressure switch and interfere with its function. To prevent electrocution or injury, a person needs to unplug the pump before cleaning out the switch.

Watching for human mistakes, mechanical problems, and other problems is part of a good well maintenance program. Some people schedule well and pump inspections for a certain day on the calendar or a specific time of the year. In reality, monitoring a well is not a one-time task. A good well owner monitors his or her well and pump on a continuous basis, watching and listening for changes in the water's quality and the pump's performance. By maintaining a well, the well and pump generally will last longer, the water quality usually is better, and there is less change for property damage from a leaking pump.

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Discussion Comments


I'm a new tenant in a home that has had a water well installed(submersible pump-style, with a 1000 gallon well tank). The previous owner removed the pump from the pipe after being foreclosed on. The home was purchased by another and then rented out. Prior to my arrival, the uncapped pipe had been used as a waste depository for beer bottles and who knows what else.

Does anyone know how to go about removing those obstructions(inexpensively),or will a new drill be needed? The well is approximately 60 feet down. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    • Well maintenance testing can be done to check for E. coli bacteria.
      By: 4designersart
      Well maintenance testing can be done to check for E. coli bacteria.