A private well can provide drinking water of the highest quality if it is properly maintained. To keep the quality high, it’s vital to have your well inspected regularly because no community agency regulates the quality of your water.

With annual maintenance and regular inspections, you can expect your well to operate properly for years and provide you with sweet, pure and healthy water.

Annual Water Testing

Many well water contaminants are not detectable by sight, taste or smell. That’s why annual inspection and testing of your well water are so important. Many of the substances we find in well water can cause health problems, such as arsenic, lead, copper, nitrates, nitrites or radon.

Other than an annual test, when else should you have your well inspected?

  • When you are buying a home with a well
  • When you are building a new home on a lot with a well
  • There’s a change in water color, cloudiness, taste or odor
  • There are laundry problems like dingy, stiff or streaked clothes

Many contaminants in well systems result from human activities such as manufacturing, agriculture or human mistakes; for example, failing to address leaking tanks. Your water may be fine one year but not the next year.

You should perform a test on your water quality when:

  • The well has been flooded or overrun by surface water
  • There has been plumbing repairs such as installation of water filtration or treatment system
  • There has been work on the well itself
  • Work is performed on a nearby septic system
  • Septic system is within 50 feet of the well
  • When a seasonal property is opened
  • If there has been illness in the household
  • You suspect contamination from nearby industrial or agricultural activities

Sanitizing Your Well

The most common contaminants of well systems are microorganisms. These organisms are capable of causing illness when they exist in your drinking water.

Fortunately, they can be eliminated by chlorinating your well system. The Food and Drug Administration has approved chlorination products that effectively eliminate microorganisms from wells. They are generally easy to use. Our advice to ensure effective disinfection is to perform an after-sanitization test to verify the water is now free of microorganisms. If this test is positive for microorganisms, you might need to look for the source of the continuing contamination.

Well Head Check

It’s important to check the well head from time to time to ensure that it is in good condition. If it is damaged or not sealing the head of the well, surface water, insects, rodents or debris can enter your well.

Follow these steps to check the well head:

  1. Check the outside of the well cap for any physical defects or damage.
  2. Ensure it is firmly attached and not loose.
  3. If there is a vent, ensure it is screened and facing the ground.
  4. Check the seal to ensure it has not shrunk, collapsed or cracked.
  5. Clear away any debris or leaves around the well head.

The well cap or cover should not be less than 12 inches from the ground (18 inches is better). Some wells have caps or covers located beneath the ground; this is not advisable. A well cap at or below ground level can be contaminated with surface runoff.

Well Inspections

The well itself should also be inspected periodically to ensure your equipment is working properly and that there are no cracks or other damage.

You can start an inspection with the Well Head Check above. Then, the inside of the well must be inspected. This can only be done by a professional well inspector who uses a downhole, underwater video camera.

The inside of the casing should be inspected for cracks or holes. Any insect infestations will be noted. There should be no leaks from casing joints. The inspector will also listen for the sound of water seeping into the well. A well in good condition has a much better chance of avoiding contamination that might harm the health of those consuming its water.

Where Should Your Well Be Located?

The wrong location will expose your well to contaminants. Your well should not be located:

  • In a driveway or in a high-traffic area
  • In a cellar
  • Near septic sources
  • Near swampy areas
  • Under trees or in an area with a lot of vegetation covering it

The ideal location for a well would be in an open, sunny area which is clean, accessible and clear of any debris or obstructions.

Maintaining Proper Records

A well is an important long-term asset. All information regarding its construction, modification, maintenance and inspections should be kept in a safe place.

Keep the following records:

  • Inspection dates and results
  • Disinfection dates
  • Water test results
  • Repairs
  • Modifications

Also preserve records on well construction such as:

  • Well depth
  • Casing height and depth
  • Yield
  • Water depth
  • Geologic layers penetrated
  • Pump model and serial number

Well drillers are required to file records on well construction with the state.

With this information available, it will be much easier for you to maintain your well or get repairs done correctly.


If you have questions on any of the above information, call us. We will be happy to answer them.