Water Well Maintenance that Protects Your Family’s Health

If maintenance of a private water well is new to you and you’ve always relied on community water supplies, this new task may be a little worrying. Should you only take action if the water tastes or smells bad? How can you tell if the well needs repair because it’s all underground? Who is supposed to test or inspect your well? How often should it be tested?

We can help you get familiar with the most important water well maintenance tasks to help protect the health of both your family and your pets. Here are the most important points to get you started.

1. Obtain well maintenance records when you take possession of a home with a well.
A homeowner selling the home should have a record of who drilled the well, how deep it is, what type of pump was installed, when it was installed, what types of soil or rock were drilled through and so on. If there were repairs on the well, those records should also be included. Make sure you get your hands on these records when moving into the home. There should also be a record of any old wells that are no longer used and how they were sealed up.

2. Add your own maintenance records.
When you have the well water tested, file away those test results. That will give you something to compare future test results to. Whenever there is an inspection or repair, get a report from the company doing the work. When there is a problem with the well in the future, these records can enable you to rule out some problems and zero in on other possible causes of poor water quality. 

3. Realize that your water supply and quality are 100% up to you now.
The Environmental Protection Agency provides helpful guides and recommendations but it is up to you to monitor your water quality and ensure that your well continues to provide you with a continuous supply of healthy water.

4. Before relying on the water, test it for possible contaminants, excessive acidity or alkalinity, or other problems.
This will not only let you know if you need to add filtration or water treatment to your system, it will give you a baseline to which you can compare future tests. 

5. Once the initial test is done, pencil in another water test and inspection in a year.
This should be done annually for as long as you rely on this well. The inspection should include a visual examination of the well’s condition (performed via video camera lowered into the well), electrical testing and flow test.

6. If the water test reveals the presence of microorganisms such as coliform bacteria, fungi or parasites, disinfect it.
Just be sure not to use household bleach. Use a disinfectant that the Food and Drug Administration has approved for use in wells. Do another test after disinfection to verify that the water quality is safe. If the post-disinfection test still shows contamination, you will need to find the source of the contamination. It could be that insects, small animals or plant matter have made their way into the well. 

7. Unless you are an expert, do not repair your own well.
Your well will function properly much longer if a competent professional inspects and repairs it.

8. Repeat the water quality test if there is a change in the water’s appearance, smell or taste.
Also repeat it if there has been gastrointestinal illness in the home. Some people are more sensitive to water quality than others. If a new baby is about to come home, get a water test done before they arrive. Those who are immunocompromised may be less tolerant of changes in water quality so if they suffer changes in health, consider testing your water.

9. Make a visual inspection of your well cap periodically.
Make sure that landscaping or children playing have not damaged the well cap and that it is still snugly closing off access to the well. Also clear away any brush or plant matter that may have accumulated around the well.

Maintaining a Well is Much Like Maintaining a Vehicle

At one time, you had to learn how to maintain your vehicle which meant checking and changing the oil, keeping the gas tank filled, and noticing little changes that meant a trip to the mechanic was due. This is not so different. Follow these simple steps, learning a little more with each water test or inspection, and you will soon be helping others learn how to maintain their wells.

If you need help choosing the right water test for your region and situation, call us at (800) 344-9977 and we are happy to help you pick the best test. We’ll also help you interpret the results. If you find contamination, where could it be coming from? What type of water filter is necessary to keep it from reaching your home? We offer this consulting service at no additional charge after completion of your ETR Laboratories water test.