What to Do After a Big Storm or Flood Hits Your Well

Flooding is essentially a fact of life for the vast majority of homeowners in the U.S. Along the East and Gulf Coasts, there are, of course, threats from hurricanes. The damage from these violent storms can affect home and well owners from Florida to Texas and as far north as Maine.

In the Midwest, rivers like the Mississippi, Missouri or Ohio Rivers and many others often escape their banks and even top levees. Waves from the Great Lakes can encroach on nearby homes, especially if lake levels are high and a storm forms. 

Storms blow in from Alaska and can cause flooding and landslides all the way down the coast to Mexico. Flash flooding can occur in any mountainous or low-lying area. In short, there are few parts of the U.S. that are spared the experience of floods. 

For a home with a private water well, this inundation of water will require special attention to ensure the purity of drinking water, even if the flood left the home untouched. If you have a well, you should be prepared to correct flood-related contamination at any time. 

The Correct Procedure for Your Private Water Well After a Flood

You may want to hire a professional to disinfect your well and repair any damage. If you choose to tackle this task yourself, these are the steps to follow. 

1. As soon as your property floods, you must stop drinking the water and plan on not drinking it for a few weeks. 

2. Turn off the electrical supply to your well. 

3. Clear away any debris around the well. Watch for snakes, fire ants, black widow spiders and other wildlife that may be sheltering in the area. 

4. Check the seal on your well cap and ensure it is in good enough condition that it would have prevented the infiltration of flood waters. (This can and should be done before flood warnings are issued, and from time to time as a preventative action.)

5. If the cap came off in the flood, you will probably need to hire a professional to remove the debris that entered the well. 

6. If there is any damage to the electrical supply, you will need a professional for the repairs. 

7. Turn the power back on and begin to flush the well. Use the nearest outside faucet for this purpose and ensure the released water does not run back into the well. Let it run for many hours until the water runs clear. This could take hours or days. 

8. Once again turn off power to the well. 

9. Do a full well disinfection. Do not use household bleach for this job, as it is heavier than water and can become trapped in pockets in your plumbing system. ETR Laboratories makes an FDA-approved chlorination agent, plus gloves, easy-to-follow instructions and a post-disinfection water test that can provide a better result. 

10. Be sure to follow the instructions on the disinfection kit precisely which will include flushing the well thoroughly after disinfection. 

11. Test the water quality to ensure that your water is healthy for drinking, cooking and bathing. (With the ETR Laboratories water test, your instructions will tell you exactly how to collect a sample of your well water.)

12. When the well passes the quality test, you can resume drinking its water.

Note: Your water should initially be tested for bacterial contamination, but you may need wider testing, depending on the types of facilities located in your area. If there are septic tanks, you will want to monitor your water for bacteria or chemicals that have been released into the ground. It would be wise to retest your water in a few weeks or so because there can be a delay in these contaminants reaching your well.

If you have any airports, farms, landfills or industrial operations nearby, you will want to choose a test that checks for a wide variety of industrial and agricultural chemicals. 

ETR Laboratories can consult with you as you go through this process. We have a wide range of tests available that can provide peace of mind as you resume use of your well water. Call us at (800) 344-9977 to get tests and accurate advice.