Why Well Water Test Results Change Over Time

Many private well owners don’t realize that their wells need the same kind of maintenance as their home or their car. They may feel that as long as the well produces plenty of water that looks and tastes good, it passes the test. 

This may actually be true at one point in time. But a year later, the situation could be quite different! For this reason, well water quality must be newly tested annually to keep a family safe. There are so many causes of well water problems, that only regular testing will ensure a steady supply of good quality water. 

Common (and Not-so-common) Causes of Private Well Problems 

Aging: Like anything else around a home, wells age. Over time, the casing may become cracked which can permit the entrance of surface water and toxins into your well. In general, steel casings should last around 20 years but inspections have revealed problems in much younger casings.

The part of the casing that extends above the ground is much more subject to damage due to its exposure to the elements or contact with yard equipment like lawn mowers. It may not last as long.

Damaged well cap: If a well cap is loose or damaged, or the seal deteriorates with age, outside contaminants can get in. This includes surface water containing salt, fertilizers, pet waste, pest control chemicals or petroleum products. Insects or small animals could also enter and build nests. Any other opening such as one for electrical wiring must also stay sealed.

Fracking: Fracking for natural gas takes place in many areas of the U.S. The explosive power of fracking can force methanol into fractures in bedrock. This chemical may be able to flow through cracks in the bedrock until it reaches your well. Wells within a few kilometers of a drilling operation may experience contamination from either spills at that site or the fracking itself.

Hydrofracking: Hydrofracking is a similar process used on water wells to improve the flow of water. Thousands of gallons of water are pumped into the well under intense pressure. This water will create or widen fissures in the bedrock so water can move through it. The process will also blast away mineral accumulations that might keep water from flowing. Hydrofracking being done nearby could damage your well, however. 

Earthquakes: While it is a rare occurrence, earthquake-prone areas may find that their water quality changes after a significant earthquake in their area. The water may become cloudy but this will improve as the sediment settles down. But note that earthquakes can also damage your casing which will require professional inspection and repair.

How to Maintain Your Well Water Quality

Because a water well is out of sight (except for the casing and well cap) professional inspections are needed to determine if repairs are needed. You should have a detailed inspection done at least every ten years. Professional inspectors will make a visual inspection and often drop a camera down the well and look for cracks, leaks, animal or insect infestations or other problems. 

In addition, the water quality should be tested once a year. Damage can occur at any time. Even a new well may become contaminated or fail if there was any error made during drilling or installation. 

You must always be alert to the possibility that bacteria or fungi can be introduced into your well. Once they are present, they will establish colonies which may take repeated disinfection to eradicate. Nitrates are another very common contaminant that can come from natural sources, animal waste or fertilizer runoff. Preventing these and other contaminants requires a proper maintenance schedule. 

There is Always a Solution

Whatever the problem is with your private water well, there is a solution. Start with a professional water test from a reputable and experienced company. The results will help guide you in the direction of the right solution which could include repair, water treatment or filtering and elimination of the source of contamination. 

Contact ETR Laboratories for your annual water quality test or to help you detect the cause of water quality problems. We will not only provide fast and accurate results, we will help you work out a plan of action to eliminate any problems. Call (800) 344-9977 to get started.