This article answers all your questions about well water.
Well Water FAQs
Q. 1 How well water systems work?
A well water system brings you water from underground sources of water such as an aquifer. It makes use of several components and pumps water from the ground. The parts are listed below.
- The well pump (water pump)
- Well casing
- Control box & pressure switch
- Pressure tank
- Well cap
- Well screen
Q. 2 How well water is contaminated?
A. Well water can be contaminated through various sources. EPA states that it can be contaminated from soil seepages, run-off water from rainfall and snow melting, leakage from underground sources and sewage tanks, and, effluent from septic tanks. Wells are also contaminated as a result of the use of chemical fertilizers, human waste, and animal feces.
Heavy metal contamination can happen due to leaching from household pipes and plumbing fixtures, mining operations, petroleum refineries, electronics manufacturers, municipal waste disposal, cement plants, and natural mineral deposits.
Organic products can also contaminate well water and are present in many household products and industrial products such as inks, dyes, pesticides, paints, pharmaceuticals, solvents, petroleum products, sealants, and disinfectants.
Q. 3 How frequently should I test my well water?
A. Well owners must get their water tested annually or when you notice a visible difference in water quality.
Q. 4 Where to get the well water tested?
A. There are a couple of ways to get your well water tested. You can either test the water at home using a testing kit or reach out to a lab for a detailed analysis.
Q. 5 Can well water cause hair loss?
A. Yes. Well water contains calcium and magnesium. They are the main hardness causing elements and can lead to hair loss and dandruff. Hard water also causes poor lather formation with your shampoo.
Q. 6 Can well water cause dry skin?
A. Yes. Well water can cause dry skin and make you feel itchy. Well water is hard and leaves soap residue on your skin. The leftover soap eats away the moisture from your skin, and it can lead to rough, dull, and dry skin.
Q. 7 Can well water cause diarrhea?
A. Well water contaminated with bacteria can cause diarrhea. You won’t have to suffer any problems if you maintain well water quality.
Q. 8 When does well water smells and change colors?
A. Your well water smells and changes color due to contaminants in it. Generally, the water coming out of aquifer has no smell and a pleasant taste, but the impurities like bacteria and heavy metals from soil and earth’s crust contaminate it, and it starts to stink. The presence of metals is often indicated by colored water.
Q. 9 Why is my well water turning yellow and red?
A. Your well water may turn yellow due to the presence of organic iron bacteria. Ferric iron in well water causes it to go red. The presence of iron gives three different colors to your water.
Q. 10 What is the red, brown water (iron) problem and how to deal with it to do when well water turns brown?
A. Your well water may start to get brown suddenly. If this happens, you need to check both hot and cold water taps, if the brown color water is present in only hot water taps, you may be having a problem with the water heater only. If it comes from cold water tap as well then it can be an issue with your well water. The main reason behind this problem is the presence of iron in your water. To get rid of iron in your water, you can use the following methods
- Sediment filter
- Water softener
- Oxidation filter
- Reverse osmosis filtration system
- Iron filtration method
Q. 11 How to remove iron bacteria from well water?
A. Iron’s presence can be guessed from the brown colored water. Iron bacteria are colorless and cannot be seen. You have to test for it using a DIY testing kit or from a testing lab. The best way to get rid of iron bacteria is shock chlorinate your well.
Q. 12 How much chlorine should I use in my well?
A. The amount of chlorine for disinfection depends upon well depth and volume of water. You can do the disinfection process yourself, but it is better to hire the services of professionals. For an average depth residential well, you can use 2 quarts of home bleach in 10 gallons of water.
Q. 13 How frequently should I chlorinate my well?
A. Experts recommend chlorinating your well every 3 to 5 years. You may need to chlorinate more often or use a chlorinator if your well has recurrent bacterial contamination.
Q. 14 How to remove manganese from well water?
A. Manganese is usually harmless until its concentration increases beyond 0.3mg/L (300 ugs/L). The best way is to use a manganese filter. Many iron filters can also remove manganese from well water.
Q. 15 How to remove rotten egg smell (sulfur) from well water?
A. Rotten egg smell is a common well water problem due to presence of sulfur bacteria. The rotten egg smell may be present only in hot water taps or both (cold and hot). Check both hot water and cold water taps to confirm the source. Rotten egg smell from hot water can be dealt by using a special anode rod for well water and servicing your water heater.
You can use following fixes to remove rotten egg smell if it is coming from both taps.
- Shock chlorinate your well or install a chlorinator
- Iron removal filter
- Aeration removal method
- Use ozone gas
Q. 16 How to remove cloudiness from your water?
A. Cloudy water happens due to the presence of silt, dirt, sand, or rust in your water. They can seep in your well from the gravel, water pipes or showerhead, and aerators. You can get rid of it by installing a carbon filter.
Q. 17 My well water is oily, what can I do to remove the oil from it?
A. The oil comes in well water due to 2 reasons, presence of iron bacteria, and a faulty pump that is leaking oil. You can remove iron bacteria via different methods like chlorination, UV filters or iron filters. Get your well pump inspected if it is leaking.
Q. 18 How to remove coliform and other bacteria from well water?
A. Bacterial contamination in well water is a serious concern for many private well owners because you can only detect it via water testing.
You can use the following techniques to get rid of bacteria in well water.
- Chlorination or a chlorinator (for recurrent bacterial contamination)
- Reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system
- UV light purification
Q. 19 What are the common types of coliform bacteria commonly found in well water?
A. The 3 common types of coliform bacteria found in well water are mentioned below
- Total Coliforms – They are commonly found in soil and water exposed to human and animal feces. Since animals roam around near wells, their feces can contaminate the soil. The bacteria enters water via seepage.
- Fecal Coliforms – They are present specifically in the fecal matter of warm-blooded animals.
- Escherichia coli (E.coli) – It is the major species of bacteria to be found in the animal fecal matter. E.coli is the major indicator of the presence of disease-causing bacteria in well water.
Q. 20 My Well Water is salty. What should I do?
A. Salty taste in well water is due to the presence of sodium in your water. Well water can get salty naturally or due to a faulty water softener. The best way to get rid of salty taste in water is to install a reverse osmosis filtration system.
Q. 21 Do well water filters need more frequent cartridge replacement compared to city water filters?
A. The cartridge replacement depends on three things; filter life, incoming water quality and usage. The maintenance needs do not vary based on city water or well water.
Q. 22 Is well water hard or soft?
A. Most private wells in US have hard water. The reason is the presence of calcium and magnesium in well water. Well water takes up these minerals when it moves over rocks, soil and clay.
Q. 23 How to get rid of hard well water?
A. The most effective way to remove hardness from well water is to use a water softener. A water softener can be salt-based or salt-free. Some states don’t allow using salt-based water softeners due to environmental concerns.
Q. 24 Which anode rod is best for a water heater with well water?
A. Aluminum/Zinc anode rods are best for water heaters using well water. It prevents rotten egg smell and scale buildup on your water heater.
Q. 25 Can well water run out?
A. Yes, the well water can run out. It can be a temporary shortage or permanent. Permanent well drying means that the water reserve has finished, and you need to drill new well or deepen your current well. Short term shortage means that your water pump is not working due to load shedding, malfunctioning, or you have simply used all the water in the pressure tank.
Q. 26 Why well water pressure decreases?
A. Well water pressure can decrease due to several reasons such as
- Pump and pressure tank issues
- Blocked or narrow pipes
- Clogged showerheads and aerators
- Hard Water Problems
- Groundwater problems
- High demand/low supply
Q. 27 How to increase well water pressure? Or My water keeps losing pressure. What should I do?
A. A slow pressure from the well can be a very irritating. You can apply the following measures to get rid of low-pressure problems
- Checking and servicing the pressure tank
- Check plumbing, showerheads, and aerators
- Check water filters, softeners, and other appliances
- Adjust pressure setting
- Install additional or large pressure tank
- Install a constant pressure valve
- Water pressure booster pump
- Install a constant pressure system
Q. 28 What is a good pressure for water well?
A. The best pressure for water well is 40-60 PSI. This pressure ensures good water flow and reduces water wastage. Various factors come into play when you are adjusting the pressure and deciding the best pressure for your well.
Q. 29 Can wells provide water without electricity?
A. No. Water wells cannot provide water for very long without electricity. You can use the water in the pressure tank without electricity but your pump will not draw water without electricity.
You can use a generator to power up the well pump and other appliances. A hand pump can also solve this problem, but it needs proper planning prior to installation. Some modern pumps come with a sleeve bucket, which can go down to the water level with the help of a cord and bring out water for you. The sleeve bucket has filling screens that retain the incoming water. Of all the mentioned solutions, the generator is the best one. If you cannot afford a generator, you can use a hand pump.
Q. 30 Which is better: well water or city water?
A. Both sources have their advantages and disadvantages. Well water is free to use but requires well maintenance, water tests, and treatment options. City water comes with monthly water bills. For a detailed comparison, read Well Water vs. City Water.
Q. 31 What is the cost of drilling a well?
A. The cost of drilling a well depends upon various factors. The drilling depth, well diameter, the casing material, the quality of the pump, storage tank, pressure switch & wiring, well cap, gravel screens, and water treatment machines. The cost may vary from one state to another; however, the average cost around the US is $1500 to $13,000.
Q. 32 Is buying a house with a well a bad idea?
A. Not at all, a property with a well has more value and pays back more when you are selling it. On the other hand, you get to drink quality water at little cost and no monthly billing. If you can manage the maintenance, we recommend that you buy a house with a water well.
Q. 33 How to Pull a Submersible Water Well Pump?
A. You can pull the submersible pump yourself with a couple of your friends if the pump is less than 100 feet deep. You will need a well drilling company to pull out the submersible pump if your well is more than 100 feet deep. Check state laws before attempting to pull out the pump yourself.
Q. 34 Which is the best under sink water filter for well water?
A. Under sink water filters improve drinking water quality. Under sink water filters are available in different shapes and sizes.
Q. 35 Do I need a shower filter for well water?
A. It depends on the well water quality and your home’s water treatment system. However, installing a shower filter makes your skin and hair look better. It also reduces soap and shampoo usage by making the water soft.
Q. 36 How can a faucet water filter improve well water quality?
A. Faucet water filters are best for small homes, cabins, and lake houses using private water wells. Most faucet filters enhance drinking water quality but do not remove hardness, TDS, or heavy metals from well water.
Q. 37 What is an inline filter for well water?
A. An inline water filter is a point-of-use filter that sits directly over water pipes, appliances, or plumbing fixtures. Inline water filters are often combined with other water filters to improve water quality at a certain point.
Q. 38 How black sediment enters well water and how you can fix it?
A. The common causes for black sediment in well water are
- Mineral deposits
- Silt & sand
- Soil & mud
- Organic matter
- Damaged well/recently dug well
- Sewage contamination
Here’s how you can fix black sediment
- Sediment filter
- Iron filter
- Well repair
- Fixing septic system
Q. 39 What Makes Well Water Taste Salty?
A. Well water gets salty due to higher chloride and/or sulfate levels, salt deposits, and wells near coastal areas. Sometimes well water can also get salty due to water softener problems.
You can fix salty water problems by installing a reverse osmosis water filter, checking water softener, and well repairs.
Q. 40 Which is the best sediment filter for well water?
A. The right type of filter for well water depends on sediment size in well water and for what purpose you are installing it.
Q. 41 When do you need an acid neutralizer for well water?
A. An acid neutralizer is required to treat acidic well water. Many people report acidic well water due to contamination from acid rain, runoff from mines, and other airborne pollutants. You can solve this issue by using an acid neutralizer for your well water.
Q. 42 How long can I run a hose on my well water?
A. It depends on the well depth, water in the well, and how much load your pump can handle. Click here to read more details about how long you can run a hose on well water.
Q. 43 How long should a well pump run continuously?
A. It depends on various factors such as pump type, pressure tank capacity and pressure switch settings. Most pumps have a maximum continuous running time of 2 hours.
Q. 44 How often should a well pump cycle?
A. It depends on water usage, tank size, and motor power. You cannot control well-pump cycles, but you can plan your usage to reduce pump cycles to increase the pump’s life.
Q. 45 Why does well water have white residue?
A. The white residue on appliances, plumbing fixtures, and crockery is due to the high concentration of calcium and magnesium in water. Calcium and magnesium also make well water hard and unfit to use. You can deal with white residue by installing a water softener.
Q. 46 What size micron filter for well water?
A. The right micron rating depends on what contaminants are found in well water and what are your filtration needs. You may require a large micron rating sediment filter at one point and a smaller one at one.
Q. 47 How much does it cost to treat well water?
A. The cost depends on contaminants in well water, which filter you are buying, quality of filters, and cartridge lifespan.
Q. 48 Does well water have electrolytes?
A. Yes. Well water has electrolytes. The common electrolytes you will find in well water are sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphate.
Q. 49 Can I run a sprinkler system on well water?
A. Yes. You can run a sprinkler system on well water. However, many people report that the well pump can’t keep up with the sprinkler system. It can happen due to various reasons, but you can fix it yourself mostly.
Q. 50 What is the minimum setback distance between well water and a septic tank?
A. The minimum distance varies from one state to another. However, most states recommend at least 50-100 feet horizontal distance between your well and septic tank. A septic tank can contaminate water if it is located close to the well and if not maintained properly.
Q. 51 Can a septic tank contaminate well water?
A. Yes. A septic tank can contaminate well water if it is not built properly. The contamination risk is higher if the septic tank is located within 50 feet, the well is at a shallow depth, and in permeable soil, it is built at a lower elevation than the septic tank, or a neighbor’s septic tank is near your well.
Q. 52 How much time does it take for well water to replenish?
A. A residential well replenishes at a rate of 5 gallons per minute. It means that a 600-gallon well will replenish in 2-3 hours. Well replenishment rate depends on factors like well depth, well casing and well screen condition, well pump health, and water level in the aquifer.
Q. 53 How long should I wait to use my well water after chlorinating my well?
A. It is recommended to wait at least 8-24 hours after chlorinating your well. The wait time depends on two factors; the volume of water in the well and how much chlorine was used in the well.
Q. 54 Why my well water smells like sewage?
A. Well water smells like sewage due to bacterial contamination. It can be due to bacteria in drains, well water, or bacterial growth in the water heater.
You can remove the smell by chlorinating your well or installing RO filters, UV purifiers, or air injection filters.
Q. 55 What to do with an old water well?
A. There are two possible solutions to deal with an old water well.
- Revive the well
- Seal the well
Most people opt for sealing the well because reviving a dried well costs equal to digging a new well. You can read more about it here.
Q. 56 Is it safe to use a lawn fertilizer with well water?
A. It depends on the type of fertilizer and how you use it. Organic fertilizers are usually safe to use with well water. Other factors like how you prepare the fertilizer, the distance between the fertilizer storage facility and your well, and fertilizer disposal are critical for maintaining water quality.
Q. 57 Which is the best whole house water filter for well water?
A. Whole house water filters treat water for all points of use. These systems are economical, easy to maintain, and enhance water quality.
Q. 58 What is the average well water depth in the USA?
A. The well depth varies according to the geological environment and how deep you want your well to be. Some people find water after 50 feet, and some find water after 300 feet. However, it is advisable to dig your well deeper to get better quality water.
Q. 59 What is the right location map for private well water?
A. The most important thing to do before constructing a water well is select the well’s location. The proposed location must be according to local laws and approved by the local government. You can read more about the water well location map in 13 major states here.
Q. 60 How can I get well water permit in the USA?
A. Most states have a water division that issues permits for well water construction. The permit is issued by State Engineer’s office in some states. Some states issue well permits via department of natural resources.
Q. 61 What does a water softener do for well water?
A. A water softener makes water soft and fit for use. It removes calcium and magnesium from water and replaces them with sodium or potassium. Some water softeners can also remove iron up to a certain concentration.
Q. 62 What is the right air pressure inside a well water tank?
A. The right air pressure inside the well water tank is 2-3 PSI less than the settings on the pressure switch. If the pressure switch is set to 40/60 PSI, the air pressure in the tank must be 37-38 PSI for optimum performance.
Q. 63 What is turbidity in well water, and how can I remove it?
A. Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. Cloudy water is also known as turbid water. It looks opaque and affects the color of the water.
You can remove turbidity with the following methods
- Chlorination (if microorganisms cause turbidity)
- Reverse osmosis
- Ozone treatment
Q. 64 What is a water well drilling swivel used for?
A. A water well drilling swivel keeps drilling bits clean and cool to be more stable, less noisy, and more convenient.
Q. 65 How can I install a whole house water filter on a private well?
A. You can go for a DIY installation if you know how plumbing connections work. The main steps are given below.
- Select the installation space
- Cut the pipes
- Install the mounting brackets
- Mount the filter
- Make the connections
- Install the bypass valve
- Testing the system
Q. 66 How deep drinking water well should be?
A. It depends on the geographical landscape of the area, how quickly you find water underneath, and your budget. However, well experts agree that a drinking water well must be 100 feet deep. The average well depth for private homes is 80-800 feet.
Q. 67 How can I fix dry well?
A. You can fix a dry well by letting it replenish itself or employ a technique known as hydrofracking. You can also replace the pump if it’s broken. Sometimes a dry well can be fixed by deepening it.
Q. 68 Can I drill a new well on my property myself?
A. Before starting a DIY well drilling process on your property, you’ll need to check local state laws. Most states don’t allow homeowners to drill water wells themselves. We recommend that you don’t try this yourself. It is recommended to hire a licensed well drilling firm to drill a new well.
Q. 69 Can air enter well water lines?
A. Yes. Air can enter your plumbing system due to various reasons. The most common sign is sputtering faucets. Air enters your well system due to the following reasons.
- Pressure tank problems
- Faulty well pump
- Water heater problems
- Faulty plumbing valves
- Leaks in the plumbing system
- Problems in water treatment systems
Q. 70 How can I raise pH of well water?
A. You can raise pH of well water via following methods
- Acid neutralizer filter
- Neutralizing solutions
Q. 71 How can I get rid of sand in well water?
A. You can get rid of sand in well water by using a sediment filter. You may also need to inspect your well for any damages to the well casing, screen, and cap. Sometimes a low water level can also cause sediment in well water.
Q. 72 Why well water gets orange and how you can treat it?
A. Well water gets orange due to the following reasons:
- Iron bacteria: It gives an orange or reddish-brown color and can be removed by shock chlorination, chlorinator or UV purifier.
- Ferric iron: It is dissolved in water and imparts orange-brown color in water. You can remove it with an iron filter.
- Ferrous iron: Water is colorless when it comes out from water but turns red or brown after standing for some time. You can remove this type of iron with a sediment filter.
Q. 73 Can I fill a swimming pool with well water?
A. Yes. You can fill a swimming pool with water but you must do it carefully. You must make sure that your well is not strained and it must not get dry in the process.
Q. 74 How can you treat arsenic in well water?
A. Arsenic enters well water via leeching, underground water movement over rocks and sand, industrial waste, rainwater runoff, fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides.
You can treat arsenic in well water with a reverse osmosis filter, adsorptive media filters, ion exchange filters, oxidation filters, and distillation.
Q. 75 How can I increase my well’s water recovery rate?
A. You can increase the well water recovery rate by using less water, installing a more powerful well pump, well cleanup (well screen), well inspection (cracks in well casing), hydrofracking, deepening the well, or digging a new well.
Q. 76 Can I measure the static water level in my well?
A. Yes. You can measure the static water level in your well. Well contractors use the following tools to measure static water level in well.
- Steel measuring tapes
- Electric sounder or depth gauges
- Air line method
You must measure the static water level after your pump has not been operated for 12 hours straight.
Q. 77 How can I remove calcium from well water?
A. The best way to remove calcium from well water is to install a water softener. You must select a water softener after getting your water tested for calcium. Moreover, the softener’s size is also critical as it impacts flow rate and maintenance needs.
Q. 78 How can I remove sodium from well water?
A. Sodium occurs naturally in well water or enters the water through a water softener. Abnormal levels of sodium in water indicate softener problems or groundwater contamination. You can remove sodium in well water via the following methods.
- Repair or replace a malfunctioning water softener
- Reverse osmosis filter
Q. 79 How can I make a hand pump for well water?
A. Making a hand pump for your well is an easy but lengthy and technical process. You will need a lot of supplies for the foot valve, plunger assembly, connection pipe, and pump head assembly. Click here to read more about the process here.
Q. 80 Why is it important to prime a well water pump?
A. You’ll need to prime your well water pump for optimum performance. Priming the well helps maintain an internal pressure that helps supply water to your home.
Q. 81 How much does it cost to mitigate radon from well water?
A. It costs between $1000 and $5000 to install a radon removal system. The cost varies based on radon levels in water and how larger the system you want to install.
Q. 82 How can I test and remove nitrates from well water?
A. You can test for nitrate using a home testing kit or get it tested from a certified laboratory. There are various filters that can remove nitrate, like ion exchange filters, reverse osmosis filters, and water distillers.
Q. 83 How can I prepare my water well for flooding?
A. You can prepare your water well to avoid flood damage and contamination with the following tips.
- Case well head at least 4-6 inches above the highest flood level in your area.
- Check that concrete pads around your well are not damaged or broken.
- Arrange some water for emergency use during floods.
Q. 84 How can I clean the well screen in my well?
A. You’ll need a cleaning agent for this task. The first step is to open the prime plug port, adding acid and then giving it some time to do its work. You can also use Nu-Well tablets to clean well screen.
Q. 85 How Do Well Drillers Find Water?
A. Well drillers find water by surveying the proposed drilling site, their experience, and prior knowledge about dug wells. You can read more about the process here.
Q. 86 How can I replace a well pump pressure gauge?
A. You’ll need the following supplies.
- Replacement pressure gauge
- Teflon tape
- Garden hose
- Plumber pliers or channel locks
Steps to change the pressure gauge:
- Turn off the circuit breaker powering the water pump.
- Turn off the water supply to your home.
- Remove the pressure gauge with pliers and see if there are any deposits or blockages. Sometimes you can reinstall the gauge after cleaning.
- Replace the gauge if there are no blockages. Place the gauge on the pressure tank’s female pressure threads and move the gauge clockwise to tighten it.
- Close the drain spigot.
- Turn on the power and see if the gauge is working properly.
Click here to read in detail about the process.
Q. 87 How to winterize and dewinterize a water well?
A. It is a systematic process with 6 major steps.
- Winterizing your home (well water system)
- Winterizing the well pump
- Winterizing your irrigation system
- De-winterizing your home
- De-winterizing the well pump
- De-winterizing your irrigation system
Q. 88 How to select a contractor for well drilling?
A. Follow the steps below to select the best contractor for well drilling or repair works.
- Check state license.
- Check if the contractor is a member of the National Ground Water Association.
- Check contractor’s reputation by testimonials, reviews, and your neighbors.
- Get quotes from various contractors to get the best price.
- Ensure that the state approves all materials and machinery used by the contractor.
- Ask for itemized billing.
- Go for written contracts.
- Post work checklist.
Q. 89 Why do you need to abandon a water well?
A. You may abandon a water well due to following reasons
- New well construction
- Well is contaminated beyond treatment
- Dry well
- Well damage beyond repair
- Converting to city water
Q. 90 What to do if well water feels sticky?
A. Well water feels sticky because it is hard. You can remove stickiness from water with a salt-based water softener or salt-free softener.
Q. 91 How to treat radioactivity in well water?
A. You can use the following water treatment systems to remove radioactive elements from the well water.
- Reverse osmosis
- Lime softening
- Ion exchange filters
- Point-of-use systems
Q. 92 How to unfreeze well water pipes?
A. You can either wait for the pipes to melt, thaw the pipes, warm up the frozen areas, or use hot water to melt them. Make sure you don’t use an open flame to melt frozen pipes.
Q. 93 How does a water table change around pumping water well?
A. It changes based on how you use your water well. The water table first goes down but replenishes itself soon after you have stopped pumping. The replenishment rate depends on factors such as aquifer health, pumping rate, and the overall health of your well system.
Q. 94 Why well pump runs but there is no water pressure?
A. It happens due to the following reasons
- Faulty well pump
- No water in well
- Faulty pressure tank
- Blockage in pipes, faucets, or aerators.