Can Well Water Run Out? (What Nobody Tells You)

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When properly managed, most wells provide a consistent, reliable water source. But is it possible for a well to run out? What causes a well’s water yield to decrease? And how can you prevent a well from running out?

Here, we’ve shared the answers to these questions and more.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • A well CAN run out of water.
  • Factors that may cause a well to run dry include the natural availability of water in the area, local weather conditions, the well management, and how heavily the well water is being used.
  • You can maintain a consistent well water yield by properly managing and maintaining your well, and implementing water conservation measures if/when necessary.

πŸ“₯ Can Well Water Really Run Out?

Yes, well water really can run out.

Most private wells are drilled deep into the ground. They get their water from underground aquifers, which contain fresh water that has seeped through layers of rock and earth.

This water supply should be constantly replenished, but it’s normal for the water depth to fluctuate throughout the year.

In some cases, the water output may decrease significantly, and the well may run dry. Luckily, when this happens, it’s usually only temporary. Still, it can be a major inconvenience.

Dry water well

πŸ“Š What Causes a Well to Run Dry?

There are a few causes of a decline in a well water level. These can be categorized into natural causes and human causes.

Natural Causes Of A Dry Well

Drought Conditions

The first and most likely natural cause of a dry well is drought.

Long periods of drought mean that there is much less water flowing into the well due to a lack of rainfall in the area. As a result, you’ll continue to use the well as normal, but it won’t be replenished with rainwater. The water levels will reduce, and eventually, the well runs dry.

The groundwater levels will only increase when the period of drought is over. When this happens, the well should be replenished and will eventually be suitable for use once more.

Changing Water Table

The availability of water in the area also affects the availability of well water.

If you live in an area with a shallow water table, you’ll experience more issues with water levels in your well because the groundwater is able to continually evaporate from the soil profile.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with a deep water table, it won’t be affected by evaporation. So, while the well aquifer will take longer to recharge, you’ll have a more reliable, consistent water supply.

A deep well in a confined aquifer is far less likely to go dry than a shallow well.

Well getting replenished from rain water

Local Soil Type

The type of soil in your local area affects the downward movement of water into your well, and how quickly your well can replenish.

Rocky or clay soils restrict water’s movement, so wells dug in these soil types are slower to recharge than wells drilled into sandy soils.

Areas with lots of vegetation also improve water retention in a well by reducing evaporation and increasing infiltration.

Human Causes Of A Dry Well

Heavy Water Usage

Sometimes, a private well might be used too heavily by a community.

A well can only replenish water at a certain rate. Overuse – pumping too much water from the well – may cause more water to leave than enter the aquifer, causing the well to run dry.

The size of a well determines how much water should be taken from the aquifer per day. A professional well contractor should be able to advise on how much water you should pump from your well depending on its size and depth.

Poor Well Management

Poor well management is another potential human cause of a dry well.

Wells need to be serviced and maintained to prevent cracks, leaks, and degradation that could affect their ability to draw water from the aquifer.

While poor well management won’t cause the well itself to run dry, it may prevent the well from being able to pump water, reducing water flow in your home and even eliminating your access to water.

Concrete well cap not sealed properly

πŸ“ˆ Signs Your Well Water Is Running Out

There are a few warning signs that suggest your well’s drinking water supply is on the decline.

These include:

  • Slow water flow in your plumbing system
  • A change in your water quality
  • Sputtering faucets
  • Decreased appliance efficiency
  • Murky water
  • Well water pump runs for longer hours in the day

Any change in your water quality along with a slow decline in your water output in faucets and fixtures suggests that your well water is running out.

πŸ“‹ How to Prevent a Well from Running Dry

On some occasions – such as in the case of drought – there’s nothing much you can do to prevent a well from running dry.

However, there are still a few things you can do to conserve your water supply and reduce how much water is pumped from the well every day.

Properly Manage & Maintain Your Well

Firstly, make sure to properly maintain and manage your well.

That includes replacing and repairing old or worn parts, getting your well inspected once a year, and testing your water regularly.

A properly maintained well should last longer and have fewer issues with water supply than a poorly maintained well.

Water well maintenance

Implement Water Conservation Methods

Implementing various water conservation methods is another effective way to reduce your well water usage and prevent your well from running dry.

Try cutting your showers in half, only doing the laundry when you have enough to fill the washing machine, hand-washing dishes instead of using the dishwasher, and turning off the tap when you brush your teeth. Fix any water leaks as soon as you detect them. This should help with water retention.

Not only will these water conservation methods prevent a rapid decline in your well water level; they’ll also help you to save money by cutting your energy bills down.

Invest In A Backup Water Source

If you live in a region that has long periods of reduced precipitation, consider investing in a backup water supply, like a rainwater collection system.

Having another source of water on hand means you won’t have to solely rely on your well throughout the year. This should reduce the likelihood that your well will run dry.

Rainwater collection tank

πŸ€” What to Do if Your Well Runs Dry

If your well runs out of drinking water, don’t panic! You’ll usually be able to get your well producing water again eventually.

But, depending on the cause of the lack of water, this may require significant work.

Here’s what to do if you think your well has run dry:

  1. Determine the cause of the problem. Maybe the well water pump has broken, you’ve overused the well, or you’ve been experiencing a drought.
  2. Implement short-term solutions. You may need to find another quality water source or conserve your water while figuring out what to do in the long run.
  3. Implement long-term solutions. There are a few options, depending on the cause of the dry spell. You might need to hire a construction company to drill your well deeper (with a method like hydrofracking, which injects high-pressure water into the rocks surrounding the aquifer, causing new fractures to appear) or lower your well pump. Or, you may simply need to wait for your well to replenish itself.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”§ Looking for more information? We’ve shared a dedicated guide on what to do if your well runs dry.

❓ Can A Well Run Dry? FAQ

How can I determine if my well is at risk of running dry?

There are a few ways to determine if your well is at risk of running dry:

  • Keep an eye on your well water level. If your water level begins to decline, it’s likely that your well is at risk of running dry.
  • Monitor your faucet water pressure and flow. A decrease in water pressure or flow with no mechanical causes (such as an issue with the well pump or pressure tank) could suggest that the pump is drawing less water from the well, which could be due to a decreased water depth.
  • Arrange for a professional inspection. You might not be able to determine whether or not your well is at risk of running dry, but a professional well contractor can. They’ll assess the condition of your well and share their findings with you.

❔ Can A Well Run Out Of Water: FAQ

What happens if your well runs out of water?

If your well runs out of water, your home’s water supply will be cut off. You’ll have to find an alternative reliable source of water, such as bottled water or a rainwater collection system, until your well’s water levels rise or you arrange for the well to be deepened (if necessary). A dry well can also damage the well pump and other components of the well system if it isn’t promptly addressed. Arrange for a professional well inspection if you don’t know why your well has run out of water.

How long does it take for a well to run out of water?

It’s impossible to say how long it’ll take for a well to run out of water since this depends on various factors, including the well’s size, condition, and age, the natural availability of water in the area, and how heavily the well water is being used. Well overuse and drought conditions increase the rate at which the well runs out of water.

Does well water replenish itself?

Yes, well water can replenish itself, although not always. The conditions in the area, the source of the water, and the well size and depth all affect its ability to replenish itself. Most wells take groundwater from aquifers underground, which are replenished naturally by rainwater that seeps through layers of rocks and soils. Some wells might not be able to replenish as quickly as the water is used, causing the well water to temporarily dry out.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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