Does Well Water Need To Be Filtered? (Advise from an Expert)

Buying a well water filtration system is a big investment. Before you part with your cash, you might be wondering, does well water actually need to be filtered?

📖 TL; DR

The quality of your well water determines whether it needs to be filtered. However, in most cases, the answer is yes: well water does need to be filtered.

Read on to learn how to know if you need a whole house water filter for your well water.

📝 How to Know if You Need a Well Water Filtration System

To learn whether you need a water filter system for your well water, consider the following things:

Check the Well Records

If you’ve moved into a property with a private well, there should be records that you can access that tell you everything you need to know about the well’s history and condition.

If the previous well owner has been organized with these records and has updated them over time, you should also find information including:

  • The water testing that has been conducted for the well
  • Which contaminants were detected in the water
  • How the water was treated (if necessary)

Your well records will give you a good idea of your well water quality. However, remember that your local geology can change significantly over the years, so previous test results are unlikely to be completely relevant today.

Example well record
Soruce: Government of Ontario

Ask the Previous Owner

If you can’t find records for your well or you just want to know more, contact the previous well owner to ask about their experience owning the well.

The previous owner might not remember every single detail that you’d find in a report, but they’re bound to remember the important details, such as when they had to make a costly well repair or when a dangerous contaminant was detected in their tap water.

You may also find that the previous owner still has records of the well that they can provide to you, answering more of your questions.

Speak to Neighbors

If your neighbors also own private wells, pay them a visit.

Your neighbors will know your local water quality better than anybody else. They’ll be able to tell you what their water contains, how their water’s quality has changed over the years, and what water filter systems they’re using to treat their water.

If your neighbors’ water contains certain contaminants, there’s a good chance that your water does, too. However, it’s still possible for your water to contain a unique set of contaminants, so don’t assume that the quality of your well water will be identical to your neighbor’s.

Consider your Well Depth

The depth of your well is one of the factors determining your water’s level of contamination. Generally, shallow wells that are closer to the surface are more likely to be contaminated by surface runoff and pollution than deep wells.

If your well is shallower than 90 feet, it’s likely to have a higher total dissolved solids count than water from wells deeper than 90 feet.

Installing a shallow well pump

Consider your Well Location

The location of your well also affects the contaminants it could contain.

If your well is located near a septic system or a waste disposal unit, for instance, it’s at risk of bacterial contamination. Or, if your well is located near to a commercial, agricultural, or industrial site, it’s at risk of chemical, metallic, or radiological contamination.

Additionally, your location will determine your local weather patterns, and how these affect your well. Frequent heavy rain can cause flooding around your well and carry pollution into shallow wells.

Test Your Water

Finally, the best way to know whether your well needs treatment is to test your water.

According to the Groundwater Foundation, you should test your water at least once a year for nitrates, bacteria, and other contaminants of concern.

It’s highly unlikely that your well will deliver an endless supply of pure drinking water. Testing your water with a private laboratory will give you a reliable overview of the contaminants your water contains. You can use this information to decide on the type of treatment system that will improve the quality, taste, and safety of your water.

Instrument for testing well water

🪨 Do You Need a Sediment Filter for Well Water?

Sediment filters are designed to remove large particles of dirt, dust, rust, and sand from water.

You may need a sediment filter for your water if it’s cloudy or off-color. Sediment filters can be purchased as standalone units, but they’re a better value for money if they’re used as a first stage in whole house water filters.

sediment filter for well water

🦠 Do You Need a Well Water Bacteria Removal Filter?

Harmful bacteria is invisible, tasteless, and odorless, so you won’t know by looking at, smelling, or tasting your water whether it is contaminated by this microorganism. Wells located near septic tanks are most likely to be contaminated by bacteria.

If your well water test indicates that bacteria is present, you may need to shock-chlorinate your water.

To prevent future contamination, consider installing a treatment system that kills or removes microbes, like chemical injection systems and UV purifiers.

Uv purification system

🚰 Do You Need a Well Water Filter and Water Softener?

If your well water contains contaminants and hardness minerals, you may need a water softener and a well water filter combined. Hardness minerals might contribute to great-tasting water, but they’re incredibly damaging to your home’s plumbing and appliances.

A combination water softener and filter system can soften water and remove common well contaminants.

Water softener and whole house filter

🧠 Should You Filter Well Water: FAQs

What are the common well water contaminants?

Some of the common well water contaminants are hydrogen sulfide, iron, bacteria, manganese, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, sediment, and turbidity. Unlike municipal water, well water shouldn’t contain chemicals used in the disinfection process, like chlorine.

Is well water naturally filtered?

To some extent, well water from an aquifer is naturally filtered. As water seeps through layers of earth and rock, some of the contaminants are naturally removed. However, this process also causes certain contaminants to seep into the water – so while well water may be partially filtered, it isn’t pure. To find out what your well water supply contains, get your water tested by a private laboratory.

Is it safe to drink water from a well?

Drinking water from a well is usually safe, but it isn’t guaranteed. Your well water may be unsafe due to local geology, pollution, or contamination of surface and groundwater supplies. Dangerous drinking water contaminants include industrial chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria, and radiological contaminants. You can make your water safe to drink by using a water filter to remove harmful impurities.

How do you purify well water for drinking?

You can purify well water for drinking by boiling the water, using a water distiller, treating the water with reverse osmosis, or using a UV water purification system. Of all these options, boiling water is the cheapest, but UV purification and reverse osmosis are the quickest and easiest.

Are Brita filters good for well water?

No, Brita filters are simply carbon filters, and they’re only designed to remove chlorine and a handful of heavy metals. These water filters aren’t capable of removing common well water contaminants, like iron, sediment, and bacteria. If you tried to use a Brita filter to remove these contaminants, they’d simply pass straight through the media, or clog the filter media excessively.

Is there a filter in a well?

No, wells aren’t sold with included water filters. To filter your well water, you’ll need to install a separate whole house water filter downstream of your well storage tank that can remove harmful contaminants from water as it travels into your home.

What is the best way to filter my well water?

The best way to filter your well water is with a whole house well water filter. Test your water supply to find out what contaminants it contains, then choose from water filtration systems that are specifically designed to treat these contaminants. Multi-stage filters are the best-value systems because they target a handful of contaminants at once. A whole house filter is better than an under-sink water filter because it’ll treat your entire home’s water supply.