A well can typically replenish water at a rate of five gallons per minute (GPM). However this can vary depending on a number of different factors.
So, a 600-gallon well should take about two hours to refill.
This assumes that the well is in great condition and is located in a region with permeable soil and frequent rainfall. Wells in poor condition, wells in dry areas, or wells in populated areas with a lot of nearby farmland will refill at a slower rate – over several days or even weeks
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📥 How to Know If Your Well is Running Dry
Wondering whether your well is beginning to run out of water? Look out for the following signs:
- Different water taste or smell: When your well water depth drops, you may notice an unusual taste or smell in your drinking water. This is often because the pump is drawing water from right at the bottom of the well, which is naturally higher in sediment and minerals.
- Your water is no longer crystal-clear: Muddy or murky water is another sign that your well is drying out, because the water at the bottom of the well is sediment-heavy.
- Your faucets are spitting and sputtering. Spitting faucets are a sign that your well’s water levels have dropped and your pump intake is reduced. Air in your plumbing system often indicates that the pumps are drawing air from the well due to a decreased water table.
- Your pump is running for longer than usual: Prolonged pump running periods, or a pump switching on and off too frequently, are signs that your pump is working overtime to draw water from the well.
- Your neighbors have reported similar problems: If you share the same water source as your neighbors, speak to them to see if they’re facing similar problems. If they are, your water table has probably dropped.
Related: How to clear up muddy well water
📖 Factors Affecting How Quickly A Well Replenishes Itself
All these factors contribute to how quickly your well water can replenish:
The Well Depth
The depth of a well – how many feet below the ground the well is drilled – is one of the biggest factors affecting how many gallons of water a well can produce.
Most wells are dug between 100 and 500 feet below the earth to tap into an underground aquifer.
Deep wells tend to have more space to fill than shallow wells, so it often takes them more time to refill completely. The larger the hole, the longer it’ll take to use up all the water in the well.
Over time, dirt and sediment start to collect inside the bottom of the well. A shallow well fills with sediment at a faster rate than a deep well. The faster the well fills, the faster the well loses space for fresh water.
The Well Casing Construction
The construction of the well casing also affects how fast your well can refill.
Well casing is a protective barrier around the well that protects the components from sediment, minerals, and organic matter from the surrounding rocks and soil. Well casing is typically made from heavy-duty PVC or stainless steel.
Cracks or deterioration in the well casing can eventually cause water to escape. This prevents the well from being able to refill fully, because water will continuously leak out of the casing, regardless of how much water enters the well.
Eventually, the well casing may even collapse. The average lifespan of well casing is 25 to 35 years, depending on the materials used.
Damaged or Worn Well Screen
A worn or damaged well screen could affect how long it takes your well to refill.
The well screen is located at the bottom of the well. The screen allows water to pass into the well while preventing sediment and sand from entering. If the screen becomes damaged over prolonged use, it’ll allow dirt to enter the well.
This dirt will clog up the well, reducing the amount of available space in the well. In this scenario, you’ll probably find that the well refills at a faster rate, but there’s less available space.
Damaged Well Cap
The structural integrity of your well cap affects how quickly your well fills with water, and whether or not your well becomes polluted.
A broken well cap will allow rainfall to enter your well, filling it up at a faster rate. The problem here is that rainfall often introduces pollutants into your well. So, while you might think a broken well cap is fine, it may actually be dangerous.
It’s best to block off water from entering your well through the well cap. Direct rain water doesn’t have the benefit of traveling through multiple layers of rock and soil, which act as natural filters. You’ll need to spend more money on water treatment solutions to make your water safe to drink.
Broken Submersible Pump
A broken submersible pump will affect water flow from your well. Your submersible pump uses power to push water up through the well water system.
If your well pump breaks, you may think that your well has ran out of water, when actually, the water just can’t reach your home.
Learn more about Your Well Water Pump’s Lifespan here. 👈
Broken Pitless Adapter
Pitless adapters are designed to prevent your well water from freezing.
A damaged or broken pitless adapter may offer no protection against water freezing, causing your water well to refill at a slower rate. Fixing your pitless adapter is a quick way to restore high-pressure water to your household.
Your Surrounding Geology
Your surrounding geology can also affect how long it takes your water well to refill. Here are some of the geological factors that affect whether or not a well can recharge quickly:
- Whether the well has an aquifer – An aquifer will give you much greater and steadier access to water. You’re more likely to notice reduced water pressure and wait extended periods between well refills if your well isn’t drilled into an aquifer, and you’re relying on water seepage from rainfall or surface water from a nearby stream to recharge the well.
- The amount of sediment and silt in the aquifer – Aquifers with high sediment or silt don’t only affect water quality; they also take up valuable space, reducing the amount of water that can be held. A thick layer of sediment at the bottom of the well will eventually rise to the surface, blocking the flow of water and damaging the pump.
- Your local climate and temperature – If you live in an area that sees frequent droughts, it’s likely to take longer for your water well to refill. During a drought, the groundwater runs low, and it may take weeks or months for the well to fully recharge. This is especially an issue if you share a rapidly depleting aquifer with your neighbors.
- The permeability of the aquifer structure – The materials that surround the aquifer affect the speed at which water passes into the structure. If the aquifer is surrounded by a semi-impervious recharge area, like diabase, water will take longer to pass through. Materials like siltstone, on the other hand, are highly permeable, and water will pass through quickly.
Your Local Population
How long does it take for a single well to refill if it’s the only well connected to a local aquifer? Perhaps just a few hours.
But if there are multiple wells all tapping into the same aquifer, the water will be depleted at a faster rate, reducing how much water is available for each well.
📌 The larger the local population of well users, the longer it takes for wells to refill. This is especially likely to be a problem if a lot of your neighbors fill their pools with well water, or your well aquifer is used by local farms.
🤔 How Do Wells Replenish Themselves?
The main way that wells replenish themselves is by drawing water from the aquifer.
The aquifer is an underground water source sandwiched between layers of rock and soil. Water seeps through the ground before collecting in the aquifer.
How does the aquifer stay full of water? Rainwater, melting snow, lake water, and river water all seep slowly into the ground to refill the aquifer, giving the well a constant water supply.
🚱 How to Prevent Well Water from Running Out
There’s no way to know for certain how long it’ll take your well to replenish itself after running dry. For this reason, it’s not worth the risk of allowing your well to reach this state.
Follow these steps to prevent your well water from running out:
Understand your Groundwater Level Cycles
The best way to protect yourself against a dry well situation is to learn about your local groundwater level cycles. When does groundwater rise in your region, and when does it fall? Knowing this information will help you to prepare for potential dry spells and alter your water usage accordingly.
Generally, water levels rise in the fall, then drop in the winter during icy temperatures. Snow fall can cause water levels to rise again, and in the spring, a lack of rainfall and additional plant growth will cause water levels to drop again.
Use your Water Responsibly
Never take your well water supply for granted. It’s a good habit to treat your water as preciously as if you were paying for it per gallon, as you would with a municipal water supply. This should prevent you from wasting water or needlessly using water in your home.
If you have any large tasks that don’t require drinking water, consider using collected rainwater instead. For instance, watering your lawn or filling your pool can be done with any type of water.
Check for Leaks
Even a small leak from a pipe or a faucet can cause your well supply to dry out at a much faster rate. A leaky faucet alone can be responsible for more than 3,000 gallons of water waste per year.
Leaking pipes, faucets and fixtures will increase your water usage even when you’re not actually using water. This will mean that your pump must draw water at an increased rate from your well, reducing the water in your aquifer. Regularly check for, and fix, leaks to prevent hundreds of wasted gallons of water around your home.
🧠 How Fast Does Well Water Replenish? FAQs
Do wells replenish themselves?
Yes, wells replenish themselves by drawing water from the underground aquifer.
Can a dry well refill?
Yes. If your well has dried out due to a lack of rainfall or overuse of water, the well should refill itself over time. The rate at which the well will refill itself depends on the well’s position in the ground and your local rainfall. If the well isn’t completely dried out, you can temporarily lower the well pump to access more water during dry periods.
What happens if you run out of well water?
If you run out of well water, your home’s water supply will run dry. This can be problematic if you rely on your well for water for drinking, washing, showering, and using water-based appliances.
What do you do when well water runs dry?
When your well water runs dry, you can obtain more water by either paying for the well to be drilled deeper, the water pump to be lowered (this won’t work if you have a jet pump), or – in a worst-case scenario – a new well to be drilled. If you don’t want to spend money on a permanent solution, there’s nothing you can do except wait for your water to replenish.
How long does it take for a well to run out of water?
Most wells last for about 30 years before completely running out of water. A decline in water output is usually caused by a buildup of sediment and minerals over the years. The faster the sediment accumulates, the faster your well will dry out.