Well Lifespan Revealed: How Long Before Your Well Runs Dry?

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If you get your water from a private well, you’ll want to enjoy the benefits of free water on tap for as long as possible.

But even the biggest, best wells don’t last forever. In this guide, we’ve shared the answer to the question, “How long does a well last?”

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Most water wells last 30-50 years on average.
  • A well’s life expectancy is affected by its size, age, and quality of construction, maintenance and upkeep, environmental factors (like droughts and earthquakes), and water demand.
  • You can prolong the lifespan of a well by getting it regularly inspected and maintained, managing your water usage, and considering deeper well drilling.

📈 How Long Does A Well Last?

A well lasts 30-50 years on average.

However, some wells last longer than this – up to 100 years.

The average well’s life expectancy depends on factors including the well’s size, type, and quality of construction, outside factors like the weather and the general geographic location, and the well water demand.

Types of Wells & their Average Lifespans

There are several different types of wells, and they each have their own specific estimated lifespans:

Well TypeLifespan
Dug wells15-30 years
Driven wells20-40 years
Bored or drilled wells30-50 years
Cased or sealed wells50-100 years

You should know what type of well you have. Check your well records if you’re unsure. Your well records should also detail the date that your well was drilled, so you can work out roughly how long the well is expected to last.

Contractors drilling a shallow well

📆 Lifespan Of Well Components

So, we know how long a well should last before it runs dry. But what about the various well components? What are their lifespans and when should you expect to replace them?

Well Pump Lifespan

The average lifespan of a well pump is 8-15 years. A pump’s exact life expectancy depends on the type of pump, the water quality and temperature, and the pump’s daily running time.

👨‍🔧 Find more information on well pump lifespan in this guide.

Pressure Tank Lifespan

The lifespan of a well pressure tank is around 15 years, as long as the tank only holds clean water and is the right size for your water demands. The tank’s longevity is affected by factors including its materials (bladder tanks last longer than unlined steel tanks), and the water quality and pH.

Pressure Switch Lifespan

Most pressure switches can provide 15-20 years of reliable service. Factors affecting the lifespan of a pressure switch include the quality of the build, the water’s sediment content, and the frequency of use.

Well pump pressure switch

Well Casing Lifespan

Most well casings made from carbon steel last 10-35 years, with an average lifespan of 25 years. Cases made from stainless steel or High-Strength Low Alloy (HSLA) steel last longer (up to 75 years+) and are more expensive upfront.

Well Screen Lifespan

A well screen should last 20-30 years on average, as long as it receives proper care and maintenance. The exact lifespan of a well screen depends on factors including the water chemistry and mineral content, the quality of the materials used in the screen construction, and the level of maintenance and upkeep.

📊 Factors that Affect the Lifespan of a Well

A well’s life expectancy is determined by a number of factors:

The Type Of Well

The type of well you own will determine its life expectancy.

Generally, hand-dug wells (which are uncommon nowadays thanks to modern technology) have the shortest lifespan of 15-30 years, while cased or sealed wells last the longest: around 50-100 years.

Well Size

The well size also affects its lifespan.

The bigger the aquifer and the more water it holds, the longer it’ll take for all the water to be depleted. That means you should get more years of use out of your well before it dries up.

On the other hand, small wells with a much more limited water resource will be used up within fewer years, so they have shorter lifespans in general.

Experts measuring well depth with professional measuring device
Image Source: usgs.gov

Well Water Quality

Since wells are designed to deliver water, the quality of the water flowing through the well system will have a direct effect on the lifespan of the well components.

Contaminants like sediment and hardness minerals can cause pump damage and clog the water tank, reducing their efficiency and shortening the lifespans.

You’ll probably notice that your water pressure or water flow rate reduces due to high levels of sediment or hardness minerals in your water supply, and your water may look cloudy or discolored.

Quality of Construction and Materials Used

The quality of construction and materials used also affect how long a well lasts.

Wells with sturdy, durable casings and screens made from PVC or stainless steel should last longer than those made with poorer-quality, less durable materials like carbon steel.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Providing the proper maintenance and upkeep for your well will play a key role in extending its lifespan.

Be sure to hire a licensed professional to perform annual well inspections and identify any problems before they become major issues in your well system. While maintenance and upkeep won’t stop your well from aging, they’ll stop preventable issues from cutting short its lifespan.

A professional well contractor will also update your well records with important information relating to your well’s life expectancy, including the flow rate, static water level, and pumping water level of the well. This will help you to track the performance of the well over the years and identify problems years before they cause a complete loss of water.

Water well maintenance

Water Usage/Well Demands

Your water usage, and the demand you put on your well, will also determine its life expectancy.

The more water you pump from the well, the more the well’s components will be in use, and the faster the water levels will deplete. If you put too much strain on a well, you may need to repair or replace the components more frequently, and your well might dry out at a faster rate.

Environmental Factors

Finally, environmental factors and your general geographic location may often shorten your well’s life expectancy.

Does your location experience seasonal droughts? If you live in a region with long, dry periods, you may experience a temporary or complete loss of water in your well. Droughts are known to reduce your well’s recovery rate, meaning that the well can’t replenish its underground water supply at the same speed that you’re using water from the aquifer.

Environmental disasters like flooding and earthquakes can also damage a well or alter the structure of the aquifer, causing early well failure and significantly shortening its life expectancy.

If your neighbors also have private wells, ask them if they’ve noticed a difference in the way that water flows out of their well system or have seen a change in their water table. This will help you to determine whether environmental factors may be at play.

🤔 Why Do Wells Have Limited Lifespans?

Wondering why a well water system doesn’t last forever? It’s because a well will naturally run out of water in the aquifer.

It takes years for an underground aquifer to fill with water.

As the water in the aquifer is used, it will also be replenished. But water is used at a faster rate than it can be replenished, and there will come a time when the aquifer is emptied and the well dries out.

It’s uncommon for a well to dry out permanently, and you should be able to use the aquifer again – but only after waiting a few years for it to refill.

Along with the gradual water decline, a well will eventually stop working due to failure or degradation of important parts in the well system, like the pump, well casing, and pressure tank.

Luckily, these parts can often be repaired or replaced to save the need of drilling an entirely new well – but the cost is usually in the thousands.

Dry water well

🧐 How To Prolong The Lifespan Of A Well

There are a few ways that you can extend your well’s life expectancy:

These include:

Regular Professional Inspection & Maintenance

First thing’s first, make sure your well is routinely inspected and receives maintenance when necessary.

Hire a professional well contractor to inspect your well once a year and make detailed notes of their observations. If the well contractor recommends repairs or replacements to your well, follow their advice. Keeping your well in top condition will prevent damage and leaks that could shorten the well’s life expectancy.

Well Drilling

If a well is about to dry out, you may be able to extend its lifespan by hiring a professional to drill deeper into the ground. Deeper drilling may uncover new pockets of water and replenish the aquifer.

You’ll need to hire a professional well construction company to organize and carry out well drilling on your property. When done properly, deeper drilling of your well should obtain an efficient water delivery system and add years of extra life onto your well.

Install A Sediment Filter

Drilled wells commonly yield sediment-heavy water because aquifers contain loose sand and other debris, which are sucked up by the water pump. Numerous well components – including submersible pumps and pressure tanks – may become damaged or clogged by sediment, shortening their lifespans.

You can extend the lifespan of these well components and improve your water quality by installing a sediment filter. Your well pump might also have a built-in filter or screen that needs to be changed or maintained periodically.

Whole house sediment filter install

Manage Your Water Usage

The more water you use in a well, the faster the water level will fall. Plus, excess water use will put more demand on the well components, including the well pump and pressure tank, causing them to wear at a faster rate.

So, reducing your residential water usage will decrease the well water output and extend the well’s life expectancy.

You can conserve water in numerous ways, including by shortening your shower times, switching off the faucet when you wash your dishes or brush your teeth, and only using water-using appliances when absolutely necessary.

As a result of your water conservation, the pump should draw water less frequently from the well, and the groundwater levels should remain consistent.

📑 Final Word

Even if you have the very best, biggest, sturdiest well that money can buy, the entire well probably won’t outlive you.

There’s a good chance that you’ll need to replace various components over the years, including the well pump, the pressure tank, and the well screen.

We strongly recommend putting a bit of money aside every month into an emergency well fund. Whenever the well runs into a problem, you can use the fund to hire a well contractor, who can identify and resolve the issue before it has a negative impact on the entire well.

❔ How Long Do Water Wells Last? FAQ

Does a well last forever?

No, wells don’t last forever. The average lifespan of a drinking water well is 30-50 years. Eventually, a well’s water yield will deplete so much that the well will dry up. Plus, the well parts, like the water pump and the pressure tank, will become old and worn. You might be able to restore water by hiring a contractor to increase the well depth and access new pockets of water within the same aquifer.

What are the signs that a well needs to be replaced?

Some of the signs that a well needs to be replaced are reduced water pressure or water output, a well pump that works longer hours to pump water, physical damage to the well system, or an increase in contaminants in your water supply. Get a professional to inspect your well as soon as possible if you notice any of these issues.

Is replacing a well expensive?

Yes, it’s generally expensive to replace a well – but the exact cost depends on which parts of the well you need to replace. The cost of drilling an entirely new well is $25 to $65 per foot, which equals around $4,000 to $15,000 for the full well, depending on the depth. Replacing a few major well components in an existing well may be cheaper – around $250-$3,000, depending on the components in question.

Can a well last 100 years?

Yes, with the right maintenance and servicing, some types of wells last up to 100 years – or even longer. Cased or sealed wells last the longest, and are the well type most likely to last beyond 100 years. That’s because these wells are the most sturdily built and resistant to damage and wear and tear.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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