How to Clean Sand Out of a Water Well (Expert’s Guide)

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Sand is one of the most common impurities to end up in your water well. While small amounts of sand are likely in wells, the sudden presence of sand, dirt, or sediment is rarely a good sign.

Thankfully, with the right equipment and processes, you can flush sand out of your well, which should make a significant difference to your water quality.

In this guide, we’ll be sharing the best methods to clear sand out of your water well including using spin down filter screens and centrifugal separators

🧱 Why Does Well Water Contain Sand?

There are several reasons why your well water might contain sand:

Your Well Casing or Well Screen Has Degraded

The most common reason why your well may pump sand is that your well casing or screen has degraded.

When a well is installed, it’s lined with iron, steel, or plastic. This casing is installed in the well shaft and is protected by a well screen, which allows the water to enter the well pump while preventing grit and sand from doing the same.

Over the lifespan of the well, the casing seals the well to prevent contamination, and the well screen filters out large particles of sand or sediment. If your casing has a crack, or your screen has developed a hole, sediment and sand may be able to find its way inside your well.

Improper Well Pump Placement

Most well pumps in deep wells are submersible pumps, meaning that they’re submerged under the water in the well aquifer.

The ideal install location of a well pump is between ten and twenty feet above the base of the well system. If your well pump is installed too close to the bottom of the well, it may draw sand into your water.

The well shaft of old well water systems may become full of sand and silt, causing the well to pump sand from this buildup.

Oversized Well Pump

Correctly sizing your well pump is essential to prevent a buildup of sand inside the well system.

If the well pump is too powerful for your well size, it may have a strong enough force to draw both water and sand out of the surrounding aquifer, resulting in a buildup of sand and sediment in your water lines.

Oversized well pump

Poor Well Treatment

Once your well has been drilled, the well will receive treatment to remove sediment that may have entered the pump during the installation process. If your well isn’t correctly treated before it’s put to use, you might have a large amount of lingering sediment in your water.

If you can’t work out the cause of the sand in your well’s water, ask a local contractor to inspect your well. They should be able to determine why your well water is sandy and whether there’s a design fault in your well system that can be remedied.

🪨 Is Sand in Well Water Dangerous?

No, sand in well water isn’t dangerous. Sand and sediment in your water supply is unlikely to make you sick, but there are a few reasons why you should still remove this debris from your water.

First, if your well water supply suddenly contains a lot of sand, it’s a sign of a potential problem in your well system. If your well is letting sand in, it could be letting in other, more dangerous contaminants, like bacteria.

Secondly, sand in well water is abrasive. Over time, fast-flowing sandy water will damage your home’s pipes and appliances, leading to expensive repairs and replacements.

Sand in well water

❔ What to Do If You Discover Sand In Well Water

If you suddenly notice a significant amount of sand in your well water, it’s best to seek advice from your well driller or pump contractor, who can diagnose and discuss the problem.

A professional well contractor will advise that you take the appropriate action depending on the cause of sand and sediment in your well.

To diagnose the issue, the well contractor may insert a camera into your well, allowing them to examine the well screen and see if it needs to be replaced. The contractor may also raise the pump to several feet higher to prevent it from pumping sand from the base of the well.

New Casing

In some situations, your well contractor may advise replacing the casing.

There’s no point in trying to filter sand out of your private well if the sand is entering the well through cracked or damaged casing.

If the casing is very old, your only choice may be to replace the degraded casing entirely. To help you save money, if your well’s casing isn’t too badly damaged, your well contractor may be able to install special screens to keep the sand out.

Related Content: Water Well Maintenance Checklist

📖 How to Remove Sand in Well Water

If repairing your well isn’t possible or doesn’t remedy the issue, you may need to look at ways to remove sand from your water before it enters your plumbing system.

There are two popular options for removing sand from well water:

Spin-Down Filter Screens

A spin-down filter screen traps sand and coarse sediment in a mesh screen – usually about 60 or 100 microns in size – filtering the water as it flows into the well pump.

Spin-down filter screens have a manual spin-down flush valve: a small valve that you can open to flush the sediment and sand out of the filter. If your water usage is high, consider installing an automatic ball valve to flush the filter for you and keep the sand trap clean. The ability to flush the filter extends its lifespan, so you don’t need to replace it as frequently as a cartridge filter.

A spin-down filter screen is installed after your well pressure tank, preventing debris and sand from entering your home’s plumbing system.

Spin-down filters can be combined with other smaller-micron sediment filters to tackle various sizes of sediment, minimizing maintenance and maximizing performance.

RKIN Dragon Self-Cleaning Spin Down 90 Micron Sediment - Installation and Maintenance

Looking for great deals? Check out our Top-Rated Sediment Filters for Well Water of 2024

Centrifugal Sand Separators

Centrifugal sand separator systems remove up to 99% of particles that are 74 microns or larger from well water with centrifugal force. These systems push large particles against a separator wall, where the particles are pulled into the holding chamber, past the spin trap plate, by gravitational force.

A centrifugal sand separator has no cartridges to clean or replace, and no moving parts that could wear out, so it’s another long-lasting sand removal option. Accumulated sediment in the holding chamber can simply be drained out of the bottom of the system. Sometimes this is done manually with manual ball valves. Systems with an automatic flush valve can automatically flush out the sediment.

Centrifugal separators are durable and should prevent fine sand from being drawn into your well pump for years. You’ll just need to purge the separator from time to time to remove the built-up sediment.

Continue Reading: Overall Best Well Water Filtration Products Reviewed (Updated for 2024)

📑 Takeaway

Common reasons for sand in wells are degraded well screens or casing, an improperly sized or poorly-located well pump, or poor well treatment.

If your local contractor discovers a fault in your well that is allowing sediment into the pump, you may need to repair or replace certain components in your well to prevent an accumulation of debris in your water pipes. The worst-case scenario is that you may need a new well altogether.

In many cases, however, you should be able to control the build-up of sand, silt, and debris in your well by using a spin-down filter or centrifugal separator.

  • 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.

2 thoughts on “How to Clean Sand Out of a Water Well (Expert’s Guide)”

  1. Avatar for Jennifer Byrd
    Roger John Brusehaber

    Hi Jennifer-We recently purchased a cabin that has a deep well, It had a single cartridge whole house filter with a paper filter that needed changing every few weeks. Since a water test indicated that we had iron I opted to replace the paper filter with an iron/manganese cartridge along with the installation of a spin down filter with a 50 micron screen. The screen on the spindown got coated rather quickly(it would not flush out with the spindown feature)so I went to a 100 micron screen which seems to work, but the iron/manganese filter got exhausted prematurely. The pressure was also greatly reduced. Would a Rusco sand separator work better and what about a “big blue” cartridge filter system for greater capacity and increased water pressure? Thank you

    1. Avatar for Jennifer Byrd

      Hey Roger, thanks for your comment. Have you had the well water tested by a lab? Are you sure it’s sediment that’s causing the clogging issue and not something else?

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