Water Well Maintenance: The 2022 Ultimate Checklist

Owning your own residential well means you’re not dependent on a municipal water source, which often means you can save money and enjoy better-tasting drinking water. But you can only access the benefits of owning a well if you perform the right maintenance at the right times.

In this ultimate maintenance guide, I’ve covered everything you need to know about maintaining your well and ensuring that your water is clean and safe to drink.

๐Ÿ“Œ How to Maintain a Well

There are several practices you should commit to in order to properly maintain your well. These include:

  1. Annual inspections
  2. Regular testing
  3. Hiring licensed professionals
  4. Proper separation
  5. Looking for changes
  6. Keeping hazardous materials away
  7. Taking care while mowing
  8. Not allowing back siphonage
  9. Being mindful while landscaping
  10. Checking the cap and cover
  11. Decommissioning and sealing off old wells
  12. Keeping updated records & logs

๐Ÿ” Annual Well System Inspections

If your well is properly constructed, it should provide quality service for years, even decades. However, it is still recommended by The National Ground Water Association to perform annual inspections on your well.

Routinely inspecting your well can help you to look out for changes in your well’s setup and performance. You can make sure the well system is operating as it should. If you do discover potential issues, you can resolve them as soon as possible.

Person inspecting a well-pump

Your local well contractor should be able to carry out an annual well system inspection. Inspections usually include:

  • An inspection of the equipment and components that make up the well, ensuring they are sanitary and meet requirements in your local area.
  • A flow test and water level checking to ensure the pump is operating as it should.
  • A water test for contaminants (discussed more below).

You can inspect your well yourself, but you may not know what to look out for. Professional water well system contractors have plenty of knowledge of what a working well should look like. They can look at your well and tell you whether you’re dealing with an issue, or whether certain components are showing signs of wear and tear, and may cause problems several months down the line.

๐Ÿงช Test Your Water

Your professional well system inspection may include water testing. If not, you can test your water yourself.

There are several common well water contaminants that you can test for:

  • Coliform bacteria – which could be disease-causing and are very dangerous in a drinking water supply
  • Iron, sulfides, water hardness, manganese, and other impurities that may damage your water well system and home’s plumbing.
  • Nitrates, which are common in groundwater sources and can have serious health effects.

You should perform well water testing once a year, or any time you notice a change in your water’s taste, odor, or quality. You should also test your well’s water if members of your family get sick, even if you don’t believe your well water to be the cause.

Your local health department should be able to give you information about any water quality issues in your area. You should test for any contaminants that are known to be present in your local groundwater.

Instrument for testing well water

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ”ง Always Use Licensed Professionals

Well maintenance isn’t a straightforward task. It can be especially complex when testing and servicing a well as a new well owner. Choosing the right contractor to inspect your well and perform water well maintenance is essential. Look for licensed, certified professionals with a history of positive experience in the industry.

The contractor servicing or maintaining your well should keep a record of their actions with well logs. Ask around in your local area to see who other well owners recommend. A good reputation is one of the most telling signs of a responsible, reliable, experienced well contractor.

๐Ÿก Ensure Proper Separation

An important water well maintenance factor is to ensure your well is properly distanced from any buildings, waste systems, or chemicals. If you’ve been experiencing contamination issues with your well, inadequate separation from these buildings may be the issue.

This is a consideration that should have been made when your well was installed. However, if you’ve just moved to a home with a well, or you weren’t aware of this requirement before installing your well, you will need to remedy the problem during well maintenance.

You may need to drill a new well if your existing well is too close to chemical storage or a septic tank. Your well should be around 50 feet away from anything that could contaminate your water. This will help you to better maintain your well in the long run.

Speak to your local well contractor if you don’t think your well is properly separated from potential sources of pollution or contamination.

Suggested distance between well water and septic tank
Source: Mississippi State University Extension

โš ๏ธ Be Alert for Changes

I’ve mentioned already that you should test your water if you notice any changes in water quality. As a well owner, you should look out for these changes and take corrective action as soon as you notice an issue.

It’s not only your water’s appearance, smell, color and taste that you should monitor. Changes in the area around the well, or within the well system itself, could affect your water quality without you knowing.

Make sure you’re familiar with how your well looks and operates when it’s working properly. Visually inspect your well and the surrounding area regularly.

There are several indicators for when your water well system should be looked at by a professional:

  • The well has to be opened, and the cap removed
  • Your water quality has changed
  • Your well doesn’t produce as much water as it used to
  • You test your water and results are positive for coliform bacteria
  • There are defects in the wellhead or other components of the well, and you don’t have the tools or the knowledge to address these defects

If something doesn’t look right, call a professional for a second opinion.

โ˜ฃ๏ธ Keep Hazardous Materials Away From Your Well

It’s a given that you shouldn’t install your well near septic tanks or chemical storage. But how much thought have you put into protecting the area around your well?

A big part of well maintenance is being vigilant in preventing exposure to hazardous materials. You should keep the space around your water well system clear of anything that could damage the well or affect the quality of your water

Hazardous chemicals or materials like paint and motor oil should be stored at least 50 feet away from your well. Proper storage is essential, too – a leaking paint can could result in widespread pollution if left unnoticed.

You should also be careful when treating your garden around your well. Pesticides and herbicides could soak into the ground and end up in your well’s aquifer.

Chemicals in ground water affecting well water quality
Source: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

๐Ÿšœ Be Careful While Mowing Near Your Well

One of the most common causes of damaged well casing is mowing. You might not link your lawn mowing duties to well maintenance, but being careful when mowing around your well will ensure that your water well system doesn’t come to any harm.

If you can’t mow your lawn without hitting your well casing, you should consider safer methods of cutting the grass around your well. It may take more time, but it’ll save you the potential cost of repairs to your well casing.

๐Ÿ”ฉ Don’t Allow Back-Siphonage

Back-siphonage is when water flows in the opposite direction to the direction it usually travels. Back-siphonage is one of the biggest private well issues as it can cause contaminated water to be drawn back into a supply of clean water.

An essential water well maintenance task is to check for back-siphonage and amend the problem if there is one. Back-siphonage is often caused by negative pressure in the waterline, which could indicate that an area of your well system is damaged or broken.

You should call a water well contractor and help them determine where the negative pressure is coming from. A simple solution is to install a backflow preventer valve. If there’s an issue with the well itself, your contractor will need to carry out repairs or replacements.

water backflow preventer check valve

๐ŸŒณ Be Mindful When Landscaping

Flooding a well can result in pollutants contaminating your well water. It’s important to check your well’s drainage regularly to ensure that no flooding has taken place.

If you’re landscaping your garden, ensure your well is at least one foot above the ground to allow for proper drainage. If your well is in a dip in your garden, water may collect around it, resulting in contamination.

You can speak to a water well contractor if you’re uncertain. They will tell you what you should avoid doing when landscaping your garden.

๐Ÿ•ณ Regularly Check the Well Cover & Well Cap

Well covers and well caps don’t last forever. These components are often forgotten during water well maintenance.

Your well’s cover and cap play an important role in protecting your well from the elements. Well caps prevent insects, small animals, sand, soil, rain, and other pollutants from getting into your well. An improperly sealed or defective well cap increases your risk of water well contamination.

You should check that your well cap has a tight seal and isn’t cracked or worn. If problems are found, you may need to replace the seal or the entire cap, depending on the extent of degradation.

A well cover can offer extra protection when placed over a well cap. Ensure your well cover is in a good condition and consider replacing it if the material has degraded.

Concrete well cap not sealed properly

โœ… Properly Decommission & Seal Off Old Wells

The average water well system has a lifespan of about 40 years. If your well has reached the end of its lifespan, you will need to drill a second one. But what should you do with your existing well?

You might think that you can just leave it as it is. However, this could result in your old well contaminating your new well. The well’s casings could rust or deteriorate, creating a hazardous environment. An old, leaking well could also contaminate a neighbor’s well, resulting in liability issues.

If you’ve just moved to a property with a well, keep in mind that the previous owners may not have safely sealed off any old wells on the property. Depressions in the ground, pipes sticking out of the ground, and concrete pits are all signs that an old well may still be located on your property.

The best practice is to arrange for a water well contractor to decommission and seal off an old water well for you. This will prevent contamination between the two.

๐Ÿ“ Keep Updated Well Records

If you own a private well, you should keep a well log. Well logs contain important information about your well and the surrounding area.

This information includes:

  • Your well’s unique reference number.
  • The details of the well owner (you), including your contact number and name.
  • The details of your well construction, including the well’s location, depth and diameter, the method of well drilling, and the type of screen, pump, and casing.
  • Records of well testing, including water well inspection findings relating to water levels and water production.
  • Information on the geological formations surrounding the drilled well and at what depths these were found.

You will need to submit a well log to your state government when your new well is drilled. You should keep a copy of this log and continue to new a record of the regular maintenance and inspections carried out on your well throughout its lifespan.

A well report will make it easy for you to keep track of your activities and make sure you schedule inspections and testing on time.