Things You Should Know as a Private Well Owner
No water bills. No service disruptions. The peace of mind that can only come from knowing exactly where your drinking water comes from. There are many benefits to owning a private water well!
But like any other investment which makes you more self-sufficient, owning a water well comes with extra responsibility. If you install a water well at your home, farm or place of work, you should stay on the lookout for common signs of water well problems. A little diligence is the best way to ensure you always enjoy a supply of clean and healthful water.
Smelly or Discolored Water
Several contaminants can make your well water unpleasant to the senses. For example, hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) can give your water a distinctive “rotten egg” odor. H2S may occur naturally in the soil surrounding the well, or sulfur bacteria may alternatively produce it.
Sulfur bacteria are not harmful on their own, but the gas they produce is toxic in high enough concentrations. If you detect slime in your well or plumbing, stains on your plumbing fixtures, or corrosion on your pipes, then you must send your well water to a laboratory for testing. If the lab confirms the presence of sulfur bacteria, professional mitigation is necessary to make your water safe and healthy once more.
Well water can become discolored for a number of reasons. Iron, which stains water reddish-brown, is the most common culprit. Consuming trace amounts of iron is actually good for your health, but it will stain your plumbing fixtures and even your clothing when it exists in high enough concentrations. The installation of a simple filter is often enough to remove most of the iron from your well water.
Low Water Pressure
This problem is easy to detect, although it is attributable to one of several potential problems. It is possible that iron bacteria are clogging the well screen, pump or length of pipe leading up to the pressure switch. Destroying these bacteria typically requires thoroughly scrubbing the inside of the well with a special chemical solution.
When bacteria aren’t responsible for unsatisfactory water pressure, the problem is likely mechanical. A malfunctioning gate, pressure tank or check valve can all cause water pressure to drop. Raising the water pressure by adjusting the pressure switch often provides the quick and easy fix, but in many cases repairing or replacing a part is the only viable solution.
If your faucets noisily sputter whenever you turn them on, the problem is most likely caused by air that has become trapped in the higher points of your plumbing system. Fortunately, fixing the problem is often easy as letting all the faucets in your home run for 10 minutes.
If running your faucets does not put a stop to their sputtering, that could indicate a far more serious problem such as a low water table or a malfunctioning pipe. In either event, professional repair is necessary to put a stop to the sputtering once and for all.
Water Is Dirty or Sandy
Sand and other sediment won’t just make your water unpleasant to drink, clean with and bathe in. Gritty water will accelerate wear and tear on your well pump, as well as every appliance and fixture it supplies water to.
If your water is sandy, it is possible that the water level surrounding your well has dropped. Alternatively, it could simply mean that your well’s mesh filter screen has corroded or otherwise degraded to a point where it is no longer effective at its job. In the latter case the solution is as simple as installing a new screen, which is no difficult task for a water well contractor.
Short Cycling Well Pump
Is your water well’s pump turning on and off again at a rapid pace while in operation? That is called “short cycling,” and it damages the pump in addition to all of the plumbing connected to it.
Short cycling commonly results from too little air in the water pressure tank, which often necessitates replacement of either the air volume control or the entire tank itself. Short cycling may also stem from a broken, defective or malfunctioning pressure switch or check valve.
It is also possible for sediment or hard water scaling to cause short cycling by clogging or constricting the pressure tube. In any event, professional maintenance or repair is necessary to stop short cycling and avert further damage to the pump.
High Electricity Bills
Has your electricity usage recently started to skyrocket? That may indicate that your water pump has become clogged and now requires more electricity to do the same job as before – or, if you are less fortunate, that your water pump is nearing the end of its lifespan.
If your pump is in fact operating flawlessly, then its check valve may be responsible for high energy usage. When a check valve malfunctions, it will allow water from the pressure tank to return to the well. Your well pump will short cycle as the result, needlessly devouring electricity as it performs the same job over and over again!
If you live or do business in western Minnesota or eastern North Dakota, then you can always contact Geo-Tech of Minnesota for all your water well repair and maintenance needs. Our owner Steve has been in the water well business for over three decades, and he and our team can detect and fix any water well problems however common or rare they might be!