3 Mistakes Well Owners Should Never Make

Posted on: 12 November 2015

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About 15% of Americans use private wells for their household's water needs, and if you're one of them, you may be making mistakes that can put your health in danger. Here are three mistakes that well owners should never make.

Not getting the water tested

Municipal water users don't need to test their water because it is the government's responsibility, but when you have a well, testing the water is your job. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, about 23% of private wells are sufficiently contaminated to pose a health concern to users. The most frequent contaminants come from the rocks and sediments in your area and include dangerous substances like arsenic. Contaminants can also come from human activities, such as nitrates or animal feces from nearby farms. Things like fertilizer, pesticides, pool chemicals, and other contaminants can also get into your well due to your own land use.

Most homeowners only test their well water when it develops a strange smell or taste, but since many contaminants don't change the look or smell of your water, you should have your well tested on a regular schedule. Regular testing may seem like common sense, but a Canadian study indicated that only 10.7% of well owners test their well at least once a year.

If contaminants are found, your plumber can help you disinfect the well and make structural changes to the well to keep future contaminants out of your water. These changes may include repairs to the well, filtration systems, backflow prevention systems, or other plumbing fixes.

Burying the well head

Well heads can be an eyesore, especially if they're in the middle of your yard, but burying them beneath the soil is a very bad idea. While buried well heads look better, they're more dangerous for you and your family.

When the well head is underground, it's much easier for bacteria, like coliform, to get inside the well through surface runoff. This is why studies have shown that buried wells are more likely to be contaminated than unburied wells.

To keep your family safe, keep your well head unburied. In general, it should be at least 12 inches above ground level, but if you live in an area that's prone to flooding, the well head needs to be tall enough to never be submerged by floodwaters. A plumber can easily extend the well head for you to help you meet this safety guideline.

Never having the well inspected

The components that make up your well won't last forever, and once they start to age, contaminants may be able to get into your water. To stay safe, you need to have your well inspected at least once a year so that potential issues can be diagnosed and repaired. 

Issues that may develop as your well ages include cracked or damaged well caps, shrunken or collapsed seals, or cracks in the well casing. These problems aren't easy for homeowners to detect on their own, and can allow surface runoff to get inside your well, causing contamination.

If any of these issues are discovered, they can be repaired, though some issues are harder to repair than others. Damaged well caps can be easily replaced with new ones, but if your well casing is damaged, a new well will often need to be drilled. This is because the casing is a long, narrow tube of steel that lines the entirety of your well, and it can be hard to access damaged sections. If the well is contaminated, trying to fix the casing may not be worth the trouble.

If you rely on a well for your water needs, you may be making mistakes that put your health in jeopardy. To stay safe, don't forget to get the water tested, avoid burying the well head, and don't neglect regular inspections. 

For more information, contact a company like A Absolute Plumbing & Heating