How to Maintain Your Water Well : WD Hopper Water Wells

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Maintaining Your Well

8 Tips for maintaining your well

  1. Don't try to service your own well

    When well owners try to service their own wells, they usually fail to solve the problem or make it worse. Qualified professional water well system contractors use specialized equipment, materials, and techniques to keep well systems operational and water supplies safe.

    Moreover, every time a well owner removes a well cap and attempts to service the well in some way, there's the potential to unwittingly introduce bacterial or other contamination into the well. There's also the potential for dropping objects (tools for instance) into the well, getting the pump stuck in an effort to replace it, or even electrocution when working with submersible pumps.

    It's always best to contact a qualified licenced professional water well systems contractor to conduct any kind of service on your well.

  2. Preventive maintenance is less costly in the long run

    Often, it's human nature to be pennywise and pound-foolish, particularly where privately owned water wells are concerned.

    What often happens is that a small, easily correctable problem becomes a large, inconvenient, much more expensive problem. Usually a very simple check every 2 or 3 years of your well and pump system is all it takes to keep things running smoothly.

    Few people argue that preventive maintenance is unwise. What makes this doubly important for well owners is that you're consuming what comes out of that well. So, it's a matter of health as well as convenience and cost.

  3. Do some homework before getting your water well system serviced

    A well maintenance check-up should include four components:

    1. A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding, and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact, and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).
    2. An inspection of well equipment to assure that it is sanitary ( eg. Is your vermin proof well lid in good condition) and meets local code requirements.
    3. A test of your water for coliform and ecoli bacteria, This should be done 3 times a year and is free ( thru the local public health laboratory) if you take it as the individual well owner .

  4. Take some simple ongoing steps to maintain your well

    • Always use licensed water well drillers and pump installers when a well is constructed, a pump is installed, or the system is serviced.
    • An annual well maintenance check, including a bacterial test, is recommended. Any source of drinking water should be checked any time there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, or anytime a water supply system is serviced.
    • Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil away from your well.
    • Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair.
    • Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, or chemical storage facilities. Your professional contractor knows the rules.
    • Don't allow back-siphonage. When mixing pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals, don't put the hose inside the tank or container.
    • When landscaping, keep the top of your well at least 16 inches above the ground. Slope the ground away from your well for proper drainage.
    • Take care in working or mowing around your well. A damaged casing or lid could jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. Don't pile snow, leaves or other materials around your well.
    • Keep your MOE well records in a safe place, it is a legal document.
    • Be aware of changes in your well, the area around your well, or the water it provides.
    • When your well has come to the end of its serviceable life (usually more than 40 years), have your qualified water well contractor properly abandon your well after constructing your new system.

  5. Use qualified professionals

    When your well needs service, make the effort to find a qualified water well systems contractor. Here are some considerations:

    • Make sure you select a licensed contractor to perform the work.
    • Is the contractor certified through the Canadian Ground Water Association CGWA operates the only national certification program for water well drillers and pump installers, who must pass exams and take continuing education courses. Is the contractor a member of CGWA, the nation's leading association of ground water professionals as well as the OGWA the leading supporter for groundwater professionals in Ontario.
    • Does the contractor have adequate equipment in good condition to do the job?
    • Does the contractor have adequate liability and worker's compensation insurance to protect you?
    • Is the contractor familiar with applicable health and safety codes?
    • What is the contractor's reputation with previous customers? Don't be afraid to ask for references.
    • Will the contractor furnish a written contract specifying the terms and conditions of the job?

    This last point is very important. Unless you know what a contractor will do for his specified price, you cannot compare offers and decide which one to hire. Also, a written contract provides protection for you and the contractor should a disagreement arise over the scope or cost of the work.

    For a drilled well, the contract may include:

    • The liability insurance coverage held by both the owner and the contractor
    • A statement that all work will comply with applicable regulations and codes
    • The diameter and thickness of the casing used
    • The type of well development and yield evaluation procedures used
    • The type of screen installed, where needed
    • The type of well cap or seal used
    • The disinfection procedure
    • Clean-up procedures, including all material abandoned at the drill site
    • An anticipated start date for drilling
    • A guarantee of materials and workmanship
    • A statement that the contractor will do the work and correct the initial work, if necessary

    Also, the contract should itemize charges. Itemization may include the cost of drilling per foot, other materials (i.e., the drive shoe, grout and well cap), other operations (i.e., grouting, development, test pumping and disinfection), drilling deeper and/or a second well to ensure an adequate water supply, abandonment and sealing should it prove necessary, and anything not included in the specification.

  6. Understand the problem

    When your well needs maintenance, have the contractor explain the problem so that you understand it, then explore options for correcting the problem.

    Sometimes well owners get frustrated because they don't understand their water well system and, therefore, don't understand what's wrong with it when service is required. Sometimes the well owner doesn't ask questions or the contractor doesn't adequately explain the problem and/or solutions.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions until you're satisfied. Once you grasp the problem, explore options for fixing it with the contractor. This kind of dialogue is important because sometimes there can be different reasons for a water well system problem and, consequently, different solutions.

    For example, over time the amount of water a well yields can decrease. Sometimes that is because the water table is dropping. Other times it can be caused by the plugging or mineral encrustation of the well screen, bedrock formation or the filling of openings in the geologic formation around the well from which water flows. No one solution addresses all of these problems.

    Working with your contractor to understand the correct cause or causes of problems can increase your confidence and comfort level in moving forward with solutions.

  7. Find old wells

    Do an inventory of your property to determine if there are any old, unused well systems.

    If you live in an area where people use water wells, there may be an old, unused well on your property. There are millions of them nationwide. Abandoned wells should be properly sealed / abandoned by a qualified, licensed water well contractor /technician for several reasons.

    First, abandoned wells can provide a direct pathway for contamination into the aquifer, perhaps the same one you are using for drinking water. Often an abandoned well will have no well cap or the cap will be broken, allowing bugs, rodents or objects into the well. Other times, the grouting around the well casing has deteriorated to the point that contaminated surface water can infiltrate the well. Abandoned hand dug wells not only present a contamination concern, they also can create a physical danger to people who can fall into them.

    Landowners should find the location of any old or out of service wells. Clues to their location include:

    • Pipes sticking out of the ground
    • Small buildings that may have been a well house
    • Depressions in the ground
    • The presence of concrete vaults or pits, perhaps covered by lumber or metal plates
    • Out-of-use windmills are likely to be located near an old well

    Other clues can come from old maps, plans or property documents; information from neighbors; additions to old homes (in the past, wells were commonly constructed in basements or under porches to keep the water pumps from freezing and to ease access in the winter).

    Once a well is determined to have no current or potential future use, a qualified licensed water well contractor / technician can properly abandon it. Do not attempt to seal an old unused well yourself! This requires special equipment and techniques to remove anything from the well and fill it with a special grout from the bottom up. Ordinary cement will not provide a sanitary seal for an abandoned well.

    Approved well abandonment procedures are defined by Ontario MOE Reg. 903.

  8. Before testing your water check to see if your well system is clean

    A common mistake homeowners make is to test their well water without first being sure the water well system is clean. This includes the sample tap that you will be using to take the water sample from. Adequately flush your pressure tank and any filters also before sampling. Testing water from a dirty well system can lead to false positives, the appearance of contamination even when the ground water is clean.

    Other possible indicators of a dirty system may be cloudy water, low water flow, or taste and odor problems. It may be that your well itself will need cleaning.

    If test results indicate the presence of ecoli bacteria and/or coliform bacteria, or if you are experiencing cloudy water, low water flow, or taste and odor problems, it is recommended that your well be cleaned and disinfected by a qualified licensed water well contractor / technician, prior to any servicing of your well system.

    A common misconception by homeowners is that chlorine alone will clean a well, the more chlorine the better. Chlorine can serve as an effective disinfectant only after debris and other material are removed from the well. Well cleaning must remove debris from the entire length of the well, and may require cleaning other components of the well if determined necessary by a qualified, MOE licensed water well systems contractor / technician.

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