Private Well Rehabilitation and Maintenance Guide

For private well owners, well maintenance and rehabilitation are important tasks. Unlike city water, which is maintained by the state and federal governments, private well maintenance is an individual responsibility. In this article, we are going to discuss well rehabilitation and maintenance. This article will help you ensure that your well water and well are kept in a mint condition and water quality is assured according to the EPA and CDC’s drinking water standards.

Well Maintenance

Massachusetts government has laid out a detailed framework for well maintenance and rehabilitation. All fellow Americans can use this framework to ensure that their well is maintained properly. The main pillars of this maintenance framework are outlined below.

  • The same materials and construction practices must be used in all the maintenance or repair works, which were used for the original construction of the well. They must be approved by local state authorities dealing with well drilling.
  • Only state-approved contractors should be hired to perform any maintenance tasks.
  • Once the maintenance, repair, or modification work is complete, all the equipment such as well pump and distribution system must be disinfected before starting water consumption.
  • The well owner must maintain the well in a sanitary condition.
  • Ensure that surface water and contaminants don’t enter the well.
  • Make sure that groundwater resources are not wasted and maximum water conservation is done.
  • Keep the well in proper condition so that it is accessible for repair and rehabilitation tasks.
  • Ensure that an abandoned well is properly decommissioned or plugged.
  • Water wells must be inspected annually for signs of physical damages and contamination.
  • At least 50 feet area around the well must be clear from debris, tannin, and items that may pollute the well water.
  • There should be no trash can near your well.
  • Never dispose of chemical waste materials, or mix fertilizers near your well.
  • All hazardous materials should be kept at least 50 feet away from your well.
  • You must get your well inspected every 10 years by professionals.
  • Keep an eye on the well cap or well cover. They should be intact and airtight. The top of the well should b 1-2 feet above the ground level. Consult your local state laws for regulation about the wellhead.

Maintaining Water Quality – Water Testing

test water for taste

Regardless of the underground water source, water testing is necessary to maintain well water quality. EPA and all the states recommend all the private well owners to get their water tested after the construction of a new well. Yearly testing for microorganisms, nitrates, nitrites, and a 3-year chemical screening of well water to know about TDS, heavy metals, and other contaminants such as arsenic, radium, uranium, radon, lead, manganese, methane, and other contaminants. You are also suggested to get your water tested whenever you notice a change in taste, smell, and appearance of water. Water testing is also needed when you buy a property with a water well. Once the water has been tested, you can select the most appropriate filter to deal with contaminants in the water. If the overall quality is good, you may only need a water softener with a sediment filter. For wells with poor water quality, advanced treatment options like a combo well water filter or RO filter is needed.

Well Rehabilitation

water well rehabilitation

Well rehabilitation is the process used to bring a well back to its most efficient condition by different reconstruction and treatment methods. When wells are not properly developed according to the state regulations, well performance tends to go down. The pumping rate, also known as well yield, flow rate, or well performance, will decrease with time. The decrease in the pumping rate can happen due to the following reasons.

  • Drought
  • Over pumping (before the well can recover)
  • Blockage due to mineral and sediment deposits
  • The growth of microorganism can lead to bio-fouling
  • Increase in quantity of sand underneath the water layer
  • Damaged well screen
  • Damaged well pump

To rectify the problems mentioned above, a rehabilitation regime needs to be adopted. When you notice a visible decrease in the water output from the well, it is an indication that rehabilitation is required. The flow rate may be decreasing due to other factors such as a faulty pump, storage tank problems, and issues with water treatment devices. The following symptoms will tell you that something is wrong with your well or well equipment.

  • Reduced water flow rate
  • The reduced water level in the well
  • A high concentration of sediment and sand in water
  • Frequent coloring problems
  • Methods to Rehabilitate a Well

You must hire a licensed well driller to carry out the rehabilitation. Ask your contractor to perform a downhill video inspection. It will help you identify the exact problem with your well and let you know that do you really need a rehabilitation program. To keep you aware of all the processes and ensure that you know what is happening with your well, you must have basic knowledge of the process. The following methods are commonly used to rehabilitate a well.

  1. Chemical Cleaning
  2. Physical Cleaning

Let’s look at the details for both.

Chemical Cleaning

Chemical cleaning methods are employed when the well is suffering from incrustation or bio-fouling. Incrustation is a layer of mineral deposits. When the deposits are formed on the openings delivering water to your well, the flow rate is drastically reduced. Common deposits can happen due to the build-up of iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, or slime deposition due to iron bacteria or other similar contaminants.

Chemical Incrustation Treatment – When chemical deposits block the water flow, strong acidic solutions are the best available treatment. Acids dissolve or loosen these deposits, and they are then pumped along with the acids to be disposed of. Make sure the well driller adopts proper disposal methods. Don’t let him dispose of these materials on-site or near the well.

The success of this method depends upon the severity of the deposits, power, and type (liquid, granular, pelletized) of the acid, and how it is introduced in your well. If everything goes well and according to the plan, acid treatment shows miraculous results. The resulting water yield will be the same as before the buildup started.

The most common acids used for this purpose are hydrochloric acid, sulfamic acid, and glycolic acid. All of these acids are very dangerous and must be handled with utmost care. Make sure your contractor is wearing protective gear while handling the acids. Use of a breathing respirator is recommended, and non-reactive mixing tanks made of plastic or black iron must be used. A large quantity of water must be available on-site, and proper ventilation must be ensured. Don’t allow children to be nearby during the procedure.

Bio-Fouling Treatment – Iron bacteria deposits lead to bio-fouling of water wells. The best way to remove these deposits is disinfection. For small diameter wells, chlorine is the best chemical to kill iron bacteria. It is cheap, readily available, and is highly effective. The concentration and amount of chlorine needed to disinfect the well depends upon the severity of the problem, well-depth, and amount of water in the well. Chlorine disinfection shows more accurate results when the water is agitated before adding the chlorine. Agitation increases the water to the chlorine surface area. More chlorine comes in touch with slime deposits and helps in dislodging it. You may still need acid treatment after chlorination, as it can result in iron bacteria precipitation, which will, in turn, cause clogging and reduce the flow rate.

Physical Cleaning

It is also known as mechanical cleaning or mechanical methods to rehabilitate your well. It can be used as a single method or asa preparatory step to remove scale buildup in the well through chemical cleaning. Mechanical scrapping or brushes attached to a drill is lowered in the well. It loosed the slime deposits; the loosened material is then pumped from the well. Bailing and airlift pumping are the common techniques used to remove these materials after physical cleaning. Physical cleaning increases the effectiveness of chemical cleaning methods and reduces the time needed for acidizing the well.

Problems caused by Physical Plumbing and Sand Pumping

Sand and sediment migrate from the nearby areas towards the well screen and clog it. It results in slowing down the water flow rate, and your pump may suck sand as well. This condition is known as sediment plugging. A replacement of well screen may give you temporary relief. The best way to avoid such kind of problems is thorough planning before construction of the well. You can keep this problem away by avoiding improper screen placement, wrong selection of drilling site, improper and insufficient well development, rusting of well screen and casing, a high pumping rate as compared to the well capacity. If you avoid all these problems while constructing the well, it may never become the victim of physical plumbing.

Structural Problems

Corrosion and rusting of the well screen and well casing can also inhibit well usage. The rate of corrosion depends upon some factors such as the acidity of water, movement of water over already corroded areas, number, and temperature of the corrosive reactions. The quality of material used in well casing and well screen will also impact the rate of corrosion.

Final Words

Well maintenance is easy and less costly as compared to well rehabilitation. If you don’t maintain your well properly, rehabilitation may not give the desired results. To keep your water well functioning for 20-30 years, a proper maintenance program is needed.

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