Water from well is free, but wells need to be maintained, tested, and there are a lot of other considerations to be taken into account by people using well water.
In this article, we will try to answer maximum questions related to well water. The FAQs about any topic give you a better idea about it and helps in dealing with a lot of problems by yourself.
Well Water FAQs
Q 1. How well water systems work?
A well water system brings you water from underground sources of water such as an aquifer. It makes use of several components and pumps water out from the ground. The parts are listed below
- The Well Pump (water pump)
- Well Casing
- Control Box & Pressure Switch
- Pressure Tank
- Well Cap
- Well Screen
Q 2. How well water is contaminated?
A. Well water can be contaminated through various sources. EPA states that it can be contaminated from soil seepages, run-off water from rainfall and snow melting, leakage from underground sources and sewage tanks, and, effluent from septic tanks. Wells are also contaminated as a result of the use of chemical fertilizers, human waste, and animal feces.
Heavy metal contamination can happen due to leaching from household pipes and plumbing fixtures, mining operations, petroleum refineries, electronics manufacturers, municipal waste disposal, cement plants, and natural mineral deposits.
Organic products can also contaminate well water and are present in many household products and industrial products such as inks, dyes, pesticides, paints, pharmaceuticals, solvents, petroleum products, sealants, and disinfectants. Other contaminants like uranium and radium can enter the water sources as a result of mining. They are very harmful to your health.
Q 3. How frequently should I test my well water?
A. Well owners must get their water tested every 1 year from a reputed testing lab. As private well owners are responsible for the well-being of their wells, they should make sure that the water quality is up to the mark. The best way to ensure it is to do regular testing on your water. You must get your water tested every 3 months at home, along with yearly testing from a lab. It is better to test your water after a heavy flood, earthquake, or any other natural disaster. If your well is located near agricultural fields, dumping sites, or any heavy industry, you are advised to test your water every month.
Q 4. Where to get the well water tested?
A. There are a couple of ways to get your well water tested. You can either test the water at home using a testing kit or reach out to a lab for a detailed analysis. While home testing kits are easy to use, cheap, and readily available online, the results are not 100% reliable. When you hire the services of a professional lab, you get 100% reliable results. Some labs also suggest you best filters/softeners depending upon the quality of your water.
Q 5. Can well water cause hair loss?
A. The well water usually contains a large amount of calcium and magnesium in it. They are the main hardness causing elements and can lead to hair loss and dandruff formation in your hair. Hard water also causes poor lather formation with your shampoo.
Q 6. Can well water cause dry skin?
A. As we just explained, most well water is hard water. Hard water prevents complete washing of soap from your skin. The leftover soap eats away the moisture from your skin, and it can lead to rough, dull, and dry skin.
Q 7. Can well water cause diarrhea?
A. If the water you are drinking is contaminated, regardless of well water or city water, it can cause diarrhea and other stomach problems. If the water contains bacteria, it is harmful and can lead to stomach disorders.
Q 8. When does well water smells and change colors?
A. Your well water smells and changes color due to the presence of contamination in it. Generally, the water coming out of aquifer has no smell and a pleasant taste, but the impurities like bacteria and heavy metals from soil and earth’s crust contaminate it, and it starts to stink. The presence of metals is often indicated by colored water.
Q 9. Why is my well water turning yellow and red?
A. Your well water may turn yellow due to the presence of organic iron bacteria. Ferric iron in well water causes it to go red. The presence of iron gives three different colors to your water. To learn about its removal methods, read the next FAQ.
Q 10. What is the red, brown water (iron) problem and how to deal with it to do when well water turns brown?
A. Your well water may start to get brown suddenly. If this happens, you need to check both hot and cold water taps, if the brown color water is present in only hot water taps, you may be having a problem with the water heater only. If it comes from cold water tap as well then it can be an issue with your well water. The main reason behind this problem is the presence of iron in your water. To get rid of iron in your water, you can use the following methods
- Sediment Filter
- Water Softener
- Oxidation Filter
- Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
- Iron Filtration Method
Q 11. How to remove iron bacteria from well water?
A. As discussed above, iron’s presence can be guessed from the brown coloration of the water, iron bacteria s colorless and cannot be seen. You have to test for it using a DIY testing kit or hiring the services of a testing lab. The best way to get rid of iron bacteria is to use chlorine in you well.
Q 12. How much chlorine should I use in my well?
A. The amount of chlorine to be used in your well for disinfection depends upon a couple of factors, the volume of water, and the depth of the well. You can do the disinfection process yourself, but it is better to hire the services of professionals.
For an average well for residential purposes, you can use 2 quarts of home bleach in 10 gallons of water. Pour the solution in the well; now use a hose to wash down the internal sides of the well. The next step is to open all the taps in your home one by one and wait for chlorine smell to come out of water.
Once you detect the chlorine smell, close the tap. The presence of chlorine smell coming out from your taps means that chlorine has penetrated water, and all the water has been disinfected. Flush the toilets, empty the water heater, and clear away all the stored water. Please keep in mind that you should not use water for at least 8 hours after chlorination. There are two reasons behind this.
Firstly, you should let chlorinated water stand in water pipes, and secondly, you must not consume water high in chlorine content. Chlorine may persist in your water for 8-10 days. If you have a carbon filter installed, you won’t even notice the smell and taste. For people without a carbon filter, you can just let some water flow from taps until the smell stops coming.
Q 13. How frequently should I chlorinate my well?
A. If the concentration of bacteria is in the normal range, you do not need to chlorinate your water more than once a year. You do not need to install a costly chlorinator if the level of bacteria is in the safe range. You can, however, chlorinate your water once a year to ensure that your water is safe from other contaminants, and no bacteria grow in your water pipes. For higher concentrations, frequent chlorination and chlorinator are needed.
Q 14. How to remove manganese from well water?
A. Manganese is usually harmless until its concentration increases beyond the legal point. Its safe concentration has been defined as 0.3mg/L (300 ugs/L); beyond this point, it can harm infants and adults if exposed to a high concentration for a long period. Manganese is detected by the presence of brown color in your water. It also has an unpleasant odor and taste. The best way to remove manganese from water is to use the same appliances from removing iron from water.
Q 15. How to remove rotten egg smell (sulfur) from well water?
A. One common problem all the well owners have to face is the rotten egg smell coming from the water. It happens due to the presence of sulfur bacteria in water. To confirm the presence, you need to check both hot water and cold water taps, because sometime the smell may come from only hot water due to a faulty water heater. If rotten egg smell is coming from both taps, then there is a problem with your water. Apart from using shock chlorination to kill the bacteria, you can apply the following methods to get rid of the unpleasant rotten egg odor.
- Install a Chlorinator and a Carbon Filter
- Iron Removal Filter
- Aeration Removal Method
- Use Ozone Gas
Q 16. How to remove cloudiness from your water?
A. Cloudy water happens due to the presence of silt, dirt, sand, or rust in your water. They can seep in your well from the gravel, water pipes or showerhead, and aerators. You can get rid of it by installing a carbon filter.
Q 17. My well water is oily, what can I do to remove the oil from it?
A. The oil comes in well water due to 2 reasons, the presence of iron bacteria, and a faulty pump (leaking oil). We have already explained how to remove iron from well water. For faulty pumps, call a professional to get it examined.
Q 18. How to remove coliform and other bacteria from well water?
A. Bacteria can infect your well water from the soil; they can also grow inside your plumbing and water pipes. Bacteria cannot be detected by color, taste, or smell. You have to conduct tests on your water to ensure the presence of bacteria in water. You need to make sure that you get rid of bacteria of all the types, including the coliform bacteria.
You can use the following techniques to get rid of bacteria in well water.
- Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filtration System
- UV Light Sterilization
Q 19. What are the common types of coliform bacteria commonly found in well water?
A. There are 3 common types of coliform bacteria found in well water, and they are mentioned below
- Total Coliforms – They are commonly found in soil and in water, which has been exposed to human and animal feces. Since animals roam around openly near wells, their feces can contaminate the soil around wells. As a result, the bacteria can seep in your water.
- Fecal Coliforms – As the name indicates, they are present specifically in the fecal matter of warm-blooded animals.
- Escherichia coli (E.coli) – It is the major species of bacteria to be found in the animal fecal matter. E.coli is the major indicator of the presence of bacteria in water.
Q 20. My Well Water is salty. What should I do?
A. Salty taste in well water is due to the presence of sodium in your water. The most common reason behind the presence of sodium in water is the common salt. Common salt enters our water due to human activates, naturally occurring slats in some aquifers, and pollution. It can also enter our water as a result of water passing from water softeners. The best way to get rid of salty taste in water is to install a reverse osmosis filtration system.
Q 21. Is there any difference in the filter replacement/changing routine for well water as compared to city water?
A. Generally, there is no difference in the filter changing routine if you are using well water. You must change your filters on the prescribed usage/duration for a specific filter. For private well owners, filter cleaning may be needed more frequently as compared to city water users because it has a high amount of sediments in it.
Q 22. Is well water hard or soft?
A. Hardness or softness of water is not typically related to the water source. The presence of calcium, magnesium, and iron can give hardness to your water. Since hard water is coming from underneath the earth, there are high chances of the presence of these minerals in well water in high quantity.
Q 23. How to get rid of hard well water?
A. You can use a water softener to get rid of the hard water problem. Water softeners are the best, economical, and most effective appliances to remove calcium and magnesium from water.
Q 24. Which anode rode is best for a water heater with well water?
A. Zinc anode rods are the best for water heaters using well water. It is made from a combination of aluminum and zinc. While aluminum deals with the hardness of your water, zinc ensures that the rotten egg smell coming from your hot water tap is eliminated to a tolerable level.
Q 25. Can well water run out?
A. Yes, the well water can run out. It can be a temporary shortage or a long term shortage. Long term shortage means that the water reserve underneath the ground has finished, and you need to drill new wells to access another aquifer. Short term shortage means that your water pump is not working due to load shedding, malfunctioning, or you have simply used all the water in the pressure tank.
Q 26. Why well water pressure decreases?
A. Well water pressure can decrease due to several reasons such as
- Pump and Pressure Tank Issues
- Blocked or Narrow Pipes
- Clogged Showerheads and Aerators
- Hard Water Problems
- Groundwater Problems
- High Demand/Low Supply
Q 27. How to increase well water pressure? Or My water keeps losing pressure. What should I do?
A. A slow pressure from the well can be a very irritating thing to deal with. You can apply the following measures to get rid of low-pressure problems
- Checking and Servicing the Pressure Tank
- Check Plumbing, Showerheads, and Aerators
- Check Water Filters, Softeners, and other Appliances
- Adjust Pressure Setting
- Install Additional or Large Pressure Tank
- Install a Constant Pressure Valve
- Water Pressure Booster Pump
- Install a Constant Pressure System
Q 28. What is a good pressure for water well?
A. The best pressure for water well, which ensures good flow speed and reduces wastage, is 40-60PSI. Various factors come into play when you are adjusting the pressure and deciding the best pressure for your well.
Q 29. Can wells provide water without electricity?
A. The simple answer is no, but you can work your way around to get water from a well without electricity. You can use a generator to power up the well pump and other appliances if they need electric power. A hand pump can also solve this problem for you, but it needs proper planning prior to installation. Some modern pumps come with a sleeve bucket, which can go down to the water level with the help of a cord and bring out water for you. The sleeve bucket has filling screens that retain the incoming water. Of all the mentioned solutions, the generator is the best one. If you cannot afford a generator, you can use a hand pump.
Q 30. Which is better: well water or city water?
A. Both of the sources have their advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t get a monthly bill for using well water, you have to pay for maintenance of the well and water quality. For a detailed comparison, read our topic on Well Water vs. City Water. You will also find the pros and cons of each water source in this article.
Q 31. What is the cost of drilling a well?
A. The cost of drilling a well depends upon a number of factors, like depth of drilling, the diameter of well, the casing material, the quality of the pump, storage tank, pressure switch & wiring and installation of other components like a well cap, gravel screens, and water treatment machines. The cost may vary from one state to another; however, the average cost around the US is $1500 to $13,000.
Q 32. Is buying a house with a well a bad idea?
A. Not at all, a property with a well has more value and pays back more when you are selling it. On the other hand, you get to drink quality water at little cost and no monthly billing. If you can manage the maintenance, we recommend that you buy a house with a water well.
Well water is fresher than city water as it contains a lot of healthy minerals which are absent otherwise. The only problem with well water is the smell and impurities. You don’t need to worry about it. A couple of appliances and manual chlorination can solve all the problems for you. You need to install a water softener to get rid of the hardness of your water, a reverse osmosis filtration system with UV Light and re-mineralization to ensure that you are drinking pure and healthy water.