If you've recently had a well constructed on your property, you may be excited at the prospect of becoming independent from the local city or county water supply. By controlling your own water supply on your own property, you'll not only be able to keep your utility costs down, you'll ensure you always have access to water -- even during times of drought or a city water outage. However, if you've never owned a home with a well before, you may not feel fully equipped to maintain and monitor this new structure and its associated plumbing. Read on for some well and plumbing maintenance tips that can help ensure your supply of fresh, clean, mineral-rich drinking water is never compromised.
How can you keep your well in good operating condition?
A newly-constructed well may require a little more hands-on care than an established well just to ensure that water is flowing correctly and that the well is deep enough to satisfy your family's water needs. The first (and most important) step is to make sure that the water being filtered through your bedrock and into your well pump is free of harmful bacteria, pathogens, and pollutants. You'll want to purchase a home water testing kit to perform the same tests on your well water supply that are performed on the city and county water supplies each year.
Even if your water testing turns up some problems, most can usually be solved through a one-time treatment or an additional filter installed in your water line. For example, the presence of "slime iron" or other bacteria can usually be treated by placing a small amount of bleach in the well water to kill these pathogens. This bleach should be sufficiently diluted not to cause any change in the smell or taste of your water, and shouldn't be harmful to ingest at these levels. If you find that you have ultra-high levels of ferrous or ferric iron instead, causing a brown tinge or metallic taste, you'll be able to install an iron filter where the water enters your home and filter out any potential contaminants. Visit here for more information on filters and improving the water quality throughout your plumbing system.
Even if your water tastes and smells fine, the presence of iron or calcifying minerals can cause damage to your home's plumbing and to the mechanical components of your well pump. Quickly identifying and correcting any water quality issues will help minimize your risk of expensive plumbing repairs.
In addition to checking the water quality before using your well, you'll also want to ensure that the pump is in good working condition and is in the right place. Generally, the farther the well pump is from the ground surface, the harder it must work to push water up through the pipes and into your home. However, a well pump placed relatively high in the well could be prone to going dry during certain times of the year. If you notice that your electricity bill has increased significantly since the construction of the well or that you often have air or bubbles in the taps, it's likely that your well pump is either placed too low or too high and should be moved.
What ongoing maintenance should you perform on your well?
If your area is in drought, you'll want to keep an eye on your water level -- just like running your vehicle with a nearly empty tank of gas can harm your fuel pump, running a nearly empty well can harm your well pump, necessitating expensive repairs or replacement. If your area receives much less water one summer than usual, you'll want to check your water levels on a weekly or biweekly basis to ensure you're not getting too close to your pump.
You'll also likely want to test your well water at least once per year to ensure that your filtration system is removing contaminants and other particles as it should be. You can purchase inexpensive test kits at most home and garden supply stores. If you're planning on selling your home at some point, you may want to retain your water testing results to show potential buyers that your well has been maintained in good condition for years.