Keeping Your Water Well System Sanitary
Perhaps you are building a new home or replacing an existing water supply. Perhaps you have previously lived in a city with a public water supply system and you now have moved to a home in a rural area that uses a private well for its water supply. Whatever the case, this article contains important information about how to maintain your private water well and keep it sanitary for your family.
Regular Testing for Bacteria
Water in nature, whether surface water or groundwater, is never pure “H2O.” Instead, it contains a variety of dissolved minerals and gases that are usually harmless and give the water most of its taste. Some natural minerals, like iron, magnesium, or calcium can make well water aesthetically objectionable but usually are not harmful. But water can sometimes be contaminated with things like bacteria, viruses, or chemicals that can harm our health. Contaminated water can often look, smell, and taste fine, so there is no substitute for periodic testing of well water. Proper well construction, disinfection, system maintenance, and regular water testing all help to assure safe drinking water. The quality of groundwater depends on the type of soil, sediment, or rock through which the water is moving, the length of time water is in contact with geologic materials, and whether any contaminants are present. Gases, minerals, and other chemicals may dissolve into water as it moves underground.
Drinking water should be free of disease-causing organisms, and should not contain harmful levels of chemicals. Two standard tests—for coliform bacteria and nitrate—should be performed regularly on every well. It is not practical to test water for every possible disease-causing organism. Instead, water is usually tested for one particular group of bacteria known as the total coliform group. These organisms serve as indicator bacteria—they indicate how sanitary your water system is. Testing for other contaminants may also be advisable. At a minimum, private wells should be tested for coliform bacteria once a year and for nitrate every two or three years. If nitrate has been detected previously, the well should be tested for nitrate every year. Whenever a well is opened up, test the water afterward for coliform bacteria. Anytime that you notice a change in the quality of the water, test the well for coliform bacteria and nitrates. If you want your Central Indiana well water tested for quality or to ensure its safety, contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll come to your property and collect a water sample for you.
Keep Your Wellhead Clear and Secure
When constructing new additions to your home, adding new buildings, or altering waste systems or chemical storage facilities, be sure to maintain the isolation distances shown in. Constructing any type of building or structure, such as a deck, other than a special well house over a well is not advised. When landscaping your yard, keep the top of the well at least 1 foot above the soil surface. This will help keep insects, dirt, and other contaminants from entering your well. If you must grade within 1 foot of the top of the well, you should arrange with a licensed well contractor to extend the well casing. Do not pile snow, leaves, or other materials around the well. Slope the soil away from the well casing to promote proper drainage. Be careful when working around your well. Have any defective well parts repaired by a licensed well contractor or pump installer. Be sure the well cover or well cap on top of the casing is properly attached and in good repair. Any connections to the cap also should be watertight. Provide flood protection if the well is in an area subject to flooding.
Proper Storage of Chemicals
When working with hazardous chemicals like paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil, keep them away from your well. Take steps to prevent back-siphonage, which occurs when a drop in water pressure causes potentially hazardous substances to be sucked back through your plumbing system—and into your well. When connecting a hose to a faucet, do not submerge the hose end in a laundry tub, chemical tank, container, or sprayer—or leave it lying on the basement floor. When filling pesticide tanks or containers with water, avoid placing the hose inside the tank or container. The nozzle of the fill hose should be secured at a distance above the container or tank opening, which maintains an air gap. The distance should be equivalent to at least twice the diameter of the delivery pipe.
Routinely Inspect Septic Systems
The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year. A service contract is important since alternative systems have mechanized parts. Whether you flush it down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower, or bath, everything that goes down your drains ends up in your septic system. What goes down the drain affects how well your septic system works, and you definitely don’t want any of that in your well system. Your septic system could contaminate your drinking water well or a nearby well under certain conditions. Remember to test the drinking water from your well regularly and take corrective action as needed. Remember, a well should be at least 50 feet from any part of the septic system.
Monitor Changes in Your Area
Be aware of changes in your well, the water from your well, and the area around the well. Changes in how often your pump runs, or in the smell or color of the water, can tip you off to potential problems. If necessary, seek the advice of an expert, such as a licensed well contractor. Have your well inspected at the first indication of trouble.
Take Preventative Maintenance Seriously
As mentioned in a previous blog, preventative maintenance is very important to keeping your well system sanitary. C&J recommends you get an annual inspection of the water well system components. Our 6-Point Inspection evaluates the water ﬂow in your home, analyzes the health of wiring and piping, checks the pressure of your tank, test amps of your pump, and even samples your water for dangerous bacteria. Another important aspect of private water well maintenance is a well cleanout at least every ten years. his procedure helps prevent your pump from getting stuck during regular—or emergency—maintenance, keeps your well screen from getting clogged and keeps your other well system components from premature failure.
Learn to Disinfect Yourself
Chlorination is a critical task every Central Indiana well owner should complete. Without it, well components can break down and water can become contaminated with harmful pathogens. Read our step-by-step directions on how to properly chlorinate your well. If you don’t want to mess with this procedure, let the experts at C&J do it for you.
Keeping your private water well sanitary is your responsibility, but C&J Well Co. is here to help you. With regular testing & preventive maintenance, your well can provide safe, potable water for decades to come.