Water Well Usage During the Summer
Summer is a time for fun in the sun, poolside gatherings, and making sure your water well pump is working properly. The average American home uses about 260 gallons of water per day; however, during peak season the same household can use about 1,000 gallons of water in a day. In some instances peak daily use can be as high as 3,000 gallons a day — more than 10 times the average daily use. That’s equivalent to a garden hose running open for nearly 8 hours or enough water to supply the same home for sixteen days! During the Summer, you do not want to be left without water during those hot summer days, or family gatherings. While water conservation is always a good idea, it becomes particularly important in summer when water consumption is up and groundwater levels fall. The performance of many private water wells varies seasonally—therefore, well owner maintenance and performance checks should be adapted to fit these seasonal changes.
The demands we place on our private water wells is typically not the same day after day all year long. Most well owners will use their wells more for landscape irrigation during the spring and summer than in the fall and winter. Seasonal use changes can impact the operational mode and performance of a well and it can even cause changes to take place in a well’s water quality.
This article is the third in our “Confessions of a Well Driller” series, which aims to inform and educate Central Indiana well owners by utilizing our quarter-century of experience drilling and maintaining private water wells.
If you are a homeowner that has a private water well, there are some things you will need to consider in order to ensure you have enough water for all the summer fun that you have planned.
During the warm summer months and the growing season water use tends to increase as we try to help meet the water demand of lawns, vegetable gardens, flowers, and trees. However, our water use inside the house can also tend to increase during the summer months—something we may not always realize. We may create more laundry, take more frequent showers, kids may be home during the days instead of at school and using more water, other summer household practices can increase our water usage. Let’s say you live in an area experiencing a prolonged drought. With the onset of climate change more and more areas are becoming drought-prone, and as a homeowner, you can make adjustments to your lifestyle to dramatically cut the amount of water you and your family use every day. If you are worried about the water level in your private well the first step to take is to reduce the amount of water you use to water your lawn and garden. Watering the lawn is deemed “nonessential use,” and many municipalities have banned lawn watering outright during drought conditions.
Droughts inevitably mean that your well will not replenish itself with water at a normal rate. No matter how well maintained your pumps are, they cannot pump if there is no water. Accordingly, at times of the years when you can pump water at a slower rate, you will need to store adequate supplies of potable water for your home and grounds. If you presently have no tanks, or your current tanks proved inadequate during previous droughts, this means investing in new storage tanks. Increasing the amount of water storage through the installation of an atmospheric storage tank and/or transfer pump by a registered plumber or well driller may help. Water in storage will be available for use as needed, for longer periods. This allows well water to flow into the well (recover) for a longer period of time before recharging the tank.
Pressure tanks store water before it comes into your home and must have some ratio of air and water in them to perform properly. If there is too much or too little air in them, it can cause the well pump to quick-cycle and damage the motor. You can check this by placing the palm of your hand on the side of the tank in both a high and low position. The surface of the tank should feel cool where there is water and warmer where there is only compressed air. You can also knock on the side of the tank. It should be approximately 2/3 air (upper part of the tank) and 1/3 water (lower part of the tank). When you knock on it it should sound denser where the water is and hollow where the air is. You can also gently tip the tank a bit—if it is super heavy then it’s probably waterlogged. Additionally, you can also push the air valve (Schrader valve). If it squirts water, then you know the tank is bad.
Also, if you have a low-producing-well, it might not be able to keep up with even regular demand, so extra storage is a good idea. You can purchase a storage tank from your local farm supply or hardware store. They usually have several options to meet your needs.
An annual inspection can give you a good idea of how your well system is going to perform in summer. While you may not be able to directly monitor the aquifer your well relies on there are tests that can be conducted on your well water to determine how quickly your well replenishes. Hire well specialists to conduct a well water test in which they let the water run and measure the drawdown rate over the course of a few hours.
Well flow is best measured during dry periods of the year. Taking these measurements when water levels are low helps ensure you are using your well sustainably. During the inspection, licensed well technicians will let the water run and monitor the drawdown rate. They check to see how many gallons per minute/hour the well provides and determine how quickly the well replenishes. Low readings may indicate that your water static level has dropped below the pump set depth inside the well. This means that you may need to lower or replace your well pump to match the water level. Without an adequate pump, no water is coming out of your well. Poorly maintained pumps will reduce the rate at which you can fill your storage tank. This lets you get water at the maximum feasible rate, as and when required. You obviously won’t always need it, but it will be useful to have. If your pump is underpowered, you may consider replacing it.
Regular inspections may also show that the well needs a cleaning. Regular cleaning will ensure that the well is replenishing at its maximum rate, helping you to beat the summer drought.
During the inspection from C&J, our licensed well technicians will also check your pump, pressure switch, and pressure tank to make sure they are in proper working order. They even take a sample of your water and send it to an independent laboratory for biological testing. If the results come back positive, we will provide you with options to eliminate the bacteria.
Like many natural resources, fresh, clean water is not in endless supply, even though it might seem that way. It’s always a good idea to use it with care to make sure we have enough. Trust the experts at C&J to help you monitor your water usage and quality—contact us today!