What Causes a Water Well to Go Dry?

dry water well

Dry Water Well

A well is said to have gone dry when water levels drop below a pump intake. This does not mean that a dry well will never have water in it again, as the water level may come back through time as the underground aquifer is resupplied by precipitation. It is true that all the water in the ground comes from infiltration of precipitation from above, but the underground geology determines the access and movement of the water in the ground.

The water level in a well depends on a number of things, such as the depth of the well, the type (confined or unconfined) of aquifer the well taps, the amount of pumping that occurs in this aquifer, and the amount of recharge occurring. If you are experiencing a water shortage with your Central Indiana water well, there are some things you may want to consider.

Signs of Trouble

A simple signifier that a well is dry is that when the faucet is turned on, no water appears, showing that the pump is sucking air from the well and not water. A sputtering faucet with intermittent water is a sign of the pump attempting to draw water from the well but finding mostly air. Also, water can appear murky or muddy, with an altered taste. When your well is running dry, the water may appear darker in color or look muddy. Taste the water that comes out of your faucet. If your well is running dry, the water may taste different than it normally tastes.

What Are the Causes?

False Alarms

More often than not, the well itself isn’t out of water, but the electrical or mechanical components of the well are malfunctioning. The pump may be broken or clogged, there may be a fault with the electrical system or a leak in a pipe may be preventing the well water from reaching the house. Minerals can also build up inside the well, decreasing the quality and quantity of the water that flows.

Heavy Usage

Wells can only produce water at a certain speed. During periods of high use, the well may start to sputter or temporarily cease to produce water. Your well may stop producing sufficient well water when your family are all taking morning showers, for example.

Ground Water Shortage

Sometimes, a well becomes truly exhausted. Wells work by accessing groundwater that flows down into underground rivers, called aquifers, over many years. There are a number of reasons why a well runs dry or has a reduced water level. Often pumping rates for a well are greater than the supply of water available and the speed water is recharged. During water shortages, it is common for the static level (water available inside the well casing) to drop below the level of the pump pipe, and the well screen becomes blocked by fine particles such as sand.

Wells in unconsolidated aquifers are more directly influenced by the lack of rain than those in deeper consolidated aquifers. A deep well in an unconsolidated aquifer in an area with minimal pumping is less likely to go dry than a shallow well. Environmental and demographic shifts can also make an impact on the speeds at which wells run dry. Also, drought can put a heavier strain on groundwater stores. A local population increase can also strain aquifers, using up wells much more quickly than they otherwise would be used.

What to Do About a Dry Water Well

Well Inspection

Investing in preventative maintenance for your well is the best way to mitigate costly repairs and replacements. The first, and least expensive option is to get your well system inspected by water well professionals. An inspection by C&J determines water flow, checks the pressure tank and pressure switch, examines the piping, and tests the amps and ohms of your well pump. During the inspection, it might be determined that your well pump needs to be lowered inside your well casing in order to keep up with demand. A water well inspection will determine if the well is truly dry, or if it is just a false alarm due to some other component failure.

Well Cleaning

Sometimes, loss of water production or sputtering faucets indicates a need to rehabilitate your well with a well cleaning. At the bottom of your well is a well screen that keeps sand, sediment, and other debris from coming inside your home. Over time, this screen can become clogged and will restrict the water flow and quality. A water well cleaning is recommended every ten years to maintain the integrity and productivity of your well screen. At C&J, we follow a multi-step process to ensure every part of your well is properly cleaned. After a thorough well inspection, we remove your submersible pump out of the well, lower a high-output air line into the well, and airlift years of built-up sediment and gunk out of the top of the well. This freshens up your old well and redevelops the screen, enabling better flow and better-quality water.

Drilling a New Well

If the aforementioned solutions don’t work, it might be time for a new well. In rare cases, a well may need to be drilled deeper to reach additional groundwater. At C&J, we use only the highest quality materials and are selective when choosing an aquifer. The result—your own private water system, implemented by the most trusted Indianapolis well drilling company.

Connect to City Water

The consistent urbanization of America, and suburban Indianapolis in particular, has led to new opportunities for homeowners to have access to city water. If you live in one of the areas that has recently gained access to the municipal water supply, this might be a better option than drilling a new well. C&J City Water Connect offers competitive pricing, as well as financing for hook-up costs. Also, some municipalities offer extended payment options to help mitigate the initial costs. C&J City Water Connect is licensed, bonded, and insured with Indianapolis, Fishers, Brownsburg, Carmel, and other municipalities to ensure you get professional service.


When a well runs dry, it can disrupt an entire community, making it impossible to sustain agriculture, industry, and life itself. Thankfully, C&J has the expertise and experience to help you solve all your well issues, no matter how large or small. Contact us today!