How Does Sand and Sediment Enter My Water Well?

 Sand and sediment in well water

Solving the Problem of Sand in your Well Water

If your home gets its water from a private well, there’s a chance at some point you’ll find sand or sediment in your water. This can range from a slightly cloudy look to feeling actual grit in the water that comes from the faucet. There are a number of ways to remove the sand or sediment in your home’s water supply, but before choosing an option, it’s important to identify the source of the problem.

Getting the grit out!

Learn more about well water sand & sediment treatment and removal.

What is the difference between sand and sediment?

Sand and sediment may seem to refer to the same problem, but there is a slight difference between the two. Sand refers to material that can be both seen in the water and felt, such as grit or chunks of material found at the bottom of a glass. Sediment refers to material that is visible but too small to be felt when rubbed between the fingers.

Three main causes for sand and sediment in drinking water wells.

•    Dissolved minerals: This is a common problem in well water throughout New Hampshire. Water hardness is a condition where calcium and magnesium dissolve into the well water, sometimes causing white or yellow sediment, especially within pipes and on water fixtures. Sometimes these mineral deposits break off and end up in your water glass. Iron and manganese can also be found in New Hampshire well water. This can cause orange-brown sediment, as well as staining of bath fixtures and laundry.

•    Construction of a new well: When a new well is drilled, it can temporarily produce sand and sediment in your water. The particles that remain after construction are easily removed by flushing the well, sometimes requiring an extended period of time. In dug wells, this material will give the water a cloudy or muddy appearance. In a bedrock well, this material could include particles with sharp edges.

•    Poor soil or bedrock quality: If there is a well defect or unstable soil conditions above the fractures of a bedrock well, fine sand and sediment can enter the water. This material generally has a gritty feel.

Sand and sediment in shallow wells

To construct a shallow, or dug well, a pipe, known as a casing, is lowered into the well to draw water up from the water below. Then crushed stone is installed at the bottom to reduce migration of sand and sediment into the water. In some cases, sediment can enter between the joints of the casing or through perforations in the lower part of the casing. Sand can also migrate up through the crushed stone around the bottom of the casing.

Watch an Episode of This Old House to see Roger Skillings of Skillings & Sons restores a well that has sand, sediment and rust.

Sand and Sediment in bedrock wells

Sand and sediment in bedrock wells can happen naturally or be caused by a construction defect. When sediment enters the well casing through the overlap between the well casing and the socket drilled into the bedrock, it indicates a construction defect. To fix it, well drilling equipment can be used to pound the steel casing back into the socket or a seal can be installed within the well.  Sand can also get in through the top of bedrock fractures at the upper end which is covered by loose soil. This is a naturally-occurring problem as a result of the surrounding geography.

Regardless of the problem, it is difficult to identify the source of the problem in bedrock wells. Sometimes a camera can be lowered into the well to view the bedrock fractures, or a tool called a packer can be used to test specific sections of the well for possible problems.

Removing sand and sediment - Treatments include in well and in-home options. An analysis of the problem will determine how to eliminate sand and sediment. Speak to a professional about removing sand and sediment from your well water, contact Skillings & Sons for a consultation.