A few simple maintenance steps and regular inspections are all you need to make sure your private water well is in good condition and that it’s providing clean, safe water for your family.
While any service or a detailed inspection of the well and its components should only be done by a professional, it’s important for private well owners to know the basics of well inspection and well maintenance.
Well maintenance that you can do on your own:
• Make sure you know the location of your well.
• Periodically check the well cover or cap on top of the casing to make sure it’s not cracked or broken and is properly vented.
• Be certain to keep hazardous materials such as fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline or motor oil, away from the well.
• Be sure the well casing remains at least 8 inches above the ground when doing any landscaping.
• Keep accurate records about your well in a place you can easily find them.
The Water Systems Council recommends an annual well water test for certain contaminants and a regular inspection of the physical system and its components by a certified professional. Of course, it’s time to call in the experts if you are experiencing well problems or your water has a bad odor, off color, bad taste or laundry staining, or if you suspect water-related health issues, such as recurring gastro-intestinal illness.
What to expect from a well inspection:
• A review of the well’s history including any service and well maintenance. If you don’t have any records for the well, you can check with the state agency that oversees private water wells.Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont all have online databases that can be searched for private well information.
• An assessment of whether the well is far enough away from sources of contamination such as septic tanks, oil tanks and fertilized fields, and a check to make sure the ground slopes away from the well so that water and rain drain away from it and decrease the chance of contamination.
o Inspection of the well components including the pump and the construction of the well. Ideally the well should be less than 20 years old.
o A test of the water quality to determine levels of bacteria and other contaminants, including volatile organic compounds (VOC) and whether water treatment is necessary.
o Analysis of the well’s yield/flow to make sure it’s sufficient for your household needs.
The Water Well Board in New Hampshire suggests a minimum of 600 gallons of water within a two-hour period once each day, or a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute for two hours.
For more on well maintenance and inspection, you can go New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ website for information and a detailed checklist for inspecting the condition of your well.