Lots of people are concerned with the safety of well water. It definitely helps to understand the inner workings of some of the key components of a well.
First of all, most wells are going to be machine-dug with a minimum depth of 100 feet. In our area, the average well depth is 300 feet deep. Most commonly, our wells are going to be anywhere from 100 to 500 feet deep. I’ve seen wells go as deep as 1,200 feet, but they’re very rare. There is such a thing as hand-dug wells (or really old wells) that are only 30-40 feet deep, but there aren’t too many of those out there.
The most important aspect of well depth is that the water being used isn’t groundwater. As it rains, water goes through the soil and through rock. The water that we actually drink is naturally filtered. All the bacteria, dirt and sand is removed as it makes its way down. That’s the reason why the minimum depth of a well is 100 feet. That’s where the bedrock is, and the water has to filter through that rock in order to become clean and safe to drink.
Unfortunately, as the earth does that natural filtration process, it does cause some substances to dissolve into the water. Most wells don’t have a bacteria problem, but they definitely have pH issues, iron, hardness, and those types of things. They are non-harmful issues that the water just picks up as it goes through its natural filtration.
The most important thing to realize with a well is that you should not have bacteria in your water. If the water does have bacteria, then there is a problem with the well that needs to be resolved.
Pumps & Pressure Tanks
There’s typically a pump that extracts the water out of the well. There are submersible pumps and jet pumps. Most commonly, there’s a pump located down inside the well. It’s about 4” round, and it’s more of a lengthy motor that’s submergible in water. It’s at the bottom of the well, and it pumps water up through an underground pipe that comes to your house.
You’ll also see a tank that’s located either in or under the house. Sometimes the tank is actually buried outside beside the well. It’s necessary to allow cushion for the pump to cut on and off. Without the tank, every time you turned on the faucet, the pump would kick on, too. The pump would have to shut off right as you turned the faucet off. (Excessive/immediate switching on and off would be damaging to the pump.) The pressure tank is there to make sure that the pump doesn’t have to work so hard.
Poor water quality is common in well water. Wells provide water to the city’s municipal supply, but they treat it before its sent out into the municipal system. If you have a private well, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have to correct the quality of the water yourself.
If you have well water in your home, or you’re considering moving into a home with well water, we’re here to answer any questions you might have. Just contact us online or give us a call at (540) 483-9382.