With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

Having a private well as a primary source of drinking water does give a homeowner a certain amount of freedom. But, there are potential drawbacks and monitoring the water quality is paramount to stay healthy. If the well is in great shape, the chances of contamination are lowered and ongoing maintenance can help. In this article, we will take a closer look at the importance of private well maintenance for your home.

3 Private Well Inspection Scenarios

If a private well is neglected for too long, it can be very prone to various types of contamination, including chemicals, minerals, bacteria and more. Many of these contaminants represent a serious health risk and they need to be identified and removed. Although it is possible to detect some water contamination issues with your senses, this is an imprecise approach. Many contaminants cannot be detected without a laboratory water test. Let’s take a look at three scenarios where an inspection and water testing are absolutely necessary. They are:

1.   Annually

The conditions in a private well can change a lot over a typical year and annual testing is the only way to get a true understanding. A well can develop a number of impurities over time, including: a buildup of nitrates, the growth of bacteria and more. Annual testing should be at the core of any private well maintenance regime.

2.   Gastrointestinal Illness

Most people have a sensitivity to bad water that often manifests as a period of gastrointestinal distress or a longer illness. If you notice that people drinking, cooking and bathing in the water are falling ill, it’s time to get the well inspected and tested.

3.   Water Changes

As we mentioned earlier, there are occasions when your own senses can detect changes in the water quality. If you notice a change in the color, odor and taste of your drinking water, there will be an underlying cause to investigate. The nature of the change can provide some clues, but it’s a better idea to confirm your suspicions with water testing.

If you follow these three simple rules for private well water inspections you can minimize the risks of contamination significantly. But, prevention is better than the cure and there are some steps that you can take to keep your well in great shape.

6 Ways to Protect a Private Well

Many homeowners new to the concept of a private well will sink one on their property without truly understanding the maintenance considerations. There is a perception that groundwater is cleaner because it has seeped through various layers of rock, soil, and sand which act as natural filters. To a certain extent, this is true, but contamination can still be present and it can enter the well due to the conditions on your property. Let’s take a look at six ways to protect a private well against contaminations, they are:

1.   Proximity to Hazardous Chemicals

Any fuels or other hazardous chemicals that may be stored on the property should not be situated anywhere near a well. These chemicals can spill or seep out of a container and then they soak into the ground. Gradually they will affect the groundwater supplies in the local area and contamination will follow. The immediate and wider area around the well should be kept clean and clear of any substances that can compromise the water quality.

2.   Regular Well Cover Checks

The well should be covered with a well cap or a dedicated well cover. This is an often overlooked part of the well, but it must be checked regularly. Most modern wells have a cover made from plastic or metal and there needs to be a seal in place. Some people opt for bolting or even welding a metal cover to create this seal, but regular checks are more effective. The cap needs to be in good shape so there should be no cracks or gaps where contaminants can enter. A ready supply of water can be a tempting target for insects and vermin and it’s important to keep them out. If there is any damage to the well cover, it should be repaired or replaced quickly to minimize exposure to potential contaminants.

3. Hire Qualified Water Treatment Specialist

Well maintenance can be a complex procedure, and this is exacerbated if water testing is required. When a well has not been serviced for a while, the process can take longer and it tends to be more involved than it would be for a regularly maintained well. We rely on a regular source of clean drinking water to stay fit and healthy and a well represents a significant investment. For these reasons, we recommend that you hire a local qualified water treatment specialist to inspect and work on your private well. The company that you choose should have the skill, experience, and specialized equipment to work on your well safely.

4. Don’t Place the Well Near a Septic Tank

When you are in the early stages of a well installation, extra care needs to be exercised to ensure that it’s not located within 50 feet of a septic tank. A septic tank can develop leaks and it may seep sewage into the surrounding water table. As you can imagine, this is an absolute disaster for the water quality in a nearby well.

5. Take Care When Mowing or Landscaping

The well cover casing can easily be damaged by an errant lawnmower and the machine may be damaged too. Another potential problem is landscaping if you are not careful with power tools or you’re using chemicals, such as insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, and others. It’s a great idea to limit the activity around the well to careful mowing to minimize the risks to the well cover and the water quality.

6. Take Fast Action

Now that you understand some of the potential problems related to well maintenance, it’s important to take fast action. If you notice a drop in water quality or the well appears to be compromised, contact your local water treatment specialist.