Inspect Your Well

You are the only one responsible for the condition of your well and water! Once a year, make sure your well is in good shape and your water isn’t contaminated to avoid costly repairs and ongoing damage to your health. These steps are only a basic check – if you encounter any issues while inspecting your well, it’s best to consult a certified well contractor.

1. Check the location of your well.

Your well should be located uphill from your septic system, any fuel storage tanks or areas that require heavy fertilizer. While it’s raining, check your well cover and make sure there isn’t a large amount of water pooling in that area, which will increase the risk of contamination. If water is pooling around your well, it’s a good idea to consult a well contractor to see if a change is needed.

2. Check your well cover.

Look for any signs of cracks or breaks in the cover itself, as well as in any casings or tiles around the well cover. Give the cover a tug to make sure it’s securely attached. Also check the o–ring or gasket that connects the cover to the pipe and make sure it’s intact and crack-free.

3. Inspect your well pump.

The well pump will usually be located either above the well or somewhere inside your house (generally in the basement or a utility room), and will have a motor housing with a pipe attached to it that leads into the ground. Take a look to make sure there isn’t any oil leaking out of the pump, or loose/frayed wires in the area. Then, have another person run some water in your house (flush a toilet or turn on a tap) and listen to the pump when it turns on. If you hear any grinding noises or other signs of struggle from your pump, it’s a good idea to have a professional take a look. Note: Some pumps are located below ground, and can’t be inspected visually. If you experience a drop or loss of water pressure, it may indicate a problem with you well pump.

4. Test your water.

The EPA recommends testing your well water at least once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, dissolved solids and pH levels. You can usually have your water tested by your local health department. If not, you can also have it done by a state certified laboratory. More information is available on the EPA website. Note: You should also test your water if: someone in your house is pregnant, a neighbor discovers contaminated water, there is a change in the color or consistency of your water, repairs or maintenance have been done to your well or there are unexplained illnesses occurring in your household.

5. Avoid using lawn fertilizer near your well.

The chemicals in fertilizer could seep into your well and contaminate your water.

6. Be aware of other sources of contamination.

Just because your property is in good shape doesn’t mean water contamination can’t come from other places. Check to see if there are farms that may be using pesticides or raising livestock nearby, and if a neighbor’s septic tank may be uphill from your well. If either of these issues are relevant to your area, it’s a good idea to get your water tested.

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