Water Well Safety: 7 Things to Inspect & Check Every Year
More than 15 million American households rely on private wells to supply water for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning and more. You can help ensure the water your family uses remains safe, sanitary and free from contaminants by integrating annual well inspections into your home maintenance routine.
To make that task easier, follow these basic guidelines:
- Inspect the well cap. Modern residential wells feature locking sanitary well caps. Once or twice a year, check yours to make sure it’s tightly sealed, secure and undamaged. Confirm the screened air exchange vent is intact and unobstructed, and examine it for cobwebs, cocoons or signs of pests such as earwigs. If you have an old-style cap with set screws, have it replaced.
- Inspect the well casing. While you’re examining the well cap, inspect the well casing. Look for holes or cracks in the casing itself, and check the grout that seals the gap between the casing and bore hole to make sure it’s solid and intact and there are no signs of deterioration.
- Protect the well stub. Make sure the ground around your well stub is clear of debris, wood and vegetation, and if necessary install a cage or barrier to protect it from vehicles, lawn mowers and other equipment.
- Check well cap level and nearby grade. Rain, snow and freeze-thaw cycles can cause soil to shift or accumulate near your well. Run a tape measure from the bottom of the well cap to the ground and confirm the cap meets the established requirements for your region. (Standards vary, but most require the cap to be at least 8 to 12 inches above ground level.) Visually inspect the nearby area and ensure the ground slopes away from rather than toward the well.
- Examine backflow devices. Ensure double-check backflow valves and atmospheric breakers are intact, properly installed and functioning. Immediately replace any that are damaged to prevent the backflow into your drinking water of contaminants from hoses, irrigation systems, spas, swimming pools and water-based fixtures and appliances.
- Check filters and aerators. At least once each year, remove and inspect any installed water filters, hand-sprayers, shower heads and faucet aerators. Examine them for insect parts, which indicate your system may be infested. If there are no signs of insects, thoroughly clean the devices and reinstall them. If you do find insect bits, contact a well drilling contractor and have your well sanitized.
- Have your water tested. Each year without fail, arrange to have your well water tested to ensure it meets quality standards and is safe for human consumption.
The safety of your well water is vital to your family’s health, so if you don’t have the time or know-how to conduct these routine checks, contact your well installer or water well contractor and arrange for a thorough, professional inspection.