Why do we have them?
In hilly, rocky terrain and where houses are far apart, it is often not economical to establish a public water supply system.
How do they work?
A well is a hole drilled deep into our naturally, water-bearing bedrock. A pump, usually located at the bottom of the well,
pushes water up under pressure into a basement water tank. Just turn on the tap for cool natural unprocessed water. And there is no quarterly water bill!
Is the water safe to drink?
Most probably yes. However, you should have the water tested by a lab. Normally this is arranged through your home inspector. These tests check for certain possible contaminants as well as nuisance minerals. Treatment is available for undesirable water properties. Likely, this will be some of the best water you will ever drink.
Will my well go dry?
This is very unlikely. As opposed to most components of a home, a well does not systematically wear out over time. In fact, the ability of the earth to resupply water to the well shaft often improves with age.
Some wells never were very good producers or have become less productive over time. As a result, the well may temporarily run out of water after heavy use. In such a case, waiting an hour is usually sufficient to reestablish water pressure.
If a well actually does become insufficient, options to reestablish water supply include drilling the well deeper or drilling a new well. Sometimes hydrofraking poorly yielding wells that are deeper than 300 feet can reestablish water supply.
Like with most things, repairs are necessary from time to time. Repair needs may include pump replacement. There are plenty of local service companies to choose from. Even though there is no monthly bill for this natural unprocessed water, it is not completely free!
What should I do now?
- Hire a home inspector you trust to do a well capacity screening test (push test) as part of his home inspection. Usually by running a specific reasonable amount of water, the inspector can tell if the well is marginal or insufficient. Have the home inspector take water samples for laboratory analysis.
- Ask the present homeowner if there has been any trouble with water supply. For houses newer than about 1972, a “well completion report” filed with the Local Health Department should tell you the original well yield rate in gallons per minute.
- Discuss with your home inspector the risk of having an undiscovered insufficient well so you can decide if you want to pay for a full yield test. Usually such a test is not justified.
What do I do when I own a well?
Live normally and enjoy the home.
Depending on the type of well water pressure tank present, you may need to charge that tank with air every year or two. Any water conditioning equipment will also need periodic service.
Retesting the well water for quality every couple years is prudent.