Two Warning Signs a Water Well Is In Trouble

Peter G Bulfin
June 18, 2013 — 1,097 views  
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The water well is an amazing resource and can deliver many years of great water with a minimum of servicing. Precisely since the majority of water wells perform for years with no maintenance, homeowners may well not realize that the well requires service or routine maintenance right up until it is too late. Fortunately there are some tell-tale indicators you can look for that can alert you to well water troubles.

How a Typical Deep Well Pump System Operates

Typical domestic water wells usually have a submersible pump that is submerged under the water and pumps water directly to the house. Some wells have pumps called "jet pumps" which are situated on the surface or the top well. The majority of well pumps are used together with a pressure tank.

The goal of the well water pump system is to hold a constant supply of pressurized water in the house and piping system. In order to maintain your water pressure the well pump is switched on and off with a pressure switch. This usually means the pump is switched on when the pressure switch senses the pressure reaches a minimal point (the "cut-in" stage) and off at a pre set high pressure point (the "cut off" stage).

In certain systems there's no basic off and on pressure switch but rather a pressure sensing unit that operates using a controller to allow the pump to pump more or less water in a progressive method. This type of system is known as a "continuous pressure" system. This approach utilizes a varying speed pump, that allows the pump motor to rotate more rapidly or slower, and pump water faster or more slowly based on the pressure sensing unit. These pumps are becoming increasingly popular but the most common is the simple on and off pump system uses a basic pressure switch.

The Well Is Pumping Air

If you turn on your water tap and up blasts a mixture of air and water, this is often a serious warning sign that something is drastically wrong within the well. The worst case scenario is that your water table has dropped to a point that is at or beneath the well pump, and the pump is drawing in air at some point during the pump cycle. An additional cause is that the well pump drop pipe (the pipe that attaches the pump to the very top of the well and the water system) is damaged. Drop pipes are constructed with either iron pipe or plastic PVC or poly pipe. They may become broken or corroded and develop cracks or in some instances break apart, making it possible for air to be drawn in. This type of problem needs to be looked into and repaired by a skilled well or pump company.

In some cases, the water level is okay and there aren't any cracked pipes or fittings. Many ground water tables do contain different types of gasses. These gasses may be mixed within the water, but later on emerge from solution and cause water to spurt or sputter out of the faucet. These gasses may be co2, methane, hydrogen sulfide as well as other gasses, and can be dangerous and trigger significant health and safety troubles. If this is an on-going problem the well can usually be treated to remove these gasses through aeration and degassing systems.

The Electricity Bill Is Suddenly Very High

When a pump wears out, or becomes clogged with sand, silt or iron bacteria it needs to work harder than when it was in good shape. This can easily result in a progressively higher power cost. Another common cause of a high energy cost is when the check valve in the well breaks. This enables water from your pressure tank to flow back down in to the well, which in turn reduces the pressure and triggers the pressure switch to switch the pump on again and re-pressurize the pressure tank. This off and on cycle may occur every few minutes and quite simply enable the well pump to run practically round the clock, causing a high electric power bill.

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Peter G Bulfin


Peter G Bulfin, who has been working with problem well water for over 25 years, is a WQA Certified water consultant and a California state licensed water treatment and distribution system operator. His useful free ebook "The Definitive Guide To Well Water Treatment" is available for a limited time from The Clean Water Store.