Well Water Systems


The Down Low on Well Water Systems: Rural Living Made Simple

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The Well-come Introduction

From City Sidewalks to Country Soil: My Personal Journey

They say life is all about adventure, and boy, have I embraced that! I’m a small-town inhabitant, raised on the steady rhythm of Nanaimo life, the comfort of familiar faces, the sound of ferry horns in the early morning echoing across Vancouver Island. But recently, life has served up an exciting new chapter for me. I’ve bought a piece of bare land in a town so small; it only boasts about 123 residents – now 124, thank you very much. The purchase marked my transition from the bustling city to rural tranquillity, trading the convenience of city life for the raw beauty of nature. The only amenities that came with this beautiful plot were an onsite well, river frontage, and very primitive ‘privy’. Oddly enough, I couldn’t be happier.

Tapping into the Purpose of this Post

Navigating this shift hasn’t been without its challenges – a major one being understanding and managing my new well water system. You see, water in the city comes with a turn of the tap. Easy. In the country? Not so much. So I’ve been learning a thing or two (or twenty) about wells and their systems. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing the basics – a beginner’s guide from a fellow beginner. Here’s to demystifying the complexities of rural water supply, one humorous anecdote at a time.

Water Wells Demystified

What are Well Water Systems Anyway?

Well, let’s dive right in! A well water system, in its simplest form, is a structure created to extract water from the ground, specifically from a water-bearing layer called an aquifer. It’s Mother Nature’s underground water store, so to speak.

You see, the earth, bless her heart, has layers and layers of rock, sand, and gravel beneath her surface. In some places, water fills the gaps between these particles, forming what we call an aquifer.

Now imagine punching a straw (in this case, a well) into that water-filled layer. That’s essentially what a well does – it provides access to the water trapped in an aquifer.

The well water system doesn’t stop there. It also includes components like a pump, which is your heavy lifter. It’s the part that actually brings the water from down below to the surface. Other elements of a well water system include a pressure tank to keep your water pressure steady and a treatment system, if necessary, to ensure the water is safe to use.

In a nutshell, a well water system is your personal access point to nature’s underground water supply. It’s a key piece of infrastructure for anyone living off the land like yours truly. In the next sections, we’ll get to know our well systems a bit more intimately. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride!

Different Flavours of Wells

Who knew wells came in different “flavours”, right? Now, we’re not about to start a taste test, but understanding the different types of well water systems can help you make the most of your water supply.

1. Dug or Bored Wells: These are typically created by, you guessed it, digging or boring a hole into the earth. They’re relatively shallow, usually no more than 50 feet deep. Dug or bored wells draw water from water-filled pockets in the soil or rock, but they’re susceptible to contamination since they’re so close to the surface.

2. Drilled Wells: Drilled wells are the heavy-duty cousins of dug or bored wells. A drilling rig is used to bore a hole deep into the earth, often hundreds of feet down, to reach an aquifer. Drilled wells tend to have a lower risk of contamination since they pull water from so deep underground.

3. Driven Wells: Driven wells are a bit like a middle child, falling somewhere between dug or bored wells and drilled wells in terms of depth. A small-diameter pipe is driven into the ground to reach a shallow water source. They’re simpler to install than drilled wells but can still suffer from contamination issues like their dug or bored siblings.

4. Artesian Wells: These wells tap into pressurized aquifers (known as confined aquifers). With artesian wells, the water pressure in the aquifer can often push the water up the well without the need for a pump. Sounds like magic, doesn’t it?

Each type of well water system has its pros and cons, and what works best for you depends on factors like your local geology, water table depth, and of course, the quality and quantity of water you need. So, what flavour of well do you have on your property? Whichever it is, remember – understanding your well water system is the first step to managing it effectively!

Water Quality: More Than Just Clear and Sparkling

Believe it or not, the quality of your well water is about more than just how crystal clear it is or how cool it makes your glass look on a hot summer day. Although clarity is a factor, well water quality involves several elements that can affect everything from your health to your laundry.

1. Bacterial Contamination: Microscopic critters like bacteria, viruses, and parasites can sometimes find their way into your well. While many of these microorganisms are harmless, others can lead to health issues. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly test your well water for bacterial contamination, particularly after heavy rainfall or any changes in the taste, smell, or colour of your water.

2. Chemical Contaminants: Substances from natural sources (like iron, arsenic, or radon) or human activity (like nitrates from fertilizers or industrial chemicals) can get into your well water. Some may affect the taste or color of the water, while others are harder to detect but may still affect your health.

3. Hard Water: Water is “hard” when it has a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Hard water isn’t usually a health concern, but it can leave deposits on your fixtures, dishes, and clothes, and can cause build-up in your pipes and appliances over time.

4. pH Levels: The pH level of your water can affect its taste and how corrosive it is to your plumbing. Water should ideally be neutral (around a pH of 7), but if it’s too acidic (low pH) or too alkaline (high pH), it could lead to metallic-tasting water or damage to your pipes.

5. Temperature: While you might not think about the temperature of your well water unless your shower turns ice-cold, unusually warm well water can sometimes indicate a problem, like a malfunctioning well pump or issues with your water heater.

Remember, just because your well water looks clear and sparkles in the sunlight doesn’t mean it’s free of issues. Regular testing is the best way to ensure your well water stays safe and refreshing. After all, knowing is half the battle, right? Stay tuned, because we’re just scratching the surface of this well water adventure. Up next, we’ll learn how to locate and understand our well’s anatomy!

Know Your Well: More Than Just a Hole in the Ground

Where’s My Well? Locating Your Source of Water

When I first looked at my property, I didn’t even notice my well right away. I half expected it to look like a wishing well from a kids movie. Well, reality checked in and I found out that isn’t quite how it works in rural living! So, how do you locate your water source on a big stretch of land?

1. Do Some Digging (In Records, Not Dirt): Check with your local government or environmental health department for any records they might have. If your well was professionally installed, there’s a good chance there are documents indicating its location.

2. Look for Signs: Sometimes, the easiest way to find a well is to simply follow the signs. Look for a small, capped pipe sticking out of the ground. It may be in a direct line from the well pump inside your house, so that could be a clue. You might also find a well pit or a well house – small structures or pits built to protect the well from freezing.

3. Call in the Professionals: If you’re having trouble finding your well, or if the records don’t exist or aren’t clear, you might consider hiring a local well contractor. They have the equipment and expertise to help you locate your well without causing damage to your property or the well itself.

After finding my own well, I felt a bit like a treasure hunter. There was a certain sense of satisfaction knowing that I had located the source of my property’s life-giving water. The next step is getting acquainted with my well, inside and out. Up next, we’ll explore the parts of a well water system and how they work together to bring fresh water to our taps. Get ready for a deep dive, friends!

The Anatomy of a Well: Understanding Your System’s Parts

Before I got hands-on with my well, I thought it was just a hole in the ground filled with water. But let me tell you, a well is an impressive piece of engineering. Let’s do a quick rundown of its main components:

1. Well Casing: This is the tubular structure that holds up the walls of your well, preventing dirt, rocks, and other undesirable things from falling in. Think of it as the well’s backbone. It sticks up above ground level, usually capped off to keep out critters and surface water.

2. Well Cap: Sitting atop the casing, the well cap provides a tight seal, offering additional protection against contaminants. A good cap is your well’s helmet—important for keeping the interior safe and sound.

3. Well Screen: Located at the bottom of the well, the screen filters out sand and gravel, preventing them from entering your water supply. It’s the first line of defense in ensuring your water stays clean.

4. Pump: It’s the heart of your well water system, drawing water from the ground and sending it to your house. Pumps can be submersible (located inside the well) or above ground, depending on the depth of your well.

5. Pressure Tank: The pressure tank is like your well’s lungs. It stores water and regulates pressure, ensuring you have a steady flow when you turn on a faucet, take a shower, or flush the toilet.

6. Check Valve: The unsung hero of your well system! This one-way valve prevents water from flowing back into the well once it’s been pumped out, ensuring a consistent supply when you need it.

7. Pitless Adapter: This device allows water to flow from the well to your house. It’s designed to be frost-free, meaning it won’t freeze in those icy winter months.

Knowing the ins and outs of your well water system is like knowing every nick and cranny of your own home. It gives you a sense of understanding, control, and accomplishment. In our next chapter, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of maintaining your well to keep the fresh water flowing. Keep your tools ready, folks!

Testing, 1, 2, 3: Checking Your Water Quality

You’ve got your well. You’ve decoded its minimalist structure. Now, it’s time for a crucial step: checking the quality of your water. If you remember my previous adventures with my well, you’ll recall the water wasn’t exactly crystal clear at first. Trust me, the first time you see your water look like a chocolate milkshake, you’ll be thinking, “Wait, I’m supposed to drink this?!”

Well, the answer is no. At least, not without testing and possibly treating it first. Ensuring the water from your well is safe to drink is vital for your health. So, let’s dive into the basics of testing your well water.

1. Initial Test: Once your well is up and running, it’s recommended to get a comprehensive water test done. This will check for things like bacteria, nitrates, and other common contaminants. You can get a testing kit online or from a local home improvement store, or hire a professional to do it.

2. Routine Tests: Once you know your water is safe, don’t rest on your laurels. It’s a good idea to test your well water annually for bacteria and nitrates, and every three to five years for other potential contaminants. Conditions can change, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

3. After Noticeable Changes: If you ever notice a change in the color, taste, or smell of your water, it’s time for another test. Remember my muddy well water? That’s a sure sign to get it checked out. And remember, some contaminants can’t be seen, tasted, or smelled, so testing is the only way to know for sure.

4. Professional Assistance: If you’re ever in doubt about the quality of your water, don’t hesitate to call a professional. They can help identify any issues and suggest appropriate treatments.

Now, if your test results do come back with some eyebrow-raising figures, don’t panic! There are various water treatment systems available that can help make your water clean and safe to drink. But that’s a topic for another day.

Remember, well water systems are a fantastic resource, but they do require a bit of maintenance and vigilance to ensure they provide safe, drinkable water. So, get testing, folks, and here’s to clear and sparkling water! In the next segment, we’ll talk about maintaining your well system to keep it functioning optimally. Stay hydrated, my friends!

Tending to Your Well: Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Routine Checks: Preventing Well Woes

Ah, maintenance, the necessary evil that keeps our lives running smoothly. After getting used to the idea of drawing water from beneath your feet, figuring out the technical aspects of your well, and ensuring your water quality is up to snuff, the last piece of the well water systems puzzle is routine checks and maintenance. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of preventative well care.

1. Regular Inspection: Just like your yearly doctor’s visit (you do go, right?), your well should get a professional check-up at least once a year. This includes inspection of all visible parts for damage or wear and tear, as well as an evaluation of the well’s performance. If any issues are spotted, your well professional can nip them in the bud before they become larger problems.

2. Keep it Clean: While your well is designed to be a sealed system, keeping the area around your well clean and free of debris is crucial. This helps prevent any potential contaminants from finding their way into your water supply. Also, keep any chemicals, fertilizers, and other potential pollutants as far away from your well as possible.

3. Monitor Well Cap: The well cap (the part you see above ground) should always be secured and in good condition. If it’s damaged or missing, contaminants can enter, and small animals might see your well as a cozy new home. Not exactly ideal for clean water!

4. Be Mindful of Changes: Pay close attention to any changes in your water’s taste, smell, or appearance. These could be signs of well issues or contamination.

5. Record Keeping: Keeping records of all well maintenance and repairs, as well as water testing results, can be very useful. This log can provide valuable information if problems arise in the future.

In a nutshell, keeping your well in good shape is all about regular inspections, cleanliness, and vigilance. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. With these routine checks, you’ll keep the well woes at bay and ensure your well water system keeps quenching your thirst and meeting your water needs effectively.

And with that, you’re one step closer to becoming a seasoned well water user! It might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but trust me, the knowledge is worth it. After all, knowing your water source is a big part of being confident in your rural living adventure. Until next time, stay well-hydrated, friends!

When Things Go Wrong: Common Well Issues

Well, well, well… even with the best preventative measures, things can go awry sometimes. Dealing with well water systems isn’t always smooth sailing, but knowing some common issues can better equip you to handle them (or know when to call in the pros). So, let’s face the facts and delve into some of the problems you might encounter with your well.

1. No Water: Possibly the most alarming issue – you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out. This could be due to an issue with your well pump, a broken pipe, or a problem with the well itself, such as a lower water table.

2. Changes in Water Pressure: If you notice your water pressure fluctuating or dropping, it could be an indication of a problem with your well pump, pressure tank, or again, a lower water table.

3. Dirty or Muddy Water: As I’ve discovered firsthand, your well water might come out muddy at first. This can be a result of sediment in the water. If it persists, it could indicate a problem with your well’s structure, like a crack in the well casing.

4. Bad Taste or Odor: If your water tastes or smells funny, it might be due to the presence of certain minerals, bacteria, or contaminants in your well water. Regular water testing can help identify these issues.

5. Rapid Clicking from the Pressure Switch: This could indicate that the pressure tank isn’t working properly. The tank’s purpose is to hold a reserve of pressurized water, and if it’s faulty, the pump will turn on and off rapidly (hence the clicking sound).

6. High Electricity Bills: If your electricity bill suddenly increases without an obvious reason, it could be because your well pump is running continuously, which might be due to a water leak or a problem with the pressure switch.

When faced with these issues, it’s always wise to consult with a well professional. Some problems can be a simple fix, while others may be more complex. Regardless, maintaining the health of your well and the quality of your water should always be a priority.

In our next chapter, we’ll explore some DIY solutions for minor well troubles, so stay tuned. And remember, when it comes to your well, knowing what can go wrong is half the battle. Don’t let well woes dampen your rural living experience, you’ve got this!

When to Call in the Cavalry: Professional Help and Your Well

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re pioneers, not plumbers. As much as we love the idea of mastering every aspect of our well water systems, there comes a point when you need to call in the cavalry. That’s right, sometimes it’s better to lean on the expertise of a seasoned professional, especially when dealing with something as crucial as your water source.

In the midst of do-it-yourself projects and rural living charm, it’s important to know when to call a professional. Here are a few instances where you might want to reach out:

1. Installation of a new well: Unless you’ve got a lot of experience (and a backhoe), installing a new well is probably best left to the professionals. They’ll handle everything from site assessment to ensuring the well is correctly sealed and protected from potential contaminants.

2. Repairs that require disassembling the pump: While some superficial repairs or part replacements might be doable, anything that involves taking apart your well pump should probably be left to the pros.

3. Persistent or severe water quality issues: If your water quality tests are consistently coming back with concerning results, or if you’re dealing with stubborn issues like recurring bacterial contamination, it’s time to call in a well expert.

4. Well deepening or modifications: Any alterations to your well’s structure, such as deepening it to access more water, should be handled by a licensed well contractor.

5. Emergency Situations: When it comes to a sudden loss of water, severe water contamination, or any other major well issue, always call a professional. They’ll have the expertise to diagnose and resolve the problem swiftly and safely.

In conclusion, while learning about and maintaining your well water system can be a fulfilling and empowering part of rural living, knowing when to call in the cavalry is just as important. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek professional help to ensure the safety and reliability of your water source.

Don’t let this scare you, though. In the vast majority of cases, well water systems function efficiently with regular maintenance and occasional tests. So here’s to you, well owners! You’re part of an amazing journey that connects us back to the earth in a very tangible way. Cheers!

A Well Managed: Tips for Conservation and Efficiency

Conservation and Your Well: Being Water Wise

You know, one of the perks that you’ll find relying on well water is the freedom it offers. No more watering restrictions that limit when to water the garden. No more side-eye from the neighbours if you dare to water the lawn on a non-designated day.

While we do have more freedom with well water, it doesn’t mean we can just let the hose run wild. Having our own well water systems comes with a responsibility to be water-wise. Remember, we’re not just using a city’s massive water supply. We’re drawing from our own little piece of the water table and need to ensure we don’t deplete it or put it at risk of contamination.

So, even though it’s tempting to let the water flow freely just because we can, it’s crucial to be mindful of how much water we’re using and when. Things like watering your garden in the early morning or late evening when less water will evaporate can make a big difference.

And hey, don’t forget about Mother Nature’s own irrigation system: rainwater. Collecting rainwater can reduce the pressure on your well and it’s great for watering plants, washing cars, or even flushing toilets. You’d be surprised at how much water you can gather from a single rainfall.

Regular maintenance of your well water system also plays a part in conservation. A well-functioning system is an efficient system, so make sure to keep up with your routine checks to prevent any unseen leaks or malfunctions.

In the end, being water-wise is not only good for your well, but it’s also good for the environment. It’s a win-win situation. So here’s to you, independent well owners! Enjoy your freedom, but remember: with great water power comes great water responsibility.

Efficiency Tips: Getting the Most Out of Your Well Water System

It’s time to talk efficiency. With some smart moves and a bit of well-savvy, we can make our well water systems work harder for us while still ensuring their longevity.

  1. Regular maintenance: I know, I know. It feels like I’m always going on about this, but it really is the key to keeping your well water system efficient. Regular checks and the occasional professional maintenance can keep everything running smoothly and help prevent those dreaded mid-shower water stoppages.
  2. Invest in energy-efficient appliances: Consider upgrading your home appliances to more energy-efficient models. Modern washing machines and dishwashers have settings that use less water while still getting your dishes and clothes sparkling clean.
  3. Be mindful of your water usage: Simple changes like turning the tap off while brushing your teeth or fixing a leaky faucet can save hundreds of gallons of water each year.
  4. Low-flow fixtures: Consider installing low-flow showerheads and faucets. They can drastically reduce your water usage without sacrificing water pressure. Yes, you can still have a luxurious shower while being efficient!
  5. Smart irrigation: If you’re using your well water for irrigation, consider investing in a drip irrigation system. They water your plants at the root level, which reduces evaporation and ensures every drop counts.
  6. Insulate your pipes: This can help reduce heat loss when you’re running hot water and also prevent your pipes from freezing during the colder months.
  7. Water Pressure: Keep your water pressure at a reasonable level. Super high pressure might feel great in the shower, but it’s hard on your pipes and uses more water than necessary.

Remember, every little bit helps. Even minor changes can lead to major savings in both water and energy, and that’s not just good for your well and your wallet, but it’s also good for our planet.

Protecting Your Well: From Freezing Temps and Furry Intruders

Taking care of your well water system doesn’t just mean keeping it clean and efficient; it also means protecting it from the elements and local wildlife. After all, nothing puts a damper on your day like finding out you’ve got no water because of a freeze-up or discovering that a family of raccoons has decided to set up shop in your well house.

Freeze Protection

Depending on where you live, freezing temperatures can be a serious concern for well owners. If water in your pipes freezes, it can cause them to burst, leading to costly repairs and a significant water mess. So here’s how to protect your well from Old Man Winter:

  1. Insulate well components: Use specially designed insulation covers or blankets for above-ground components of your well. Don’t forget your pressure tank and any exposed pipes.
  2. Consider heat tape: For particularly cold areas, heat tape can be a real life-saver. It wraps around your pipes and provides just enough heat to prevent freezing.
  3. Seal off drafts: Check your well house or any areas where your well components are located for drafts. A bit of weather stripping or spray foam insulation can go a long way in keeping the cold out.

Preventing Animal Damage

Believe it or not, our furry friends can cause serious damage to your well water system. Whether it’s a curious critter who chews through a wire or a larger animal that damages your well casing, it pays to be proactive in keeping animals out.

  1. Seal off access points: Make sure any well houses or other structures housing well components are secure. Repair any holes and consider installing animal-proof latches on doors.
  2. Regular inspections: Frequently check for signs of animal activity. Look for chewed wires, droppings, or signs of nesting.
  3. Consider protective measures: If you’re in a particularly critter-heavy area, it might be worth investing in protective measures such as critter guards for your well casing.

Remember, a well-protected well is a happy well. And a happy well means a happy well-owner, so it’s worth the effort to keep it safe from frost and fauna. Stay well, everyone! I can’t resist all these ‘well’ jokes.

A Well-rounded Conclusion

Reflecting on the Learning Curve: My Well Water System Journey

Hard to believe, but it’s only been three weeks since I embarked on this wild adventure into the world of well water systems. Being a small-town girl taking a leap into rural living, the term ‘learning curve’ feels like an understatement. You could say I’ve been riding a learning rollercoaster, with plenty of unexpected turns, jolting stops, and thrilling free falls.

Navigating this new world of wells, pumps, and muddy water has been as bewildering as it has been enlightening. But let’s be clear, I am no expert – yet. I’m simply a new well owner, getting to grips with my land, my water source, and my adventurous new lifestyle.

Already, there have been moments of pure comedy – remember my failed attempt to wash my van with muddy well water? Then there have been the ‘Aha!’ moments, the victories, like finally understanding how the pump worked and realizing that my well wasn’t broken, just playing by its own rules.

Through these moments, I’ve discovered that understanding a well water system is about more than mechanics and troubleshooting. It’s about attuning to your environment, respecting the resource under your feet, and learning to protect it.

I’m excited for the journey ahead, and I have no doubt there will be more blunders, more triumphs, and plenty of muddy water. But that’s part of the adventure, and I can’t wait to continue learning, growing, and sharing these experiences with you.

So, here’s to the start of this incredible journey. To the lessons to be learned, the challenges to be faced, and the clear, refreshing water that makes it all worthwhile. Thank you for joining me in this exciting exploration of well water systems and rural living. Stay tuned for more tales from the well – may they be as clear and refreshing as the water it brings forth!

I’d love to hear your own stories, share your well..th, of knowledge with me. How do I decide on a well house? Comment below.

Well Water Systems

My 1st book is available!

I can offer the book at a much better price on the website to my visitors vs. using online publishers.

My 15+ years of full time RV living and travel through North America in the convenience of a PDF file.

Phew! You made it to the end of the post . . . who writes this much about these things? You COULD share the story on one of your socials, it would mean a lot to me!
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