Essential Guide: How to Maintain a Well for Safe Drinking Water

Did you know that maintaining your well is essential for ensuring safe drinking water for you and your family? In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on “how to maintain a well” and safeguard your drinking water, covering everything from routine maintenance and inspection to addressing common well problems.

Key Takeaways

  • Well maintenance is essential for safe drinking water and to prevent contamination.

  • Regular inspections, testing, and component inspection are necessary to maintain quality of well water.

  • Professional contractors should be consulted when addressing common issues or replacing a well system.

The Importance of Well Maintenance

Millions of Americans rely on private wells for their drinking water. However, many homeowners are unaware that it is their responsibility to maintain the water quality of their wells, as domestic wells are not regulated by law. Proper well maintenance is imperative to prevent hazardous chemicals like motor oil and pesticides from infiltrating your water supply.

Neglecting well maintenance can lead to major changes in well performance and water quality, putting your health at risk. Maintaining high-quality water and preventing contaminants from affecting your well water can be achieved by adhering to routine maintenance procedures and hiring qualified professionals.

Routine Maintenance and Inspection

Performing routine maintenance, including preventive maintenance, and inspection on your well system is a key factor in ensuring the safety of your drinking water. This includes regular water quality testing and well component inspection to prevent contamination and safety hazards.

Water Quality Testing

The National Ground Water Association recommends testing well water annually for coliform and E. coli bacteria, as well as other potential contaminants, to ensure your drinking water is safe. Regular water quality tests allow for early identification and resolution of any issues, thereby protecting your family from potential health risks. Contact your local health department for assistance with water testing and guidance on maintaining water quality.

To test your well water, it is best to send a water sample to a certified laboratory for accurate testing of coliform, E. coli bacteria, and other contaminants that may affect water quality. Preventing these contaminants from affecting your well water and ensuring your water remains safe to drink can be achieved through regular maintenance and water testing.

Well Component Inspection

Examining well components like the casing, well cap, and pump is essential for preserving the integrity of your well system. A professional inspection should be conducted every 10 years to identify any signs of damage or wear that may affect your well’s performance.

Damaged or worn-out well components can lead to contamination and reduced functionality, putting your drinking water at risk. The longevity and optimal performance of your well system can be ensured by regular inspections of your well components and prompt resolution of any issues.

Preventing Contamination

Maintaining the safety and quality of your well water requires preventing contamination. This involves proper chemical storage and maintaining a safe distance from septic tanks to protect your well water from pollutants.

Proper Chemical Storage

Hazardous chemicals, such as:

  • pesticides

  • fertilizers

  • motor oil

  • paint

can also be considered as hazardous materials and may contribute to the presence of such contaminants.

can have a detrimental impact on well water quality. Appropriate storage and handling of these chemicals is necessary to prevent their entry into well water sources.

Proper chemical storage involves utilizing chemical storage facilities that ensure:

  • Using appropriate containers that meet safety standards and certifications, such as FM and UL approvals

  • Preventing leakage of hazardous chemicals

  • Protecting your well water from contamination

These can be achieved by adhering to proper storage practices, ensuring proper drainage, and following essential maintenance tips.

Maintaining Safe Distance from Septic Tanks

Maintaining a safe distance between your well and septic tank is crucial to prevent contamination from wastewater. It is generally suggested that there should be a distance of 50 to 100 feet between a well and a septic tank to prevent contamination.

Reducing the risk of waterborne illnesses and ensuring your family’s well-being can be achieved by maintaining appropriate separation between your well and septic tank. Always consult your local government or health department for specific requirements regarding the necessary distance between wells and septic tanks.

Caring for Your Well System

Maintaining the optimal performance and longevity of your well system requires proper care. This includes maintaining the well cap and taking care of the pump to keep your well functioning efficiently and providing you with clean drinking water.

Well Cap Maintenance

The well cover, also known as a well cap, provides a watertight seal to prevent contamination and keep surface water and insects out of the well casing. Failing to maintain the well cap can lead to contamination and other problems, such as sand pumping and groundwater contamination.

Regularly inspect your well cap for signs of cracking, tampering, or looseness, and consider welding or bolting the cap for added security. Preventing contamination and maintaining the overall integrity of your well system can be achieved by ensuring the well cap is properly maintained.

Pump Care and Replacement

Your well pump plays a crucial role in delivering water from the well to your home. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations for pump maintenance is essential for ensuring the pump’s optimal performance and longevity.

Service your well pump every 1-3 years for regular maintenance and replace the pump if it shows signs of damage or wear, such as changes in water pressure or unusual noises. Maintaining the efficiency of your well system and ensuring a continuous supply of clean water to your home can be achieved by adhering to proper pump care and replacement practices.

Addressing Common Well Problems

Common well problems, such as iron bacteria and bio-fouling, as well as corrosion and incrustation, can have a significant impact on well performance. Maintaining the efficiency and longevity of your well system requires addressing these issues.

Iron Bacteria and Bio-Fouling

Iron bacteria and bio-fouling can clog well screens and rock fractures, leading to reduced water flow and decreased well performance. Treating these issues with chlorine and physical agitation can help improve well performance and water quality.

In severe cases of iron bacteria, concentrations up to 500 to 2,000 mg/L of chlorine may be necessary for effective treatment. Maintaining the efficiency and safety of your well water requires ensuring your well system is free from iron bacteria and bio-fouling.

Corrosion and Incrustation

Corrosion and incrustation can significantly impact the performance and lifespan of your well system. To prevent corrosion, select materials that are corrosion-resistant and limit acid-rehabilitation treatments in waste systems.

To address incrustation, strong acid solutions and mechanical methods can be employed to remove the buildup of materials on well screens and rock fractures. Maintaining the optimal performance of your well system and ensuring the safety of your drinking water can be accomplished by addressing corrosion and incrustation issues.

Hiring Professional Contractors

Ensuring the safety and quality of your well water requires hiring professional contractors for well maintenance. Professional contractors possess the necessary licensing, certification, and expertise to properly maintain or service your well system.

Before hiring a contractor, ensure they have the appropriate credentials and a positive reputation for providing high-quality service. Engage qualified personnel for well maintenance to aid in addressing complex tasks like water testing and well-servicing, thereby ensuring the longevity and optimal performance of your well system.

Well Abandonment and Replacement

Properly sealing off old wells is important to prevent contamination and maintain the safety of your drinking water. If your well is severely deteriorated or has reached the end of its serviceable life, typically around 40 years, it may be necessary to consider well replacement.

Ensuring the safety and quality of your drinking water for years to come can be achieved by properly abandoning and replacing old wells. Consult the National Ground Water Association for guidance on well abandonment and replacement, and consider hiring a professional contractor to ensure the job is done correctly.


In conclusion, maintaining your well system is essential for ensuring the safety and quality of your drinking water. By following routine maintenance procedures, addressing common well problems, and hiring professional contractors, you can protect your family’s health and the longevity of your well system. Don’t let well maintenance fall by the wayside; take action today to safeguard your family’s drinking water for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What maintenance is required for a well?

Regular annual maintenance, including a bacterial test, is essential for well upkeep. Check the water whenever there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, and test for contaminants such as coliform bacteria, nitrates/nitrites and local concerns like arsenic and radon.

How often should you flush your well?

For best results, it is recommended to flush your well once a year as part of routine maintenance. If there is an iron or sulfur bacteria problem present, more frequent flushes may be necessary.

What is the average lifespan of a well?

The average lifespan for a well is 20-30 years, with some new technologies being developed to extend its life span. Drilled wells typically go down 100 feet or more. Check out our water well map for average well depths in your area.

How do I keep my well water clean?

Ensure that the area around the wellhead is sloped to keep surface runoff away and install a sanitary well cap. Have your well sanitized with chlorine or a 100ppm bleach solution each time the system is opened for maintenance or repair.

How often should I test my well water for contaminants?

It is recommended to test your well water annually for potential contaminants.