much does it cost to drill a well?
Every region has geologic and hydrological
conditions, which greatly affect well construction.
Depths vary, and methods of construction
vary. Even specific site conditions can
influence the price. Do not be fooled by
a contractor who simply offers a per foot
price. We all tend to offer a per foot price,
plus additional items like the permit, the
screen, and numerous other breakout items
for all the potential issues that may surface.
One must be wary of the contractor with
a quote written on the proverbial napkin.
Insist on a detailed proposal, and try to
solicit more than one quote. Carefully examine
the proposals and attempt to get everyone
to quote apples to apples. Try to get the
competing companies to estimate the depth
in which they would expect to drill at your
location. Any quote, which deviates from
the others, should raise a flag. Find out
you feel informed to the point where you
can comfortably compare the bidders, now
use your instincts. Which company seemed
to work the hardest to earn your trust?
Which seemed to be the most informative?
Next, who had the best price? Going back
to your instincts, does the ďlow guyĒ come
to mind, when you ask yourself the first
two questions? Often, the low bidder is
low for a reason. You're usually getting
told me that I have a jet pump in my well.
What makes that different than my neighborís
Jet pumps suck... Literally! They most often
are associated with shallow wells, or sand
points. These systems are sensitive and
potentially risky. Surface contaminants
can appear in these wells far easier than
a properly constructed deep well. Theyíre
shallow, and they create a vacuum to pull
the water up to the surface. Any holes and
leaks under the ground surface can draw
all kinds of yucky surface stuff inside.
Usually though, with holes or leaks, the
dumb thing wonít work. The principle is
vacuum. There is a deep well version of
this system that incorporates a principal
of pushing water through an orifice (jet)
to create a vacuum on the upstream side
of the flow. This boosting of the vacuum
allows these pumps to pull water from deeper
in the ground.
pumps are relics. They are inefficient.
The shallow well version cannot work when
water depths get beyond 22 or 23 feet down.
The deep well version has so many potential
problems, listing them is not worth it in
this discussion. Prohibitively costly
to repair in the deep well version, one
is often placed in the unfortunate position
to contract a new well. Todayís submersible
pump systems push water to the surface.
This is a far more efficient means to produce
water. The removal and maintenance of these
pumps and their wells is far more attractive.
The wells are safer, in terms of your health.
The modern deep well offers longer service
life and less expensive maintenance considerations
I hire a well contractor to convert my old
jet system into the new submersible-type
Rarely. Many of the well drillers of the 1950ís, 60ís and 70ís drove the well
casings into the ground with a drive point
using a simple and primitive method. The
drilling method limited well casings to
2 inches in diameter. This diameter is too
small for a turbine-type submersible pump.
Some wells, however, were actually drilled
using a percussion or rotary method. If
the casing installed was 3 inches inside
diameter, then maybe youíre in luck! One
company offers a time-tested product that
we occasionally use to convert an old well.
Virtually all of todayís wells are 4 inches
in diameter and up.
water pressure has been getting less and
less. What's happening?
The first question asked should be, ď How
old is the well?Ē and/or ď When was the
well or pump last worked on?Ē. Like any
machine or appliance, a well or pump cannot
last forever. A lot depends on the owner's
water usage. Other factors like sand or
sediment in the pumped water can harm a
pump. Mineral buildup in the plumbing or
plugging of the pump itself can occur. You
may even have a small leak that is developing
into a larger leak. There is pipe inside
the well that is a pressurized conduit for
the water. It can go bad in time. Do not
change the air pressure in the tank. Do
not change the on/off settings on the pressure
switch. Most importantly, don't listen to
Uncle Frank, or your smart guy neighbor
who happens to be a plumber. Have it checked
by a water well professional.
simple things can occur. Often, when we
get calls claiming a loss of pressure, we
ask the owner if there is a water softener
or sediment filter in the system. If yes,
we ask them if they can temporarily bypass
this equipment. It's amazing how many filters
are plugged up. Owners need to maintain
the filters. Never run your water softener
out of salt. Each time you do, you potentially
destroy the capacity of that equipment.
Other types of filters like sediment, iron
removal or reverse osmosis filters need
to be closely watched. You stray from the
recommended maintenance and operation guidelines;
you create yourself a mess.
have had a significant drop in water pressure
occur suddenly. What's happening?
A number of things could be happening. First
thing you should note is the appearance
of the water. Did it become dirty or colored?
There could be a hole developing in the
underground portion of you plumbing or even
in the well. A hole caused by a fracture
or corrosion could be jetting and agitating
accumulated minerals. It will only get worse.
could help himself or herself by learning
to listen to, and remember their well's
operating characteristics. The control switch
should be clicking to turn the pump on after
several gallons of water have been drawn.
It can be expected to run at least 30 seconds
once the pump starts. Youíll know itís running
by watching the gauge pressure climb. So
you donít have a working gauge? Get one!
It is very hard to diagnose problems without
it seems the pump continues running for
minutes or hours, even with no water being
used, thereís a hole or a fracture somewhere.
The water is going elsewhere. If the pump
switch keeps clicking in rapid succession,
you have a tank problem. If you see sporadic
times of normal pressure followed by times
of no pressure, you could have a pressure
switch failing, or even bad wires somewhere.
pressure or periodic changes may also be
indicative of a fluctuating water level
in the well. A pumpís performance can be
affected by those changing levels. If air
or gas bubbles appear in the water, the
water level has dipped below the intake
level on the pump. It is starving for water,
and the impeller is cavitating. A cavitating
pump canít produce a lot of pressure. The
same holds true for the previously mentioned
jet pump system. If the water is too far
down there, the pump is spinning its wheels
with nowhere to go.
I know my water level in the well is too
low, and itís causing problems, how do I
remedy the situation?
We need to determine how deep the well is.
Then we need to determine the depth of the
pump intake in relation to the well depth.
The easy answer is to set the pump deeper
into the well. That is, if the well has
a submersible pump installed in it. Deep
well jet, and shallow well systems are usually
abandoned at this time.
factors need to be present to set a pump
deeper into a well. Is the well deep enough
to add to the setting length? Is the well
producing enough water to justify the deeper
setting? Sometimes not... Once we see what
is actually happening in your well, we often
attempt to rejuvenate your well by a number
of processes available to us. There are
some wells that never did produce enough
water. The geology available isnít favorable
for any further work. Sometimes, you just
have to drill a new well.
I put a bigger pump in my well? I want to
install an irrigation system.
Not always. Your particular well may not
produce the desired flow rate necessary
for your demands. Any well driller can drill
and find water. Some are better at drilling
and producing a well that far exceeds demand.
Itís not always the well driller that determines
how much water you can get. Mother Nature
can play a hand that throws the best of
best response is to contact a reputable
local driller who can access the drilling
reports from the original construction.
Older installations may not have reliable
records. If thatís the case, we can provide
an inexpensive test pumping analysis to
determine the limits of your well. Sometimes,
we can even set up some equipment and actually
redevelop the well. A little effort sometime
has its rewards.
long can I expect a new well and pump to
Thereís no way to predict every installation.
Letís just say this. Todayís construction
standards make it possible for a well to
last for generations. The use of plastics,
brass/copper and stainless steel create
complete corrosion resistant construction.
The well may plug up from minerals, but
we have a number of ways to clean and rejuvenate
these wells. We are still fixing 100-year-old
wells! Pump systems are subjected to a number
of negative environments that may reduce
the operating life. The pumps that have
been properly and lightly used can continue
running upwards of 40 years. Not all...
biggest factor in the service life of a
pump is usage. The design is almost bulletproof
if the water pumped is clear. Sand wears
a pump out, and almost every well gives
up some sand over the years. Part of the
equation is the on and off cycles. The best
environment for motor longevity is to let
it run. Turning an electric motor on and
off is hard on it. Of course continuous
running isnít practical or affordable.
it or not, the pressure tanks are often
the culprit in a failed water system. The
volume of air and pressure in the tank are
critical. A simple pressure switch turns
the pump on and off. The pressure tank air
and water volume, share a close relationship
with the pressure switch. If those tanks
lose all the air, and you will wear out
a pump motor quickly. Even if the air pressure
isnít calibrated properly to the switch
parameters, you can still wipe out a pump.
Do not randomly put air in a tank. Do not
randomly change the pressure by adjusting
the switch. Let the pros do it. Uncle Frank
only knows enough to be dangerous.
pump keeps coming on, and we are not running
You have a leak. A well pump is equipped
with a check valve, which prevents the reversal
of water flow back down the well when the
pump is off. Those check valves can leak.
Thatís the obvious place to look. Otherwise,
there are numerous other potential places
for leaks. It may even be the underground
line from the well to your plumbing. Before
calling a well driller for a diagnosis,
you may first want to check your plumbing
fixtures, toilet tank valves, and irrigation
lines and zone valves (if you have them).
water smells. Is this normal?
Sometimes, but not always. There are two
sources of the common rotten-egg smell (sulfur).
One is a natural occurrence from clay found
in the earth your well is drilled into.
It can be removed with filtration products
that use activated carbon. A quality water
softening system that is properly sized
can even help a lot too.
other, more complicated source is bacteria
fouling. In extreme cases these bacteria
are coming from cross-contamination sources.
Something has allowed organisms into the
well. Usually this occurs through poor construction
standards, missing or damaged well caps,
broken casings, or flooding. This situation
is concerning if there is a presence of
coliform bacteria. The vast majority of
bacteria problems are caused by harmless
organisms that actually existed in the soils.
These bacteria give off gases smelling like
sulfur. Treatment of the well with chlorine,
or other biocidal chemicals can kill off,
or help control the odors.
you have had an occurrence like a vehicle
striking the well, discovered a missing
cap, or experienced a flood on your property,
pay attention to your water. Sudden appearance
of odors may be a signal. Have your water
tested by a testing laboratory or water
well professional soon.
increases in odor, or continuously present
odor can indicate less serious conditions.
When smells are reported, the first things
we ask are:
you smell the odor more so in the hot water?
Your source may just be the water heater.
Todayís energy efficient appliances are
not always well thought out. Water heaters
that save energy simply donít heat the water
as high as they used to. Water heaters now
act more like an incubator for bacteria.
Flush the heater yearly, and periodically
turn the heat to high for a night. In extreme
cases, chlorinate the water heater.
you been keeping salt in your water softener
and maintaining the filter(s)? Poorly maintained
equipment can lead to very nasty smelling
conditions. Long forgotten filters exist
in thousands of basements across America.
smells it? The husband or the wife? Women
have notoriously better noses. Sometimes,
from a manís perspective, the women are
a little fussy. We run into occasions where
nothing gets the smell out to everyoneís
satisfaction. People living on publicly
supplied water are often fortunate to have
water that doesnít smell bad. There is a
reason, and it has nothing to do with filters
or the construction of the well. Most public
suppliers allow the water to stand for long
periods of time in reservoirs and water
towers. The water sits in an open atmosphere,
and the bad smelling gases have time to
pressure seems to be getting less. I just
had the pump worked on three years ago.
Do you notice a lot of staining and iron
in your water? Do you see particles and
grit in your sink or tub? Every well has
minerals in the water that contribute to
plugging issues. It could be the intake
or passages in your pump are plugged up
with scale and iron sludge. Some wells are
downright horrifying when an owner sees
how much crud can accumulate. Other times,
the buried line into the home has become
restricted. It could even be your filtration
equipment or interior plumbing. A good well
driller can identify the problem quickly.
Well cleaning and line cleanout is a common
maintenance issue for some properties. One
house may be fine, and the next house is
a mess. Water conditions can change in a
very short distance. A well driller has
little or no control over determining the
quality of the water during the construction
process. Anyone that does is not being completely
husband hit the well with his ATV. The pipe
is cracked, and the wires are sticking out.
Should we fix it?
Duh! First of all, turn off the power to
the well and call a well contractor immediately.
It is possible that sand, rocks and plastic
pieces have fallen down into the well. Those
things could suck into the pump intake and
wreck it pump. Even worse, the falling debris
can impossibly lock the pump into the well.
In extreme cases, the pump cannot be pulled
out of the well and serviced. Itís stuck
forever! That means only one thing. Drill
a new well...