Many properties particularly in rural areas rely on a well for their water, which is not a problem in itself. A newer well will have a submersible pump that is down in the well shaft, older wells will often have a “jet pump” which will be located at the pressure tank (in the house or a well pit)
A good well supplying five or more gallons a minute will satisfy most homes demands. Anything less than three gallons per minute is inadequate for habitability and will generally require either a new well or installation of large water storage tanks to supplement the water supply. It is possible that if the well has not been serviced in a long time the screen at the bottom of the well pipe or pump has become clogged with rust from the water and needs cleaning.
When testing a well we establish its gallon quantity per minute then its adequacy in gallons, it’s pressure settings and if it maintains water pressure over a set length of time while the pump maintains and continues to cycle on and off as the pressure changes with water draw.
Water pressures on well systems are often set low resulting in a shower that does not feel like many buyers are used to with city water. A pump pressure switch setting of 40lbs cut in/60 lbs shut off will give a really nice shower. (60 lbs is considered the maximum pressure for well water pumps)
The location of the well in relation to the septic tank and leach field as well as the height and condition of the well head are important for safe drinking water. A well head that is below grade must be extended and terminate above grade.
A hand dug well (old stone well) being used as a potable water source (for human consumption) is not permitted. A hand dug well makes a property uninhabitable until such time as a new bored well is installed.
There are not many components to a well. First of all there is the well casing, a steel pipe that goes down into the water table. The pump connected to the end of a black plastic pipe is lowered down into the casing and makes a connection to the pipe coming from the house using a pitless adapter. The pipe enters the house and there is a large tank (usually blue, 15/20 gallon size) and a pressure switch which operates the pump when water is required. The tank only holds a few gallons of usable water and is intended to give instant water flow and extend the life of the pump.
Wells often have high iron content and suffer from sulfur smelling water which can often be cured with a good water softener. All well water should be tested for bacterial contamination which can come from a failing septic system or other sources. If the property is located close to farm land, additional testing for nitrates/nitrites from fertilizer or animal waste use should be considered.
City dwellers who have been used to turning on the tap and getting water will need to give a second thought to the well water that flows from the spout and understand the mechanics of how it gets there. If the well flow is inadequate, or the pressure settings are incorrect it will make life miserable in your new home.
A loss of power means that there is also no water, no toilet flushing, no washing. Most wells require a 220 volt service and 15 amps which is not much. This can be easily powered by a small portable generator.
A well water issue can make life miserable for a new home owner.