February 01, 2023

Extension Notebook: Have you inspected your well?

By Doug Gucker

Often people who have their own private water well forget how important it is to do annual visual inspection of their well and its components. It does not take long to do, and it might save you an expensive well repair bill.

For the visual inspection, check the wellhead, the water system components, and any other well system equipment. A visual inspection of the wellhead should include the following. Is the well casing at least 12 inches above the ground? Check the condition of the well cap and any seals. Is it firmly attached? If there is electrical conduit present is it intact and secure? Is the ground surrounding the wellhead sloping away from it? If not, reshaping the ground around the well should be considered. Are there any growths of weeds, trees, or shrubbery within 10 feet of the well head? If so, they need to be removed so that their root systems do not cause well casing problems. Is the wellhead in a low area that floods? If so, does the well casing extend 12 inches above the high water level of flooding.

Next, we need to inspect the above-ground well components. Are there any leaking seals, or pipes? Are there signs of rust or corrosion on pipes, the pressure tank, connections, pressure values and gauges? If there are any signs of rust or corrosion, consult a well system professional. Visually inspect the electrical wiring and control box, for signs of burned connections or corrosion. If the electrical wiring needs repair, contact an electrician or well system professional to make the needed repairs.

Finally, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommends having your private well water tested annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates. Local public health departments in Illinois provide this service for private well owners. If you feel your well has been contaminated with chemicals, then the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has a listing of accredited water testing laboratories in the state. It can be found on the IEPA website by searching for “Accredited Labs”. If you are wanting your well water tested for minerals, metals, pH or turbidity, then the Public Service Laboratory at the Illinois State Water Survey can do that testing for you, 217-300-7420.

Doug Gucker is a University of Illinois Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms. The Local Food Systems and Small Farms program is a branch of University of Illinois Extension that provides research-based information about agriculture health and safety, environmentally and economically sound pest control and improving profitability and sustainability. More information is available at go.illinois.edu/dmp or follow Gucker on Twitter @SoilWaterDoug.