Trouble with a water well can arise sooner or later, particularly if the well is an older one. Although many different things can go wrong with the various components of a water well system, the well pump is often the first part to consider. Well pumps can malfunction due to different causes, some of which require replacing the pump and others that require only maintenance or repairs. Either way, a professional is probably required to fix a well pump problem.
Look for a sudden appearance of sediment in your well water to diagnose failure of the casing seal or corrosion of the well pump screen, well liner or casing. Sediment appearing in water that's followed by a sudden reduction in water flow can indicate that the well casing or screen is plugged with sediment. If the sediment appears right after your well is constructed, it can indicate over-pumping of the well, faulty well design or building or improper well development after construction.
Diagnose a well-pump problem involving reduced water yield from the well. Low water flow can indicate a worn pump impeller or a leak in the system, if the low pump production is accompanied by a normal water level in the well. Reduced water flow can also indicate slime or mineral scale buildup on the pump intake, well casing or well screen.
Look for changes in water quality that relate to well pump problems. If water quality changes suddenly, accompanied by sediment suddenly appearing in the water, the well casing, screen or liner may be corroding and developing holes.
Diagnose a malfunctioning or over-pumping well pump by the appearance of dissolved gases in well water. If you have dissolved methane or carbon dioxide in the water, you'll notice that the water looks milky for a few seconds right after it emerges from the tap. Also, the taps may spurt when first turned on.
Tips & Warnings
- In addition to a malfunctioning or over-pumping well pump, dissolved gases in water can also indicate the pump intake should be lowered to below the area where the gas is entering the intake.
- Aside from the well pump itself, many of these common well-water problems can indicate a malfunction in other parts of the system. For example, reduced water flow from can also indicate depleted aquifer or groundwater supplies due to drought or overuse, interference from neighboring wells or a collapsed well casing in older wells. Sediment in water can also suggest a problem with the well casing's seal, while dissolved gases in the water can indicate an improperly installed or blocked vent from the well tank to the outdoors. Changes in water quality can also be caused by bacteria contamination of the well water by man-made sources or a septic system installed too close to the well.
- Although diagnosing well pump trouble is helpful, don't attempt to fix the problem unless you're qualified. Many well pump problems require the expertise of a licensed well pump specialist or contractor. Having the well problem fixed properly by a professional can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in successive repairs due to making improper adjustments to your well system.
Problems With a Well Pump
Wells pumps are designed to move the water from its location inside of the well through a series of pipes up into...