Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
How much water is enough?
Well yields change based on well screening equipment, imperceptible changes in subterranean rock formations and water table variability. The required minimum yield in this area when the well is drilled is 1 gallon per minute producing 1,440 gallons per day. It sounds like this should be adequate for 14 people. But the question lingers – “Will I have enough water for my family?”
On average, a household member usually uses between 75 and 100 gallons of water per day in the kitchen, bath, and laundry. This average increases if you wash your car, water the grass or flowers, or fill the pool. To be truly enough, a well must be able to supply the maximum amount of water needed within the shortest period water is used. This time period is called “peak load/usage time”. Therefore, the water storage plus yield should be adequate to supply the gallons required.
What if my well is relatively new. Is my well more reliable than the average well?
This is a common misconception. Many new homeowners, with every major component, appliance or system under a full warranty in their new house, have been greatly disappointed and financially shocked when the plumbing is rendered useless by lack of water from a failed well without a warranty. Not having the basics–washing clothes, cooking, or bathing–are stark realities when a well fails. Over 50 years of research proves that new wells fail as often as wells that are 5, 10 , 20, or 30 years old. In addition, changes in underground aquifers occur naturally, and can eliminate the supply of water regardless of the age of the well.
How Does the Cost of a New Well Compare to the Cost of a New Roof or HVAC System?
The cost of a new well can cost $15,000 or more, depending on several factors, including the depth of the well, the nature of the aquifer into which the well is being drilled, and the type of pressure system being deployed. We have experience with one individual who incurred about $45,000 in expenses and six months of no water before his system was again operational. Thus, a well can be at least as costly as a new roof or HVAC system.
How Do Well Water Pumps Work?
There are 4 basic types of pumps used in water wells, as discussed below:
- A straight centrifugal pump – consists of a motor to provide energy and impeller to spin and accelerate the water, a volute to concentrate the water and build pressure, and a housing or case to contain the pressure and provide a place to attach pipes. They may be referred to as ‘end suction’ pump because the suction pipe is connected at the end opposite of the motor. This type of pump can draw water in wells as deep as 20 feet and is therefore rarely used in today’s applications
- A shallow well jet pump- is an end suction centrifugal pump with an attachment called a jet assembly, on the front of the pump to boost the pressure. The attachment converts centrifugal force into water pressure, both positive (pushing)
pressures, as well as negative (vacuum/pull) pressure.
- A deep well jet pump- is similar to the shallow well jet pump, except the jet assembly is located down in the well where it pushes the water to the surface, allowing application in deeper wells, and puts more energy in the pushing pressure than on the vacuum pressure aspect.
- A submersible pump- has the same parts as a centrifugal pump, but the parts are small enough in diameter, even the motor to fit within the well, even with multiple impellers and volutes (like fins) to increase the water pressure and ability to push the water up the well shaft. Each impeller and volute is called a stage, and each stage adds to the pressure produced and the depth at which it can be used. Very deep wells can have pumps with more than 50 stages, and can draw water from over 1,000-foot depth.
Most replacement applications today are outfitted with submersible pumps, to allow for deeper wells currently being drilled. Many houses, however, have perfectly functioning jet pups, with outstanding service and performance, and few reported problems.
What’s In Your Well?
The question is a takeoff from recent credit card advertising, asking “what’s in your wallet?”. But the question begs an answer, since many of WelGard® customers come (and stay) with us precisely because the average homeowner typically does not understand what’s in their well and how it works. Even the most experienced “fixer uppers” and “do-it-yourselfers” don’t know what to do when there is no water in the shower, or when the hose spews no water.
Each well is a unique eco-mechanical system, which includes both seemingly static and natural structures (borings, aquifers, etc.), and a myriad of man-made equipment – which function together to provide water to your home at every faucet, shower, laundry and hose bib. The extent and number of parts depend on the type of well, its depth, and lateral distance from the well to the house. Some common elements include: pump(s), valves, gauges, wiring, grounding, arrestors, connectors, adaptors, piping, casing, controllers, caps, screens, switches and the always popular pitless adapter. In general, there are about three dozen parts, which function together to provide water to your family.
With a malfunction or failure of any of these parts, the water ceases to flow, causing an unexpected interruption of water, and frequently crisis in the home. The cost of repairs ranges from as little as $1,300 to more than $5,000, with the average of between $1,800 and $2,500 depending on the severity of the failure/malfunction. Failures can also be caused by constant, but yet unnoticeable, shifts in the seemingly static rock formations beneath the ground, which divert water away from your well below ground. Wells are sneaky – they give no indication of impending failure.
Add to this chaos the frustration of finding a qualified and trusted service professional, frequently when you’ve never had to use or hire such expertise in the past, and have no idea of what the problem is! This is where having WelGard® comes in handy.
How Much Does The Average Well Drilling Or Repair Cost?
Cost of a new well – since no one can guarantee when [or if] water will be located, or how many holes will need to be drilled, the cost is expressed in “per foot” costs, which range from $10 – $15, plus costs for set up, casing, grouting, drilling shoe, pump, and hook up. So the professional with the lowest cost per foot may not be the cheapest. Last year, the average cost of a new well was between $10,000 and $15,000, with amounts as high as $50,000. Delays, depending on contractor availability, can be several days to 6 months before the problems are corrected.
Well pumps – this cost depends on your system type and well depth. Installed prices are between $1,300 – $5,000, with the average of between $1,800 and $2,500. We have seen this price increase over 50% since we began our services 15 years ago, and are a function of supply and demand for the services required. They can be dependent on the time of day you call, your location and other subjective factors.
Other repairs – these are generally charged based upon an initial response, plus an hourly rate for the crew and related equipment, plus supplies. An average charge for the call is $150 – $200 on weekdays during normal business hours (double this for evenings, weekends, holidays). The hourly rate for a crew is $125 – $150, and supplies are charged as needed (again during normal business hours). Be careful of “mark ups” of materials. It is not uncommon for parts to be inflated in addition to labor charges for time spent.
Water tests – Water can be tested for a wide variety of volatile and stable, organic and inorganic, chemical and biological agents present in well water, and can cost hundreds of dollars. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as state and local agencies, recommend testing for pH, nitrates and bacteria. Tests performed by certified laboratories, using their water samplers cost between $125 – $150.
A recent testimonial says it best. “I was sticker shocked when I got the bill for my well repair…. For what I paid in just overtime and minor parts, I could have paid for WelGard® for several years.”
Does The Rain Help My Well?
Over 95% of rainfall does not go directly into your well or stay on your property; it runs off into creeks, streams and rivers, some of which become part of the surface water supplies, also known as reservoirs in the area. It is these sources that create and generate water-bearing aquifers, which supply all wells, provided the aquifers are hydro geologically “connected” to your well. While your well is a 6” hole in the ground, it is not supplied by the rain, as you might expect a cistern to work.
The rainfall that seeps into the ground on your property, as well as the standing water in reservoirs, streams and river locates aquifers hundreds of feet below ground only by seeping through the soil beneath such water. It is trans missive at a rate of only 10 feet per year. Therefore, it might take more than 10 years to reach an aquifer or water bearing strata, which supplies your well with water! As it seeps through the soil, the water chemistry changes and the water is purified of most surface contaminants.
So is rainfall important? YES – it supplies water to your well after years and undetermined miles of traveling underground. Rainfall also has a direct impact on the local ‘water table’, which may immediately impact your well if it is supplied by shallow aquifers, because with less rain, or changes in aquifer structure, the well becomes non-water bearing – i.e. dry.
What Do Professionals Think Of Welgard™?
The following are testimonials from industry professionals and homeowners regarding the services offered by Well Guardian:
“WelGard™ serves a previously unfilled need for homeowners, realtors, and many others. It is great for the existing homeowner (or new homebuyer) who wants to eliminate unexpected costs and personal disruption when the water system fails, by ensuring prompt service and financial protection.”
– Well Industry Professional
“For realtors, it provides another tool that has served to calm buyers’ fears, and directly achieves a higher number of successful real estate transactions for realtors who offer it. Progressive realtors are using this as a competitive advantage, since it resolves normal fears about wells.”
“I have been in business for 20 years, and drilling wells for longer than that. When I first heard of WelGard™, I was intrigued, but cautious. Well drillers are not in an industry that takes to new ideas easily; and frankly they generally don’t provide the level of service to well owners that meets WelGard™ standards.”
– Well Installation Professional
WelGard™ has changed the playing field for the well water industry. WelGard™’s primary focus is to service the needs of homeowners, both before and during well water emergencies. WelGard™ has given homeowners purchasing power and leverage in emergency situations that never existed before.
– New Customer
Why Does My Water Have A Taste?
Pure water has no taste. Water obtains tastes from the substances it comes into contact with during its travel through the hydrologic cycle. These substances can be rocks, minerals, organic debris, anthropogenic (human-made) materials and waste products, air-borne particles (from snow and rain) and other sources of water that join and mix in an aquifer zone. Various tastes come from various minerals; but if your water has any taste, consult a trained (preferably licensed) professional who you can trust to diagnose and treat the water for maximum safety and protection. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests testing your water annually, with several local jurisdictions suggesting twice a year. Do not hesitate to call WelGard for recommendations on licensed professionals in your area.
How To Interpret Water Test Results?
Water can be tested by Environmental Protection Agency standards, for 265 registered contaminants – a complex, laborious and expensive battery of testing.
So what should you test for, and how can you better understand the results? In your area, testing for bacteria, pH, nitrates, sand and turbidity provides a reasonable cross sectional test of the quality of the water. Treatment companies will also frequently test for total dissolved solids [TDS] and “hardness”, important cosmetic indicators for your water, which can be treated in conjunction with the health related testing.
Bacteria should never be tolerated due to health concerns, and can be mediated with chemicals administered by professionals, at a mutually convenient time. Nitrates, to, should be considered a concern if over regulatory levels due to the long term impact on health, particularly for youth, seniors and child bearing females.
Aside from health issues, pH should be tested due to its impact on plumbing over time, whereby pin hole perforations created by acidic water will require the replacement of interior pipes at considerable expense. The best reading is 7.0 (neutral water), but results in the 6.5 to 7.5 range are considered satisfactory. Results lower than 6.5 indicate acidic water and over 7.5, the water is consider basic or alkaline. Both acidic and alkaline water should be treated for the long term protection of the well system and your health.
Turbidity levels should be monitored due to the potential introduction of iron in the water, and results over 10 should be mediated.
Other local concerns have included MTBE (a gasoline additive), radium, radon, and arsenic – again due to health concerns for those drinking that water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (a US government authority), all county Health and Water departments, and many others recommend having your water tested annually, for a “check up”, as this factor can be a key component of your family’s health status.
Make sure that you are properly advised on the results indicated, as the water test is only an effective tool if you can understand and act upon the results. Let WelGard make sense of your questions as objective water professionals!
Too Much Rain, What Does It Mean?
We experienced moderate snows last winter, an and expect an abundant rainfall in the spring and summer. This means that the water tables are higher than they were before the record drought, however this does not assure your well will continue to be safe and reliable. First, the widely publicized drought was not just a 1-year phenomenon. The water tables in the Piedmont Region had been dropping (to lower levels) over the prior 5 years (1997-2002) however have made significant gains over the past decade.
Heavy rainfall though does not all become groundwater available for local wells. In addition to the precipitation that is retained in local reservoirs, much of the rain and snow runs off into other more distant bodies of water. Rainfall also does not immediately become ground water, since water seeps through the ground at a rate of only 10 feet per year. So the benefit of this rainfall to your well may not be fully realized, if there is a benefit at all.
High levels of precipitation cause well owners other problems, too, with higher frequency and levels of Coliform bacteria occurring during such periods. Local realtors are finding much more frequent and higher levels of bacteria, which require chlorination prior to sale. So while no one should be singing “Rain, rain go away…” well owners still need to consider the impact of natural events on this very important and expensive mechanical and natural system for their homes.
How To Avoid Water Contamination?
While it is true that a well owner operates “his/her own municipal water supply,” some common sense rules apply that can avoid disaster, preventing pollution in the first place. Suggestions compiled by various knowledgeable resources include:
- Dispose of all household chemicals responsibly
- Never dump unknown materials in the yard
- Limit storage of volatile chemicals (including gasoline) if possible
- Be aware of lawn fertilizer usage; at high concentrations, over time, these can negatively impact water quality
- Vapors, as well as liquids, can affect water content. Keep the well sealed at all times
- Detectable cracks in the grout surrounding the well head should be repaired as soon as possible, as part of routine
inspection and maintenance
Generally, in addition to the preventative measure noted above, well owners should have their water quality tested at least annually (Per the Environmental Protection Agency).
When Is The Drilling Done And The Well Reliable?
States have various regulations regarding the “Completion Report” when a well is first drilled. Many states require that a permit be issued by the local authorities and drilled by a licensed, experienced professional. But frequently, when a well is drilled, the determination of whether to continue drilling or stop is left to the judgment of the driller, who establishes and quantifies the amount of the water supply, expressed as gallons per minute [gpm] and when an adequate supply of water is achieved.
An adequate supply is determined based upon yield – the flow of water into the well, the number of fractures that are water bearing (in certain types of wells) and the amount of calculated reserves of water, both in the well and in any available holding tanks.
The initial completion report will give you some of these features, with specifics related to the depth of the well, its initial yield, and a report of the soil and rock composition throughout the drilling process.
In many respects, these reports are much like reading your drug prescriptions – largely illegible and generally incomprehensible to realtors and homeowners. They are filed with the applicable regulatory agency where the well was drilled for interpretation and judgment of acceptability.
The State of Maryland mandates that the yield of the well exceeds 1 gallon per minute for at least 3 consecutive hours to be acceptable for residential use. Various legislative initiatives have considered these guidelines, and proposed increases for future purposes. Most other Mid Atlantic states have no quantitative requirements for substantiating that the well will provide an adequate water supply.
Even fewer municipalities require that wells be tested in connection with real estate transactions. Further, home inspection requirements include no standard for testing the water supply, other than to perform physical test of the interior plumbing system for integrity.
How do you know if the water supply is adequate? The easiest way is to have the water supply (i.e. yield expressed as gallons per minute) tested for your self and/or your clients by licensed and objective professionals, prior to completion of the real estate transaction. While a family of 4 uses only 400 – 500 gallons of water per day, have a qualified test performed to safeguard your peace of mind or your reputation and ensure that the water supply will be adequate for the new family in the home.
No one can or should make any assurances that the supply of water will be indefinitely reliable.
Why Should I Be Concerned About Arsenic In My Drinking Water?
Arsenic is a toxic chemical element that is unevenly distributed in the Earth’s crust in soil, rocks, and minerals.
Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment and as a by-product of some agricultural and industrial activities. It can enter drinking water through the ground or as runoff into surface water sources.
Although short-term exposures to high doses (about a thousand times higher than the drinking water standard) cause adverse effects in people, such exposures do not occur from public water supplies in the U.S. that comply with the arsenic MCL.
Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of EPA’s standard over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer. Health effects might include:
- Thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver effects;
- Cardiovascular, pulmonary, immunological, neurological (e.g., numbness and partial paralysis), reproductive, and endocrine (e.g., diabetes) effects;
Cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate.