Author Topic: Well water help!  (Read 9772 times)

Zoe

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Well water help!
« on: September 16, 2014, 01:33:54 PM »
Here goes. I have limited knowledge of wells, so bear with me.

Initially when we turned on the water it smelled terrible. Stagnant smelling. We've run it down a few times and it smells much, much better. The problem is now it doesn't seem to be refilling (recovering?) water at any kind of decent rate. I can only fill the washing machine (top loader) up once before the water pressure drops to nearly nothing (because the well is about empty, I suppose). I'm not sure there's really anything we can do about it, but I would like to be able to wash a load of laundry. (My mom lives right down the road, so its only a teeny hassle.) We are using bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, and cooking for now.

Anyone have any advice? The cement around the well has a date of Sept 18, 1946.

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2014, 02:10:42 PM »
I also have limited knowledge of wells.

My knowledge says that when a well slow downs, it is likely dry. You call a well guy and he can dig your well deeper, or dig a new well. Both are several thousand dollars.

Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 02:13:45 PM »
Yep, and we don't have that kinda money right now. We just had the whole house rewired.

The house has been vacant for a very long time, so I'm not sure if the well is just not "used" to be run and having to refill. Hey, it makes since in my head :D

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 02:19:37 PM »
Dry well, dig another. The other option is plugging, which is hard to fix and is easier fixed by a new well. Depending on the depth you can put the well in yourself, it's not hard. I remember putting in a 40 foot well in as a kid, it was laborious and repetitive but very easily done by amateurs. We hammered pipe down, all it took was muscle and a weight that was over the pipe. We lifted the weight, it fell onto the pipe and the pipe went a few inches down.  Repeat until you hit depth. The end was a well point, perforated tube with a point, made for pounding in.

I assume your neighbors have wells and can tell you the depth of the water table. Don't do this for deep wells.

Get the water tested before drinking it.  Bad smells can be caused by numerous things, I would guess Sulfates though. If it was Iron you could tell from having "Hard" water, basically hard water has trouble making soap bubbles and soft water gets lots of bubbles. Really bad water wrecks plumbing, washing machines, water heaters etc. It's sometimes more expensive replacing stuff then bringing water in.

TrMama

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2014, 02:38:44 PM »
A dry well is one possibility. Another possibility is that your pump is shot, your pressure tank is shot or your filter is completely clogged.

1. Check the filter. Make sure it's not completely full of sediment. When it's full, it blocks the flow of water into the house. This is about a $15 problem because all you have to do is replace the filter.

2. Check the pressure on the tank. I *think* it's supposed to be about 30psi and it should remain stable. I think a new tank is less than $1000. If you have to get a new tank, get a bigger one. It will increase the life span of your pump.

3. Get a well guy in to check the pump. This will not be cheap, but replacing the pump is way cheaper than digging a new well. A new pump is $1000-2000. Pumps last about 10yrs.

4. Your well is dry. You need to have it drilled deeper, get it fracked or dig a new one. This will cost about $10K.

As you can see, the idea that well water is free, is totally bogus.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2014, 03:54:04 PM »
As you can see, the idea that well water is free, is totally bogus.
Yep, it's possibly more expensive than city water. 10K is about 15 years of my water bills, that's without me doing maintenance or paying the extra electricity to run a pump.

It's interesting that the cost of a well and pump is close to what I need for a lifetime of water if the money is invested. 

Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2014, 06:58:44 PM »
A dry well is one possibility. Another possibility is that your pump is shot, your pressure tank is shot or your filter is completely clogged.

1. Check the filter. Make sure it's not completely full of sediment. When it's full, it blocks the flow of water into the house. This is about a $15 problem because all you have to do is replace the filter.

2. Check the pressure on the tank. I *think* it's supposed to be about 30psi and it should remain stable. I think a new tank is less than $1000. If you have to get a new tank, get a bigger one. It will increase the life span of your pump.

3. Get a well guy in to check the pump. This will not be cheap, but replacing the pump is way cheaper than digging a new well. A new pump is $1000-2000. Pumps last about 10yrs.

4. Your well is dry. You need to have it drilled deeper, get it fracked or dig a new one. This will cost about $10K.

As you can see, the idea that well water is free, is totally bogus.

The pump is an above water one, not submersed. Not sure if that changes any of what you said. The pump is only a few months old, with us only moving in a couple days ago. I *think* I saw these at Home Depot for $100ish, or a little more.

Definitely will check the filter!

I don't know how big the tank is, but it's not bigger than like, a 40 gallon water heater (maybe?) I don't even know if it has it's own pressure gauge..? There's on that comes up off of the pump and it reads 0 when no water source is turned on. Is it supposed to read 0?

Hah, yeah, I was definitely under the illusion of "free" water!

I'm sure I was of little help :/ But I thank y'all for all the advice! I think we're going to hook up to city water for now (I HOPE we can. I was told by the previous owner that there was a hook up ready for the house) and troubleshoot the well by calling a well guy later on.

Greg

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2014, 08:33:05 PM »
Sounds like you could use some professional help just to make sense of what you have.  I'm not familiar with above-ground pumps. In my area the pumps are at the bottom of the well, often 100-200 feet down.  The pump pushes water up to a pressure tank where it is held by a check valve on the well side so that it can only flow out to the house.  The pressure tank is a large water-heater sized tank with an air bladder in it, that helps keep the pressure even between pump cycles.  If the bladder is bad, the pressure will only be good when the pump is running, which is bad for the pump.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2014, 10:12:21 PM »
Since the casing said 1946 that's actually useful. It would be surprising to have a submersible, they weren't around when the pipes went in. I'm sure the pumps been replaced a few times, it's pretty impressive how old the well is.

What size of pipe was it? That would give clues to its type. I'm familiar with sand points, Trmama was discussing deep wells. Sand points are cheap to fix, often though the water is poorer quality. We were lucky, ours had great tasting water.

Rural

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2014, 11:38:29 PM »
This is something else that your county extension office might (not guaranteed) be able to help you with-- figuring out what you've got and  maybe talking you through some troubleshooting. It's really outside their responsibility, but the do pick up a lot of information working in an area, and they're likely to be familiar with what's common in your area, and maybe have some sense of what was common in the 40s. No guarantee, but it's free to ask.


They will definitely be your best (cheapest) choice for a water test.


You're getting your bottled water by the gallon, right? Check the dollar stores if nowhere in your areas has a machine to refill your own bottles for free.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2014, 06:13:17 AM »
Does your pump need priming?

kimmarg

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2014, 06:23:08 AM »
It's probably worth it to call someone who knows what's going on for at least a consult. If the problem is low pressure something is broken. Some wells just refill very slowly. If that's the case you may want a larger tank (so water fills up overnight while you're not doing laundry)

Definitely have the water tested. Funky smell is totally normal for a water system that's been shut off for a while. That said no smell does not mean safe to drink. If you have small children the. State may even test the water for free. (Infants on formula are a particular concern) some well problems are as easy as putting bleach down there for a day and then running the system open.

Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2014, 08:04:45 AM »
Update: I just got off the phone with the city water people. The starting price to hook up is $2,770. PLUS whatever a plumber will charge to excavate and do whatever he has to do. The lady I was talking to mentioned getting a new well (I mentioned we have one, obviously, but it isn't working right.) and I told her my mom's costed $4K. She said by the time it's all said and done, we'll probably be close, if not over $4K for city water.

SO. I think I'm gonna call a well company and get them out here to see if they can tell me what's going on and if the well is salvageable. The previous owner did hack jobs on the house (well, he hired the jobs out) so I'm not even entirely sure the pump/tank/all that is even done properly.

I'm going to see if I can get some pictures for y'all.

The well is actually just a big ol' hole in the ground. It's not like 6" or anything. It's a couple feet across.

The pump did need priming the other day, and we did that and then we had water for a while. I'm just using the water to flush the toilet really right now. Me and the toddler need to go down to my mom's today to do some laundry and get a shower.

Okay, gonna call a well guy now.

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2014, 08:12:04 AM »
I think you should have done all this as part of the inspection, and worked into the price the 4k to fix water...

also remember the sunk cost fallacy. If the well is 2k to fix, but needs another 2k in another 5 years.. and another 2k down the road... the 4k for city water might actually be a deal. Personally I am a fan of city water because it gets tested for dangerous stuff every day, vs a well is at best tested once a year or so (but often far less). For me, I would pay for city water in a heartbeat. Then down the road if I could fix well for a few $100 dollars, I would fix it to use to water my yard. I am fine with my yard drinking smelly water, but I don't want to.

Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2014, 08:33:16 AM »
Here's some photos to help. Side note, I realize that the pipes should be coming through the middle of the cap and not out the side.










kimmarg

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2014, 08:38:20 AM »
Here's some photos to help. Side note, I realize that the pipes should be coming through the middle of the cap and not out the side.




Ok the blue part I've seen, but it's usually in your basement around here. I guess it doesn't freeze where you are??  There should be no surface access to the well - that slit needs to be covered so that animals can't poop in it.

Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2014, 08:42:35 AM »
It might freeze a few nights in the winter, but we're in upstate SC.

Yeah, I know about the cover. Lame.

I have a well guy coming in a couple hours. At least he can tell me if he can fix it for a reasonable price, or if we're screwed.

I will update his findings in a bit.

Timmmy

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2014, 09:12:34 AM »
That looks like a shallow well jet pump.  I just replaced one a few months ago along with the pressure tank.  Diagnostic tests are very easy to determine what's going on.  You may have to do some minor plumbing work to install proper gauges to determine what's happening but it's a very DIY job.  If money is tight I would go that route first before paying an "expert". 


unpolloloco

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2014, 09:52:23 AM »
Since you have easy access to everything (and can see down the well presumably), see if you can see the water level in the well.  Then run the pump until water stops flowing.  See if the water level is appreciably lower.  If it is, that's probably your culprit (recharge rate too low).  If not, start looking up in the system.  Some possibilities: the pump isn't able to pump up to the needed pressure or there's a leak somewhere.  If the pump recently needed priming, that suggests you probably have a leak somewhere.  Possibly a bad foot valve (the check valve at the bottom of the well).  Or a bad pump (gasket leaking).

Replacing the pump isn't really a bad job at all - it would probably take half a day including multiple trips to the local hardware store (since you're always missing a part on projects like this!).  Probably a couple hundred bucks all-in.  The foot valve is easy as well.  It involves pulling up the pipe going down into the well and just replacing the valve at the end.  This is more like a $20 fix.  I'd also check all connections from the pump down into the well.  You may have a leak somewhere in there too.

An expert will probably be able to diagnose the problem in a few minutes.  Or a novice (like you or I) in a few hours.

unpolloloco

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2014, 09:54:35 AM »
Another potential issue: if you exhaust the water in the pressure tank, you'll be limited to whatever flow rate and pressure the pump can put out continuously.  Especially if the pump/pressure tank is lower than the house, this could explain your issues.  You'd need a bigger pump and/or bigger pressure tank to fix this.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2014, 11:39:49 AM »
Thank you for the update with pictures. Shallow wells are way easier to do yourself! You're in luck, it just seems intimidating but it's really simple! This should also cost very little, if you do some of it yourself. The pictures suggest a bored well, where there's water at the bottom.

Slow recharge is a likely culprit, easily diagnosed. I went through the same thing once. Sometimes slow recharge is a seasonal phenomenon, has your area experienced droughts or low rainfall for the past few years? Sometimes the water table drops lower, so there's less water coming into the well, if its seasonal then the well needs to be deeper or you can wait for the table to rise.. Think of the water table as a giant underground lake, it rises and drops with rainfall.  Sometimes its structural where the ground around the well is becoming plugged, there's fixes for that. Water needs to be able to flow in, for the average person think of it as a sponge where the holes become plugged.

I'd go fishing, drop a bob (weight) on a line into the well.  When you hear it hit the water that's the top of the well water (you should be able to feel it as well on the line).  Keep lowering until the line goes slack when its at the bottom, then measure the water height. For example 3' of line.  Then run the pump and repeat  when you notice the flows dropping.  If the water level is lower (ex. 1') then you have a recharge problem. If its the same then the well is fine and you have pump problems. Any questions? 

It's easiest to diagnose when you isolate the problem, fishing is a simple test.

TrMama

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2014, 12:34:55 PM »
Getting someone in to tell you about how all the well parts and pieces work seems like a very good idea. As a PP mentioned, my experience was with a 400 ft deep well, drilled through bedrock with a submerged pump and the pressure tank and sediment filter in the house. Your setup is fairly different.

As an aside, you absolutely need to get the top of the well completely covered. Two reasons:

1. Animals can get down there and contaminate your water. How do you feel about drinking water with a dead rat in it? Not only gross, but can make you really sick. Since you have a young child, it will likely be your child who gets the sickest.

2. You have a young child and a very deep, water-filled hole near your house. You absolutely don't want your child to fall down there.

If it's a cheap fix to repair the pump or tank, do that now. Long term (or if the fix will be more expensive) get on city water. $4K for unlimited water that you don't have to maintain is a steal. Jump at the chance.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2014, 12:42:00 PM »
One more thought - how often do you have power outages?  If you are on a well and the power goes out, you have no water.  If you have municipal water, as long as the water plant has power you have water.  Also, if your town water is expensive and you are planning a lot of gardens, the well would be useful for them even if you do go to municipal water.

bako_frugal

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2014, 04:25:48 PM »
Masters in Hydrology here (not practicing though).

Sulfate smell and decreased recharge might indicate a scale (deposit) problem.  Do you have hard or soft water?  If it is scale build up it can be cleaned with an acid dump (depends on casing type), but will reform with time.

Do you know the depth of the well, the casing type, if you have isolation (cement) and the zone that you should be getting water from?  I do agree with the posters who recommend getting your water tested, there is a lot that can be in there that you will not know about without a test, especially if you don't know the history of your well.  The pictures look like old possibly cracked PVC?  Cracked casing could be letting shallow (contaminated) water into your well.  Basically you would have to replace the well.  Shallow water is almost always contaminated in any urban or semi-urban environment.  Pesticides, fertilizers, road run off, etc all percolate down.

My 2 cents, I would go with city water.

Exflyboy

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2014, 05:20:06 PM »
Most likely your pump has lost its prime.. meaning it has a little leak on the suction side and eventually the pump fills up with air.

Well guess what?.. Water pumps will NOT pump air so it quits working.

Take a gallon milk jug or similar and fill with water. Remove the guage and fill it with water as far as it will go.. then plug the hole with your hand and immediately switch on the pump... you probably have water spraying everywhere but try to keep your hand over the hole for 30 seconds or so.

The replace the guage immediately you remove your hand (pre tape the threads on the guage)

The run the pump.. If it suddenly starts working again that was the problem.

Frank

Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2014, 07:16:48 PM »
Y'all have been great!! I will definitely reference this thread if we continue to have problems!

Here's the update: While I was waiting for the well guys to come out I was messing with the washer. I had been running it on hot to get some flow through the hot water tank (a hot/cold cycle). The washer would run the hot and then would not refill on cold. I check the hose coming from outside and it was fine and I cracked open the water valve and water shot out. Okay, not clogged. The end of the hose that is connected to the washer was filled with mud and sediment. I cleaned it out and guess what? I had cold water.

So, what I thought was a slow recovery on the well, or possibly a dry well, appears to have just been a clogged washing machine.

Anyway, I'm glad the well guys came out. We have an approximately 50ft hand dug well that has cement on the walls. It is about 5-6 feet across and had about 5-6 feet of water in it. Apparently that's a lot of water.

They said the well itself is fine, just needs to be covered. They did suggest a submersible pump. The above water one we have is a cheapo pump that is problem prone. Also, they upgraded our pressure switch to a 60/40. We have pretty good pressure now. Also, I cleaned out the screen in the kitchen faucet. MUCH better.

We got a filter to put inline from the well to the house today too. A charcoal one.

I'm very glad they came out so I could speak with them about well operation and gain some knowledge.

Rural

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2014, 03:33:16 AM »
Great news! Please do get that water tested before you drink it, cook with it, or bathe the baby in it.


Then, getting the well covered should go high on your priority list for when you have money to do things to the house. Basically, it's a danger to your health, though not one that's super likely to happen quickly (animals may well fall in and die in the water, but odds are good it won't happen in any given week or month). But it should go before other house things that don't pose any health hazard. And meantime you have to keep that little one completely away from it.




Zoe

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2014, 08:35:43 AM »
Great news! Please do get that water tested before you drink it, cook with it, or bathe the baby in it.


Then, getting the well covered should go high on your priority list for when you have money to do things to the house. Basically, it's a danger to your health, though not one that's super likely to happen quickly (animals may well fall in and die in the water, but odds are good it won't happen in any given week or month). But it should go before other house things that don't pose any health hazard. And meantime you have to keep that little one completely away from it.

Yep! There's actually a cover that I think you can see in the photos. It's one of those large fake rocks. I may enlist my dad for some help building a little well house for it. He just built one for their well.

Greg

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2014, 09:51:34 AM »
Glad to hear the problem was a simpler, cheaper problem than you initially thought.

Glenstache

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2014, 10:46:17 AM »
The cover for the well mentioned above is generally referred to as the well seal. For a dug well such as this, it provides both a safety and health purpose. The fake rock cover will satisfy the first, but not the second goal. Critters could easily get under the edge of the fake rock and take a swim.  Wind can blow bits and pieces under the edge, and down the hole, etc.

There are a few ways to do this. The simplest is probably to pull the concrete cover to the side, drill a 1 inch (or whatever the size of the PVC is) hole through it, and then run your well pluming through the drilled hole and seal around the pipe where it comes through. If the concrete cover and top of the concrete box are irregular enough to leave gaps, then you should seal that up as well. As an interim measure, you could cut up an old hose and use that as a gasket.

For the testing, you should do a coliform/bacterial assay. Given that you have a shallow (and therefore vulnerable) well, if there are any septic systems in the nearby area, it is worth considering testing for nitrate (a result higher than 10 mg/L indicates potential health risks such as blue baby syndrome... local regulations may vary and your health district probably has a webpage that would be helpful). Part of the cost of municipal water is the testing that they do, and is also just another part of well water not being free.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #30 on: September 18, 2014, 11:33:17 AM »
Thread hijack alert.

Back in school I ran coliform plates, its easy to do at home.  The basics are to add water to media, wait 24 hours and count spots, no spots means no problems. Would you ever consider spending $20 and running the tests at home? The results are easy to interpret, it's 100% safe. Unless you can find a lab to do it cheaper, they'll do the exact same thing but you'll be paying for it. I'm sure many people already do it at home, there's also lots of people who haven't considered how easy it is to do at home. 

The media can be home made, I had a friend do it when he was 12 for a science fair.  It's also cheap to buy online.

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #31 on: September 18, 2014, 12:20:47 PM »
Thread hijack alert.

Back in school I ran coliform plates, its easy to do at home.  The basics are to add water to media, wait 24 hours and count spots, no spots means no problems. Would you ever consider spending $20 and running the tests at home? The results are easy to interpret, it's 100% safe. Unless you can find a lab to do it cheaper, they'll do the exact same thing but you'll be paying for it. I'm sure many people already do it at home, there's also lots of people who haven't considered how easy it is to do at home. 

The media can be home made, I had a friend do it when he was 12 for a science fair.  It's also cheap to buy online.

There are times to skimp $10. On the water you are going to give yourself and your babies to drink, that is not a good place.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #32 on: September 18, 2014, 06:26:31 PM »
Thread hijack alert.

Back in school I ran coliform plates, its easy to do at home.  The basics are to add water to media, wait 24 hours and count spots, no spots means no problems. Would you ever consider spending $20 and running the tests at home? The results are easy to interpret, it's 100% safe. Unless you can find a lab to do it cheaper, they'll do the exact same thing but you'll be paying for it. I'm sure many people already do it at home, there's also lots of people who haven't considered how easy it is to do at home. 

The media can be home made, I had a friend do it when he was 12 for a science fair.  It's also cheap to buy online.

There are times to skimp $10. On the water you are going to give yourself and your babies to drink, that is not a good place.
If you can pour water into a bottle you can conduct a coliform test. If that's beyond your skills the lab tech will pour your water sample into a bottle for you. I would gladly give it to my baby, if the test passed.

I try to not let fear get in the way of learning. If you have actual knowledge or experience please share. Throwing out a reference to making babies sick without cause isn't helpful, it's scaremongering.

Rural

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2014, 04:02:22 AM »
Call the county health department; it is possible they will test for coliform and nitrates for free. We lived on a shallow, hand-dug well like that for several years, and our biggest risk was not septic tanks but agriculture -- potential for coliform from neighboring cow pastures and nitrates from fertilizer on soybean fields just a little further off. The question is how the groundwater runs.


If the testing is too expensive for now, wash only clothes, not dishes, in the water.


Or, even better, shock the well with bleach. The Heath department or the extension office will tell you how much to use now that you have the well"s dimensions to give them. You might tell them an animal fell in, not that you can't afford to test for now. You dump in bleach, wait, then run the water until you can't smell bleach. If you're worried about talking to the heath department, just dump in an overkill of bleach (a full gallon would likely do), but then it would be best for your septic tank to run an outside hose for a while rather than putting that much bleach down the drain. The advantage of this is bleach is dirt cheap.


At that point, you should be able to wash dishes for a while without getting cholera, though I still wouldn't cook with it or drink it.


If no one has told you, you can't just boil the water to make it safe, because boiling will only concentrate nitrates, which by themselves are very bad for you. The risk for blue baby syndrome actually comes from nitrites, not nitrates, but nitrates can break down into nitrites, so where there's one, the other is very likely present.


Look for a pm from me.

enigmaT120

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2014, 01:48:15 PM »
I was able to find my well log on my state web site, though I had to do some searching.  It was drilled around 1965 or so.  I don't know if a hand dug well would have one.  It's interesting reading and tells the water depth and flow rate -- the maximum rate you can pump water out of the well and not have it go dry.  It turns out my well, all 462 feet of it, is pretty much useless which explains why my water comes from a spring.  I'm glad I didn't pay for the well.

Pressure tanks (the blue tank) don't really store water, and you don't necessarily use water from them.  Mine has an air bladder in it that I need to keep inflated to about 2 psi below (or is it above?  I'd need to double check that) the pressure at which the switch is set to come on.  Mine is off a T line, and water doesn't even flow through it.  It helps smooth out the water pressure in the system so the pump doesn't have to go on and off so often.


MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2014, 02:20:47 PM »

If you can pour water into a bottle you can conduct a coliform test. If that's beyond your skills the lab tech will pour your water sample into a bottle for you. I would gladly give it to my baby, if the test passed.

I try to not let fear get in the way of learning. If you have actual knowledge or experience please share. Throwing out a reference to making babies sick without cause isn't helpful, it's scaremongering.

coliform  is the only dangerous substance that can be found in well water?

A few I found from the EPA website

   lead, copper, Radon, Nitrate, pesticides,Metals,Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium, Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals, Volatile organic compounds, Hydrogen sulfide,Iron, copper, manganese
Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby   Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium, detergents

It's not scare mongering to be smart. Not testing water you want to drink is foolish, and coliform is not sufficient to test. Heavy metals can cause serious problems, as can pesticides, and pharmaceutical runoff.

Glenstache

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #36 on: September 19, 2014, 03:19:58 PM »
I was not attempting to scaremonger, and I hope I did not cause undue fear. I have a PhD in geology and do this type of work for a living. Were this a formal supply well, or a project that I was consulting on I would have a much more thorough evaluation than what I recommended above, and testing for coliform and nitrates would not tell us anything about other potential well issues . Coliform/bacterial counts and nitrates can be issues in private, especially in agricultural areas and areas with old septic systems. Additionally, old hand dug wells do not always have construction that would meet  modern standards which can allow shallow contamination to more easily impact well water quality. It is prudent to test the water if it will be your primary drinking supply, or otherwise ensure that it is safe to drink. It is a relatively simple thing to do and, relative to the cost of owning a house, a small expense. Odds are that the water is fine (most wells *are* just fine), and I certainly hope that the analytical results support that.

If you would like more technical information on the nitrate issue, please start here (which, again may not be an issue at this particular well):
http://www.epa.gov/teach/chem_summ/Nitrates_summary.pdf

Prairie Stash

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Re: Well water help!
« Reply #37 on: September 19, 2014, 04:53:28 PM »

If you can pour water into a bottle you can conduct a coliform test. If that's beyond your skills the lab tech will pour your water sample into a bottle for you. I would gladly give it to my baby, if the test passed.

I try to not let fear get in the way of learning. If you have actual knowledge or experience please share. Throwing out a reference to making babies sick without cause isn't helpful, it's scaremongering.

coliform  is the only dangerous substance that can be found in well water?

A few I found from the EPA website

   lead, copper, Radon, Nitrate, pesticides,Metals,Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium, Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals, Volatile organic compounds, Hydrogen sulfide,Iron, copper, manganese
Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby   Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium, detergents

It's not scare mongering to be smart. Not testing water you want to drink is foolish, and coliform is not sufficient to test. Heavy metals can cause serious problems, as can pesticides, and pharmaceutical runoff.
I have the "Standard Methods for testing Wastewater" on my shelf, its a collection of reference standards for testing water. I could list how to test each of those if you want, its laborious for a forum, a bit over the top. I know coliforms aren't the only substance, but if you aren't willing to test coliforms then I'm guessing you aren't willing to test the rest.  If someone is willing to do coliforms the rest are also easy, some of those you can purchase indicator strips (insert paper strip in water, read results). The question was simply, are you willing to start running the simple tests? If you're really nervous do both, compare results! Run a test at home, send to a lab and then next time you'll feel comfortable doing a home test. My advice is a practical way to save money and be safe.

You do realize that labs generally charge per test? I.e. Coliforms is $35 at my lab, TDS is $30, metals is much more (I can check my invoices if you need exact numbers). I didn't say labs are bad, I said running tests is good and doing the EXACT SAME THING a lab does is achievable. Why not save $30 ($5 for supplies) and pay for the rest, if desired? Besides if coliforms are high the water is bad. At that point a homeowner has to boil it, or buy bottled water for drinking. If the homeowner chooses to not boil then no other testing is required, its already proven not fit for consumption.

I'm advocating testing, I'm also advocating that it can be done for very little so there no excuse not to.