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How Often You Should Test Your Well Water?

Updated on December 14, 2020
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I worked for a short time as a water well driller's helper and during that time encountered water wells that were contaminated.

An old hand dug water well.
An old hand dug water well.

Reasons Should Test Your Well Water

How often should you test your well water? Many experts suggest once a year. You should test your well water even more often if you suspect contamination.

While working as a water well repairman's helper as a young man, my boss and I came across some horror stories of well contamination. Water wells are simply holes in the ground and what seeps into that hole can be sucked up by the submersible pump and be directed though pipes into your kitchen sink or bath. It's up to both mother nature and man what things seep into that hole in the ground, yet most of the contaminants that will kill you come from man made sources.

Fore example, while most states have rigid laws about how far a septic field can be from a water well, those rules are often broken. Even if the spacing is within legal parameters, channels or pathways can form over time in rock layers and soil that connect the two things that should never be connected, your sewer system and your drinking water well. Septic systems are the number one reason that you should test your well water on a regular basis.

Old well casing is usually made of steel pipe and it over time it rusts. When cracks occur above the area that is perforated (punctured with holes for water to flow into the pipe), cross contamination is possible.

One case we came across was that of a home that built close to where an old gas station had been located only ten years earlier. Although the station was long gone, and the underground tanks removed, the gasoline that had been leaking from unseen holes in the tanks and seeping into the soil from up above finally made it down to the water table and had contaminated every water well within a mile radius. At great expense, all the homes had to be put on a city water system, paid for by the owners since there was nobody around to sue for damage to their water wells. Gasoline from that time contained lead, benzine and other toxins.

Just Because Your Water Looks Clear...

At this time there could be any number of contaminants in your clear looking, odor free well water. It does not take a large number of fecal bacteria to make you sick. Likewise, pesticides can be odor free and benzine can cause cancer and other illness in very tiny quantities.

The best thing a homeowner can do if they rely on a water well is to have it tested at least once a year. Simply because the water ends up testing good one year, does not mean it will stay that way forever. Pollutants can travel at unpredictable speeds underground, depending on the velocity of the stream of underground water and porosity of the rock or sand layers. To identify new threats to your home water supply, inexpensive water testing kits should be regularly used. These can identify dozens of kinds of harmful chemicals as well as dangerous bacteria.

Your local health authority may even offer free or reduced cost well water testing. For confidential water quality screening you may want to consider a mail in test. When conducting one of these tests, make sure that you follow all of the instructions to the letter, such as letting your kitchen faucet run for the prescribed number of minutes. If you don't follow these instructions, the sample of water may contain more impurities than what is actually reflected in your well and give you a false reading of things such as iron and copper.

While your water may look nice and clean, just to be on the safe side you should test your well water at least once a year to ensure the health and safety of your family.

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