The average life expectancy of a well is between 20 and 50 years. A routine inspection will ensure the safety and longevity of your well. The EPA recommends you have an annual well inspection done to test for contaminants.
What you should expect from an annual well inspection:
- A flow test will measure the output of your well, level, pump performance, and the pressure of both the tank and the switch contact
- Equipment inspection
- Common contaminants testing
- Test for minerals common to the area
- pH test
- Additional tests if necessary
It is important to keep your annual well report records in case you ever sell your house. These will also come in handy for determining when repairs may be necessary.
The main contaminants in well water to be concerned about are:
- Found in sewage, fertilizers, and animal waste. They can cause serious harm to infants under 6 months of age. They can cause “Baby Blue Syndrome” which inhibits the body’s ability to carry oxygen and can be fatal.
- Heavy metals
- These include arsenic, lead, copper and many more. Heavy metals can enter your well water through ground water flow and surface water run-off. Consuming high levels can lead to many health issues including liver and kidney toxicity, cancer, and reproductive issues.
- These radioactive particles can occur naturally or as a byproduct of uranium mining, nuclear power plants, and coal mining. They can contaminate wells from ground water flow, waste water, and flooding. Consumption can cause cancer and other health issues.
- Organic chemicals
- These are from many common household products including paint, prescription drugs, petroleum products, and many more. They can contaminate your well water through spills, improper waste disposal, surface run-off, and ground water contamination. Consuming high levels can lead to issues with kidneys, reproductive systems, nervous system, and more.
- Although fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, high levels can cause skeletal fluorosis, a painful condition affecting the bones and joints. It can also cause dental fluorosis, which causes yellowing and pitting of the teeth if consumed in excess during formative stages. Fluoride is found in many aquafers.
- These can cause gastrointestinal infections which is unpleasant at best and life threatening to certain vulnerable individuals.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, additional tests should be performed under certain circumstances.
Tests for nitrate should be performed when:
- A resident is trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or nursing
- A resident is under the age of 12
- Fertilizers have been used near your well
Tests for coliform should be performed when:
- There is an unexplained illness
- Your neighbor has a septic leak or known contamination
- There is a change in your water’s taste, smell or appearance
- Your well has flooded
- You have repaired or replaced any part of your well system
Tests for arsenic should be performed at least twice while you own the well; once in the winter and once in the summer to check for seasonal variations and additionally if your neighbors have had a high reading.
Preventing problems is the best and cheapest course of action. Some ways to protect your well are:
- Ensure the area around the well is sloped to prevent runoff from getting into the well
- Use a cap or seal to prevent tampering with or unauthorized use of your well
- Do not mix or use pesticides, fertilizers, or other harmful chemicals near the well
- To prevent back flow do not use a hose from the well to mix harmful substances
- Check septic systems as recommended by your local health department
- Inspect exposed parts of the well for damage
- Inspect any tanks for gasoline, diesel, or home heating oil stored on your property
- Do not use a dry well as a disposal for garbage, especially chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, or petroleum products
Even with the most careful well management, annual well inspections need to be performed to ensure the well is meeting safety standards. Contaminants such as coliform bacteria and nitrates can endanger you and your family and can be deadly. Call Picatti Bros today to schedule your well inspection.
What should you test your well water for?
Nitrate, coliform bacteria, pH levels, total dissolved solids (the amount of minerals, salts, and metals), and other contaminants if they are suspected.