Building a private home well can be an optimal way to deliver clean water to your home. In some regions around the U.S and in many places throughout the rest of the world, wells are the only reliable means to access potable water. Constructing a well requires considering a variety of variables ranging from positioning to building methods and size. Building a well is also subject to the local health department regulations and the municipality may require the well to be dug by a professional. This is usually the best route to take if you’re considering putting in well. Every stage of the installation must be done right for the well to function properly. This includes hitting the right depth to reach the aquifer and ensuring that the wellhead is raised enough above the soil line to prevent the accumulation of bacteria and pesticides in the water.
Before you break ground and start tunneling to the earth’s core, understand that there are a few different types of wells and different methods of creating them. The most common type of well these days is the drilled well. This is essentially a pipe that is fitted with a sharp end and a filtering screen. Once driven into the ground, it delivers water to the home. The well shaft is known as the borehole and functions to seal off the well from contaminants and secure the hole extending into the water. As the well reaches to the surface it is required to extend about a foot above the soil line to prevent water runoff from contaminating the well with harmful contaminants. The wellhead must then be capped and finished off with a surrounding slab of concrete to secure the system.
One essential consideration when constructing wells is the positioning of the well. They must be well away from sewage lines and septic systems. Calling the local health department should square this away pretty easily, but the municipality may require a professional excavator to install the well in compliance with regulations. Most modern wells are drilled using a couple different techniques. The first uses a chisel to be repeatedly dropped against the ground to form a borehole. This is known as percussion drilling. The second uses a fast moving drill stem to penetrate the ground while circulating a cooling substance in the hole to cool the drill shaft. This is called rotary drilling. Both of these methods are highly effective at creating a deep well that holds much more water than a dug alternative.
Dug wells are the traditional rope and basket wells that you remember from old west settings. These wells feature a large opening lined with stone or brick and were most often dug my hand with a pick and shovel. While less common, they can still be found in many rural areas. The main objection to these primitive wells is their easy contamination. The large opening attracts contaminants that can be difficult to remove. These also don’t run as deep than modern drilled wells. A more modern equivalent of a dug well, however, is a bored well. These are dug with an excavator and lined with pipes. No matter the type of well, all new wells should undergo a water inspection to test bacteria levels and ensure that the water is up to acceptable drinking water standards.
Written by +Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn writes on building a private well, maintaining home plumbing systems, and water conservation tips. He also contributes content to Rapid Restoration.