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Not everyone has easy access to water by simply turning a knob. Homeowners in rural areas will often need to consider building a private well that acts as their main supply of water because the municipal water system doesn’t reach their location. If you’re in that situation, you may be pretty much required to deal with the project of digging a well if you want to cover all your freshwater needs.
Not depending on the existing infrastructure for your source of water comes with some notable advantages. However, as we’ll see in this article, there are also some important disadvantages to creating your own well. It’s not just the digging work itself that can be considered a fairly difficult task. You need to take into account various aspects before you actually start this kind of project. Here are the essential things you need to know about digging a well.
1. City Regulations
You might feel prepared to start digging, but it’s very important to check city regulations for wells before you actually move on with the project. Even if you have some experience with this kind of job, many places have strict regulations and safety codes that you need to follow. You can be penalized by local inspectors and create some potential safety risks.
Wells may require a specific digging width and depth. It may need to be positioned a certain distance from sewer pipes. Some city regulations can even specify that you will need a permit to dig your own well. Knowing the rules before digging is therefore a critical aspect to consider.
2. Digging Depth
How deep should you dig a well? Checking the regulations can help you understand the minimal depth at which a well could be allowed to be dug at. However, there are various factors that you should consider when planning for this project. The characteristics of your property and the local water table can help you figure out how deep to dig.
The ideal depth of a well should sit somewhere between one hundred and five hundred feet. More complex logging tools could be required and costs can add up when you want to know more precisely what you’re dealing with underneath the ground. It’s safe to say that digging to large depths won’t be an easy task but you will be able to take advantage of a steady source of water.
3. Water Testing
If the water isn’t safe to drink or clean, there’s not much point in digging a well. Safety should be your primary concern before you start to dig. Although you can do some research about the properties of your local water table, the only way to guarantee safety is to get it tested yourself. That means you’ll have to gather a sample and send it to a specialized lab.
Most cities and towns can be directly contacted for this purpose and they can assist you with a water testing kit. Finding out that your local water table doesn’t offer suitable water for drinking and cleaning means that you should abandon the project. It’s important to learn about the safety of the water because you’ll save a lot of money on the expense of digging the well.
4. Wells Can Run Dry
The fact that your well can run dry at some point in the future represents an important drawback to keep in mind. Even if you use the best drilling technologies available, other factors affect the likelihood of your well drying up. The changing climate is a good example considering how periods of drought have gotten longer in recent years.
Many wells can simply produce too little water to cover all your needs. You might have enough for drinking, but not sufficient to water the yard or various demanding applications. It’s also possible for the well’s water supply to diminish from overuse. That means you need to plan out your water needs carefully to make sure building the well is worth the expense and effort.
5. Varying Costs
Many homeowners who want to build a private well should be aware that such a project can incur varying costs. There are lots of factors that can play a role in the final cost of digging a functional well. The local geography is perhaps the most important aspect. If the water table in your local zone is low, you might have to spend more money on the project as you need to dig deeper.
The type of soil in your area can also influence the cost of digging the well. It goes without saying that hard soils with more clay will require more heavy-duty equipment which contributes to higher overall expenses. The bottom line is that you have to plan your budget for this project really carefully to account for the digging work, permit fees, piping installation, and landscaping after the job.
6. Pumping the Water
Building the well isn’t just about digging a hole in the ground for water. The project should also include a convenient way of getting the water out when needed. Unless you prefer an old-fashioned bucket system, your best bet is to install a capable water pump. This will allow you to get quick access to the water in the wall.
No matter the type of well you’re building, it’s essential to plan for a pump system. Most homesteaders prefer an electric well pump that offers different installation options. In-well pumps can be suitable if you’re bothered by the noise of an interior pump. Just keep in mind that they’re more difficult to install and usually costlier as well.
What happens if the power’s out and you need water from the well? It’s a good idea to plan for this possibility if you’re interested in becoming less dependent on the grid. The best solution is to also install a simple hand pump for the well that can come in handy for emergencies. It’s an extra cost in the well-building project, but it could be worth it someday.
7. Well Additives and Contaminants
Many people dislike drinking tap water from a municipal water system because of the additives such as chlorine that are used for its treatment. Well water doesn’t have these additives which can be a solid advantage. The water is often more palatable, somewhat comparable to spring water.
Well water is quite vulnerable to various soil contaminants that can inadvertently end up in your underground water source. Make sure you keep the water quality of your well high by avoiding fertilizers and pesticides. It’s worth knowing that some natural contaminants can’t be controlled. It’s recommended to do yearly tests to ensure that your well water is still safe to use for all the desired applications.