When you are thinking of buying a new home, there are many details to consider: Financing, the condition of the home, schools in the area and the quality of the neighborhood, property taxes, insurance, whether all of your furniture will fit. And the water. You will drink, shower, clean, flush, brush and wash with the water in your new home every day.
So, what do you need to think about if that prospective home operates on a private well?
The majority of homes today have a municipal water source that is regulated by government and Environmental Protection Agency health standards. In these cases, the homeowner has little need to be overly involved in the health and safety of their water.
But that changes a bit when your home has its own water source. And some prospective homeowners may not be comfortable making that shift from a home with a municipal water supply to one with its own private water source.
If your prospective home has well water, you are not alone. According to the EPA, 15 percent of Americans rely on individually owned and operated sources of drinking water. Here are some tips derived from the EPA for managing a home with a private well:
Research common water problems in your area
If you are moving to a completely new area, it is a good idea to reach out to your local water expert for information on local water problems. The EPA website is also a good resource for local water problems. This way, you will be proactive in preserving the taste and safety of your drinking water.
Find out your state’s well water regulations and recommendations
States vary on policies and regulations for private well water owners. Check with your local water expert or local health department for your state’s policies or guidelines on water testing. In some states, like Colorado, you may need to obtain a permit for your private well. In other states, like New Jersey, it is required by law for a seller to perform a water test and disclose results to potential buyers.
Get the water tested by a trusted local professional
Local water professionals can do an in-home water test for certain contaminants, but some recommended well water tests require a full lab analysis. Your local water professional can help guide you through the most appropriate testing for your home.
Have test results interpreted by someone who knows local water conditions
Make sure your local water expert clearly explains the results of your water test, especially if you are new to well water.
Learn your options if your water does contain contaminants
Many contaminants in well water can easily be reduced with water softeners, drinking water filters or other water treatment systems. If your water does contain a contaminant, reach out to a local water expert who will be able to determine the best option for you in your area.
Set up a regular water testing schedule for your home
The EPA recommends private well water tests once a year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids and pH levels. The EPA also recommends an extra well water test every two to three years for tannins, hardness, chloride and copper.
Keep a record of your water tests and any problems that occur
It is a good idea to keep water test results on file. This will allow you to reference them to help identify when a problem began and determine a potential cause. This will also help answer questions from prospective buyers if you ever sell the home.
If you are planning on moving to a home with well water, finding a water expert to help you is one of the easiest and best things you can do to ensure your water is healthy and safe. When choosing a water expert, make sure they are Water Quality Association-certified, work in your area and understand local water problems.
Check with your local health department, your neighbors or search for your local water treatment company for suggestions on water experts in your area. Becoming educated in well water safety will be beneficial to the maintenance and longevity of your new home!
Suppose you’re a private well owner in Anywhere, USA. Perhaps you’ve moved out to the country to get away from urban sprawl and found yourself the proud owner of a water well for the first time. Or maybe you’ve relied upon a water well most your life. Either way, you probably don’t have an owner’s manual that goes with your well. That seems okay until you need help. It’s at times like those that you’ll wish you knew some basics about water well system maintenance.
1. You reach for the Drano.
Forget using chemicals to open or clear drains—they rarely get the job all the way done. Plus, not only are the chemicals very harsh and dangerous for you to handle, they can also ruin drain pipes and the equipment used to clear the stoppage. Hint: To prevent blockages in the first place, keep notorious cloggers like grease and hair out of drains.
2. You treat the toilet like a garbage can.
Even if they’re labeled “flushable,” don’t toss feminine hygiene products, personal cleaning wipes, toilet scrubbers, make-up remover pads or cat litter into the toilet. The fact is, they don’t disintegrate quickly enough and can ultimately block the drain pipe.
3. You try to tackle the plumbing problems yourself
Don’t try to diagnose and fix a plumbing problem yourself, or hire a handyman to do plumbing work. Plumbers can find and correct a problem faster than an amateur can, which will save you money in the long run.
4. You have no idea where the main water valve is.
Don’t be in the dark when it comes to knowing the location of the main water valve and every emergency shut off valve in your house.. And while you’re at it, learn how to turn off these valves. It’s easy but if you’d prefer to have pro show you how, many plumbers will check emergency shut-off valves at no charge.
5. You use drop in toilet fresheners.
Ditch the drop-in tank toilet fresheners. You may love the blue water it makes in your toilet bowl, but these tablets often contain chemicals that wear out working parts inside the tank. Plus, as these tablets disintegrate, they can get stuck in the flush valve and prevent the toilet from flushing.
6. You forget to replace the hoses.
Water hoses don’t give any warning before they burst, so avoid a potential flood by changing out rubber hoses on washing machines and dishwashers every five years. When you do replace them, use stainless steel on all water lines, if possible.
7. You don’t have a leak protection system.
Don’t skimp on water leak protection. It only costs a few hundred dollars to get a water leak protection system that offers both an alarm and a main water shut-off should a leak occur in your water heater, dishwasher, sinks and more.
8. Your hot water heater is outdated.
Don’t think your tank water heater will last forever—the average lifespan is 8-12 years. Just like toast tends to fall butter-side down on the floor, your 20-year-old tank will inevitably fail and flood while you are on vacation.
9. You overload the garbage disposal.
Be kind to your garbage disposal: Don’t pour grease into it (the goopy stuff will eventually solidify and clog the drain), and don’t put in fibrous food like celery and artichokes. Also avoid pushing through large amounts of garbage at once. Instead, feed garbage slowly into the disposal with cold running water.
10. You fiddle with the water heater’s pressure valve.
Don’t try to drain your water heater or test the temperature and pressure valve yourself. These need to be done professionally. If the valve is not properly removed, the pressure from the tank can disperse scalding hot water that could cause serious burns as well as property damage.
– Using a single simple small bracket, the Tornado Body Dryer easily attaches to the wall in the shower or tub. It need not be built into a wall, which can require expensive wall demolition and construction. This also means the Tornado Body Dryer can easily be removed in order to take it to your next home whenever you move from one location to another.
When your home depends on a private well for water, it is up to you to resolve any problems that arise with the system. If you’re having trouble with your water system, look for signs that your submersible well pump is going out. Also check for anything else that might be causing the trouble. If you can’t be sure, it is time to call in a professional.
One of the first and most obvious signs that there is a problem with your well system is when you turn on a faucet and no water comes out. This can be a sign of trouble with the submersible pump, since if the pump is not working there is no way for water to get out of the well. However, a lack of water can also point to something as simple as a blown fuse in the pump house, a broken pipe or a clogged line. Check for the easiest and most obvious problems that could cause you to have no water before you suspect the submersible pump. A clogged pump will stop pumping, but in this case, you may be able to clean it out rather than replace it.
If you turn on a faucet and have some water but the pressure is not good, it could be that your submersible pump is going bad. A pump that is not running at full capacity may cause problems with the water pressure due to insufficient water being pumped. Before pulling the pump out of the well, though, check for other problems that can cause the same symptom. One common culprit in this case is a bad pressure tank. This piece of equipment is located in the well house and uses an air-filled bladder to keep the water pressure constant. If it is not working properly, pressure will drop. Look for leaks in the pressure tank or small leaks in your water pipes. If everything above ground is fine, then the problem is most likely the submersible pump.
A pump that runs constantly is most likely starting to encounter serious problems and may go out soon. When a submersible pump does not stop running, it may have a bad shutoff switch or a bad sensor, or the pump may be struggling to get enough water to the surface. The pump may also start and stop frequently, cycling on and off even when water is not needed. Frequent cycling can be a symptom of a minor problem, such as a waterlogged tank, but if it is not fixed, it will quickly destroy the pump.
So if you have questions or concerns regarding your well pump, give Yelm Plumbing and Pumps a call and lets us put your mind at rest.
If you live in a town or city, you probably don’t give much thought to how the water you use each day gets to your house. Even small villages often provide a network of supply pipes that transport water to each home in the neighborhood. All you need to know is how to open the tap at the sink.
Move a few miles out of town and the picture can change. While the inner workings are still—thankfully—invisible, your water supply is independent from the neighbor’s down the road. Each home has its own well from which to draw water. More than that, each home has its own electromechanical system for getting the water from the well to the house. At the heart of each system is a pump, and the most common types are jet pumps and submersible pumps.
In many areas of the country, finding potable water is as easy as getting out a shovel and digging a hole in the ground. Okay, maybe “easy” isn’t the right word, but wherever the water table is only several feet below the surface of the ground, part of the battle may already be over. In such a shallow-well situation, lifting the water up to the house is going to be a little easier, if only because the distance you have to move it is modest.
If your area doesn’t have a high water table, or if it lacks a stable supply of potable water near the surface, you must dig deeper to achieve the same result. And because a deep well means that the water has to be lifted farther, the strategies for moving it change.
These days, the most common pump for a shallow well is a jet pump. Jet pumps are mounted above the well, either in the home or in a well house, and draw the water up from the well through suction (see Single-Drop Jet-Pump System diagram on next page). Because suction is involved, atmospheric pressure is what’s really doing the work. Think of the system as a long straw. As you suck on the straw, you create a vacuum in the straw above the water. Once the vacuum is there, the weight of the air, or atmospheric pressure, pushes the water up the straw. Consequently, the height that you can lift the water with a shallow-well jet pump relates to the weight of the air. While air pressure varies with elevation, it’s common to limit the depth of a jet-pump-operated shallow well to about 25 ft.
Jet pumps create suction in a rather novel way. The pump is powered by an electric motor that drives an impeller, or centrifugal pump. The impeller moves water, called drive water, from the well through a narrow orifice, or jet, mounted in the housing in front of the impeller. This constriction at the jet causes the speed of the moving water to increase, much like the nozzle on a garden hose. As the water leaves the jet, a partial vacuum is created that sucks additional water from the well. Directly behind the jet is a Venturi tube that increases in diameter. Its function is to slow down the water and increase the pressure. The pumped water–new water that’s drawn from the well by the suction at the jet–then combines with the drive water to discharge into the plumbing system at high pressure.
Because shallow-well jet pumps use water to draw water, they generally need to be primed–filled with water–before they’ll work. To keep water in the pump and plumbing system from flowing back down into the well, a 1-way check valve is installed in the feed line to the pump.
Breaking the depth barrier
Unfortunately, you may have to go a little deeper than 25 ft. for your water. Surprisingly, you can still do it with a jet pump. It simply involves separating the jet from the motor and impeller housing and placing the jet assembly down in the water (see Double-Drop Jet-Pump System diagram). In a typical deep-well jet-pump configuration, one pipe mounted to the impeller housing drives water down into the jet body that’s located about 10 to 20 ft. below the minimum well water level. A second pipe connects the output side of the jet body back to the pump.
At the jet, the increase in water velocity creates the partial vacuum that draws standing well water into the second pipe and then back into the pump and plumbing system. Deep-well jet pumps use both the suction at the jet to bring water into the system and pressure applied by the impeller to lift the water.
To prevent overpumping the well, a deep-well jet-pump installation may include a 35-ft.-long tailpipe. It’s connected to the intake end of the jet housing and extends down into the well. If the water level dips below the level of the jet housing, the pump operates in the same manner that a shallow-well pump does. While flow rate drops off, water will be available until the level drops below about 25 ft. from the jet housing-the limit for a shallow pump. The 35-ft.-long tailpipe effectively ensures that the well will never be pumped out. Of course, the height of the jet over the water level affects performance. The farther away it is, the less efficient the pumping becomes.
Like shallow-well systems, a jet pump in a deep-well system needs to be primed to operate. A foot valve at the bottom of the well piping prevents water from draining from the pipes and pump. Jet pumps that have two or more impellers are called multistage pumps.
Moving to the source
While a jet pump can reliably handle a well several hundred feet deep, a more effective solution is to move the pump down into the well so, instead of lifting the water, it’s pushing it up. A typical submersible pump is characterized by a long cylindrical shape that fits inside the well casing. The bottom half is made up of a sealed pump motor that is connected to the aboveground power source and controlled by wires. The actual pump half of the unit is comprised of a stacked series of impellers-each separated by a diffuser-that drives the water up the pipe to the plumbing system.
In modern installations, the well casing outside the home is connected to the plumbing system by a pipe that runs beneath the ground to the basement (see Submersible Pump System diagram). This horizontal pipe joins the well pipe at a connector called a pitless adapter. The function of the adapter is to permit access to the pump and well piping through the top of the well casing, while routing water from the pump into the plumbing system.
While submersible pumps are more efficient than jet pumps in delivering more water for the same size motor, pump or motor problems will necessitate pulling the unit from the well casing-a job that’s best left to a pro. However, submersibles are known for their reliability and often perform their role 20 to 25 years without servicing. Submersible pumps may also be used in shallow wells. However, silt, sand, algae and other contaminants can shorten the pump’s life.
No matter what kind of system you have, the components on the output side of all pumps are similar.
Pumps are not intended to run continuously, and they don’t start each time you open a tap or flush the toilet. In order to provide consistent water pressure at the fixtures, the pump first moves water to a storage tank. Inside a modern tank is an air bladder that becomes compressed as the water is pumped in. The pressure in the tank is what moves the water through the household plumbing system.
When the pressure reaches a preset level, which can be anywhere from 40 to 60 psi, a switch stops the pump. As water is used in the home, pressure begins to decrease until, after a drop of about 20 psi, the switch turns on the pump and the cycle is repeated. You’ll find the pressure gauge mounted on the tank with wires leading to the switch that controls the pump.
Have you received a water bill that seems unusually high? Your water bill could be higher than normal for a number of reasons. Here are some ways you can troubleshoot to see why your bill is high:
Your bill includes a graph of your water consumption (in units where 1 unit = 748 gallons of water) for the past 12 months. Does the consumption seem normal compared to the previous billing period or the same billing period last year?
Has the amount of water you’ve been using changed? Have you had houseguests for an extended period of time? On average, a person uses 40-80 gallons of water per day.
During the summer months, watering your lawn more frequently is the most common reason a bill can be high. Running your sprinkler for just one hour can use 400 gallons of water. If you use a hose to water, did you forget to go back out and turn it off?
There could be a leaking faucet or a running toilet in your home. Check for a possible leak by turning off everything in the house and then going out and looking at the water meter. It should not be moving at all. If it is moving, you have a leak somewhere in your house.
Did you fill a swimming pool with a garden hose? Or maybe use a pressure washer to clean the deck and driveway? At four gallons per minute, pressure washing for four hours can use 960 gallons or over a unit of water.
When hiring a plumbing, customers have many choice today. Between the phonebook, internet, and word of mouth, the choices are endless. So how do you know which plumber is right for you? By following some simple steps, you can make sure your plumbing experience is a positive one:
- Make sure the plumber you pick is licensed and certified, and the company he works for is licensed, bonded and insured. This is important because if there are any issues down the line, you want a company that isn’t just gonna disappear overnight. (There are a lot of people out there who call themselves plumbers, but aren’t)
- Have them give you an estimate in writing. You can find almost anyone to give you a estimate over the phone, but if they are not looking at the job with their own two eyes, how can they give you a realistic price for repair??
- Upfront pricing is a good thing. Upfront pricing is exactly that. It’s the price you pay for work to be done whether the tech is there for 1 hour, 1day or 1 week. There are no hidden fees and no lines about it having it cost more due to “unforeseen issues”.
- Ask questions. Remember…that plumber is there on YOUR TIME. Ask him/her any and all questions you may have about the job you are hiring them to do. The only stupid question is the one that is never asked.
Following these tips can make your hiring of a plumber less of a chore.