You turn the tap on in your house and what comes out? Nice, clean water. Where did that water come from? For nearly 2/3 of Americans the answer is, “From the water company”, but the remainder of the population pump the water right out from under their homes from a well.
TRUE or FALSE ? Could you be without water after an especially dry summer?
Well water does not come from the surface, but from aquifers hundreds of feet down. The well is designed to extend below the lowest levels expected for a water table, which is the level that the water rises to in the unconfined aquifer. So while you should conserve water during times of drought since the water tables will be lower, you are not going to simply run out because of a dry spell.
In the case of a power outage, well systems are designed with a pressure tank that can force water from a holding tank into your home for a short period of time, and in case of extended outages, you may want to connect your well to your home’s generator. The power drawn by the pump is not insignificant, but only runs when needed meaning that it will not burn through your fuel supply.
Now we will look at how the system actually works. The well casing is inserted into the ground and extends all the way down to the water table. Depending on the materials present at the water table the system may need a filter on the bottom to screen out debris. Then comes the pump and motor sitting inside the casing and connected to a drop pipe which extends back to the surface. The drop pipe is what carries water from the bottom of the well up to where it branches off and runs into the house. This branch is situated below the frost line to ensure that the pipes do not freeze during the winter. At the top of the well casing, and situated above the ground is the well cap. This is how a technician or inspector would access the well, and is one of the most important parts of the whole system.
The reason that the well cap is so important is that it keeps everything from above ground out of your well and your water. Without a property sealed well cap, bugs, debris, or even animals could make their way into your well and contaminate your water supply. If you see a well cap that is cracked or missing any bolts or gasket you should have the well tested and the cap repaired or replaced to ensure the safety of your drinking water.
Once in the house, the water either enters a pressure tank, or in times of high demand, pumps directly to the faucet. Connecticut has abundant and clean water, but may contain traces of uranium, radon, or arsenic. In cases where uranium or other contaminants are found in the water, a treatment system may be needed. This treatment is far less severe than the treatment that municipal water supplies go through. In the case of city water, water is pumped from one reservoir to another and ultimately to your home, but in order to keep bacteria from growing over those long distances, chlorine is added. And even when the city water has safe levels of bacteria, you end up with cases like Flint, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey where the pipes themselves are contaminating the water.
Once the water is safe to drink and in the pressure tank, it is ready to be distributed throughout your home, and the only thing that you need to do is change out any filters at their scheduled time and make sure that the well cap stays in good shape. Well water is great in that you are reducing the load on the municipal water supply, and the need to pump the water many miles and add unnecessary chemicals that you and your family will ultimately consume.
Note: Well water does not contain the fluoride added to municipal water, so it is important to make sure that you are brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste to help prevent tooth decay.
For additional details on how various components of home well water systems work, see the images below.