How does a water well system work?

You may have finally found your dream home after cruising through hundreds of pages on Zillow! It has the perfect amount of rooms and space to accommodate your family. But you were perturbed by the fact that it has a well water system.

Whether you’re a homeowner considering the installation of a Well or you’ve found your dream home and it happens to have a pre-existing well, you should know that it is a water system compiled of many different parts.

Before giving up on the home of your dreams, do a little research. You’ll find that well water systems aren’t as complicated as you may think! They’re an intricate team of several parts that work together to provide your home with pure water. Knowing these facts about well systems and how they work may help you in the long-run.

Where does well water come from?

The best way to visualize where well water comes from is to think of what happens when you dig a hole at the beach. It starts filling up with water from the underlying sand. This is a great example of how the ground can hold water, but still be solid. The upper surface of this hole that contains water is what’s known as the water table. The saturated area below the water table is known as an aquifer. In the example above the hole you dug is essentially a well that exposes the water table, and draws water from the aquifer below.

Components of a water well

There are three different types of wells. Dug wells, Driven wells, and drilled wells.
Dug Wells are deep holes in the ground dug by shovel. They have a large circumference and are about 10 to 30 feet shallow. These wells are lined with bricks or stones, but are not continuously cased such as the following two wells.

Driven wells are constructed by driving pipes deep into the ground. They are cased, but still are easily contaminated because they draw water from the surface of the aquifer. They operate perfectly fine with frequent water treatment.

Drilled wells are constructed by rotary drilling machines. Required for this type of well is a well casing because drilled wells can be up to thousands of feet deep. Contamination is a lower risk for drilled wells because of their depth and continuous casing.

How does a well system work?

Well Casing

A Well Casing is a tube-shape structure that maintains the well opening from the target groundwater to the surface. The well casing is sealed with grout to eliminate dirt and excess water out of the well. You could imagine it’s like a guard for the well, keeping any contaminants from unwanted runoff water or surface water from entering the well and mixing with the drinking water. Certain states require minimum lengths for casing by law. According to South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Well Standards, the minimum length required in the state of South Carolina is 15 feet.

Most commonly Well Casings are constructed from plastic, carbon steel, and stainless steel. Your house’s geographic location will determine what type of casing will be used.

Well Caps

You’re probably wondering, “what is a well cap?” It’s almost exactly what it sounds like. Preventing insects, debris, and small animals from entering the well is the Well Cap. Materials used to make Well Caps usually are plastic and aluminum. A part of its structure is a vent to control and release pressure from Well Pumping.

A properly installed and maintained well cap will eliminate the possibility of your water being contaminated with pollutants or small animal and insect nests. Without these caps, your water would be subject to animal feces and lawn pesticides, which unfortunately don’t always affect the taste of your water for you to know its been contaminated.

Well caps

Well Screens

Well screens are sediment entry prevention! The risk of having too much sediment enter the wall is prevented by Well Screens. It acts as a filtration system. Common Well Screens are continuous slot, slotted pipe, and perforated pipe. They serve to structurally support the aquifer’s materials. The importance of this component of the Well water system can not be stressed enough when considering the adequacy of a well and the long-term cost of the well’s owner.

Pitless Adapter

A Pitless adapter is a connecting force. It is the equipment that allows the pipe carrying water to the surface to remain below the frost line. It also maintains the pipe’s sanitary and frost-proof seal.

Water Pump

Well pumps are installed after a well is drilled, alongside the well casing to allow water from the aquifer, into your home. It’s placed below the well’s water level to prevent it from being affected when water draws down or in the case of a drought.

Jet Pump

One of the most commonly used pumps for shallow wells is the Jet Pump. They are best for wells no deeper than 25 feet. Jets pumps are non-submersible. They’re mounted above ground, using suction to draw water from the well through a pipe to provide potable or domestic water pressure.

Submersible Pump

Next is the submersible pump. This well pumping unit is placed inside the well casing and joined with a power source on the surface. These well pumps are most commonly used for deep and private wells. It is built to operate below the earth’s surface. They will not work unless they are fully emerged in water. Submersible pumps can withstand years of hard work, some even last up to 25 years. With these kinds of pumps, fewer issues are ahead compared to above-ground pumps. Cavitation is a frequent issue with above-ground pumps but submersible pumps are excluded from having this issue because of them being depths underwater.

Pressure Tank

Your biggest question is probably “what happens when the water comes up into the house?” The vehicle driving well water into plumbing would be the Pressure Tank. Well pressure tanks compress the air within them until it reaches a preset level psi. Ordinarily the presets are between 40 to 60 pounds per square inch (psi). If you live in rural areas pressure tanks are frequently connected to other filtration devices such as water softeners. Water softeners break down hard-water, containing broken down calcium, nitrates, and bentonite from the outskirts of the well casing. The pressure tanks also act as a water supply or storage tank, with some tanks holding up to 200 gallons of water for the home. The higher your tank’s storage capacity, the less stress your water pump experiences because it won’t have to turn on and off so often.

How does a water well get the water into my home?

When a faucet is turned on in your home, air pressure in the pressure tank forces water throughout the plumbing until the pressure drops down to the preset trigger pressure of about 20 to 40 psi. The pressure released during this process notifies the water pump to turn on.

After the pump is successfully notified to turn on, it draws water into the home and tank. When the faucet is turned off pressure will build until its default shut-off level is restored.

Your home’s pressure tank size and drawdown time will be determined by the amount of water your well pump can bring into your home in 1-2 minutes. Drawdown time is the amount of time water is delivered by the pressure tank between the time the pump shuts off and when it turns back on again.

How does well water get into my house?

Well Water System Installations in Columbia, South Carolina

All of these facts will be helpful for the potential well owner. After reading this, we hope you reconsider giving up on purchasing your dream home just because it has a well water system! If you already own a well or are thinking about possibly having one installed, hopefully this gives you some insight on what to expect during deep well construction. Though in Columbia, South Carolina we’re lucky to have great quality local water, Well Water is also a clean and sufficient water source for you and your family. Now that we’ve taught you all about well water systems and how they’re constructed, you may be wondering who in your area is the best well contractor for the job.

Here at Kay Plumbing Water quality is our priority for your family. We hold ourselves to high standards when it comes to Well plumbing. We assure you that our Well installations and maintenance will be done right the first time. Water pressure maintenance is a job for licensed professionals who care. Book an appointment today with Kay Plumbing.