Frequently Asked Questions
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Well water is naturally filtered of harmful bacteria and organisms as rainwater/snow melt soaks down thru the soil to an underground aquifer. This means under normal conditions you do not need to add chlorine to well water to be safe to drink. So the health risks associated with chlorine/surface water are avoided by using well water. Because groundwater sources are normally protected by many feet of soil the water is generally safe to drink right from the aquifer. It is recommended that you have your well water tested annually for bacteria and any know contaminants that are present in your locality. Municipal systems which draw surface water from lakes and rivers need to treat their water with filtration, UV light, and chemicals to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens that are present. There have been documented instances where failures at water treatment plants have caused sickness and even death of consumers of public water supplies. A private well, like a treatment plant, must be properly constructed and maintained to be kept safe. The difference in risk is that in a private water well system the burden is to keep the equipment sanitary so the naturally clean groundwater is not contaminated. In a public surface water based water system unsafe water is being treated to ensure that it is sanitary. The greater burden for safety is on any water system using non-potable water as a source. Another area of concern that is being researched is traces of pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water. In general, there have been fewer issues with pharmaceuticals leeching into groundwater from septic systems than are being found in municipal supplies that are recycling waste water to make potable water. Pharmaceutical drugs in water is a developing issue that we all need to be aware of.
Yes there can be significant savings. The initial cost of a water well for a residence ranges between $5,000 & $15,000 depending on the depth of the well and size of the pumping system. Once the water system is installed, other than a minimal cost for electricity to operate the pump, it is not uncommon for well owners to go 10 to 20 years without any major repairs being needed to their water system, some go as long as 30 years. The benefit of not having monthly water bills, especially if U.G. sprinkling is being utilized, will pay back over time. For applications with geo-thermal open loop, large scale irrigation, or commercial use, a well is generally the only cost affordable option to supply water. Water treatment equipment is an additional cost associated with well water which must also be factored in to a cost analysis. Most rural minicipal water districts are supplied with well water so water treatment equipment will probably be required even though you have a public water supply in rural areas. Generally water supplied from lakes and rivers in larger public systems does not need water treatment for iron or hardness. Filtration equipment to remove chlorine may be required in any public supply.
Ask neighbors and locals from the surrounding area who the most trustworthy local well drillers are. Your drinking water is not the place to necessarily look for only the lowest bid; you want a conscientious contractor who is concerned with your water needs. No one is going to know more about local water conditions than a local contractor whose family has drilled in your area for years. After getting drilling contractor referrals ask your potential contractor if they are members of the Michigan Ground Water Association and/or the National Ground Water Association. This will let you know that the well drilling contractor is concerned about conducting business in a professional manner, they are interested in learning all they can about groundwater, and they have an interest in preserving and protecting our precious ground water. Your local drilling contractor will have an intimate knowledge of the water quality and quantity available at your property and how to best design a water system that will meet your needs. Buer Well Drilling has generations of experience in West Michigan drilling for water. We would love to share our knowledge of the ground water in your area and the products and system design idea's we believe will best meet your needs.
Generally a new well can be drilled, installed into the home within 1 to 4 days for uses other than drinking. Within an additional 24 to 36 hours water test results will be available from the laboratory certifying that the water is safe for drinking.
We recommend getting your well water tested initially for bacteria, nitrates, and any other known contaminants that your local health department or well driller informs you may be present in your neighborhood when you purchase or build a home. We recommend testing your well water every 1 to 5 years and to contact your local health department and Buer Well to find out if there are any new groundwater contaminants that have been recognized in your neighborhood that you should be testing for. See “How do I know my well water is safe” for additional testing information. We recommend having a mechanical inspection of your well system by Buer Well every 5 years to make sure your well system is safe and functioning properly. Make sure that any time there are changes in water pressure or water appearance, or the function of your water system, to contact Buer Well Drilling with questions. It's better to correct a small problem before it becomes a health risk or an expensive problem.
There are very few wells in West Michigan that do not need some kind of water filtration for aesthetic or health reasons. If you have iron levels above 0.3 ppm you will experience iron staining in toilets and tubs and iron coating of plumbing pipes and your fixtures. We recommend a water softener or some kind of filtration to keep the iron solids from getting into your plumbing distribution system. If you have iron levels above 2 ppm we recommend a water softener with a special iron removal bed or some type of iron filter. Iron levels over 2.0 are generally require more equipment than a conventional water softener. We will be happy to test your water and give you suggestions.
If you have U.G. sprinkling you will need to keep in mind that iron levels over 0.3 will stain your siding, landscape bricks, and cement, so some kind of iron filtration will be needed on the irrigation system to keep anything the water touches from turning orange. Talk to us about a Iron filtration to help keep iron off your landscaping and walkways.
If you are fortunate enough to have iron levels below 0.3 in your well water you still probably have enough hardness in your water (dissolved calcium and magnesium) to inhibit your detergents and soaps from working properly. You will also probably notice white chalky buildup on dishes in the dishwasher and on glass shower doors etc. This "lime" buildup will coat your plumbing and build up in your hot water heater also. We recommend a water softener for most residential wells to protect your plumbing and appliances from lime buildup. You will find your soaps and detergents work properly and your dishes will lose that chalky film. Give us a call and we can recommend some water treatment options.
If this is your first water well there is an adjustment going from chlorinated "city" water to a water well. We would encourage you to give it a little time and eventually you may actually prefer natural well water over "city" water. With that being said some homes are piped so all the water passes through the water softener. This means your drinking water is softened water which some folks don't care for taste wise. Also your water may have a distinct taste that you do not enjoy. There are many drinking water filters that can be installed specifically with their own drinking water tap at the kitchen sink which also filter the icemaker on your refrigerator. We recommend professionally installed filtration instead of retail filtration units that you pour water through or attach directly to your faucet. The amount of usable water you can get through professionally installed filtration will far exceed the amount available from smaller retail units, and filter systems have the benefit of supplying the drinking faucet and icemaker. You will save money in the long run with a professionally installed system and will get higher quality water. Two of the most common units we install are Reverse Osmosis Filtration and Carbon Filters. These filters are great if you are a coffee drinker because the better the water quality, the better the coffee. Please contact us and we will show you some inexpensive options to ensure your drinking water is of higher quality and purity than the bottled water you may currently be purchasing, and no more plastic bottles to deal with.
This is a question all water users should be concerned with. Please use our links to access resources for more in depth studies on ground water. The groundwater in West Michigan is generally very safe and offers benefits that many municipal water systems cannot offer. There are some exceptions and you need to talk to Buer Well Drilling and your county health department to verify if you are located in an area that has groundwater contamination issues. We believe well water is a safe water, please talk with us about water testing, appropriate well depth, and well safety so you can have confidence in your water supply for your family.
We recommend that you get your water tested for nitrates if you have not had your water tested. Nitrates are used as an indicator of an aquifers protection and give us a clue if the aquifer is vulnerable to other contaminants. Nitrates are a combination of nitrogen and oxygen and generally work their way from the ground surface downward into the groundwater. Some common sources of nitrates on or near the ground surface are nitrogen fertilizers, septic waste, and manure. In most areas the nitrates are kept out of the groundwater by the filtering properties of the clay and sand layers between the surface and the water table. In areas that have a lot of sand and gravel layers, and there are, or have been, significant amounts of Nitrogen placed on or near the ground surface, the nitrates can get carried down into the aquifer thru the hydrological cycle. High Nitrates can also occur in the groundwater in areas where there may be an improperly constructed well or sewage system which creates a contamination pathway into an aquifer. The EPA limit for nitrates in drinking water is 10 ppm per mg/L. It is not uncommon to find nitrate levels between less than 1 ppm & 10 ppm in shallow wells in areas of sandy soil that has seen many years of agricultural use. This is not necessarily a cause for undue concern. If your well has nitrate levels between 1 ppm and 10 ppm we recommend you test for nitrate levels annually to determine that the Nitrate levels are staying within EPA limits. It is not uncommon for Nitrate levels to fluctuate throughout the year as aquifer recharge is impacted by water use and rainfall. Often the original source of contamination may have been addressed through the years. Farmers have cut back on their Nitrogen use over the years so we see many areas where the Nitrate levels have remained steady or are slowly declining. Nitrate levels over 10 ppm can cause health problems for infants less than 1 year old and elderly who are in poor health. High levels of nitrates can disrupt oxygen transfer into the bloodstream. We recommend caution using water with Nitrate levels between 1 & 10 ppm for infants and the elderly. For everyone else there is no scientific evidence of risk associated with consuming water with less than 10 ppm nitrates. For additional precautions there are filtration systems such as Reverse Osmosis systems, which can reduce the nitrate levels in your drinking water. Be reminded that water conditioning equipment designed to reduce nitrate levels will only be effective when the equipment is designed for your application and regularly serviced. There is no risk using water with Nitrate levels over 10 ppm for bathing or washing. If your water has nitrate levels over 10 ppm we recommend not drinking the water until you install treatment equipment to reduce the nitrate levels below 10 ppm. In some cases where the Nitrate levels exceed 10 ppm our recommendation is to drill a well to a deeper, more protected aquifer for Nitrate free water.
We recommend that you should have Buer Well test your water for E-Coli and Coliform bacteria if you have not had your water tested recently. Testing your well water for Bacteria once a year is recommended. Coliform bacteria present in well water should not cause illness, but Coliform does indicate that conditions are such in a well system/piping that other more harmful bacteria could survive, so the well and distribution piping needs to be cleaned. Coliform is a group of bacteria made up of many different species that conform to certain growth requirements for testing. Positive results for coliform does not mean that fecal bacteria are present in your well. When coliform bacteria are absent it ensures us that we have a clean, safe water well that does not have conditions favorable for bacteria growth. E-Coli bacteria are related to fecal bacteria and need to be cleaned from a water system immediately if they are present. Coliform & E-Coli bacteria do not live naturally in groundwater and need a host (scale, organic matter, etc.) to survive. We are able to clean a well so that Coliform/E-Coli bacteria are not present and cannot survive. The cure may be as simple as flushing a well by pumping a large amount of water overnight, chlorinating a well and plumbing system, or with stubborn bacteria, scrubbing a well and pumping out all the debris and then chlorinating the system. A positive test for bacteria is not a cause for panic. It means the well needs to be sanitized and within a couple of days the well should be back in working order providing safe, clean water.
Yes we recommend that you have additional water testing for the following if:
● If you are in an area that has had U.G. fuel storage tanks, an old dump, or near an old oil well it is a good idea to test for specific compounds.
● If you live in or near an old orchard you may want to have your water tested for Arsenic or Pesticides.
● If your water has a lot of minerals in it you may want to have a partial chemical analysis to check out Chlorides, PH, Iron, Manganese, Sulfate, Hardness, Alkalinity, and PH.
● If you live near a large airport or manufacturing dumping area.
● If you have any strange taste or odor to your water
● If you live in an agricultural area
● If you have serious health issues check with your doctor to find out if there are any substances that you need to test your water for.
You should get your water tested for bacteria if there are changes in the taste, color, or odor of your water. Generally the taste, odor, and color of water are more aesthetic issues and are not related to your aquifer being contaminated. These conditions in ground water are generally not considered health risks but should be addressed with water conditioning equipment.
Hydrogen Sulfide Gas which has the odor of rotten eggs in the water. This is typically caused by iron reducing bacteria who are feeding on sulfates or gypsum. They are naturally occurring bacteria that are anaerobic and often found in clay and shale layers. Hydrogen sulfide gas is quite corrosive and to metal piping and very unpleasant in the home. A simple home test is to fill a glass with cold water. If the odor goes away in about 10 sec. it is probably Hydrogen Sulfide caused by sulfate reducing bacteria. There are several fairly effective ways to deal with this gas.
Water that is yellow or greenish tint may have tannic acid that is discoloring the water. Tannic acid is caused by decaying vegetation being absorbed by ground water. Often it is related to nearby swamps or vegetation that was buried by the glaciers such as buried trees. Certain plants contain higher levels of tannic acid so just because you live near a swamp does not mean you will have tannic acid in your water. To test whether you have tannic acid or iron in your water turn on an outside faucet and let the water run for 15 min. Fill a clean white bucket with water. If the water immediately is discolored as the bucket fills you probably have tannins in your water. Sometimes tannins will have a swampy odor as well as color. If the bucket fills and is initially clear, but as time passes it turns yellow or orange it is more than likely iron oxidizing in the water.
The best cure for Tannins is to drill to another aquifer if possible. Tannins are difficult to treat with conditioning equipment and cause staining problems. Tannins are also corrosive. There are water conditioners with tannin beds to remove tannins but in most cases because of the high maintenance and limited effectiveness of this equipment water from a better quality aquifer is the best answer.
If your water turned yellow in the bucket over time you have high iron levels and need to get your water tested for Iron. Very often if iron levels are high enough to turn the water yellow in a short amount of time you will need an iron filter because you probably have quite high iron levels.
There are a myriad of reasons why your water pressure is reduced. This can range from plugged pre-filters for water softeners, improperly working water conditioning equipment, pressure tank problems, worn pumps and pumps and pipelines plugged with iron. We recommend calling Buer Well to check over your water system. We will check pump capacity & pressure, the condition of your pump motor & wiring, how your well is producing, and the function of your pressure tank & pump controls. We will also take a look at your water conditioning equipment to ensure it is working properly. It is important to have your water system checked over every few years. If it has been a while since you had your well system checked over we would recommend having the professional service techs at Buer Well Drilling check your water system to make sure you are getting maximum performance from your water well system.
If your well pump runs sometimes when you are not using water or you notice your pump is turning on and off rapidly this is an indication that your water system requires service. We recommend getting your water system serviced promptly to correct any problems which may be minor now, but if left unattended could lead to major well repairs.