Water Well Drilling, Pump Repair & Pump Sales, Well Abandonment and
Water System Design by Water Resource Specialists - Alberg Water Services Inc





Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to drill a well?

Answer: Every region has geologic and hydrological conditions, which greatly affect well construction. Depths vary, and methods of construction vary. Even specific site conditions can influence the price. Do not be fooled by a contractor who simply offers a per foot price. We all tend to offer a per foot price, plus additional items like the permit, the screen, and numerous other breakout items for all the potential issues that may surface. One must be wary of the contractor with a quote written on the proverbial napkin. Insist on a detailed proposal, and try to solicit more than one quote. Carefully examine the proposals and attempt to get everyone to quote apples to apples. Try to get the competing companies to estimate the depth in which they would expect to drill at your location. Any quote, which deviates from the others, should raise a flag. Find out why.

Once you feel informed to the point where you can comfortably compare the bidders, now use your instincts. Which company seemed to work the hardest to earn your trust? Which seemed to be the most informative? Next, who had the best price? Going back to your instincts, does the ďlow guyĒ come to mind, when you ask yourself the first two questions? Often, the low bidder is low for a reason. You're usually getting less.

Somebody told me that I have a jet pump in my well. What makes that different than my neighborís newer well?

Answer: Jet pumps suck... Literally! They most often are associated with shallow wells, or sand points. These systems are sensitive and potentially risky. Surface contaminants can appear in these wells far easier than a properly constructed deep well. Theyíre shallow, and they create a vacuum to pull the water up to the surface. Any holes and leaks under the ground surface can draw all kinds of yucky surface stuff inside. Usually though, with holes or leaks, the dumb thing wonít work. The principle is vacuum. There is a deep well version of this system that incorporates a principal of pushing water through an orifice (jet) to create a vacuum on the upstream side of the flow. This boosting of the vacuum allows these pumps to pull water from deeper in the ground.

Jet pumps are relics. They are inefficient. The shallow well version cannot work when water depths get beyond 22 or 23 feet down. The deep well version has so many potential problems, listing them is not worth it in this discussion.  Prohibitively costly to repair in the deep well version, one is often placed in the unfortunate position to contract a new well. Todayís submersible pump systems push water to the surface. This is a far more efficient means to produce water. The removal and maintenance of these pumps and their wells is far more attractive. The wells are safer, in terms of your health. The modern deep well offers longer service life and less expensive maintenance considerations too.

Can I hire a well contractor to convert my old jet system into the new submersible-type pump system?

Answer: Rarely. Many of the well drillers of the 1950ís, 60ís and 70ís drove the well casings into the ground with a drive point using a simple and primitive method. The drilling method limited well casings to 2 inches in diameter. This diameter is too small for a turbine-type submersible pump. Some wells, however, were actually drilled using a percussion or rotary method. If the casing installed was 3 inches inside diameter, then maybe youíre in luck! One company offers a time-tested product that we occasionally use to convert an old well. Virtually all of todayís wells are 4 inches in diameter and up.

My water pressure has been getting less and less. What's happening?

Answer: The first question asked should be, ď How old is the well?Ē and/or ď When was the well or pump last worked on?Ē. Like any machine or appliance, a well or pump cannot last forever. A lot depends on the owner's water usage. Other factors like sand or sediment in the pumped water can harm a pump. Mineral buildup in the plumbing or plugging of the pump itself can occur. You may even have a small leak that is developing into a larger leak. There is pipe inside the well that is a pressurized conduit for the water. It can go bad in time. Do not change the air pressure in the tank. Do not change the on/off settings on the pressure switch. Most importantly, don't listen to Uncle Frank, or your smart guy neighbor who happens to be a plumber. Have it checked by a water well professional.

Sometimes simple things can occur. Often, when we get calls claiming a loss of pressure, we ask the owner if there is a water softener or sediment filter in the system. If yes, we ask them if they can temporarily bypass this equipment. It's amazing how many filters are plugged up. Owners need to maintain the filters. Never run your water softener out of salt. Each time you do, you potentially destroy the capacity of that equipment. Other types of filters like sediment, iron removal or reverse osmosis filters need to be closely watched. You stray from the recommended maintenance and operation guidelines; you create yourself a mess.

I have had a significant drop in water pressure occur suddenly. What's happening?

Answer: A number of things could be happening. First thing you should note is the appearance of the water. Did it become dirty or colored? There could be a hole developing in the underground portion of you plumbing or even in the well. A hole caused by a fracture or corrosion could be jetting and agitating accumulated minerals. It will only get worse. Don't wait!

Everyone could help himself or herself by learning to listen to, and remember their well's operating characteristics. The control switch should be clicking to turn the pump on after several gallons of water have been drawn. It can be expected to run at least 30 seconds once the pump starts. Youíll know itís running by watching the gauge pressure climb. So you donít have a working gauge? Get one! It is very hard to diagnose problems without one.

If it seems the pump continues running for minutes or hours, even with no water being used, thereís a hole or a fracture somewhere. The water is going elsewhere. If the pump switch keeps clicking in rapid succession, you have a tank problem. If you see sporadic times of normal pressure followed by times of no pressure, you could have a pressure switch failing, or even bad wires somewhere.

Sporadic pressure or periodic changes may also be indicative of a fluctuating water level in the well. A pumpís performance can be affected by those changing levels. If air or gas bubbles appear in the water, the water level has dipped below the intake level on the pump. It is starving for water, and the impeller is cavitating. A cavitating pump canít produce a lot of pressure. The same holds true for the previously mentioned jet pump system. If the water is too far down there, the pump is spinning its wheels with nowhere to go.

If I know my water level in the well is too low, and itís causing problems, how do I remedy the situation?

Answer: We need to determine how deep the well is. Then we need to determine the depth of the pump intake in relation to the well depth. The easy answer is to set the pump deeper into the well. That is, if the well has a submersible pump installed in it. Deep well jet, and shallow well systems are usually abandoned at this time.

Several factors need to be present to set a pump deeper into a well. Is the well deep enough to add to the setting length? Is the well producing enough water to justify the deeper setting? Sometimes not... Once we see what is actually happening in your well, we often attempt to rejuvenate your well by a number of processes available to us. There are some wells that never did produce enough water. The geology available isnít favorable for any further work. Sometimes, you just have to drill a new well.

Can I put a bigger pump in my well? I want to install an irrigation system.

Answer: Not always. Your particular well may not produce the desired flow rate necessary for your demands. Any well driller can drill and find water. Some are better at drilling and producing a well that far exceeds demand. Itís not always the well driller that determines how much water you can get. Mother Nature can play a hand that throws the best of us.

Your best response is to contact a reputable local driller who can access the drilling reports from the original construction. Older installations may not have reliable records. If thatís the case, we can provide an inexpensive test pumping analysis to determine the limits of your well. Sometimes, we can even set up some equipment and actually redevelop the well. A little effort sometime has its rewards.  

How long can I expect a new well and pump to last?

Answer: Thereís no way to predict every installation. Letís just say this. Todayís construction standards make it possible for a well to last for generations. The use of plastics, brass/copper and stainless steel create complete corrosion resistant construction. The well may plug up from minerals, but we have a number of ways to clean and rejuvenate these wells. We are still fixing 100-year-old wells! Pump systems are subjected to a number of negative environments that may reduce the operating life. The pumps that have been properly and lightly used can continue running upwards of 40 years. Not all... But some.

The biggest factor in the service life of a pump is usage. The design is almost bulletproof if the water pumped is clear. Sand wears a pump out, and almost every well gives up some sand over the years. Part of the equation is the on and off cycles. The best environment for motor longevity is to let it run. Turning an electric motor on and off is hard on it. Of course continuous running isnít practical or affordable.

Believe it or not, the pressure tanks are often the culprit in a failed water system. The volume of air and pressure in the tank are critical. A simple pressure switch turns the pump on and off. The pressure tank air and water volume, share a close relationship with the pressure switch. If those tanks lose all the air, and you will wear out a pump motor quickly. Even if the air pressure isnít calibrated properly to the switch parameters, you can still wipe out a pump. Do not randomly put air in a tank. Do not randomly change the pressure by adjusting the switch. Let the pros do it. Uncle Frank only knows enough to be dangerous.

My pump keeps coming on, and we are not running water?

Answer: You have a leak. A well pump is equipped with a check valve, which prevents the reversal of water flow back down the well when the pump is off. Those check valves can leak. Thatís the obvious place to look. Otherwise, there are numerous other potential places for leaks. It may even be the underground line from the well to your plumbing. Before calling a well driller for a diagnosis, you may first want to check your plumbing fixtures, toilet tank valves, and irrigation lines and zone valves (if you have them).

My water smells. Is this normal?

Answer: Sometimes, but not always. There are two sources of the common rotten-egg smell (sulfur). One is a natural occurrence from clay found in the earth your well is drilled into. It can be removed with filtration products that use activated carbon. A quality water softening system that is properly sized can even help a lot too.

The other, more complicated source is bacteria fouling. In extreme cases these bacteria are coming from cross-contamination sources. Something has allowed organisms into the well. Usually this occurs through poor construction standards, missing or damaged well caps, broken casings, or flooding. This situation is concerning if there is a presence of coliform bacteria. The vast majority of bacteria problems are caused by harmless organisms that actually existed in the soils. These bacteria give off gases smelling like sulfur. Treatment of the well with chlorine, or other biocidal chemicals can kill off, or help control the odors.

If you have had an occurrence like a vehicle striking the well, discovered a missing cap, or experienced a flood on your property, pay attention to your water. Sudden appearance of odors may be a signal. Have your water tested by a testing laboratory or water well professional soon.

Gradual increases in odor, or continuously present odor can indicate less serious conditions. When smells are reported, the first things we ask are:

1)      Do you smell the odor more so in the hot water? Your source may just be the water heater. Todayís energy efficient appliances are not always well thought out. Water heaters that save energy simply donít heat the water as high as they used to. Water heaters now act more like an incubator for bacteria. Flush the heater yearly, and periodically turn the heat to high for a night. In extreme cases, chlorinate the water heater.

2)      Have you been keeping salt in your water softener and maintaining the filter(s)? Poorly maintained equipment can lead to very nasty smelling conditions. Long forgotten filters exist in thousands of basements across America.

3)      Who smells it? The husband or the wife? Women have notoriously better noses. Sometimes, from a manís perspective, the women are a little fussy. We run into occasions where nothing gets the smell out to everyoneís satisfaction. People living on publicly supplied water are often fortunate to have water that doesnít smell bad. There is a reason, and it has nothing to do with filters or the construction of the well. Most public suppliers allow the water to stand for long periods of time in reservoirs and water towers. The water sits in an open atmosphere, and the bad smelling gases have time to dissipate.

My pressure seems to be getting less. I just had the pump worked on three years ago. Whatís wrong?

Answer: Do you notice a lot of staining and iron in your water? Do you see particles and grit in your sink or tub? Every well has minerals in the water that contribute to plugging issues. It could be the intake or passages in your pump are plugged up with scale and iron sludge. Some wells are downright horrifying when an owner sees how much crud can accumulate. Other times, the buried line into the home has become restricted. It could even be your filtration equipment or interior plumbing. A good well driller can identify the problem quickly. Well cleaning and line cleanout is a common maintenance issue for some properties. One house may be fine, and the next house is a mess. Water conditions can change in a very short distance. A well driller has little or no control over determining the quality of the water during the construction process. Anyone that does is not being completely truthful.

My husband hit the well with his ATV. The pipe is cracked, and the wires are sticking out. Should we fix it?

Answer: Duh! First of all, turn off the power to the well and call a well contractor immediately. It is possible that sand, rocks and plastic pieces have fallen down into the well. Those things could suck into the pump intake and wreck it pump. Even worse, the falling debris can impossibly lock the pump into the well. In extreme cases, the pump cannot be pulled out of the well and serviced. Itís stuck forever! That means only one thing. Drill a new well...  


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