Here are five things you need to be doing if your home happens to have a well water system.
1. Get your water tested annually
Wells are prone to contamination, so regular testing of your water quality is tantamount to your health. Home expert Dan DiClerico of HomeAdvisor recommends having a water test done once a year to check for coliform bacteria, nitrates, iron, manganese, water hardness, sulfides, and any other potential contaminants in your area. If you’re in an area prone to flooding, you might need to have your water tested more frequently or after flooding, says Henrich. You can also test your own water with kits from most hardware stores after a flooding incident. These kits ($34.95, Amazon) allow you to take a sample, which you mail into a testing facility. The facility will contact you with the results.
2. Get your system inspected each year, too
While you’re testing your water quality, it’s usually easiest to have your whole system checked. These maintenance checks are also recommended annually to ensure your well and, more importantly, your well pump are working flawlessly. An annual inspection will cost about $100 to $200 and will involve an inspection of the visible components of these systems. “A professional is going to be looking for any signs of settling or cracking, which is going to expose the well to contaminants that are out there, from fertilizer to stormwater, which carries harmful bacteria,” DiClerico says. And while an inspection might sound pricey, a full-system replacement and even a minor repair can cost much more. “It can cost between $500 and $1,000 for the average repair,” he says. “And for a replacement, it’s probably twice as much.” A well can last for decades if it’s not compromised by flooding, and a well water pump has about a 25-year life span, so regular maintenance can save you from having to replace it prematurely.
3. Check your water softener
Hard water is a broad term used for any water with a high mineral content. These minerals can easily sit on porous surfaces and soak in, leaving behind a colored build-up. Your water softener is what helps to combat that mineral content, which in turn helps you to avoid mineral build-up and hard water stains. It includes a brine tank that uses regular salt to maintain a good mineral content in the water. You’ll have to check the salt level and replace it each month depending on your water usage.
4. Avoid hard water stains
If you have hard water, you’ve likely noticed unsightly orange or yellow water stains in your porcelain sink, your toilets, or your shower tile. Some home improvement experts recommend using a squeegee after each shower to remove water from your tile before stains can set in, but DiClerico and Henrich agree it’s not the best option. Rather than spending that kind of time to prevent stains, DiClerico suggests improving your water with a water softening system, which will significantly reduce or eliminate those stains. Plus, soft water is easier on your appliances. “If you don’t have one already, it can be a few thousand dollars to have one installed,” he said. “Some companies will lease them, which makes it more affordable.” If you’re trying to treat hard water stains left by a previous homeowner, you can always opt for the proven method of scrubbing with white vinegar and baking soda.
5. Improve your drinking water
Does your drinking water ever smell like rotten eggs? It could indicate the presence of hydrogen sulfide, a colorless gas with an unpleasant odor. Installing an affordable under-cabinet or countertop filter will usually do the trick, DiClerico says. But if you find that a filter isn’t cutting it, contact a well water system contractor to get to the root of the problem.