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Learn About Well Water

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Do You Have Well Water?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most homes in the United States get their water from the local water department. When you receive water from the city, officials treat your water at a plant and pump it to your home in underground piping.

Homeowners that live far from the nearest municipality often choose to install a well near their home and source their water directly from the private well. Currently, more than 13 million households nationwide rely on well water, according to the EPA.

Well Water Vs. City Water

If you’re unsure what kind of water (well water or “city” water) you have in your home, ask yourself these questions:

Is your address within the city limits?

If you reside within a city, chances are your water comes from the local water department. If you live in a rural area, your water may come from a well.

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in the Autumn.

Do you pay a water bill?

When your water comes from the local water department, you’ll regularly pay a water bill, perhaps once a month, to that organization. Homeowners that utilize private wells do not have a water bill. Instead, they pay out of pocket for the maintenance, testing, and upkeep of their private well.

Pregnant Woman e-banking. Sitting at  home by the table and paying bills on laptop

Can you spot a well pump in your yard, or is there a pressure tank near or in your home? 

These are clear indicators that you are utilizing well water, as you must periodically pump the water. The pressure tank helps optimize water flow and is a crucial component of a well water system.

Old water pump in a flowering garden in the spring

If you still aren’t sure what type of water is in your home, call your local water department and provide your home address. They will be able to tell you if your home receives water from the city.

Facts About Well Water

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which protects and regulates public drinking water systems, does not monitor private wells. It is the well owner’s responsibility to test well water and maintain its cleanliness. But how does the water get in the well in the first place? And what contaminants could make their way into the well water?


All private wells use groundwater, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As described by the Encyclopedia Britannica, most groundwater starts as rain: when rain hits the ground, it moves through the pores between the dirt and the rock. Water that isn’t absorbed by plants continues downward until it hits a layer of dense rock and becomes trapped. Water accumulates here and is known as groundwater. Another term associated with this kind of water is “aquifer,” as in “groundwater aquifer.”

Many natural occurrences can affect the water quality of water found in a well. Many private well owners choose wells because they can monitor their water quality firsthand, but it’s important to know what to monitor.

These sources can affect the quality of private well water, according to the CDC:

  • Fertilizers
  • Pesticides
  • Failed Septic Tanks
  • Landfills
  • Runoff

When flooding occurs, the water that gets into your well can potentially contain contaminants. If a well’s walls or sanitary seals have deteriorated or come loose, checking the water quality would be appropriate. The EPA has a list of potential well water contaminants and their impacts. Any private well owner concerned about the quality of their drinking water should test their water supply.

How to Test Well Water

To test your well water for contaminants, you’ll need a proper well water testing kit. Some well water testing also examines the hardness of the water and checks for manganese, sulfides, and other contaminants.
To obtain a test, simply order the 16-Point Rapid Water Test, which identifies the most common contaminants present in private water sources and is a good starting point for homeowners.

Once a kit arrives at your home, just follow the instructions provided to obtain a water sample from your well. Return your sample to the appropriate lab listed in the instructions and use the complimentary shipping. You’ll typically receive the results of your water test within three to five business days.

Testing well water from a kitchen tap, selective focus; Gettyimages: 157335521

How Often Should You Test Well Water?

According to the Groundwater Foundation, private well owners should test their wells at least once a year. Based on your area’s conditions, you may choose to test more often for peace of mind.

If any component of your well water system seems to have aged or become damaged, it’s wise to test your well water as soon as possible. Use your best judgment, and familiarize yourself with the parts of your well water system to assess each component periodically.

Multiple situations call for immediate testing of your well water. The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) advises that well owners should test their water sooner if:

  • The taste, odor, or appearance of your water changes
  • The septic system has malfunctioned recently
  • A flood occurs, or if the well cap ruptures
  • Anyone in the home experiences unexplained recurrent gastrointestinal distress

In addition, if you have detected bacteria in your well before, we recommend testing more frequently than once a year. With well water, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

How to Treat Well Water

Once you’ve had your well tested for contaminants, you’ll receive a breakdown of the chemicals, minerals, and microorganisms detected in your well water.

Install a water treatment or filter solution based on the specific contaminant(s) present in your well water. While a Whole House Water Filter System reduces many of the contaminants present in your drinking water, you can target the problem more directly based on the testing results.

Below are some of the most common contaminants and issues that homeowners face with private well water, and how you can begin treatment.

How to Treat Well Water That Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Did you start noticing a rotten egg smell coming from your drinking water? This is a common symptom of contaminated well water. You and your family can catch the issue early on and effectively treat your water.

That unwanted but naturally occurring smell comes from sulfides and sulfates that have found their way into your well water due to dissolved minerals in the surrounding area. You can read a helpful breakdown of sulfides and sulfates on Indiana’s government website. Hydrogen sulfide can enter your water when organic material decomposes in your yard or land. An infestation of sulfate-reducing bacteria in the well can produce the gas, as can chemical reactions with the anode rods in water heaters.

If you determine that sulfur is contaminating your water supply, you can install a specialized Sulfur Removal System to reduce the offending sulfides and sulfates.


How to Reduce Iron From Well Water

Iron can find its way into your water if the soil where your groundwater is drawn from contains iron, or if seepage occurs. If the casings or pipes of your well water system are corroded, iron can also find its way into your water supply.

Iron is an essential mineral for optimal human nutrition, but some unwanted side effects can come with high iron content in your drinking water. Iron can cause your drinking water to taste metallic, and even turn red, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

If you notice a metallic, bitter taste, or an oily water surface when you pour a glass of water, we recommend you consider iron treatment for your well water. Pentair Water Solutions is proud to offer two iron filtration solutions depending on your water’s chemistry and needs, which oxidize and reduce iron and manganese from your water supply:

How to Reduce Rust From Well Water

You might have “rusty” water if your water is red or orange and turns cloudy.

Rusty-colored water and reddish staining are an indication of high iron content, according to the EPA. If the iron content in your water is excessive, it can have more than just a metallic taste - it may change colors, cloud over, and cause staining on your appliances and plumbing. 

How to Reduce Coliform Bacteria From Well Water

No one wants bacteria to compromise their well water. Agricultural runoff the runoff irrigation and farming can contain manure and unwanted bacteria, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. As the EPA reports, septic systems that aren’t working properly can contaminate nearby well water. Coliform bacteria in your drinking water is a serious concern. The EPA claims that even low levels of total coliform bacteria can cause waterborne disease outbreaks. According to the Washington State Department of Health, detection of E. coli in your well water indicates recent fecal contamination.

To treat well bacterial contamination, we recommend a Whole House Carbon Filter with Prefilter + UV. Does not altering the taste, color, or odor of your water.

Whole House Water Filter System with UV PC1000 PC600

How to Reduce Salt From Well Water

Salt is not dangerous in microscopic amounts. However, at concentrated levels, salt can affect the taste and smell of your drinking water and we recommend you treat it appropriately. In urban areas that use road salt, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies reports that 60 to 90 percent of the salt that enters local water sources comes from road salt.

Water Filters to Address Well Water

There’s no one-size-fits-all water treatment solution for everyone. You can install multiple systems for added protection against the contaminants present in your well water. In addition to the issues above, there are additional filter options that directly target common well contaminants.

If your water has turned a yellowish hue and you notice your clothing and plumbing is staining, your water may contain tannins. According to the Water Systems Council (WSC), tannins can occur in coastal and swampy areas where decaying vegetation can leach into your well water. A Tannin Water Filter can reduce this nuisance associated with high turbidity.

If you’re still having trouble deciding what well water treatment solution is right for you, talk to one of our professionals.

whole-house-tannin-filtration-system, 35953, 35952

Water Softeners to Address Well Water

Hard water is a frustrating problem that countless well water users experience. High levels of dissolved magnesium or calcium in your well water can cause, among other issues:

  • Dry skin and flaky hair
  • Low water pressure due to mineral accumulation in clogged pipes
  • Scale buildup on faucets and in water-based appliances
  • Spots and white residue on dishes and in dishwashers
  • Stained sinks and bathtubs

Hard water’s damaging effect on plumbing, appliances, and clothes can become expensive over time. Scale buildup can make appliances less effective. While not considered a serious risk to health, hard water can affect your skin and hair. To reduce the hardness of your well water, you can invest in a water softener or water softener alternative to complement your water filtration system.

We have multiple options for reducing the effects of hard water in your, including Water Softeners and Salt-Free Water Softener Alternatives.

rotary valve softener
ns3-p water softener alternative tank and sediment filter

Pentair Water Solutions has trained and trusted water experts who are standing by and ready to help create a tailored solution for your specific well water profile. Have any questions? Contact us today to take control of what’s in your well water.

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