It’s Time for Private Well Maintenance

(Photo by Jan Hyngstrom, former Extension educator)
(Photo by Jan Hyngstrom, former Extension educator)

By Becky Schuerman, Extension Domestic Water/Wastewater Associate

Spring is here, and that means it is time to conduct a private well maintenance check. Winter can be especially hard on outdoor systems, surfaces and landscaping that are subject to the elements. Getting in the habit of inspecting and maintaining your well system in the spring and the fall is a good habit to get into. It will help ensure everything operates efficiently and can potentially save you from shelling out money for costly repairs.

Begin by inspecting your wellhead and area around it. The ground around your wellhead needs to slope away from it to aid in shedding water and potential contaminants away from your well. Also, make sure there are no areas that will retain stagnant water near the wellhead and there are no empty voids in the earth around the well casing. Remove near-by trees or plants with deep roots that can cause destruction to the well, water lines running from it or the electric running to it. Your inspection should also include checking that the vent screen is in place, electrical conduit, above ground casing and well cap are all intact and secure. Check all hydrants and faucets to make sure none are leaking; properly fix if necessary. Contact a licensed water well contractor to assist with any damage or issues you find.

Assess and divert precipitation runoff from rooflines, hard surface areas and landscaping so that it does not run toward your well, as runoff can carry contaminants to your well and, potentially, contaminate your water supply. Follow manufacturer’s directions of how you use, store and dispose of products like paint, solvents, oil, cleaners, wood preservatives, batteries and adhesives, as well as pesticides and fertilizers which can put your drinking water at risk of contamination through runoff.

For water equipment, review recommended maintenance procedures and filter/media replacement. This includes: water softeners, filtration systems and water heaters. At a minimum, flush out your hot water heater annually to help eliminate bacterial growth. Whenever shocking your well, empty and fill the water heater in addition to all your water lines with the chlorinated water, allowing it to have sufficient contact time within your well system for maximum effectiveness, and then flush it. See Nebraska Extension NebGuide, “Shock Chlorination” (G07-1761) at

Finally, test for nitrates and coliform bacteria annually, as well as any other contaminants of concern in your area. Your local Natural Resource District, health department and a representative of a nearby community water system are good places to inquire about the water quality in your area.

Nebraska Extension has numerous NebGuides and other publications about private wells and drinking water at