Can You Drill Your Own Well? (A Comprehensive Guide)

Kenneth Wilson

Many people and households across the US usually consider drilling their own well as a mitigative measure against water shortages and access to clean, pure water for drinking.  The ability to construct your own well depends on the region’s legal framework as well as the location of the underground water table.

It is possible to drill your own well on your property. You may, however, have to contact the local building department to find out any regulations to be followed.  Some sites may be more suited to drilling your own well compared to other places depending on the location of the water table.

There are different rules and guidelines related to drilling your own well in different states.  The county health departments in several states are tasked with site inspection, testing, and issuance of well-drilling permits.  

Types Of Private Drinking Water Wells

When it comes to private wells, there are three different types:

  1. 1
    Dug/Bored Wells – These are simple holes dug in the ground using a backhoe or shovel. They usually have a large diameter and are relatively shallow. Dug wells are cased with bricks, stones, tiles, and other materials to prevent the walls from collapsing.
  2. 2
    Driven Wells – Driven wells are made by driving a pipe deep into the ground.  These wells are also shallow and cased continuously to protect them from collapsing. These well, although cased, can easily be contaminated as they draw water from aquifers near the surface.
  3. 3
    Drilled Wells – Drilled wells are constructed using percussion or rotary-drilling machines.  These wells are very deep and can be thousands of feet into the ground.  A casing is usually installed to prevent collapsing.  Compared to the first three, drilled wells have a lower risk of contamination as they draw water from the deepest underground water table. They are also cased continuously to prevent wall collapsing and contamination.

Key Considerations When Choosing Your Well's Location

When deciding to drill your own well, a key question you will have to answer is the location of the well.

A well should be located away from any potential source of contamination like near septic systems and sewer lines.

The well's location should be so that it directs rainwater away as this water usually picks harmful microbes and chemicals on the surface. This water may pool near the well and start seeping into your water, which may lead to health hazards. 

The right construction methods largely depend on the groundwater and geologic conditions of the local area. Information concerning the suitable construction method can be obtained from your local health department, state water-well contractor licensing agency, or a water system professional in your area.

Below are factors to consider when selecting the perfect location to drill your well:

Environmental Factors

You need to scan the surrounding well to determine the best spot for your well, considering environmental factors like type of soil and the presence of possible sources of contamination.

Go for areas with silt, clay, and sand, as these soil formations help protect the well from curving in or mixing with contaminants.   You will have to locate your well away from sewage tanks and other water bodies to prevent microbes, industrial and agricultural contaminants from seeping into the water.

Groundwater Flow

The flow of underground water is a significant factor when drilling your well.  Locating the well on raised/hilly ground helps to keep any groundwater away and protects the well from contaminants or flooding. 

To determine the correct direction of groundwater flow, you may need to conduct an in-depth analysis of the groundwater in your area.

Well Depth

The depth of the well mainly depends on the geological features of the area.  Areas with sand, clay, and silt may be easy to drill and reach the water table compared to rocky areas.  It is the depth of the well that will determine the type of well to install.

Should You Drive or Drill a Well?

There are majorly two methods of digging a well. Below is a detailed overview of these methods:

  • Driving a Well – Driving a well involves literally forcing the length of a pipe into the ground until it reaches the water table. The process is physically demanding and may even be impossible if the soil is clay.
  • Drilling a Well – This involves literally drilling through the rock, dirt, and other barriers using a pneumatic drill and an air compressor. The drill may go as deep as two or three hundred feet into the ground. It is a long process that may sometimes take days or even weeks to complete.

Major Components of a Well

Below are major components found in a private well:

  • Well Casing – this is a tube inserted into the well to prevent the walls from collapsing. The casing also prevents dirt and excess water from getting into the well. Some states have laws that stipulate the minimum length of the well casing. Common casing materials include plastic, carbon steel, and stainless steel.
  • Well Cap – it is placed on top of the well to keep away debris, small animals, and insects. They are usually made of plastic or aluminum and have a vent to moderate pressure when pumping water.
  • Well Screen – these are placed at the bottom of the casing to minimize sediments entering the well.  They come in the form of perforated pipe, slotted pipe, and continuous slot.
  • Pitless Adapter – is a connecting joint that helps maintain the sanitary and frost-proof seal by ensuring the pipe carrying water to the surface does not go above the frost line.
  • Jet Pumps – they are mounted above the ground and draw water from the well using suction force.  These pumps are mainly used to draw water from shallow wells. 
  • Submersible Pumps – these are used to pump water from deep wells. In this case, the pump is placed inside the casing and connected to a ground power source.

Why You May Need a Professional Well Drilling Service

Depending on several factors like depth of well, the geological makeup, and safety concerns, you may choose to drill the well yourself or hire a professional to do the job. However, drilling a well by yourself may present several challenges compared to hiring a professional, which may lead to satisfying outcomes, is convenient, and is more affordable.

Professional well-drilling services are able to handle any danger that may arise during drilling. For instance, some areas may be prone to sinkholes. Well-drilling technicians have the technical know-how as well as the equipment that helps them maintain their own safety as the well we that of your family after drilling.

Using well drilling services helps you save on supplies as well drilling technicians usually have their own equipment needed to complete the job. In addition, drilling professionals can recommend cost-effective and high-quality materials to complete your well. (Related: Well Drilling: The Homeowner's Cost Guide)

Your well also needs constant maintenance in order to maintain the quality of water. Well-drilling professionals are also maintenance experts who can offer insightful advice and proposals on maintaining your well to prolong its lifespan and maintain the water quality.

Professionals usually have the skills and equipment needed to locate the well in the right spot without causing much damage to your yard.

Final Thoughts

Many people and households in the US opt to have their own private wells to mitigate water shortages or due to poor quality of water supplied by the local authorities.  Having your own well assures you of a continuous and uninterrupted supply of clean and healthy water.

Kenneth Wilson
November 30, 2021
Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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