I think my well is dry, what should I do?

Many of our customers express concern that the well may “drying up” or “going dry” when they have a water shortage. In this blog we will will explore this problem and look at solutions that don’t involve drilling a new well! It might also be helpful to check out our blog post on the main causes for running out of water .

When I hear the term “dry well” I think of a hole in the ground that doesn’t have any water in it. None. Drop a rock and listen for the splash, only to hear the rock bouncing on the well casing and thudding into the bottom. This is a very rare occurrence! Wells are not typically rated as “gushers” or “dry holes” unless discussing extreme circumstances.

A well’s capacity to produce water is referred to as “yield” and determining if a well is a “low yield” or “high yield” well is a bit subjective. If a well that has a yield of 10 gallons per minute is going to be used to supply 10 houses with extensive landscaping and vineyards, then this well may have difficulty in achieving this goal. If that same well needs to supply a single house with very minimal landscaping then it would be quite adequate in most cases.

It is important to distinguish between well yield and well pump capacity. In the example well from before where the well can yield 10 Gallons per minute, there could be any number of different pumps installed. If a pump is installed that provided 5 gallons per minute, then the water available for use is limited to 5 gallons per minute but would be available as long as the pump is running. If a large pump is installed that can pump at 20 gallons per minute, then that submersible well pump can pump the water out of the well faster than the water flows into the well! If this larger well pump is running for more than a few minutes it will drop the level of the water in the well so low that the pump will run out of water and it will appear as if the well has run out of water. Turn that pump off for a few minutes while the well water level returns to normal and then the pump can run again. When working with water, I’m sure you can tell now that it is important to be clear about whether it is the well yield or the pump capacity you’re talking about.

Qualified pump contractors work to select just the right pump for your well to ensure that it isn’t too big or too small. They want to install a pump that will meet your water demands, but they don’t want to install something so large that the well pump can pump out more water than the well can actually supply.

Now that we have some of the basic terminology out of the way, let’s discuss what you should do if you suspect your well yield is decreasing or your well is “dry”.

  1. Verify that the existing well pump equipment is operating properly

  2. Ensure that you don’t have any leaks. Perhaps consider installing your own water meter(s) to ensure you can find water leaks quickly. Leaks add up very quickly and deplete available water so it isn’t available when needed.

  3. Review additional demands that have been placed on your well pump system since it was originally installed. Is it being asked to pump more water was originally? Is the system being asked to deliver water to a place higher than originally planned for. If demands have increased, it is often possible for a storage tank and booster pump to be installed to extend the abilities of your existing well and submersible well pump.

  4. Have a well test performed on the well to establish what the actual yield is. Compare this yield to previous well tests and well yield information. If the well test data indicates a decrease in well yield, does the water from this well have iron, manganese or other minerals that have built up in the well casing and gravel pack? Ask your well pump contractor if cleaning the well would help restore well yield.

If you suspect your well is not producing like it used to, call Oakville Pump Service at (707) 944-2471. Our technicians are familiar with wells, pumps and water management strategies to help you with all of your water needs.