5 tricks to finding an abandoned water well system on your property

Yakima Washington Old Water Well Locator

wellIf you live in an area where people use water wells, there may be an old unused well on your property. There are millions of them all over the United States. Abandoned wells should be properly sealed by a qualified licensed water well contractor for several reasons.

First, abandoned wells can provide a direct pathway for contamination into the aquifer, the same one you are using for drinking water. Often an abandoned well will have no well cap or the cap will be broken. This will allow bugs, rodents or objects into the well. Other times, the grouting around the well casing has deteriorated to the point that contaminated surface water can infiltrate the well. Abandoned hand dug wells not only present a contamination concern, they also can create a physical danger to family playing in the area.

Landowners should find the location of any old or out of service wells. Here are the 5 tricks:

  1. Pipes sticking out of the ground
  2. Small buildings that may have been a well house
  3. Depressions in the ground
  4. The presence of concrete vaults or pits, perhaps covered by lumber or metal plates
  5. Out-of-use windmills are likely to be located near an old well

Other clues can come from old maps, plans or property documents, information from neighbors and older additions to the homes. In the past, wells were commonly constructed in basements or under porches to keepmap the water pumps from freezing and to ease access in the winter.

Once a well is determined to have no current or potential future use, a qualified licensed water well contractor must properly abandon the site with the Washington State Dept. Of Ecology.

Do not attempt to seal an old unused well yourself! This requires special equipment and techniques to remove anything from the well and fill it with a special grout from the bottom up. Ordinary cement will not provide a sanitary seal for an abandoned well.