Water Well Drilling FAQs

1. How much will a new well cost?

2. What if I am on a budget?

3. How long does it take to complete a well system?

4. Can you drill any time of year?

5. How do you know where to drill?

6. What determines the depth of a well?

7. How do you know when you have enough water?

8. How do I know that my water is safe to drink?

9. How do I chlorinate my well?

10. Where can I find more information on well terminology?

1. How much will a new well cost?

The cost of drilling a new water well is derived from the amount of casing (20 foot minimum) to bedrock and the amount of drilling needed to find water, plus the cost of the drive shoe and the well cap. In unstable formations we use our underreamer system, which drives the casing and drills at the same time. This requires the use of a more expensive drive shoe. Our per-foot well drilling prices sometimes change due to the fluctuating cost of casing and other materials. Although it is impossible to tell exactly how much a well will cost beforehand, most water wells including the pump system cost between $4,500 – $6,500.

Return to the top of the page

2. What if I am on a budget?

Typically the well is drilled and billed separately from the pump system.  If you are on a limited budget, we can drill your well first, allowing you to have the pump system installed at a later date.

Return to the top of the page

3. How long does it take to complete a well system?

Depending on drilling conditions, drilling a well typically takes 1-2 days.  Pump system installation takes about a day, and can be done at any time after the well is drilled.

Return to the top of the page

4. Can you drill any time of year?

While the rig is capable of drilling in any season, there are a few times during the year when it is difficult to drill a well.  During the extremely cold months of January and February we typically don’t drill as it is harder on our equipment.  From around February to May, many smaller roads are posted, prohibiting heavier vehicles from driving on them (due to the weakness of the road as it thaws).  If your property is adjacent to a posted road, the road must be frozen for our drilling rig to drive on it.  In some cases, you may be able to get a permit from your town to allow us to drive on the posted road.

Return to the top of the page

5. How do you know where to drill?

Typically, the first consideration in determining the location of the well is to maintain enough distance from the septic system to prevent contamination. The State of Maine Well Drillers Rules require the well to be at least 60 feet from the septic tank and 100 feet from the leach field.  Property lines also must be considered. Contact your local town office to see if they have set-back requirements from adjacent property lines, and be sure of their exact location when drilling close by. If your property is in a township, plantation or other unorganized area, contact the Land Use Regulatory Commission for information about setback requirements in your area. Finally, the well must not be within the right of way of any roads adjoining the property.  Check with your town office for any location-specific requirements. Be sure to contact DIG SAFE before digging or drilling to avoid striking any underground utilities. We prefer to meet with the customer at the job site to determine the best location for the well, so feel free to contact us if you need assistance.

Return to the top of the page

6. What determines the depth of a well?

Because most water wells in Maine are fractured bedrock wells, the size and location of water-bearing fractures encountered during drilling determines the depth of the well. The amount of casing needed depends on the depth to bedrock in a given area, since the casing seals off unwanted contaminants above the bedrock. Both of these factors can vary drastically in different areas. In fact, a well on one property could be hundreds of feet deeper than the well on an adjacent property.

Return to the top of the page

7. How do you know when you have enough water?

During drilling, compressed air continuously cleans the hole and lifts out any water entering the well through fractures in the bedrock. This allows us to measure the water flow rate of the well at any time. When deciding whether or not a given flow rate will adequately supply a house, we must first consider the depth of the well.

A typical well holds about 1.5 gallons of water per foot and will usually fill up to within 25 feet of ground level. As such, at a depth of 300 feet the flow rate can be significantly lower than at a depth of 100 feet because of the greater storage capacity of the well. In fact, the water stored in a 300 foot well will supply the average house for a day.

Return to the top of the page

8. How do I know that my water is safe to drink?

There are no laws requiring private wells to be tested in the state of Maine, so it is up to you to ensure that your water is safe for consumption. Wells are usually high in natural contaminants when they are first drilled so you should wait two to three weeks before getting your water tested. If your well tests high for contaminants after your first water test, test it again after two weeks of use before considering a water filtration system. Additionally, well water should be tested once every year because normal groundwater flow and other changing conditions can alter the quality of your water. Test kits are available from Northeast Laboratory Services.

Annual chlorination of your well is also a good idea. For best results have this done by a professional, but for the do-it-your-selfers out there, read on.

Return to the top of the page

9. How do I chlorinate my well?

* When handling chlorine or any potentially harmful chemicals, be sure to wear rubber gloves and safety glasses. *

Before you start it will help you to know the well’s depth, diameter, and pH level. You can find the well depth stamped on the underside of the well cap or on a label affixed to the expansion tank. If not, try calling the company who drilled the well. Most wells are six inches in diameter, but you should measure the inside of the casing to be sure.  For a typical 6 inch diameter well use 20 to 40 ounces of bleach for every 100 feet of well depth. The pH level can be found on water test results or by using test strips purchased at pool supply stores. The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of water on a scale of 1 to 14, 1 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral and 14 being the most alkaline. Chlorine is most effective in water with a low pH; in fact, a chlorine solution in 7 pH water has a 75% greater biocidal efficiency than a solution in 8 pH water. If your well water has a pH that is greater than 7, you can add white vinegar to your well before adding the chlorine and allow it to mix for 30 minutes to lower the pH.  Use the same amount of vinegar as the amount of bleach that your well dimensions require.

1.    Shut the power off to the pump.

2.    Remove the well cap and carefully move the pump wires out of the way so that they are hugging the side of the well casing.

3.    Run a hose from an outside faucet or from the drain valve on the expansion tank to the well. *Be sure to bypass all softeners, filters, and other water treatment equipment. Introducing chlorine into these systems can permanently damage them.* Stick the hose a few feet down the well.

4.    Double check that the electrical connections are out of the way. Turn power on to the pump and with the water running pour the required amount of bleach into the well and away from the wires. The normal range of recommended concentration is 50-100 parts per million (PPM), which is about 20 to 40 ounces of bleach for every 100 feet of depth in a 6 inch diameter well.

5.    After about 15 minutes of water circulation a strong chlorine odor should be present at the well. At this point, turn on all faucets in the house starting with cold water and then hot until a chlorine odor is present at all taps then shut off taps.

6.    Allow the chlorine to stand in the system for at least six hours, preferably overnight. Flush the system from an outside faucet until no chlorine odor can be detected. Repeat on each faucet in the house.

7.    Return all water treatment equipment to the service position and enjoy your water!

Return to the top of the page