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Well Water Safety

Well Maintenance & Inspection

The structure of a well, like any piece of equipment, has a lifespan and requires preventative maintenance in order to utilize its effectiveness. The following Well Maintenance Checklist will help to keep your well in top condition and to avoid problems with well water contamination.

Well Maintenance Checklist

General

Pictorial comparison of an
Pictorial comparison of an
appropriate mound
around a well

  • Know where your well is located.

  • Extend the casing (or well head) above grade, if buried or too low to the ground.
    • Well casings/head should extend to a minimum of 40 cm (16’) above ground level.
    • This is to minimize the entry of surface water.
  • Ensure your well is provided with a sanitary, vermin-proof seal or cover that is in good condition and fitted properly.
    • This is to prevent contamination from entering the well including surface water, soil,
      vermin and organic matter.
  • Maintain a permanent grassed buffer at least 3 m (10 ft.) around your well.
  • Mound up the ground around the outside of the well or well pit with clean earth.
    • This is to prevent ponding and to direct surface water drainage away from the well especially after rain storm and/or spring thaw.
  • Keep all potential sources of contamination away from the wellhead area.
    • e.g., septic systems, land fills
  • Prevent the use and storage of fertilizer, salt, or gasoline in the vicinity of the well
  • Watch for changes in the taste, odour and colour of the water.
  • Sample for other chemicals if you have concerns (e.g. fuel spills).

Improperly sealed
Improperly sealed
abandoned wells can
still allow for surface
water and rain to
contaminate aquifer

  • When a well is no longer in use, plug and seal it properly in accordance with the Ministry of the Environment’s Wells Regulation, O. Reg. 903 as amended.
    • Improperly plugged or sealed wells can cause:
      1. Groundwater/aquifer contamination by surface water filtering down unused well
        This may contaminate your new well and other neighbouring wells
      2. Safety hazard for people and animals e.g., someone may fall in
      3. Disrupt water levels in aquifer
      4. Mixing of different water quality from different aquifers

    Drilled well extending
    Drilled well extending
    40cm (16")
    above ground


    If you have lightning rod protection, do not ground system to your drilled well casing. Use a separate grounding rod.

  • Prevent the use and storage of fertilizer, salt, or gasoline in the vicinity of the well.

Every 3 to 4 months or at least 3 times per year

Have a sample tested for bacteria.

  • More often if problems are suspected or if the well is very shallow.

Loose wooden sheets
Loose wooden sheets
used as a well cover.
This is not adequate to
prevent surface water
from entering the well

At least once a year

  • Inspect the inside of the well by removing cover (for dug or bored wells). Early spring just after the snow has melted is a good time. WARNING: DO NOT ENTER THE WELL OR WELL PIT AT ANYTIME DURING AN INSPECTION.
    • Check seal around plumbing inlets into the well casing (dug, bored well or well pit)
      • Replace sealing if water is seeping in from outside the well
    • Look for seepage through cracks or stains on the inside of the casing
    • Look for signs of surface water seeping or running freely into the well
    • Ensure all cracks or joints in the well casing are properly sealed
    • Remove any debris floating in the well
    • Prevent further debris from entering the well
    • Compare your well construction to the diagrams that show proper techniques

Surface water seeping
Surface water seeping
through cracks into
a dug well


  • Inspect the cover or sanitary seal for cracks and holes. WARNING: DO NOT ENTER THE WELL OR WELL PIT AT ANYTIME DURING AN INSPECTION.
    • Ensure the cover or seal is securely in place and watertight.
  • Check the condition of well vents to ensure they are unobstructed and the vent is screened to prevent the entry of vermin into the well. WARNING: DO NOT ENTER THE WELL OR WELL PIT AT ANYTIME DURING AN INSPECTION.

Compression of ground
Compression of ground
causing visible ponding
around well

  • Examine around the well.
    • Watch for settling of the ground around the outside of the well casing
    • Look for ponding of water
    • Look for potential sources of contamination
    • Remove animal waste and leaves from collecting in the area around the well