Constructing and drilling well water and maintenance

Guide to Constructing a water well for living off-grid

Thinking about construction a water well? Off-grid lifestyle looks idyllic and hassle-free from the outside but the reality is quite different. Amenities, such as water, heat, and electricity are not easily accessible when you're living on your own. Want to know the best way to get drinkable water at your off-grid cabin? Keep reading below.

You can get water from lakes, rivers, springs, rain water and ocean water desalination but wells are the most reliable source in rural areas. Well drilling, however, is not simple and requires extensive knowledge about the geography, aquifers, and regulations of the state. This article will inform you all about it.

Water Supply Sources in Off-Grid Cabins

Living off-grid means arranging your own water, electricity, and food at your secluded country home or cabin. But it's not that easy to get reliable sources. Finding a good source of clean drinkable water is important when living off-grid. The following are some of the options.

Lakes, rivers and springs

You can use lakes as a water source if you have a permit. A jet water pump and pipe with a large diameter can be used to draw the water. You'll need a primary filter and a chlorine-based filter to get rid of debris and germs respectively.

Rain Water

A tank can be installed on your roof to collect rainwater. It needs to be filtered using a primary filter and a purifier.
You can set up an indoor water supply system using pumps by connecting it with the water tank. But the outdoor pipes will need to be heated in colder months.

Well water

If your off-grid home already has a well on the property then that's great. But if not or it has dried out then then you should consider constructing a water well. You can use a submersible pump to draw water from the well to your house.

Types of Water Supply When Off-grid

There are two ways you can draw water from a well.

Electric Pump

Image: Electric Well Water Pump

Using an electric pump requires the setup of an electricity generator. Solar panels or wind turbines are good options to generate electricity.
The regulations for producing your electricity may vary from place to place. So, check out with the local energy office before setting up your plant.

Manual Water Supply

You can carry the water from the well manually if you want. A hand-operated pump can also be used. This is tougher to run compared to an electric pump.

Basics of Well Drilling

There are contractors for well drilling who can help set up your well. Most well-drilling companies not only drill water wells but assist with fixing problems including well pump repair.
Well drilling and pump repair are expensive. The contractor needs to have the necessary skills to properly drill a well without contaminating the source.
Geological tests and surveys also need to be conducted before you can drill a well.

How Groundwater Wells Can Be Useful When You're Off-grid

Ground water wells can help you outside of the city's water supply system when you're living off-grid. It may be expensive and require permits for setting up but is generally worth the trouble. Over a billion people around the world use groundwater wells as a source of clean water. The soil and stones filter out impurities in it but also add minerals. You must regularly monitor and test your well for contaminants such as E. Coli or chemicals.

Types of Water Wells

There are three types of wells based on the method of construction. These are as follows.

Dug Wells

Dug wells are shallow and can be made manually. For dug wells, the soil needs to be soft with a shallow water table underneath.
The well is lined with stones and bricks to prevent it from collapsing. A wooden or stone tile is used to cover the well.
This type of well can be easily contaminated by surface materials. The surface level of the table drops during the drought season.

Driven Wells

Driven wells are built by inserting a pipe down into the aquifer through a soft layer of soil. The pipe contains a filter to prevent the inflow of sand and debris.
Driven wells can be contaminated by surface pollutants easily.

Drilled Wells

Modern wells are drilled using drill rigs. These rigs are powerful and can drill up to a thousand feet into hard soil.
Some drill rigs install pumps as well to force up water.

Components of a Private Water Well

There are community wells and there are private wells. Community wells are set up in small communities in rural areas. If you set up a well for yourself, then it would be a private well.

  • Well-Casing: A casing is installed into the well on the sides. It can keep out sand, debris, and excess water from the aquifer.
  • Well Cap: Well caps prevent insects, animals, and debris from falling inside.
  • Screens: Screens prevent sediments from the bottom of the well from entering the pump.
  • A Pitless Adapter: This keeps the water-carrying pipe frost free and sanitary.
  • Jet Pump: Pump to draw water from shallow wells through suction.
  • Submersible Pump: A pump used to draw water from deep wells. Widely used in private wells.

Water Level in a Well

The geographic area and the depth of the aquifer will determine how deep you need to drill your well. The yield will indicate the type of pump you need. The water level before and after pumping and the time required to refill are measured in yield tests.

Steps to Constructing a water well

There are a few steps you need to take care of before starting to drill a well. These are as follows.

1. Make a Plan

First, you need to decide where to set up the well. The area should be significantly away from sewer lines and should have an aquifer with a good yield. Well drilling is quite costly. So make sure you're prepared for a big investment.

2. Look for Well Drilling Permits and Regulations

Drilling wells usually need community or state approval. You should get the necessary permits before starting the operation. States have different regulations for setting up wells and electricity supplies. Check out these regulations at the municipal office before constructing anything.

3. Conduct Geographical Location Tests

Geographical tests are necessary before drilling wells. You need to know if the aquifer you found is confined or unconfined.
Confined wells are surrounded by non-porous soil and are harder to drill into. Unconfined aquifers are surrounded by porous soil and are easier to drill.
Records on previously drilled wells can indicate the locations of aquifers and the state of their yields.
Geological maps contain locations of aquifers and topographic maps indicate the nature of the topography. These should be studied before constructing a well.

4. Review Your Water Needs

You should calculate how much water you need daily and how much your selected aquifer can supply. Every aquifer does not contain a good amount of water. Your well won't be of much use if it can't meet your needs. Grass lawns and farming may require a lot of extra water in areas with little rain.

5. Review the Water Well Construction Contractor

You must properly review the well-drilling contractor before hiring them. A contractor should have a license issued by the state for drilling wells. They should have proper drilling rigs and know how to repair pumps.

6. Ask for Detailed Plans for the Well

Your contractor should provide you with a detailed plan of the construction. It should include the types and materials of the well components.
There should be enough information provided on the depth of the well, diameter, casing, screen, and estimated completion of the project.

7. What to Look for in a Contractor

The contractor should be registered in the state where they work and have property damage and liability insurance. They should also be willing to take care of the registration process of the well. As you already know, well drilling is a critical and expensive job. You should only select the best people with proper references.

8. Expenses Related to Well Drilling

Each component of well construction is priced individually. Consult multiple contractors to get a good idea about the market and the prices. Cheap isn't always better. So, try to hire a reliable contractor who offers a good quote.

Common well water contaminants and issues

One of the biggest challenges with well water is ensuring that the water is safe to use for drinking, bathing and showering. Major risks include pathogens such as eColi but also pesticides, herbicides, metals and other contaminants from the ground.

A common misconception is that a TDS meter can be used to measure water quality. This couldn't be further from the truth. TDS primarily measures the amount of minerals in your well water or other water source. Read more about TDS.

Best water filter for your well water

What is the best water filter for your water well?

Ultra by TAPP Water installed on the kitchen faucet

Until recently the only solutions were chlorination or using a Reverse Osmosis filter. Ultra by TAPP Water has completely revolutionised well water filtration. With the ultrafiltration filter Ultra you can be sure that the water is always clean, healthy and tasty.

Ultra is easy to install, affordable and sustainable. The cost starts at around $39 for initial installation and $60 per year including the refill cartridges.

Other more expensive and complex water filtration solution alternatives include Reverse Osmosis and Distillation filters.

Summary about constructing and maintaining an off-grid well

  • Water is a primary component to sustain life. You cannot live off-grid without a reliable water source.
  • Connecting to a public water source is often not an option, expensive or an unreliable as a water source.
  • Living off-grid takes years of preparation and cannot be done on a whim. Basics such as water and electricity production can be challenging.
  • Construction a water well is the best way to guarantee yourself a safe source of water.
  • A high quality affordable water filter such as Ultra by TAPP Water will guarantee a reliable water supply
  • Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the process.
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