The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) says poor water quality can result from a poorly maintained water well system.

“Neglecting a water well system’s maintenance can have a direct impact on one’s health, so it’s important to stay on top of a water well system’s maintenance,” says Cliff Treyens, NGWA’s public awareness director.

One risk associated with failure to properly maintain your well is the entrance of bacteria. It can happen if the well system’s sanitary seals, such as the well cap, are deteriorated, damaged or loose. Once in the well water the bacteria could result in gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea, stomach upset or vomiting.

To stay on top of your water well, NGWA recommends routine inspections from a licensed water well system professional using the following five steps:

1.       Visually inspect the well head, the vertical pipe protruding from the ground. Also check the well cap, the cap on top of the well casing.

2.       Examine the condition of components including above ground pumping equipment, joint seals, gauges, pressure relief valves and the water meter.

3.       Physically inspect the testing pump, checking valves and conducting electrical testing.

4.       Check the condition of pressure tanks, booster pumps, liquid level control devices, control box connections, water heaters, water softeners and conditioners, and filtration equipment.

5.       Obtain a written well inspection report that details inspection findings. It should include relevant picture or video records.


A well might need to be cleaned if the water is cloudy, the amount of water the pump can supply drops, the taste or smell of the water is unusual, or the water tests positive for bacteria.

The cleaning of a well includes removing debris from the well, cleaning system components, flushing the geologic formation surrounding the well and disinfection.


NGWA says not to confuse shock chlorination with well cleaning. Proper well chlorination disinfects a well by killing bacteria, but is only effective in killing the bacteria it can reach. Disinfection does not address nonbacterial-related issues.

NGWA is a nonprofit that supports responsible development, management and use of water resources. It’s comprised of groundwater professionals ranging from contractors to equipment manufacturers to scientists and engineers. For more information, visit

To learn more about water well system maintenance, visit