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well going dry?

Posted by Artchik z5 IL (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 7, 05 at 11:40

I am not sure if this is the proper forum to post this, but don't know where else to ask this. I live in the Chicago suburbs, and we are in the throes of a terrible drought this summer. It has been unseasonably hot and almost no real rain to speak of all summer, except for brief cloudbursts. We are on a well, and the water has started taking on a very strong sulphur smell recently. I have completely stopped all watering in the garden except for the plants that are on the verge of death. I don't know how deep our well is, nor do I know how to find out this information. Can someone tell me the symptoms of a well going dry? I am terrified of running out of water this summer.

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RE: well going dry?

  • Posted by Mikie z9 St.Pete.FL (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 8, 05 at 19:06

Don't know Chicago ground water geology hydrology but last time i was there seems I recall seeing a big lake. That lake still have normal water levels ?

Most well pumps will start sucking air and cavitating when there's not enough water above the water intake... when that happens pressure and flow drops or stops. Looses prime on some pumps.

I have some sulfur in my lawn pumps water, stains stuff rusty looking. Ponce De Leon drank some of the sulfur water here - though he found the fountain of youth. City put a drinking fountain in downtown so all the retirees can stay young. Seems to work,, they take ballet and jazzerzise classes left and right.

Might water a potted plant with that well water,, see if it croaks from too much sulfur,,, start some seeds with it maybe.

RE: well going dry?

How long have you lived on the property and did you get the smell last year?

My bet is you have a shallow well. You really need to find out what you have and where it is and what type of pump you have.

The reason I say this is because pumps fail, and when that happens life is really miserable for a day or so. Also a replacement pump from a store is REALLY expensive. I have 5 acres and two shallow wells and I try to keep a spare pump available. ($30-$50 on Ebay)

The sulphur smell is often caused by some happy little bacteria that feed on the iron in the water. They feed more when it is warm. A carbon filter gets rid of the smell in the house water but does not remove the bacteria. Get your water tested.

If you have a deep well, then I have no clue....

RE: well going dry?

Thank you Mikie and Chris for your responses. This well was drilled sometime in the 50s, before we ever lived on the property. I called the company that had installed the replacement well pump a few years back to see if they could give me any information as far as the depth of the well. I haven't heard back from them yet. The sulphur smell started a year or so ago, but a week ago it started to get almost unbearably strong. The odd thing I noticed is that I smelled the water from the outdoor faucets and it doesn't smell like that. So maybe the strong smell is from bacteria like Chris said and is not indicative of it going dry. I hope to hear back from the well pump company soon; maybe they can shed some light on these questions. The reason for my panic is that I heard some people in neighboring towns are having their wells go dry from this drought and that scared me.

RE: well going dry?

I hope I can help, My father has been in the well business for 30 years, and I absorbed a little knowledge via osmosis.

Is you sulphur smell worse on the hot side as opposed to the cold side?

Do you have a water softener?

Most sulphur problems can be traced back to the water heater. The bacteria need heat to start stinking. There is a "collection rod" down the center of most water heaters, that is suppose to attract all the disolved minerals in your water, and keep them from collecting over the burner. Yours is probably very nasty. Might be time for a new water heater. Try removing the rod first.

If you don't have any sort of filtration system or water softener, it is time to look into one. You can buy a good water softener at Lowes or Home Depot. Plumb it in before your NEW water heater. You probably don't want to spend the money watering your plants with that water though.

Don't be too afraid of your well going dry, it rarely happens. Most "dryed up" wells caused by shifting fine sand, and not drought.

Run your hose full on for an hour, if it doesn't slow your water to a trickle, your well is probably fine.

Inspect your pressure tank and pressure switch.
Your tank should have at least 55 lbs of air pressure on the air fitting on top (if it is a rubber lined tank) add air until it is at least 50.
Your pressure switch should kick your motor on at 40 lbs and off at 60.

Lack of air in your pressure tank, and a bad pressure switch and general lack of maintenance burn up more components than mother nature.

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