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Well Owner Information
Be Well Informed
Sheehy Well & Pump Company accumulates expertise going back to 1939.
We have heard a LOT of questions over the years. Here are some of those most frequently asked:
Q: How do I know if I need service?
A: While we often hear "I had water earlier today, but nothing now." when customers call us, there are some signs your well system needs service. Pulsating or rapid pressure fluctuations while using water, or hearing the pressure switch turning on and off rapidly is called short cycling. This is usually caused by low air pressure inside the pressure tank. Short cycling is very hard on the well pump and pressure switch. If you lose all water pressure but then it suddenly comes back, your pressure switch may be clogged or nearing the end of its' life. A tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse is an indicator of a bad motor. Water puddling in your yard between the house and well, along with hearing the pump run when not using water is evidence of a leak in the pipes bringing water to your house.
If you experience any of these symptoms, or notice changes in the way your well normally works, a service call can help remedy the problem before it becomes an emergency.
Q: What is a well?
A: The figure on this page represents a well. The well cap and casing extend above grade. The pitless adapter is how the water line goes from the well to the house where the tank is. The depth of the aquifer or water bearing formation (either sand or bedrock) can vary a great deal in our area. We finish the well where the aquifer yields water. In some areas the sand wells are as shallow as twenty-five feet, others may end up as deep as 180 feet. In other areas, the best groundwater source is from the bedrock. Depth of a well finished in the bedrock can vary from as shallow as fifty feet to as deep as 400+ feet. The amount of water a well yields also varies by location.
Q: Where is my well?
A: Most of the time, your well is a four or five inch diameter white plastic pipe (well casing) sticking about a foot above ground with an egg-shaped cap on top. In some older homes, it is steel casing. If the cap is loose or missing, please call us right away. A loose or missing cap is a health risk! If you do not have a well, but a driven point, you may not see anything above grade at all. If you have an older home, you may have a buried well, or a well in a concrete pit. Just like there are many types of houses, there are many different ways a well system can be arranged.
Q: What is a pump and where is it?
A: A submersible pump is located in the well and pushes the water up into the tank when the pressure switch demands it. You do not have to worry about losing prime with a submersible pump. A jet pump pulls the water out of the well (or driven point). The jet pump sits near the tank. They are usually in a basement, crawl space or utility closet. You do have to prime a jet pump if the system loses pressure. Under normal operating conditions, you can expect most pumps to last between 10-12 years.
Q: What is a tank and where is it?
A: The tank is where water is stored until you use it. It has a chamber of air in it that puts pressure on the entire system. The tank will allow you to use a certain amount of water (say 7 gallons) before the pressure drops below the point the switch kicks on. The tank is often in a basement, crawl space or utility closet. Tanks can be constructed of fiberglass as well as steel, and come in a variety of sizes. Under normal operating conditions, you can expect a tank to last between 8-10 years.
Q: What is the pressure switch and where is it?
A: The pressure switch is a small electrical component that regulates the pressure range. The cut-in pressure is the number (say 30 psi) where the switch makes contact and the pump runs. The cut-out pressure is the number (say 50 psi) where the system is satisfied and the pump shuts off. The switch is by the tank - so located in a basement, crawl space, or utility closet. It is usually a small gray box about 2"x3" with wiring going into it and is plumbed into the pipes near the tank.
Q: Can I drink my water?
A: The CDC reports that most Americans use a ground water source, and over 15 million have private water wells. A properly constructed and maintained well gives you control over your water resource. Why spend money on water everyday when you already own your water? Iron, calcium, manganese and hydrogen sulfide are NOT health risks, but they can cause real taste and odor problems. Water treatment systems remedy water quality problems.
Q: My water smells. What is the cause?
A: There can be a few different causes for odor issues.
A water heater is often responsible for a "rotten-egg" smell in your hot water. A water heater has an anode rod that extends the life of the water heater. The reaction of mineral in water and the rod causes the rotten egg smell. You can ask your water heater manufacturer to send you a rod made from a different alloy.
Mineral-reducing bacteria could be the cause. Well chlorination helps knock the odor back. Well rehabilitation may be the best option.
Hydrogen sulfide naturally occurs in some bedrock wells. The smell dissipates if you pour a glass of water and let it sit out in contact with the air for a while. Treatment systems are available.
Metallic odors can be from iron, calcium, or manganese. These are naturally occurring minerals found in many sand wells (and some bedrock wells) in our area. A water softener will greatly improve your water quality.
Q: How deep does my well need to be? What are the construction standards?
A: The Indiana Department of Natural Resources regulates private well construction for the state. Some counties have their own additional standards. Here are some useful specs.
The finished well will stand at least twelve inches above ground level, and twenty-four inches in flood-prone areas. It may not be buried.
The well should be at least five feet away from any building.
Inside diameter of well casing is at least two inches.
The well must be cased to twenty-five feet unless approval given by the DNR.
Well casing should be grouted with bentonite slurry, neat cement, or crushed bentonite in a way to prevent bridging and seal the ground water source from contaminants on the surface.
The well should be developed and tested for capacity for one hour.
The well will be disinfected upon completion.
A well unused for three months must be sealed by a welded, threaded or mechanically attached watertight cap.
A well permanently unused will be permanently abandoned per Indiana 312IAC13-10-2.
A well in Newton County is to be fifty feet away from septic.
A well in Jasper County is to be 100 feet away from septic.
For more information or if you have any other questions please call 219.696.0455.
Well basics and how to pick a contractor
Safe drinking water information
For Indiana Department of Natural Resources Water Division