How to Construct a Water Well

Need a water well? Here is how to construct one yourself. Follow these directions and benefit from many experiences.


  1. 1
    Determine whether you need to call a pro. If you have no experience in well construction and your strata/formation is rock, your best option is to call a professional for you will have to have very expensive equipment to construct a well under these conditions. That being said, if your strata/formation is unconsolidated (that is not rock) you have a good chance of constructing a well on your own.
  2. 2
    What purpose will your well serve? Do you plan to use your well for home use, or do you wish to flood a rice field? The intended use will dictate the size necessary to serve the purpose. If you plan to flood a rice field, call in the professionals.
  3. 3
    Select your proposed site. Locate your well where it is least likely to be contaminated by waste from septic systems or barnyards. Check your neighbors wells as well. Find out what type of wells and the depth of neighboring wells. This will give you an idea of how your well will need to be constructed.
  4. 4
    Find the correct pump. If the static level (the level where water stands while the well is not being pumped) or the pumping level (the level where water stands while the well is being pumped) is 26 feet (7.9 m) or less, you can use a centrifugal pump to produce water from your well. If the water level is deeper, you will have to use a different pumping system such as a deep well jet, a sucker rod action piston pump, or a submersible pump. For home use where the water is shallow a centrifugal pump is well suited and economical and you can use a 2 inch (5.1 cm) pipe and screen for your well. However, if your water is deeper, you will have to use a different pumping system which will require a larger pipe and screen in most cases. A 4 inch (10.2 cm) pipe and screen is adequate for most home wells. A deep well jet, a submersible pump, or a piston pump can be installed inside a 4 inch (10.2 cm) well.
  5. 5
    Constructing the bore. This can be accomplished in several ways such as drilling with an augur, jetting the pipe into place, or washing the well down. I prefer the wash down method as follows. Dig two holes about 3 feet (0.9 m) in diameter and two feet deep. Pile the material from the holes around the outside creating a berm. Construct the holes as level with each other as practical and dig a shallow trench between the holes. One hole will be used to pump from and the other will be used to capture the cutting from the well bore. Use a one and one/half inch steel pipe coupling and weld two blades (one on each side) to it and secure enough one and one/half" schedule 40 PVC pipe to reach the depth of your neighbors wells, which are located at your well site elevation. Cut the pipe into 5 foot (1.5 m) sections and solvent weld male and female threaded fittings to opposite ends of the sections. Construct a "tee" handle of one and one/half steel pipe consisting of a "tee" and two 6 inch (15.2 cm) nipples. Cap one end off of a nipple with a pipe cap and install a camlock fitting on the other end of the handle. Secure a trash pump (at least a 2 inch discharge) and suction hose with a strainer, and discharge hose with fittings to connect to your tee handle. Attach the cutter you constructed from the steel coupling to the PVC drill pipe section (tight) and screw the tee handle to the opposite end and connect to the discharge hose from your pump. Fill the two holes full of water and keep them full at all times while you are constructing your well. The weight of the water serves to keep the bore from caving--hopefully! Start your pump and begin boring your well by jetting down the drill pipe located just outside the edge of the settling hole (but inside the berm). Turn the pipe with the tee handle as you jet to assure the hole is round. Cut loose the material from the bottom of the hole. When the tee handle reaches the ground, let the well circulate for a while to wash the cutting clear of the hole (it will take longer each time to accomplish this as the hole gets deeper.) When each section is down and the hole is clear of cuttings, stop the pump and remove the tee handle, attach another joint of drill pipe and replace the tee handle. Start the pump and repeat the process until you have reached the required depth. Remember: Keep the holes full of water and remove the cuttings from the setting hole. If the pipe descends too fast, the cuttings will "bridge" between the cutter and the surface causing you to lose circulation. This will cause your drill pipe to stick in the hole and you probably won't be able to remove it--so take your time while drilling. Let the hole wash out clean. Check the material coming out of the hole for sand and small rock which indicates water bearing strata in most cases. If you're at the depth of your neighbors wells and you are recovering sand and/or small rock you probably have a well. Have your screen ready with a cap installed and ample pipe to reach the bottom of the hole. After the hole is washed clean of cuttings, remove the drill string as quickly as possible, then install the screen and pipe in the hole as fast as you can keeping the hole full of water at all times. Slowly pour a mixture of course sand and pea gravel down outside of the casing pipe to gravel pack the screen (water will flood out of the pipe while this is being done until the screen is covered.) Do not fill with gravel to the surface as that would allow surface water and foreign matter to enter the well.
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    The top few feet of the annular space outside the pipe should be sealed with bentonite or neat cement to keep the well sanitary. This can be done after the well is pumped off (preferably with a large air compressor) which will clear the drilling fluid and materials from the well. The well should be pumped until the water is clear.
  7. 7
    The well must be decontaminated with a chlorine solution, your pumping system installed, and the well pumped again. Then and only then, you should have the water tested to assure that it is safe to use. Remember: seal the well to keep it clean.
  8. 8
    Follow these instructions and with luck you will construct a well that will serve you for many years into the future.

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Categories: Home Improvements and Repairs