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Thread: dirty well water after heavy rain

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member sadrenter's Avatar
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    Default dirty well water after heavy rain

    I've read through this forum to try to find some help and the responses for similar issues seem to be all over the place. Here's my problem:

    I'm renting a 40-year-old small ranch house while building a new house. It's just my daughter and me living here, and we've been here about eight months. Prior to that, the house was vacant for several years. The well is original to the house, and I have no idea how deep it is or what kind of pump it has or whether or not there are any filters associated with it. Last summer we had a moderate drought. In July, after running a water hose from the spicket outside, my water turned brown inside. My landlord told me it was likely because the line had not been used in quite awhile and suggested I run water in the tub until it cleared. I did that, and it cleared after about 48 hours. I did not have any additional problems until last week when we had a heavy rain. Again, the water turned brown. I first noticed it in the toilet. When I ran water in the tub, dirt was left behind. Again, my landlord told me to continue to run water in the tub because the rain likely stirred sediment in the well. It cleared after another 48 hours. We had a heavy rain again last night and the water again has turned brown. I've been running water from the tub faucet for more than 15 hours, and all that I've accomplished is a pile of mud in the tub. I'm not comfortable using the water for anything because I'm clueless about wells and how they operate. And since I'm clueless, I don't know if my landlord is just putting me off. I need help!

    I'm in a rural area; the house is on about an acre of land; and we're the only ones using the well. There's a cattle farm across the highway from me.

  2. #2
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sadrenter View Post
    There's a cattle farm across the highway from me.
    Yuk! Mud in the water after a rain usually means the well is not sealed properly. Either the concrete around the well is not sufficient or there is a hole in the casing above the concrete line. Either way, if mud gets in your water after a rain, so does that stuf from across the highway.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Texas Wellman's Avatar
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    Next time use an outside faucet. All that water through the tub and your next post will be about how your sewer is backed up.

    Rain should never affect a properly constructed water well, you have a "leak". Just like valveman said.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member sadrenter's Avatar
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    Does that mean my landlord's assessment of stirred up sediment due to the rising water table is inaccurate? Should I have my water tested? Once it starts to clear, could I use it for bathing and washing clothes? I know a lot of people with wells are used to discolored water, but I'm a city girl, and this is all new to me. My new house won't be finished for another two months, and I don't want to go through this every time it rains. I need enough information to force my landlord to have someone out here. Thanks.

  5. #5
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    A lot of wells will make sand, or be dirty, cloudy, have colored water, and things like that. But the fact that it happens after a rain, means something is wrong with the well. I have seen wells that were cemented and sealed properly, and still had dirty water after a rain. But we later found a gopher or prarie dog hole a distance away that was dug at an angle and ended up under the cement seal. Rain water is getting into the well somewhere, and it is taking all the contaminates from the surface into your water. I wouldn't drink it or wash my toothbrush with it. Not much sense in testing the water until you get the well sealed properly, and disenfected.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member sadrenter's Avatar
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    Thanks for your help. I'll pass this info on to my landlord with the hope he'll get someone out here soon. My entire yard is filled with soft areas from moles digging around. Maybe they've somehow disrupted the seal.

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    In the trades WellWaterProducts's Avatar
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    Well sealing issues can be a contentious. We do some video inspections in NH. Here is a short clip of a normal bedrock well fracture



    This can be quite a tool...
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  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member TNwatergirl's Avatar
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    NEW QUESTION
    I've had a rural home on 5 acreas with a well just over 500' deep for 6 years. I have the home rented now & was just informed by the renters that their child is sick and they have had the well water tested with positive results for E-coli. Until now the water has always tested safe.
    We've experienced abover average rain in the last 2-3 weeks with at times, standing water in portions of the fields. Could this have anything to do with the recent test results and if so, will a return to drier weather return the water to its normally good levels? (no livestock)

    Concerned home owner in TN

  9. #9
    In the Trades Texas Wellman's Avatar
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    Very hard to get a good sample for the e. coli test. Very easy to get a false one. Who did the testing?

    There is a method you have to use....bet money that if you did the test yourself (flame the faucet, purge, etc) you'd pass.

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Odds are that doing all that and getting rid of the bad test result, that in another week or two and another test would show E-Coli.

    Once a well shows contamination, it can not be depended on to not show it again at anytime in the future. And there doesn't have to be something wrong with the construction of the well to cause the contamination; especially in rock bore wells. And if there are no 'fractures' or seams in a rock bore well, you don't get much water in one.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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  11. #11
    In the trades WellWaterProducts's Avatar
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    Test it again before trying to come up with any conclusions.
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  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member dtpoet's Avatar
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    Default Hurricane well

    Hi all - first post.

    My mom has a 25 year old ranch home. While she is not on the lake or borders the lake, she is in a lake type community. It is a very rural area. Not sure, but due to location, I am assuming her well is not that deep.

    Now that Hurricane Irene has passed us by, she is getting the brown water. For the record, we did sustain a large rainfall and a lot of wind. There is tree debris everywhere; leaves and branches. Our neighbor across the street had a large tree fall. Also, my mom had a very large, seemingly healthy tree fall in her back yard about 30-40 feet from the house.

    This is the first time in 25 years this has happened. It started Sunday night about 6-8 hours after the rain subsided. It started in the one toilet. Then we noticed that the faucet in the same bath was also brown. We checked the other fixtures (kitchen sink and other bath) and it had the same result but not as heavy. For example, the kitchen faucet looks normal until you fill a glass jar. Then you notice the brown. It may be important to note that the bathroom with the most problem is the furthest away from the water heater.

    This morning, a new wrinkle. The pressure in the bathroom where it started is now low. The faucet shoots out brown at a normal rate but (at this time) steadily slows to a clearish trickle. We are seeing signs of debris in the sink as well that seems to come out with the initial burst but not when it slows to a trickle. The other fixtures in the house do not seem to have this pressure problem though I am reluctant to run them for any length of time. Not sure if it is important, but she did lose power for a few hours on Sunday during the hurricane.

    Is this something temporary due to the storm? Should I run a faucet to see if it flushes everything out? Should I just be patient?

    Thanks in advance. I understand that every case is unique unto itself but I appreciate your thoughts.
    Last edited by dtpoet; 08-29-2011 at 08:05 AM.

  13. #13
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    The aerator screen on that one faucet is probably clogged up. Run as many hoses as you can for several hours to clean up the well. If the pump builds pressure and shuts off, you don't have on enough hoses to flush the well.

  14. #14
    DIY Junior Member dtpoet's Avatar
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    Thanks! Both toilets seem to be filling slowly. While the pressure to the furthest faucet is weak, the kitchen and other bath faucet seem to be fine.

    I also noticed when I turned on the "other" facuet (closest to the water heater), that the hard debris that came out is actually black (if that makes sense) and while the water is initially brownish looking it gets clear almost instantly. However, it is definately black specks that appear in the sink. Same thing with the kitchen.

    I am going to clean out that one aerator and see if that helps.

    Thanks again. Hoping it's just a result of the hurrican saturated water.

  15. #15
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    There could be a whole house filter that is clogging or if it's a jet pump, the jet may need to be cleaned.

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