Maintaining Your Well
Follow the tips below to keep you and your family healthy by caring for your drinking water. Technical assistance is offered by the Snohomish County Health Department. If you think something is off with your well and aren't sure what to do, please email SHD-EHQ@snoco.org.
For additional information on how to care for your private well, see the Department of Ecology's Information for Owners of Private Wells.
where is my well?
You can search for well report records on your property by using the Department of Ecology's Well Report Viewer.
It is important to know the location of wells on your property so you can protect them from damage and easily inspect them. Take precautions if you don't know where a well is. It is possible to fall into an uncovered or damaged well. The opening might be overgrown or the cover could be damaged and break under added weight. When looking for wells, be safe and do not go out alone.
It is important to keep in mind that wells dug prior to 1973 may not have been recorded. Just because you don't see a well on your records doesn't mean none exist on your property. If you find an old or abandoned well, it must be decommissioned (see the Abandoned Wells tab on this page).
what type of well do i have?
There are two main types of wells: dug wells and drilled wells. You should be able to tell which kind you have based on their appearance.
- Wider (roughly 3 feet across but can be larger)
- Lined with concrete tile
- Have a well casing that sticks up above the ground, roughly 6-inch-wide PVC or steel
- It will have at least one other pipe/casing connected to it (typically an electrical conduit)
- Below ground (roughly 6-12 inches) there is a transport pipe called a "pitless adapter" which moves water to the house
how old is my well?
Check your records to learn how old your well is. Remember that wells dug before 1973 might not have been recorded. Older wells are more susceptible to contamination from surface water runoff. This is because they are more likely to have an issue with their surface seal. Wells drilled after 1990 are more likely to have an adequate surface seal.
Check for signs of damage
Periodically check and inspect your well for any signs of damage. Damage to your well can lead to contaminated water, so it is best to identify issues early and get them fixed. Below is a list of things to check:
- Check for leaks or cracks in the cap, seal, and area around the casing
- Make sure the access port is plugged
- Make sure the well cap is properly sealed. The well casing and lid should fit very snugly together and be watertight. Check for cracked, brittle, or deteriorated well cap seals.
- The well vent (if yours has one) should be inverted and screened. Check for holes or other signs of deterioration in the vent screen. These are primarily on drilled wells.
- The well casing should extend 1-2 feet above ground (or flood level)
If you notice any issues, take a look at these simple fixes for wellhead openings to see if they'll solve the issue. Other issues may require you to contact a licensed well driller to make the repair. If you aren't sure what to do to fix your well, contact the health department by emailing SHD-EHQ@snoco.org.
protect your well
It's important to keep the area around your well free of any potential contaminants. What happens above ground on your property can affect your well water below.
Fertilizers, Pesticides, and Chemicals
- Fertilizers and pesticides should not be stored or used within at least 100 feet of your well.
- Do not store any chemical products in a well house.
- Oil, gasoline, and household chemicals can seep into soil and contaminate the water. Make sure to dispose of hazardous waste properly.
For pest control, consider biodegradable products, physical barriers, beneficial insects, and companion planting. If chemicals are necessary, use them sparingly and install a backflow prevention device on hose bibs for mixing. Slow chemical movement into the soil and ground water by not overwatering the area surrounding your well.
- Animals and their enclosures should be kept at least 100 feet from a well.
- Manure storage should be kept at least 100 feet from a well.
surface water runoff
- Keep surface water runoff away from the wellhead, which should be upslope from or above potential sources of contamination.
- A curtain drain upslope can be installed to divert runoff.
new or replacement wells & septic systems
Contact the health department if you are going to install a new or replacement well or septic system. We will let you know the required permitting steps and help make sure contamination issues are avoided.
test your water
It is important to regularly test your well water to make sure there is not contamination to be concerned about. For detailed information on testing your well water, see the Water Testing page.
It is a good idea to keep track of any records relating to your well, including repairs, pump tests, and water quality results.
abandonded wells & decommissioning
Wells that are no longer in use can lead to contaminated groundwater and pose a safety risk to children, adults, and animals.
If you have an abandoned well on your property that is no longer in use, it is a safety concern and you are required to decommission it. You will need to contact the Department of Ecology and a licensed well driller.
What does an abandoned well look like?
Abandoned wells may be found in old pump houses, storage sheds, old detached garages, basements, under porch steps, near cisterns and windmills, or in small building structures. Hand dug wells can often be found in lowland areas near surface water.
Below are the signs of an old, abandoned well:
- Pipes sticking out of the ground
- A steel, 6-inch wide well casing with no cap on it
- Old concrete or brick-lined structures such as vaults or pits
- Concrete tiles
- Depressions in the ground or lawn
- Old water system components (pumps, plumbing, and pressure tanks)
- Open space under pump house floors
- Wooden or cement hatch-like openings to vaults and wellheads
What is well decommissioning?
Decommissioning is the process of properly filling in and burying a well. It prevents contaminants from getting into groundwater that other active wells are still using, and it also prevents people and animals from falling into wells. To safely decommission a well and make sure it is done correctly, the work must be done by a licensed well driller. The decommissioned well gets recorded with the Department of Ecology so future property owners know where wells used to be on their land.