Do You Have Well Water?

Most homes in the United States obtain their water from the local water department. When your water is provided by the city, water is treated at a plant and pumped to your home in underground piping that may have been installed many decades ago. Homeowners that live far from the nearest municipality often choose to install a well near their home and source their water directly from a private well.

Well water is more common than many homeowners realize. Currently, more than 15 million households nationwide rely on well water. You will most likely know if you have a private well or if your water comes from the city. However, if you’re unsure what kind of water (well water or “city” water) is used in your home, ask yourself these questions.

Is your address within the city limits?

If you reside within a city chances are your water comes from the local water department. If you live in a rural area it is possible that your water comes from a well, but most piping from city municipalities is far-reaching.

Do you pay a water bill?

When your water is pumped from the local water department, you will regularly pay a water bill, perhaps once a month, to that organization. Homeowners that utilize private wells do not pay the city, but instead pay out of pocket for the maintenance, testing, and upkeep of their private well.

Can you spot a well pump in your yard, or is there a pressure tank near or in your home?

These are clear indicators that you are utilizing well water, as the water must be periodically pumped. The pressure tank helps optimize water flow and is a crucial component of a well water system.

If you still aren’t sure what type of water is in your home, call your local water department and provide your home address. They will be able to tell you if your home receives water from the city.

What's in Well Water?

Private wells are not typically covered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for protecting and regulating public drinking water systems. Thus, it is the well owner’s responsibility to regularly test well water and maintain its cleanliness. But where does the water in a well actually come from? And what contaminants could make their way into the well water?

Ground Water

The water supply for all private wells is ground water. Ground water starts as rain: when rain hits the ground, it moves through the pores between the dirt and the rock. Water that isn’t absorbed by plants continues downward until it hits a layer of dense rock, and it becomes trapped. Water accumulates here, and is known as ground water. Another term associated with this kind of water is “aquifer,” as in “ground water aquifer.”

Because this water is found in nature, there are many natural occurrences that can affect the water quality of water found in a well. Many private well owners choose wells because they can monitor their water quality firsthand, and eliminate the possibility of contamination via poor plumbing. But other factors can cause contaminants to find their way into well water.

Seepage and subsequent infection can come from any of these sources:



Fuel tanks

Septic tanks



When flooding occurs, the water that gets into your well can bring a host of various contaminants. A natural disaster need not occur for a contaminant to enter your well - if the well’s walls or sanitary seals have deteriorated, come loose, or been damaged in some way, you can also have a problem. These are just some of the contaminants that can be found in private wells:

  • Heavy Metals (Arsenic, Lead, Chromium, etc)
  • Industrial Chemicals
  • Animal Waste
  • Microorganisms (Viruses, Bacteria, Parasites)
  • Industrial Chemicals
  • Radionuclides (Uranium, Radon, and Radium)
  • Fluoride
  • Nitrates and Nitrites from Fertilizer
  • Pesticides

Any private well owner concerned about the quality of their drinking water should test their water supply.

How to Test Well Water

In order to test your well water and check for any contaminants or abnormalities, you will need a proper well water testing kit. Ideally, you should use as comprehensive of a test as possible so you can check your water for a wide variety of chemicals, minerals, and contaminants. In addition to checking for contaminants, well water testing also examines the hardness of the water and checks for manganese, sulfides, and other indicators of potential health problems.

To obtain a test, simply order one of our top-tier well water testing kits. The Pelican Water Rapid 12-Point water test identifies the twelve most common contaminants present in private water sources, and is a good starting point for homeowners on a budget who want a clearer picture of their water quality. The WaterCheck 32 test is much more comprehensive: when you use this testing kit, you can pinpoint the exact problem.
Once a kit is shipped to your home, just follow the instructions provided in order to obtain a water sample from your well. Instructions on returning your sample to the appropriate lab are included, along with complimentary shipping. Results of your well test are generally available within three to five business days.

How Often Should Well Water Be Tested?

As a general guideline, private well owners should have their wells tested at least once a year. However, based on the topography and weather patterns in your area, you may deem it necessary to test more often to ensure that contaminants aren’t present in your well water.

If your well is older or if it is not properly maintained, you may notice that the seals have been punctured or have deteriorated. If any component of your well water system seems to have aged or become damaged, it’s wise to test your well water as soon as possible. Use your best judgment and get to know the functioning parts of your well water system so you can adequately assess each component periodically.

There are multiple situations that call for immediate testing of your well water. The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) advises that well owners should promptly test their water in any of these circumstances:


The taste, odor, or appearance of your water changes


The septic system has malfunctioned or overflowed recently


A flood occurs or if the well cap ruptures


Anyone living in the home reports instances of gastrointestinal distress

In addition, if your well has a history of bacterial infection you should test more often for contamination. With well water, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

How to Remove Rust From Well Water

If your water is red or orange in color and turns cloudy, this is commonly referred to as having “rusty” water. The moniker makes sense - typically, this problem is caused by actual rust. You may start to notice brown, red, or orange stains on your sinks and bathtubs. Black stains or spots might appear on your laundry or kitchen utensils.

Luckily, this can be demystified and included with our previous entry. Rust is the natural byproduct of iron oxidizing, so, technically, rusty water is an indication of high iron content. When the iron content in your water is excessive, it will have more than just a metallic taste - it will change colors, cloud over, and cause staining on your appliances and plumbing. Iron in this high of a dosage can be toxic, and should be treated accordingly.

To reduce the rust color from your water, simply invest in the Iron & Manganese Water Filter. The system utilizes the latest technology designed to give you quality iron free water with the least amount of maintenance. For well water users with rust-colored water, this filtration system is the easiest and fastest solution.

How to Remove Coliform Bacteria From Well Water

No one wants to hear that bacteria has found its way into their private water supply. There are many ways that harmful bacteria can infect your well. If you live near a farm or agricultural center, the runoff from their site can contain the unwanted bacteria like E. Coli, which then seeps into your well. In addition, if you have a septic tank that is leaking or ruptured, your sewage can also contaminate your well water.

The best bet to keep your family safer from illness and further health problems is to invest in a Whole House Filter With UV. UV treatment destroys an astonishing 99.9% of bacteria and other microorganisms in your drinking water without the taste, color, or odor of your water. Coliform bacteria, E. Coli, cryptosporidium, and other organisms will no longer pose a threat to your family’s health.

How to Remove Salt From Well Water

Salt can leech into your well water from a variety of sources and contaminate your more pure water. Salt is not dangerous in small amounts - at a microscopic level, nearly all water contains some parts per million of both sodium and chloride ions. However, at concentrated levels salt can affect the taste and smell of your drinking water and should be properly treated.

One of the most common ways that salt can get into your water is road salt. In urban areas, approximately 95% of the salt that enters local water sources comes from road salt. Salt-based water softeners are also a major contributor to salt-infected well water. If you install a water softener that utilizes salt ions, you may notice a high concentration of salt in your water due to discharge.

What's the Best Water Filter for Well Water?

As demonstrated by the breakdowns above, there is no one-size-fits-all water filter system that every homeowner should install. The specific contaminants in your water, and the conditions and terrain around your well, should determine the water filter that you ultimately choose. You can install multiple water filtration systems for an exhaustive and complete line of protection against the most common contaminants present in well water.

In addition to the common issues addressed above, there are certain filter options that directly target contaminants that are common in wells. If your water has turned a yellowish hue, and you notice that your clothing and plumbing has begun to stain, your water may be contaminated with tannins. Tannins are more common in coastal and swampy areas, where decaying vegetation can leach into your well water. A Tannin Removal water filter will eliminate this nuisance that is associated with high turbidity.

Some of the other contaminants many owners of private wells contend with are nitrates, especially homeowners who live near farms or livestock. Recent flooding can also lead to nitrates invading a well water system. In excess levels nitrates can cause methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby” disease. In order to reduce nitrates from your well water, install a Nitrate Reduction water filter.

If you’re still having trouble deciding what well water treatment system is right for you, visit our well water page and read our comprehensive list to find the best option to provide your home with clean, more pure water.

What's the Best Softener for Well Water?

Hard water is a frustrating problem that countless well water users experience. High levels of dissolved magnesium or calcium in your well water can cause, among other problems:

  • Dry skin and flaky hair
  • Low water pressure due to mineral accumulation in clogged pipes
  • Limescale buildup on faucets and in water based appliances
  • Spots and white residue on dishes and in dishwashers
  • Stained sinks and bathtubs

Hard water’s damaging effect on plumbing, appliances, and clothes becomes expensive over time. Limescale, also known as hard water scale can build up and make appliances less effective, shorten their lifespan and require more power to run. Clothes need replacing more often, and limescale buildup on faucets and sinks is unsightly. While not considered a serious risk to health, hard water damages and prematurely ages skin and hair. In order to reduce the hardness of your well water, you need to invest in a water softener to complement your water filtration system.

A Water Softener Alternatives in combination with a UV Filter system or Iron and Manganese Filter is the perfect joint solution for hard water from your well. The water softener alternative with salt-free technology is effective in preventing hard water scale buildup. Our system generates zero waste water, and leaves you with softer, healthier skin and hair.

Improve the overall quality of your well water by installing a water softener, but don’t stop there. Often, utilizing multiple filter systems is necessary to manage multiple water quality issues. If you decide to treat your water with a softener, installing a UV filter or iron and manganese filter will allow contaminants to be reduced in your well water as well. The Pelican Water Filter and Softener with Pro UV treats your water with both technologies so you can drink your tap water and take a shower knowing you’re fully protected.