Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do I need a permit for my private well, and where do I get one?

State law requires that all new construction of wells have a permit before any work can be started. Your County Health Division can issue you this permit. On the bottom of our Home Page you will find a link.

Why does my water smell, is this a sign of trouble?

Sulfur can occur in ground water in two forms: sulfides and sulfates. Sulfides are naturally in limestone containing organic materials. A “rotten egg” smell coming from your water indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas. Creating an unpleasant odor and taste, sulfides cause corrosion to plumbing and darken water. There are several methods for treating sulfur. Aeration, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and chlorine (best followed by filtration) are effective against dissolved hydrogen sulfide or gas. A reverse osmosis system, Nano filtration system, or a negative ion-exchanger also can be effective in reducing sulfates. Filtration is necessary in combating sulfur formation as a mineral or in biofilms.

I see floaties in my water?

Total Dissolved Solids TDS, as it is commonly known, is the concentration of all dissolved minerals in water. It is the direct measurement of the interaction between minerals and ground water. TDS levels above 1000 mg/L will usually yield poor tasting water. Levels above 2000 mg/L are considered undrinkable due to taste, and levels more than 10,000 mg/L are defined as undrinkable. Water softeners with a reverse osmosis system are effective in lowering the TDS to satisfactory levels.

What is hard water and why do I have it?

The Hardness in drinking water is caused by two nontoxic chemical minerals; Calcium and magnesium. Found in ground water that has come in contact with certain rocks and minerals, especially limestone and gypsum. If either of these minerals are present in your water, the water is said to be “hard”. Usually making lather or suds for washing difficult and a film to appear on coffee. Hard water has not been shown to cause health problems, but can be a nuisance as it may cause soap curds and deposits to form on pipes and other plumbing fixtures. Over time this can reduce the diameter of the pipes and plumbing. This could mean your well might require well rehabilitation please look on our repair and service page. Otherwise, the installation of a water softener can prevent hard water. People with heart or circulatory problems may want to consult their physician about drinking softened water as the softening process removes calcium and magnesium by adding sodium to the water.

Why is my water so cloudy?

Water often looks cloudy when first taken from a faucet and then it clears up. The cloudy water is caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to the gas bubbles in beer and carbonated soft drinks. After a while, the bubbles rise to the top and are gone.

When working in the yard is it safe to drink from a garden hose?

No, water is safe, but the standard vinyl garden hose is composed of substances to keep it flexible. These chemicals can dissolve and get into the water as it goes through the hose. Bacteria have been known to collect inside hoses especially during warm seasonal months and the outside thread openings at the end of your hose can be covered with germs.

Why is my water pressure so low and what can I do?

Water flows out of taps because of pressure in the water system by the pump. Different pumps have different flow capacities, and the pressure tank in a water system is designed to have extra gallons of water on reserve so small demands don’t require the pump to switch on, like turning on a faucet for a few seconds to get a glass of water. Low pressure can occur when the tank cannot compensate for flow greater than the pump capacity. If there is adequate pressure in the tank, hard water could be causing the decline in pressure, which causes a buildup of scale that can cause increased friction in the pipes and hamper water pressure. This could mean your well might require well rehabilitation please look on our repair and service page. Otherwise the three common fixes are:

  1. Installation of a device called a constant pressure valve can be installed between the pump and the pressure tank. It will automatically adjust flow from the well pump to a preset pressure. It is relatively easy to install and a good, economic solution. However, it does not increase the flow rate greater than that of the pump.
  2. Installation of an additional pressure tank capacity can be added for high demand of water in excess of the pump’s capacity. Solving the short-term demand, although it will not permanently solve the problem of the shower, dishwasher, washing machine, and other heavy appliances all running at the same time.
  3. The pump can be replaced with a variable speed pump. Variable speed pumps can run up to two times faster than those with constant speeds. Speed is regulated by the demand for water and a device measures the demand for pressure, and adjusts the pump’s flow rate. Some variable speed pumps have a slow startup, which eliminates power surges and reduces torque on the pump and well piping.

Can I tell if my drinking water is okay by just looking at it, tasting it, or smelling it?

No, chemicals or microbes that could make you sick can’t all be seen, tasted, or smelled.

Will boiling my water help in an emergency?

Boiling water is effective in removing certain contaminants, but is not the answer for everything. In fact, boiling water that contains lead and nitrate will increase their concentration and potential risk. It is best to check with a local health department to determine if boiling water is necessary.

Can lead in household plumbing get into your drinking water?

Using the hot water tap to save time when cooking can shortcut your health. Lead can dissolve into hot water from lead pipes and solder. Find out if your pipes are lead, or if lead solder was used to connect the pipes. If so, using cold water is a must, always heat your water on the stove when cooking especially when making baby formula.

Is it OK to cover the well cap?

If you don’t like the look of the exposed casing and well cap sticking out of the lawn you can camouflage it. Manufactured plastic covers designed to look like landscaping boulders, “mock rocks,” and bird baths are lightweight, hollow, and durable to the elements. Don’t cover a well head/cap with any permit structure or landscaping.

Why is my well so rusty?

A “rusty” or metallic taste in water is a result of iron/manganese in ground water. Creating bad taste, staining your pipes and destroying your laundry. Naturally occurring and found in ground water coming from contact with minerals that contain iron, such as pyrite. The homeowner can install a water softener that may help if iron and manganese are present in low quantities. Aeration (the addition of oxygen to the water), chlorination, and feeding ozone or hydrogen peroxide can aid in the precipitation of iron, which it is removed from the water by filtration.

Does Fleming Well Drilling work on water pits?

Usually no, water pits are a potential health risk, as the well in open to contaminates from surface water, animal and insect infestation, and collapse of well walls. Never drink from these sources.

What is a GeoExchange unit and how does a GeoExchange unit operate?

A GeoExchange unit is a heating and cooling system that provides heat in winter and cooling in summer, at efficiencies that are far better than those for alternative systems. Like a conventional heat pump, it is essentially an air conditioner that can also run in reverse to provide heat in the winter. Relying on the nearly constant temperature of the ground or ground water for heat transfer instead of the widely fluctuating temperature of the outside air. Since the temperature of the ground or ground water remains fairly constant throughout the year—ranging from about 45-50 degrees, GeoExchange unit saves energy, cuts electric bills, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and offers lower maintenance and lower hot water costs than conventional heating and cooling systems. By simply transferring thermal energy (heat) from the ground or ground water into the space being conditioned during the winter months and transfers excess heat from the structure back into the ground or ground water in the summer months.

How Do I locate the best area for my well?

Homeowners can speak with neighbors to get an idea of “their general area” in regard to water depth (how deep is their well?), and supply. This could be used in your decision making process. To locate your well a homeowner should know that their private well consists of two basic structures: outside of your home, usually within 100′ from dwelling, and inside of your home, usually in your basement or crawl space.

Should I turn my pump off?

Don’t allow your pump to turn on and off for long periods of time. Time your water use for long periods at the same time. IE. When doing lawn maintenance, run two or more sprinklers at the same time to cause the pump to stay on continuously (long periods is approx. 30 min. + the pump is constantly on & off!). Your pump might need to be replaced; stress of over-heating by restarting over & over.

How do I save on water?

More water is used in the bathroom than any other place in the home. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth and shave. Install low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucet aerators and you’ll save thousands of gallons of water a year.

How do Dripping and running toilets waste water?

A faucet can waste up to 2,000 gallons of water a year. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day. Waiting a week to fix a leaky faucet can drip 604,800 drops while you are waiting.

How does water get polluted?

What’s dumped on the ground, poured down the drain, or tossed in the trash can pollute the sources of our drinking water. Slipping used motor oil into a storm sewer or burying it in the trash can leak into lakes, rivers, and wells. Just one pint of oil can expand over an acre of water. Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint and motor oil far away from your well. Maintain a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels or livestock operations. Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, or chemical storage areas. Take used motor oil and other automotive fluids to an automotive service center that recycles them. Patronize automotive centers and stores that accept batteries for recycling. Take leftover paint, solvents, and toxic household products to special collection centers.

When is the best time to water landscaping?

50% – 70% of household water is used outdoors for watering lawns and gardens. Don’t water your lawn when it’s windy or at high noon, the hot sun will evaporate the water your lawn needs. Water early in the day and make the most of the water you use. Turn off your sprinklers when it’s raining. Plant low-water use grasses and shrubs to reduce your lawn watering by 20% – 50%.

Can pesticides & fertilizers harm my water?

Lawn and garden pesticides and fertilizers can pollute the water. Reduce your use of pesticides and fertilizers and look for safer alternatives to control weeds and bugs. For example, geraniums repel Japanese beetles; garlic and mint repel aphids; and marigolds repel white flies.

Will using too much water cause my well to go dry?

The water table in your area is not going to be affected by your personal use with your private well. A “high-use” well is usually healthier than a “low-use” well.

What constitutes a proper well installation?

  • Casing: PVC pipe which extends 12″+ above ground surface and be 25’+ deep. It does not move about or have any open spaces around the casing.
  • Well: Is properly isolated and 50’+ away from all (if close to lot line this could include your neighbors) septic systems, buried fuel tanks, etc.
  • Sampling Faucet: Close to pressure tank and downward pointing, 8″+ above floor.
  • Borehole: Is sealed/grouted full length to prevent well and aquifer contamination.

What part of my water controls are in the home?

This is where the pressure tank is located that receives the water pumped from the tapped aquifer. This is also where the homeowner can locate the main water shut-off valve, the electrical power to the pump, and check the air pressure inside the tank.

What part of my water is located outside the home?

Outside the Home: A borehole was drilled, a PVC/Steel casing inserted, then sealed with a well cap. Any space between the casing and the borehole during construction was grouted. Inside the casing at the bottom is a screen, which causes a protected area for water to flow from the aquifer up to the pressure tank inside your home. Drop pipe was lowered down into the casing with a pump attached which forces water up and into your home.

What is an abandoned well?

A well which is no longer used, or is in such disrepair that its continued use for the purpose of obtaining groundwater is impractical, or a threat to ground water resources, or possible health or safety hazard. State law requires proper closing or plugging of an abandoned wells. Plugging an unused water well can prevent contamination of drinking water, and can stop contaminants from reaching groundwater

What is a water well contamination?

A biological, chemical, physical, or radiological component in water that is or may become injurious to the health, safety or welfare of the consumer. Common causes can be manmade or natural occurring through the aquifer possibly by surface water entering into a poorly grouted casing, an improperly abandoned well, or leaking coming from underground fuel storage tanks, location of the well, distances from other potential contamination, groundwater flow, improper construction of the well water supply system, or leaching from pipes carrying the water.

Who do I contact to DO A WATER TEST?

  • Oakland County Health Division, Pontiac, 248-858-1312
  • Lapeer County Water Program, Lapeer, 810-667-0392
  • Genesee County Environmental Health Division, Flint, (810) 257-3603
  • State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Lansing, 517-335-8184
  • HHI Water Testing Laboratory, West Bloomfield, 248-683-1997
  • In-House Water Lab, Howell, 517-548-7363
  • Testing Service, Inc., Swartz Creek, 810-232-7579
  • Testing Service & Laboratories, Brand Blanc, 810-695-6763
  • Pro Systems, Inc., Flint, 800-653-6789 or 810-732-2255

What kind of common water tests are performed?

  • Coliform; bacteria including Coliform. Coliform is usually harmless, although in high amounts are harmful and can cause disease. Coliform originates from human or animal sewage.
  • Partial Chemistry; fluoride, chloride, nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, sodium, and iron. Nitrate levels which are elevated can cause the greatest risks to infants, and pregnant mothers, including those who breast feed. Levels above 10 mg/l (PPM) can cause infants and young children who suffer from a condition known as Methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome). Affecting the bloods ability to absorb oxygen. Nitrate is naturally in ground water. Generally found when farming, lawn fertilizers, and septic systems are within close proximity to the well. Chloride is not generally considered to be a health concern, some evidence indicates that high chloride intake may pose a hazard to persons with heart or kidney disease. Chloride is commonly associated with lakeshore wells, shallow wells, contaminates from septic tanks, and road salt. Generally found in most common salts such as road salt, table salt and water-softener salt.
  • Arsenic; a naturally occurring heavy metal found in most major aquifers throughout Oakland County, although it does not appear to occur in very shallow (<40′) wells. Arsenic is found usually at low levels and most compounds have no smell or special taste. Michigan has several mineral deposits throughout the state that groundwater aquifers are flowing through. Continued high levels can cause thickening and discoloration of the skin, and lead to skin cancers. Some symptoms are; stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, numbness in the hands and feet.
  • Volatile Organics; often from leaking underground fuel storage tanks

What parts are within a water system?

  • Aquifer: Underground layer of rock, sand, or gravel that contains reservoirs of groundwater in sufficient quantity to supply a well.
  • Borehole: A hole drilled into the ground for the purpose of constructing a well.
  • Casing: A Tubular structure placed in the drilled hole made of Steel or plastic pipe PVC installed while drilling a well to prevent collapse of the well borehole. The casing also confines the ground water to its zone underground by preventing the entrance of contaminants; and to allow placement for a pump or pumping equipment.
  • Drilled wells: Constructed by a combination of jetting, driving, rotary or air. Drilled wells are commonly 5 inches in diameter; but older wells may be 2 inches in diameter.
  • Dry hole: An open borehole or cased borehole that does not produce water in sufficient quantity for the intended use.
  • Groundwater: Subsurface water in a zone of saturation. Naturally occurring from rain precipitation, when falling fills spaces between grains of soil or fractures in the bedrock.
  • Grout: Placement of cement or bentonite to seal the space between the outside of the well casing and the borehole or to seal an abandoned well from contaminants.
  • Pitless Adapter: a device which provides access to the well and to the parts of the water supply system, while providing the well with a sanitary and frost-proof seal between the well casing and the water line running to the well system owner’s house.
  • Pressure tank: a closed water and air storage container than has an effect on the water supply system pressure within a selected range.
  • Well Cap (seal): a device used to cover the top of well casing pipe to prevent the entrance of contaminants into the top of the well casing. Well caps are usually aluminum or a thermoplastic, and include a vented screen so that the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the well casing may be equalized when water is pumped from the well. The cap covering a well may be a small part of the overall household water well system, but it is an extremely important one.
  • Well Screen: a filtering device at the bottom of the casing in a sand or gravel aquifer used to keep excess sediments from entering the well. They attach to the bottom of the casing, allowing water to move through the well, while keeping out most gravel and sand.

What does the diagram of a water system look like?