looking for advice how to further improve the quality of our water
8 January 2005
A. The quality of well water around here is a true roll of the dice but for the most part a water conditioning system is a good idea. I posed your questions to my go-to well guy, Andy Brown of Brown’s Well Service in Pasadena to be sure I was the right track. We agreed that replacing the water heater for reducing the sulfur smell might have been coincidental since you added the chlorinator at or about the same time. The old water heater was aged for being on well water for seventeen years and getting rid of it before it blew on its own was a wise move regardless of the motivation.
No matter what turn our conversation took, Andy kept going back to the conditioning system itself. He felt that the system needed to be gone over carefully by an experienced system mechanic who is familiar with your particular brand of conditioner. He said some service providers will not work on certain systems and that a one-size-fits-all service provider may not be suited to the intricacies of what you have. He also cautioned about some service providers who seem to be aggressively sales oriented. Have the conditioning medium checked and the regeneration frequency and duration calibrated for your needs.
The reservoir you spoke of replacing due to leaking is a pressure tank that acts as a big shock absorber for the well system. The well pump, located in the bottom of the well, can deliver water a lot faster than you can use it. Rather than have the pump going on and off in rapid succession, called short cycling, the pressure tank fills to a pressure of about 55 PSI and then slowly discharges water into your house pipes until the pressure drops to about 35 PSI then a relay switch turns the pump back on and the cycle repeats. Making sure that the small pipe to the relay switch’s diaphragm is not clogged and that the cut-in and cut-out settings of the pump switch are set correctly will help in maintaining a consistent working water pressure in your house. Also make sure your cotton filter is changed regularly and the aerators and screens on your sink faucets and showerheads are clean. To keep the peace, don’t flush toilets or start the laundry while someone’s in the shower.
The lifespan of a well pump is a function of use and water quality and highly acidic, hard, gritty well water will certainly shorten pump life but well pumps in service that are over 20 years old are not uncommon. Also, a lightning strike close by can fry the windings of the pump motor deep in the well so if you’d just had a lightning storm and the lights to the house are still on and there is no water then you may have lost the pump. There is a small aluminum tag attached to your wellhead out in the yard that contains a number beginning the letters AA for Anne Arundel. That number references a well log kept by the state and has recorded information on that well when it was drilled. It’s unlikely that a well drilled in 1987 would have to be replaced anytime soon.