The cost of drilling a well can range from $1,500 to more than $30,000. The average well drilling cost is around $5,000-$10,000. However, the exact amount depends on many factors, including:
- Well type
- Well depth
- Well location
- Pipe casing size and material
To build your own well drilling budget, it’s helpful to understand the process, how it works and what the results look like. Read on to find answers to your biggest water well questions.
The Cost of Drilling Wells
Before you can enjoy all the benefits of having a private well on your property, you need to navigate the costs. Although some fees are outside your control, others can be controlled or negotiated. Keep in mind that these choices don’t just impact the well drilling cost — they also affect water quality, well longevity and more.
Here are some of the costs to consider and the decisions surrounding them:
You have limited control over where your well is drilled. That’s because water moves and is stored differently depending on your geographic area; for example, in drier climates, you may have to drill in particular spots to reach an underground aquifer.
However, you’ll likely have at least some control over where a well is drilled. It’s generally cheaper to place the well closer to your home — that way, you pay less for plumbing, electrical supply lines and other components, which can each cost up to $150 per foot.
Contractors or Drilling Services
The cost of hiring a contractor or local drilling company can vary widely. This might depend on rates in your area and the complexity of your particular drilling project. For example, if you hire a contractor just to drill your new well, you might pay between $25 and $50 per foot; if you want a complete water well system, you may pay $65 or more.
A contractor should supply their own equipment. You may have to pay more if the job requires larger or sturdier tools, but you shouldn’t have to buy or store this equipment yourself. You’ll also have to pay for materials such as pipe casing, which can have even more impact on the overall well drilling cost. In general, narrower, thinner pipes are cheaper.
Here’s an example of different costs for water wells 50 feet (or about 15 meters) deep.
4” PVC pipe: $1,800
6” steel pipe: $3,080
8” steel pipe: $4,200
There are a lot of different well types to choose from. Some choices will depend on how you intend to use the water, while others are based on the well creation method.
The first thing to decide is what you’ll do with your well water. For most people, the goal is simply to create a consistent supply of tap and drinking water; however, others may be interested in these other well types:
- Geothermal: This kind of well uses the temperature of the Earth’s surface to help heat or cool your home.
- Irrigation: Irrigation wells are designed to connect to sprinklers or outdoor faucets instead of your home’s plumbing system.
The costs of these well types vary depending on the scope of the project.
Once you know what kind of water well you need, it’s time to decide how it will be created. There are three basic options:
- Dug: A dug or “bored” well is perhaps the simplest type, starting at about $2,500. The process requires shovels or backhoes and lining material such as stones or bricks. Dug wells are generally less than 30 feet or about 9 meters deep.
- Driven: To create a driven well, professionals drive pipe into the ground to reach the water level. These wells are usually 50 feet or about 15 meters deep and can cost upwards of $4,000.
- Drilled: Drilled wells are one of the most complicated types because they can be more than 1,000 feet or 300 meters deep. They also tend to require heavier equipment such as rotary-drilling machines and cost more than $5,500.
Most well drilling cost considerations are based on the drilling process and requirements. That’s partly because drilled wells are versatile and can be used for a variety of needs and locations — but they may also have a lower risk of contamination than other well types.
Depth is perhaps the most important variable when determining well drilling cost. However, this is a decision you’ll make based on other factors, which is why it’s likely not the first thing you’ll consider.
Generally speaking, shallow wells are cheaper to drill. That’s because you pay by the foot or meter. However, cost shouldn’t be your only consideration when deciding on well depth; shallow wells may carry a higher risk of running dry and could also be particularly susceptible to certain kinds of contaminants. Your location and soil or rock type will also determine how far you have to drill before reaching a water source.
Let’s say you’re using 6” steel pipes for your well. Here’s how the price may differ with depth:
- 50 feet or about 15 meters: $3,080
- 100 feet or about 30.5 meters: $6,110
- 150 feet or about 46 meters: $9,190
- 200 feet or about 61 meters: $12,220
You generally need a permit for any digging or drilling project, even if you’re redrilling an existing well. You’ll have to check local guidelines for specifics (or talk to your contractor), but permits can cost up to $500 in some places.
Other Well Elements
There’s a lot more to creating wells than just reaching the water itself. You’ll also need to think about — and potentially pay for — elements such as:
- Well casing: This structure helps maintain the integrity of the drilled, dug or driven hole that reaches the water source. A strong material, such as steel casing, helps keep sediment and contaminants from getting into your well.
- Well caps: Well caps are like lids. They cover the top of your well to keep things from falling in, including leaves and debris. Depending on the size and location of your well, caps can also help improve safety by preventing kids or pets from getting close to the opening.
- Well screens: A well casing generally goes down to the water level and stops. Well screens extend from the bottom of the casing and help reduce the presence of sediment and some contaminants that may be in the water.
- Pumps: A well pump helps move water up and into your pipes. Jet pumps can cost between a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the size and scope of your project; your contractor can recommend the right pump for your needs.
- Storage tanks: Well pumps can move water into a storage tank, where it stays until you need it. That way, you don’t have to wait for water to be pumped from underground every time you turn on the tap.
- Electrical components: Electrical components differ depending on the type of well you choose, but for the most part, their job is to help manage the work of the pump and storage tank.
Can You Drill Your Own Wells?
Even shallow wells can be difficult to create on your own. While it’s possible and legal in some places, other situations require drilling services or licensed contractors — and that’s not just because your local government says so. Generally speaking, it can be faster, cheaper and easier to let experts handle well drilling.
First, drilling a well requires extensive knowledge of local geography. If you don’t know just where the bedrock is located in your area, how to avoid hitting a septic system and whether nearby aquifers are fed by groundwater or surface water, you likely don’t have the right experience to tackle this task on your own. Expert contractors know all these things and more, which means they can make informed decisions about where and how to drill your new well without running into costly issues.
Second, you probably don’t have a rotary-drilling machine or site preparation tools sitting in your driveway. Well drilling processes require all kinds of advanced equipment like this, and while you may be able to rent some of it, you may not have the time to learn how to do everything just right.
Speaking of time, drilling a well on your own can take a lot of work. Contractors or drilling services provide whole teams to handle every little detail — which means you can just sit back and relax.
Finally, there’s the safety element to consider. Drilled wells are often wide and deep, requiring complicated equipment and heavy machinery to create and secure. Without expertise and experience, you risk injuring yourself or others. On top of that, incorrect drilling practices could potentially damage your home’s plumbing or other underground systems, leaving you with a big mess and an even bigger bill.
Simply put, while it may technically be possible to drill your own well, it may not be legal, safe or cost-effective.
Well Water Quality and Testing
Once your well is up and running, you’ll have access to tap and drinking water whenever needed. However, this big benefit comes with a few significant responsibilities, too.
It may sound surprising, but even nature doesn’t provide 100% clean water — which is why it’s important to understand water quality in your well. Well water can be safe to drink but often requires treatment to address aesthetic issues like unpleasant tastes or smells or potentially, health concerns.
Keep in mind that, unlike in a municipal water system, no one treats your water for you if you have a private well. There are also no health or public safety organizations overseeing water quality or setting contaminant standards that apply to your private well. You are fully responsible for overseeing and protecting your own water. This has its advantages and downsides; for example, while you won’t get that swimming pool smell that comes from chlorine in city water, you also won’t get the benefits of municipal decontamination.
Well Water Testing
One of the most important responsibilities you have as a well owner is to have professional water tests performed at least once a year. You should also have your well tested after significant events such as natural disasters, septic tank leaks and any kind of well or plumbing work.
A water test tells you what’s in your water, where it’s coming from and what you can do about it. That way, you can make informed decisions about your well water quality and management.
Common Well Water Issues
Water from any source can potentially become contaminated. For example, if your home’s pipes are corroded, they could add varying amounts of copper to your water supply, no matter where that water originally came from.
However, wells are particularly susceptible to certain water quality issues, including:
- Hard water: When your water has too much calcium and magnesium, it’s considered “hard.” This hardness can lead to dry skin and hair, mineral buildup, soap scum, spotty dishes and other irritating issues.
- Hydrogen sulfide: If your well has a hydrogen sulfide problem, you’ll likely notice a “rotten egg” smell coming from your tap or drinking water.
- Iron: Iron is naturally present in the environment, so it can easily make its way into surface water, aquifers and eventually your well. This mineral can leave rust stains and might make water taste metallic.
Wells, Well Water and More: FAQs
Here are a few more things to know about well water quality and your responsibilities as a well owner:
How Long Do Wells Last?
If your well is planned and drilled properly, it can last decades and could continue supplying water as long as its walls continue to hold. Although a shallow well may rarely dry up, wells of average depth don’t generally run out of water. The only significant limitation is the equipment that helps your well do its job. Casings, pipes, jet pumps and other components may need to be replaced, sometimes as infrequently as every 30 years — which is one more reason it’s a good idea to have a professional perform your well installation.
Do Wells Need Maintenance?
For the most part, the only real maintenance your well needs is regular water quality testing. However, there are some cases where you may need to replace certain components, clear sediment out of your well or dig deeper to reach a changing water level. You might consider staying in contact with your contractor or installer if they offer support with checks and repairs.
Can You Treat Well Water?
If one of your regular water tests indicates a problem with hardness or a particular contaminant, it’s time to treat your well water. This may include:
- Water softening: A water softener attracts and flushes hardness minerals to soften your water. This can help eliminate issues such as mineral buildup or soap scum and make your hair and skin feel healthier.
- Whole home filtration: A whole home well water filtration system treats all the water that comes into your home. It’s a great choice for issues such as sulfur and iron.
- Drinking water filtration: A drinking water filtration system often uses reverse osmosis to address taste, odor and appearance issues. It can also help with contaminants including lead and arsenic.
The best well water softener or filtration solution will depend on your unique needs, the structure of your well and more. That’s why it’s smart to start with a professional water test and consultation.
Get Started with Well Water
Wherever you are in your well water journey, Culligan® can help. Whether you’re just learning about wells or want to improve the quality of an existing water source, our education, testing and treatment resources are always at your fingertips.
The best place to start is with our Guide to Cleaner, Safer Well Water.
Once your well is built, ensure your water quality with our free, in-home water test and consultation. You can learn about any potential issues with your water and get customized recommendations on which solutions fit your home.
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