After turning on the faucet or shower, it can be worrying when water doesn’t start to flow.
You may wonder if something is wrong with your plumbing.
The problem may actually have to do with your well.
We’ll discuss how long it takes for a well to refill and the variables involved.
How Long Does It Take For A Water Well To Refill? (Breakdown)
In ideal conditions, a water well will refill at five gallons per minute.
It takes two hours to fill a 600-gallon well.
Not all wells exist under ideal conditions.
There are several factors that can speed up or delay the time it takes to refill.
Those factors include:
- Well durability and condition
- The climate and geology of the area where the well is located
- The population and presence of nearby farmland
If the well is in great condition, is located in an area with frequent rainwater and permeable soil, and has a low population with no nearby farmlands, then it will refill at five gallons per minute.
If the well isn’t in great condition, is located in an area that is dry or experiences droughts, and has a large population around it or is near farmlands, then it will take much more time to refill.
It could take days or even weeks to refill completely.
How The Design Of A Well Impacts Its Refill Time
The installation of a well follows a specific process.
Certain materials make up the well.
There are various parts to a well besides the hole in the ground.
All these factors can determine how fast or slow a water well refills.
Let’s break them down.
1. Well Depth
The first part of installing a new well is digging into the ground.
Most wells are dug between 100 and 500 feet deep.
At this depth, the well should find an aquifer.
That depth is also considered suitable for a family’s daily use.
Deeper wells may take longer to refill because there’s more space to fill.
Smaller wells take less time.
Deeper wells will last longer than smaller wells.
Because there’s more space, more water can accumulate in the hole.
It will take longer for a family to use up all the water in a six-inch hole than a four-inch one.
The deeper the well is, the longer it will last, too.
Over time, sediment and dirt start to fill the bottom of the well.
Deeper wells last longer because it takes longer for the sediment to take over all the water.
Shallower wells will take less time.
There’s less space for the water to accumulate as the sediment starts to fill the bottom and rise.
2. Casing Integrity
Another important part of a well that can determine how fast it refills is the casing integrity.
A casing resides within the hole of the well.
It forms a protective barrier that keeps soil and rocks from falling into the water.
Well casings will be made from one of two different materials: either steel or PVC.
Steel well casings are durable and can last for decades.
They’re effective at protecting the water and perform well during the installation process.
Part of the installation process is heating cement to lock the casing in place.
PVC sometimes deteriorates in the presence of heat if the proper cooling techniques aren’t used.
If there’s deterioration in the PVC casing, then it can impact how well the water well fills.
Cracks in casings can allow water to escape.
No matter how much water fills the well, it’s never going to be completely full because there’s always some escaping from it.
The successful installation of PVC casings creates as strong of a protective barrier as steel casings.
Local laws and soil conditions will determine which casing is to be used.
Salt and corrosive elements in the water will lead to PVC over steel.
Choosing steel in these conditions would lead to rapid deterioration of the casing.
As a result, the casing will deteriorate, break, and the well will collapse.
Refilling it is impossible at that point.
To ensure the water well refills fast, the casing needs to be high-quality, durable, and made from the right material.
3. Malfunctioning Well Screen
A water well will refill faster or slowed based on the durability of its well screen.
A well screen rests at the bottom of the well.
It contains small slits that allow water to pass through it and rest at the bottom.
It filters out rocks and dirt.
It’s made of the same material as the casing—either steel or PVC.
A well screen affects how fast or slow a water well refills because of its interaction with dirt and rocks.
If the well screen fails, then it allows dirt and rock to enter the water.
Over time, the dirt and sediment can build up at the bottom.
The well has less space to store water.
It will refill faster but there will also be less water to use.
If you notice that your water refills fast but you still run out of it, then your well screen may be to blame.
4. Broken Well Cap
The part of the well that you may notice is the well cap.
Most wells stick out of the ground by at least a foot.
At the top of the casing is a cap.
The cap prevents water from accessing the well.
A broken cap can influence how fast the water well refills.
When it’s broken, it allows rainwater to trickle down the hole and into the water.
This can speed up how fast the water refills.
The problem with that is that it introduces pollutants to the water.
Groundwater, the source of well water, goes through several layers of rock and dirt.
Through that trickling, it removes bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.
Rainwater doesn’t go through a filtering process.
It can contaminate your entire source of drinking water.
Your well may replenish itself faster, but it isn’t with safe water.
5. Broken Pitless Adapter
In certain areas that see long winters or especially cold winters, many wells use a pitless adapter.
The pitless adapter handles freezing water.
It helps keep the water from freezing.
If the pitless adapter breaks, then you may notice that it takes a long time for your well to refill.
That’s because the water has frozen.
It’s unable to refill itself.
Fixing the pitless adapter can restore water to your home.
6. Submersible Pump Is Broke
The submersible pump rests at the bottom of the well.
It’s responsible for pushing water into the home under pressure.
It uses power to do so.
If it’s broken, it can influence how fast or slow a water well refills.
A pump that is unable to push water into the home means the water is sitting there.
You may think that your well is out of water.
In fact, it’s unable to reach your home.
An efficient and functioning pump helps speed up the refilling process.
It can push out the water that’s needed and allow space for more water to take its place.
How The Surrounding Geology Impacts The Refill Time Of Your Well
The area and climate in which you live also play a role in how fast or slow your water well refills.
Certain rock layers, the amount of sediment in an area, and how dry the area is all impact its refresh rate.
Consider these variables when determining how fast or slow your water well will refill.
1. Not Drilled Into An Aquifer
It’s possible that your home doesn’t sit on an aquifer.
That can impact how fast or slow your water well refills.
An aquifer is a storage of water beneath the ground.
Rock and shale make up the bottom of the aquifer.
Even though the well only drills into one part of the aquifer, it gives the well access to the entire aquifer.
Your home may not have one.
As a result, you’re relying on water that trickles through the ground and makes its way to your well.
You don’t have access to an existing source of water.
In this scenario, it can take a long time for your water to refill.
On dry days, it may even take several days for your well to fill.
It depends on how much rainwater your home sees and if there are any other pockets of water that the well can access.
Those that do have access to an aquifer will notice their well only takes a few hours to completely refill.
2. Too Much Sediment And Silt In The Area
You may have access to an aquifer, but the aquifer may already have a lot of sediment and silt in it.
This is a problem for water wells.
If a well has a lot of sediment and silt in it, then there’s less room for water.
Over time, the bottom of the well will start to rise to the surface.
The sediment blocks the flow of water.
In this case, it will take less time to refill the well because there’s space for the water.
The problem is that you have less water to use.
It can also impact the integrity of the pump.
It will start to pump muddy water into your home the closer that the sediment gets to it.
If you have a lot of sediment and silt in your aquifer, then it may only take an hour or two for your well to refill.
You may also not have enough to suit your daily needs.
3. Areas With Drought Increases Refill Time
Aquifers rely on rain to refill their groundwater.
If you live in an area that sees frequent droughts, then you can face long refill times.
When water doesn’t fall in an area, then the groundwater runs out.
This problem worsens when you live in a heavily populated area.
Everyone is trying to use limited water.
Mild droughts may increase the refill time to an entire day or a few days.
Severe droughts may increase the refill time to a few days or several days.
It’s even possible for weeks to go by without access to well water if the drought persists.
4. Areas With Lots Of Rain Or Snow Decreases Refill Time
On the opposite side of the spectrum, climates with a lot of rain or that see a lot of snow experience faster refill times. There’s no shortage of water.
If anything, there’s plenty.
The rainwater drips through several layers of rock to reach the aquifer.
It fills the groundwater and your well.
Snow can also do this.
As it melts, there’s a rush of water that seeps into the ground and fills your water well.
Homeowners who live in areas with a lot of rain or snow will notice that their wells refill within hours.
On heavy rain days, it may only take a few minutes for their well to refill.
5. Aquifer Permeability
Although passing water through several layers of rock is great for filtering, it can also impact how fast or slow a well refills.
The ability of water to pass through a material is permeability.
The better that an object or surface has its permeability, the easier it is for water to pass through.
Low permeability means that it’s difficult for water to pass through it.
These surfaces catch more pollutants, but it also takes longer for the water to pass through them.
The kind of stone that makes up the soil and geological layers in your yard can determine how fast or slow your well refills.
If your soil is siltstone, then you’re going to have high permeability.
It’s easier for water to pass through it and reach your well.
It will only take your well a few hours, or minutes, to refill.
If your soil is something like diabase, then you’ll have a slower time.
Diabase is difficult for water to permeate.
It takes more time.
Your well will fill more slowly.
It may take several hours or an entire day depending on other factors in the area.
How Population Affects Water Well Refill Time
The number of people you live near can also determine the speed of your water well’s refill time.
The presence of pools and farmland can impact this time as well.
Here’s how population factors into the time it takes for your water well to refill.
1. Over Drilling Increases Refill Time
The more homes in a single area, the more time it takes the well to refill.
An aquifer has a lot of water, but it is a limited supply.
The more wells attached to that aquifer, the more people are pumping water from it.
It’s possible for the aquifer to run out of water.
If a lot of people are using the same aquifer, then it may take your well several hours before it’s refilled.
This problem only becomes worse in areas that are dry or experience droughts.
2. Increased Number Of Pools In A Single Area
Pools are a great way to cool off during the summer.
They also use well water to fill them.
If everyone in an area has a pool, then they’re all using a lot of water from the aquifer to keep them filled.
It can make the aquifer run out of water until the next rainstorm.
Depending on other factors like the climate, your well may take several hours or days to refill.
This problem worsens in dry areas or areas with drought.
3. Nearby Farms
If your home is next to a farm or several farms, then you may experience slower refill times.
Farms use a lot of water.
They also rely on aquifers to deliver their water.
If you’re on the same aquifer as them, then you may experience times where your water takes a long time to refill.
Farmers need water to feed their crops and livestock.
Watering one milking cow takes 40–50 gallons of water a day.
If the farmer has several, then they’re going to be using a substantial amount of water in the area.
Your home may need several hours, if not a full day, for your water well to refill.
Water wells refill at various times based on its durability, the climate in which it’s placed, and the population that resides around it.
Water wells refill faster when there’s plenty of rainwater, the well is in great condition, and the population is small.
In this scenario, it only takes a few hours for the water to refill.
Water wells refill slower in dry areas or areas with drought, the well needs repair, or if there’s a large population or several farmlands in the area.
In this scenario, it may take several hours, days, or even weeks for the well to refill.
Knowing which climate you’re in, the health of your well, and the population that surrounds you can help you determine if your water well can provide for your family.