If you’re reading this, you’ve likely never experienced living conditions that didn’t include fresh, clean water coming out of the faucet in your home. Generationally speaking, plumbed water to the inside of a house is a relatively new home feature. Before this time, many homes had their own on-site wells—either somewhere on the property or immediately right out of their backdoor. With the advent of indoor plumbing within most municipalities, many wells were covered up as city water systems were installed. These wells still exist in many areas—some more surprising than others.
Issues With Abandoned Wells
Having abandoned wells on one’s property wouldn’t be as much of a concern if they didn’t prove a risk to one’s health and safety. Some homeowners may not have even realized the presence of a well on their property until the well’s covering fails—exposing the large, deep holes that plunge far into the earth. These large openings can be deadly hazards to people and their pets. Another danger of wells if their ability to contaminate the local groundwater with bacteria and other contaminants found in stagnant collected water. If not properly treated, these old wells can make the groundwater dangerous for use.
One would think that merely recovering a well would be enough to remove the danger from a property. Though sealed, for the time being, all coverings will eventually fail, leading to a large open well once again. For this reason, a well must be correctly filled and capped.
Removing the Cover
Before a well is filled, its existing cover must be removed. This is typically done by the use of heavier equipment such as a skid-steer loader due to the cover’s weight.
Water Pumped Out
If there is any stagnant collected water in the well, it must be removed. This is done with a water pump.
Once all water has been removed, the inside of the well needs to be disinfected to eliminate its toxicity with the surrounding groundwater. An assortment of chemical cleaners may be used on the inside of the well to make sure it is sterile and poses no threat to the groundwater.
Filling the Well
Many wells are filled with natural, sterile materials. Two popular materials are limestone chips, gravel, and bentonite clay to prevent water from penetrating the layers. Regulations in some places require placing intermittent layers of different materials to allow for even settling.
Removing the Mouth of the Well
As the well is nearly filled, the mouth of the well is typically removed to allow for a new, more permanent lid. This removal of the old mouth of the well also removes later tripping hazards, making the top of the filled well more even.
New Use Prep
If the site of a filled and sealed well is to become a functional part of the yard again, a layer of clay followed by seeded topsoil may be applied. Other sealed wells may have cement covers placed over them.
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