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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article describes the minimum acceptable well yield or water flow rate for a well to be functional. Next we describe how to increase the yield or flow rate of a water well using several approaches, and we define hydro-fracturing for well stimulation.
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Some wells can produce a flow rate of 20 gallons per minute (gpm) or more. But for a single family home, 5 gpm is good, and 3 gpm is livable. In some communities the health department or building department will require at least 3 gpm (or more) to approve a new well for new construction.
These are general flow rates, but a more accurate answer to the required well yield flow rate for a specific property depends on the anticipated water quantity need for a given home, number of occupants, types of water usage, and thus the anticipated daily water usage, factored against the well yield (and possibly well recovery rate).
A risk with a well that already has a low yield is that the yield is at risk of dropping still further seasonally or permanently (common), or possibly failing entirely (less common). Therefore in buying such a property it would be prudent to presume that you will face additional costs to provide more or better water quantity. You might want to consult with local well drillers to get an idea about their experience in success in drilling wells in your immediate neighborhood as well as the typical well depth, yield, and cost. See WATER USAGE TABLE for a table that will help calculate the water flow rate or daily water usage for a property.
In the worst case with a slow or low yield well people install additional water storage/holding tanks to collect water at the low rate available from a well and provide water and then deliver it at the needed rate.
If a well yield is too low, in addition to reducing unnecessary water usage (conservation), increasing the onsite storage quantity (holding tanks), making sure equipment is working properly (no leaks), and the option of drilling a new well and hoping for a better yield, there are various methods to increase well yield.
Just below we explain How to Improve Well Yield or Improve the Quantity of Water Available. Other Related articles:
How to get more water from a well - increasing well yield.
How to diagnose loss of water pressure or flow from a well (or municipal supply)
The sketch at page top, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, outlines what happens during a well drawdown or well flow test procedure. At WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR we outline the first steps to take if you have lost all water pressure. We discuss well flow rate and methods for testing the well yield in detail at How Much Water is In the Well?
Readers should also see Water Tank Types and before assuming that a water problem is due to the well itself, see Water pump and pressure tank repair diagnosis & cost an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.
Before drilling a new well to get more water, some plumbers or well installers will try these things:
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to increase the yield of a water well
Question: returning well to use we find it runs out of water after a short time
If a well has not been used for 6 years it was a good well then we hooked up to it again and you can run water about 40 minutes then it quits. With the well setting for that long will this hurt the well, Will it not be as strong as before? - Diana 5/25/12
Diana your question seems to have two parts that I can't quite relate.
Question: well keeps running dry - would installing a more powerful pump help?
We have a well that is about 100' - water starts about 20' below the well cap. We are forever running "dry" after running the water for about 20 minutes. e.g. I fill my kids kiddie pool with about 40 gallons of water (takes 15 minutes or so) and then run the dishwasher we will run out of water and draw nothing but air in the lines. We have to turn the pump off (it will keep running) then I turn it back on 30 minutes later and it will build pressure again. We have a deep well jet pump 1/2hp. Would increasing the hp of the pump to 3/4 allow us to draw more water? or do we just have a crappy well? All of our neighbours have lots and lots of water. - Ella 6/11/12
RE: will putting a more powerful pump on our well system improve how much water we get?
Question: old timer advice to put crawdads (crayfish) in the well to open up clogging
I have heard from some of the old timers that putting crawdads in your well will help to open up the clogging where the water comes in. They should not get sucked up the foot valve and I don't think they would produce enough bodily waste to contaminate the water but I would have the water tested to be safe. If you know any thing about crawdads they like to dig and just a few of them can dig many holes and they are content to stay under water. - Mike 7/2/2012
RE: Should we put crawdads or other animal a drilled well?
Question: well with a small static head: how do we improve it?
I have a a well with 5 " casing that is 45 ft deep. The submersible pump is at 40 ft and water will fill the casing up to about 30 ft. After pumping it starts to pump air. Will jetting the well help to clear out sand and increase water flow or do I need to deepen the well. How does one go about jetting a well or how does one deepen the well. My neighbor's well is 60 ft and he has plenty of water. - Lee 7/24/12
Question: how can we help a basement well with very little water - it runs dry and sucks mud
Is there any way to help a well that is located in a basement. My well is 82 years old and is giving me issues. It will run dry (suck mud) after only 50-60 gallons. It will take about 1/2 hour to recover to a point where the jet pump can re-prime and come up to pressure. The well is presumed to be pretty shallow (40-60ft) but needs to be measured. I have spoken to others in the neighborhood... My neighbor 4 doors down has a 13ft deep well that he has never been able to run dry. He fills his pool! Could the poor recovery be clogging? could this frac packing help? can that be done in a well located in a basement? - Aaron 9/23/12
Aaron, a shallow well like your neighbor's 13-foot deep one can be hard to keep sanitary - but that's a different issue from running out of water.
Question: well yield is too low - about 2 gpm; looking for a well hydro-frack company in western PA
have a low yield well 2 gallons 15 min put 2500 gallon holding tank drilled 200 foot well no water can not find someone to go into 6in casing in old well to clean or hydro frack western pa help - Anonymous 10/3/12
Question: well flow rate of 1/2 gpm
My wife and I are considering moving to a property, but only recently found out that it has a water flow problem where the flow is approximately 1/2 gal per min. We are considering a water storage tank as the property has a large basement big enough to house a high volume tank. We are concerned however about how much electricity is used by the pump when the tank is filling. Can you give me some idea about that extra cost? - Matt 10/5/12
Matt, adding a large water storage tank can help live with a marginal well, though the remaining life of the well may also be in question.
Take a look at Well Pump & Tank Replacement Costs for details.
Question: irrigation well is inadequate - what are our options for irrigation?
We had a well driller drill a new well for an irrigation system that requires 40 to 50 gpm. He put in a 5" well 255' deep with 40' of screen. We had it tested and it produces 15gpm. What are our options? -Lori 10/6/12
Options to improve the service of an irrigation well include:
Question: how can I refresh the yield of my well given that I don't want to drill a new one
*120' well built 1978
Tim, some of the well yield improvement companies offer a guarantee that if they cannot improve well yield you don't pay.
Question: Conflicting advice about minimum depth required for hydro-fracking a water well
I am getting conflicting info regarding fracking a well that is 78' deep with the info below I am being told you can't frack such a shallow well and expect to get more GPM
Question: well pump stopped pumping water, new pump lost pressure after one day
About a month ago our well pump stopped pumping water all together. I called a professional who came out and replaced our ½ HP pump with a ¾ HP pump. The new pump worked great for about 24 hours. After using the new pump for about a day it lost a great deal of it’s pressure. It was still pumping water into our house, but the pressure/volume of water at all outlets in our home were only getting about 1/4 the pressure or volume of water they had. The whole time we had low pressure the pump was running, and this low pressure continued for hours.
Bleeding water out of the water pressure tank will improve well pump short cycling by allowing an air charge to be restored in the tank, but it won't fix water pressure or flow rates.
The fact that your well contractor lowered the pump suggests that he thinks that the well has a small static head (not much water in the well).
Your description suggests that the well flow rate may no longer be able to keep up with the pump; if the pump drops water level too low in the well, and especially if it includes a pump burnout safety device or tailpiece, then when the water level in the well is low, the pump will simply stop pumping or slow pumping water out of the well.
Some additional things to check include:
Questions & answers or comments about how to get more water out of the well: increase the well yield or well flow rate.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.