ARCHIVED - Inspecting Your Well: A Step-by-Step Checklist


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Health Canada
ISBN: 978-1-100-14731-4 (PDF Version)
Cat. No.: H34-214/3-2010E (PDF Version)
HC Pub.: 100045 (PDF Version)

Health Canada (HC) recognizes the importance of preventing drinking water contamination in all First Nations water systems, including small systems. For residents served by wells with fewer than five connections, HC has developed the following brochure providing step-by-step instructions on how to visually inspect your well.

Which Type of Well Do You Have?

Drilled well

  • Draws water from deep groundwater aquifers
  • Diameter: 10 to 20 centimetres
  • Depth: more than 15 metres

Dug/Bored Well

  • Draws water from shallow groundwater aquifers
  • Diameter: 60 to 120 centimetres
  • Depth:
    (Dug well) 3 to 9 metres
    (Bored well) 9 to 15 metres

Sand Point

  • Draws water from shallow groundwater aquifers located in sandy area
  • Diameter: 2.5 to 5 centimetres
  • Depth: less than 3 metres
The water table depth and nature of soil are key factors that help determine the type of well to be built.

Around the Well

  • Remove all animal wastes (from livestock and household pets).
  • Relocate all pens, cages, or stalls where livestock and pets are kept.
  • Relocate all chemical storage containers.
  • Relocate all vehicles or equipment that may leak chemicals or fuel (e.g. lawn mowers and snow blowers).
  • It is generally recommended to maintain a grassy area of at least 3 metres around the wellhead. Never use fertilizers and/or herbicides near your well.
  • Mound up the ground around the well casing to keep water from pooling.
  • Measure the well casing - it should extend 30 to 40 centimetres above the mound to reduce the risk of contamination. The well casing should never be buried.
  • Compact the area around the outside of the well casing with clean fill if there is ground settling.
Keep a log of your inspections. As you complete each item on the checklist, make note of any signs of damage and needed repairs. Share this information with your Environmental Health Officer (
) and Community-Based Drinking Water Quality Monitor (
) as required. Ensure that repairs are completed quickly and note the date they are completed in your inspection log.

The Well Cap

Drilled Well

  • Inspect the well cap to ensure it is not damaged or cracked. If it is, contact a licensed well contractor to have it replaced or repaired.
  • Make sure your well has a vermin-proof cap. If it does not, contact a licensed well contractor.
Loose-fitting caps make wells a comfortable home for insects and vermin.

Dug/Bored Well

  • Ensure your dug/bored well cap is built to keep out insects and vermin as much as possible (not easily opened by animals).
  • Make sure the cap is attached firmly to the casing.
  • Make sure the vent is properly screened and is facing the ground. If not, contact a licensed well contractor for advice.
  • Keep the well cap clear of snow, leaves, debris and other obstacles.
  • Make sure the well cap sits on a casing that is above ground (30 to 40 cm) and exposed at all times.
Your well must be sealed to protect your well water from surface water and unwanted vermin.

Check the Annular Seal

  • Ensure the annular seal sealant has not shrunk, collapsed or cracked. If it has, contact a licensed well contractor.
  • Fill gaps around the annular seal with bentonite, cement grout or concrete.
The annular seal serves as a barrier to run-off surface water that could otherwise travel down the outside of the casing and contaminate the aquifer.

Check the Well Casing

  • Ensure there is no damage, cracking, discolouration or rust on the outside of the well casing. If there is, contact a licensed well contractor for advice.
  • If you have a dug well, remove the lid carefully. (It is not recommended to remove the lid to inspect the inside casing if you have a drilled well or a sand point. A licensed well contractor can help if needed).
  • Once the lid of the dug well is removed, listen for water seeping into the well and use a strong flashlight to inspect the inside casing.
  • Look for holes or cracks in the casing. If any are found, contact a licensed well contractor for more information.
  • Check for signs of insect infestation. If any are found, contact your EHO and/or CBWM for more information. Never use chemicals and/or pesticides that could contaminate the groundwater.
  • Look for leaking (stains) coming from casing joints. If any are found, contact a licensed well contractor for advice.
Note: Rust on the well casing could leave holes near the ground surface where run-off can seep into the well and contaminate the groundwater.

Drilled Well

Do not remove the lid to inspect the inside casing of the well

For More Information

Contact your Community Health Centre to obtain contact information for your Environment Health Officer (EHO) or Community-Based Drinking Water Quality Monitor (CBWM).

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