In This Guide: Average Cost | Cost Factors | Private Well vs. Municipal Water System | Professional vs. DIY | Signs You Need Well Repair | Life Expectancy | Return on Investment | How To Save | Conclusion | FAQs
Whether you live in a rural area or simply prefer getting your water from a private source, installing a well on your property has numerous benefits. You won’t have to pay a monthly water bill, and you’ll have some control over your water’s mineral and chemical contents. However, drilling deep enough to access clean water can be expensive, and you’ll need to store and purify the water once it gets to the surface.
On average, drilling a water well costs $3,500–$15,000, depending on several geological and technological factors. You may be able to dig a shallow well yourself, but it’s best to hire a professional contractor for a well that will provide water for an entire home. This guide outlines the well installation process and its costs.
Average Well Installation Cost
Though $3,500 to $15,000 is a wide range, it’s hard to narrow it down without knowing the specifics of your property. The cost of your project depends on the following factors.
- Appliances and materials: You’ll need hardware to create a functional water well system, which increases cost.
- Depth: The deeper your well needs to be to reach water, the more it will cost to drill and install.
- Method: Installation processes that require specialized or powerful machinery are more expensive.
- Type of well: Different types of wells serve different functions and have different costs.
Cost by Well Depth
The deeper you need to dig, drill, or drive, the longer the job will take and the more labor it will require. Most residential wells need to be at least 50 feet deep and have an average depth of 300 feet, but how far you need to drill to hit water depends on geographic factors. Accessing state and local geological surveys and learning about existing wells in your area will give you a better idea of the depth you’ll need. The table below includes price ranges for various depths.
|Depth in Feet||Price Range|
Cost by Type of Well
Shallow, residential water wells are the least expensive to dig or drill. Sand point wells, which are shallow and can be driven by hand or machine, are similarly inexpensive but don’t usually provide a home’s entire water needs. Geothermal wells are relatively inexpensive on their own, but installing one costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Artesian wells that drill into an aquifer are more costly to drill but less expensive to run. Irrigation wells are the most expensive because they handle the highest volume of water, though residential irrigation is much less pricey than commercial irrigation.
Here are the costs for each type of well.
|Well Type||Price per Foot||Total Cost|
|Sand point well||$10–$25||$200–$3,000|
Cost by Method
Digging is the least expensive way to create a well, but it’s limited to about 100 feet in depth. Digging can also be thwarted by highly compacted or rocky soil. You can create a shallow well of up to 50 feet by driving a small-diameter pipe into the ground and removing the soil from inside. However, most residential-scale well projects require a drill to excavate.
|Method||Price per Square Foot|
Cost by Appliances and Materials
Modern well systems consist of much more than a hole in the ground and a bucket on a rope. Here are some mechanical components that go into a working water well.
Well-casing pipe supports and protects the well’s walls, so it needs to be sturdy. This pipe is typically made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the most affordable option ($6–$10 per linear foot). Galvanized or stainless steel casing is also available for a premium ($30–$130 per foot). Steel may be necessary for earthquake-prone areas, as it’s much less susceptible to cracking and breaking. Casing pipe costs $630–$2,400 depending on its length.
Most wells need electrical wiring to operate the pump and pressure switch. These components aren’t expensive ($50–$150), but a licensed electrician needs to install them, costing $150–$500.
Some people assume that well water is cleaner than municipal water, but municipal water goes through a strict treatment process that water from private wells doesn’t. If you’re using a well for drinking water or other residential applications, you’ll need a purification system to rid the water of contaminants before you can use it. Whole-home water treatment systems cost $500–$3,000, plus another $200–$400 for installation.
Once the water is brought to the surface and purified, it needs to be stored and pressurized so you can use it in your home. A 2-gallon water tank can cost as little as $100, but if you’re going to use well water for most of your needs, you’ll probably need a large pressure tank that costs between $1,400 and $2,400.
One of the most critical parts of the well system is the water pump, which brings groundwater to the surface. A hand pump for a shallow well can cost as little as $150–$500, but most electronic pumps cost between $300 and $2,000, depending on how powerful they are. A shallow well can sometimes use an aboveground surface pump, but a deep well usually requires a powerful, more expensive submersible pump that sits below the water line and pushes the water up. Some artesian wells can get away without using a pump system since the groundwater is already under pressure and may be pushed to the surface naturally.
Factors Affecting Cost
The above factors are the biggest cost variables, but here are a few other things to consider when estimating your project’s price.
Your location determines your climate, water table depth, and type and condition of the bedrock. It will also affect labor costs. For example, Florida is a relatively inexpensive place to dig a well because it has a high water table and an average cost of living. The price is higher in desert states like California, Texas, and Arizona.
You’ll need to check with your state and local government about permits for any project that involves digging in the ground. Permits can cost anywhere from $5 to $500 depending on where you live, but a well drilling company can help you determine which ones you need.
Proximity to the Home
The farther a well is located from your house, the more expensive materials and labor will be. You’ll require longer pipes and electric lines, usually at an additional cost of $50–$150 per linear foot.
Drilling an existing well deeper is less expensive than installing an entirely new well. Redrill fees are usually $300–$600, and a professional can typically complete the job in a day.
Soil Type and Condition
Dry and rocky soil conditions, as well as dense bedrock or heavy clay, can make well drilling more difficult and thus more expensive. You may require heavy or specialized machinery, which can add up to 150% of the base price to your total.
Before drinking water from your well, you’ll want to test its quality to make sure it’s safe. Do-it-yourself (DIY) water testing kits are available for $50–$150, but if this is going to be your home’s primary water supply, you should hire a pro. This can cost between $100 and $500, but it’s well worth checking for the presence of viruses, bacteria, fungi, heavy metals, radon, pesticides, and other contaminants.
Well and Septic Tank Installation
If you’re installing a well to live off the grid, you’ll also need a way of dealing with wastewater that doesn’t involve hooking up to the municipal water system. Many professional well drillers can install a well and septic system at the same time, which will save you money on labor. A septic tank installation costs $2,000–$7,000 on its own or $5,000–$22,000 when combined with a well system.
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Private Well vs. Municipal Water System
One benefit of installing your own well is that you’ll no longer need to pay municipal water bills. You’ll only need to pay for the electricity to operate the pump (about $3–$4 per month), plus maintenance costs of $100–$250 per year. Compared to a monthly utility bill of $20–$40, you can save up to $500 a year.
Professional vs. DIY
It’s possible to install a well yourself, but it’s more complicated than digging or drilling a hole in the ground. Here’s what you can expect from the process, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.
Professional Well Installation
Well installation professionals have the tools and experience to drill plus install the casing, pump, well cap, and other hardware. They also know how to adjust the process if they encounter anything unexpected under the soil and can help you apply for permits. You’ll pay at least $1,500 in labor costs on top of the well equipment and may pay $10,000 or more for deep wells in poor soil conditions.
DIY Well Installation
Digging or driving a shallow well in an area with a high water table is within the capability of dedicated DIYers. However, you must ensure you go deep enough to get to truly clean water beneath the contaminated runoff in the upper layers of soil. These shallow, driven wells also provide a limited water supply. You can rent a drill rig for $600–$800 per day for larger, deeper wells, but this will only give you the borehole; you’ll also have to install all the hardware yourself.
Here are the general steps that go into drilling your own well.
- Choose a location on your property and check local geological survey records to ensure there are accessible water sources underneath.
- Obtain state and local permits for excavating the ground.
- Decide whether drilling, digging, or driving is most appropriate based on the soil conditions and required depth.
- Rent the appropriate equipment and excavate the hole.
- Insert the casing pipe to support and protect the borehole and seal it in place.
- Install the appropriate pump, storage tank, pipes, and electrical wiring.
- Install a purification system and test the water quality before consuming it.
Signs That You Need to Repair a Well
Wells require maintenance and occasionally require repair. Here are signs that you may need a professional well company to do an assessment. You may only have to pay a service fee if your home warranty covers well pumps or well systems.
- There’s low water pressure or no water at all.
- Your well yields discolored, foul-smelling, foul-tasting, or contaminated water.
- The pump continually turns on and off, even when you aren’t using your well.
- You’ve been through a dry season, and water flow to your home is sputtering.
- It’s been more than 10 years since your well pump was installed.
- The pump is making loud noises.
- There’s visible damage to the well.
- Your electric bills rise due to an overworking pump.
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Life Expectancy of a Well
Drilled or dug wells can last as long as the walls hold up, but the equipment that runs them usually needs to be replaced every 20–30 years. The pump may fail, or the casing pipe may develop leaks. Replacements can cost up to $10,000 in materials and labor. You can extend your equipment’s lifespan by performing regular checks and maintenance or by hiring a well company to do these for you.
It’s also possible for a well to run dry. This isn’t likely or always permanent since aquifers and other sources may need time to fill back up. A well may fill with sediment over time, which will need to be pumped and cleaned out. In rare cases, you may need to dig deeper or find a different fracture to regain water flow.
Return on Investment
It’s widely claimed that having a functional well will raise your property value, but there’s no data on how much of a return on investment (ROI) you can expect. The consensus is that a well that yields drinking water will add more value than an irrigation well, but a nonfunctional or contaminated well will be a liability. Wells are generally more valuable in rural areas or where people want to live off the grid.
How To Save on Well Installation Costs
Installing a well is an expensive project, but there are some ways to save money.
- Install your well as close to your home as possible to reduce the need for lengthy wires and pipes.
- Research your yard’s soil and the depth you’ll need to drill before purchasing a DIY well drilling kit. Just because the kit can go 100 feet into the ground doesn’t mean you’ll hit clean water.
- Once the well is in place, connect it to hose bibs to use well water for washing your car and irrigating your lawn.
- Get quotes from at least three well installation services before hiring one.
It’s important to acknowledge that many DIY well drilling kits are sold within the “doomsday prepper” market. These kits are unlikely to be sufficient if you intend to use your well to fulfill most or all of your residential water needs. You’re better off at least consulting with local professionals who will know about your area’s geological features and water levels before starting the project. These professionals can help you make informed decisions about well installation.
A properly installed well can save you money on your utility bills and provide a private, unmetered water source. Make sure to budget for the drilling of the actual borehole and the equipment needed to pump and store the water, as well as water testing and purification if you intend to drink it. Your system should last for many years once it’s set up.
FAQs About Well Installation Cost
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