I never had household water come from a well before living in my current house. Once or twice each summer if we use too much water in a day (filling a wading pool, several loads of laundry, showers, and watering the garden all in one day) our water will turn dirty for a few days.
From what I can figure out, maybe the sides of our well are slipping down to the bottom when the water gets too low. Then it takes a while for the well to form another “cone of depression”. But this doesn’t seem like the type of thing that would happen two or three times a year, and take about 48 hours to repair itsself.
There’s a tank in the basement that the well water goes in to before it comes up to the house. My question is: Is it possible that this tank is simply dirty an needs to be cleaned periodically (which I’ve never one) or should I look in to getting my well dug deeper so that this stops happening?
The tank in your basement is probably a pressure tank. A bubble of air is formed at the inside top when the pump forces well water in to the bottom. When a faucet is opened in the house, the air pressure forces the water thru the household pipes and up into your sink.
If you have a lot of sediment in your well water, the pressure tank can fill up with it and its function will deteriorate. The usual symptom is “surging” or up & down pressure changes over a few seconds while a faucet is open. The loss of the air bubble can also cause this.
I suggest you shut off the pump and drain the tank. Then shut all valves and start the pump. This should flush any sediment and recreate the air pocket. You will have some air in the plumbing for a while, but it will go away as you use things.
However, newer tanks use a rubber bladder (inside the metal tank) to hold the water and rely on the rubber’s elasticity to provide the pressure. When the rubber gets old, you just have to replace the entire tank. Maybe someone will invent a way to replace just the bladder, but I’m not sure if that can be done now – better check with a plumber.
IANAP (Plumber), but I think your problem of sediment is most likely caused by the underground source. Probably your extreme draw stirs up the area at the bottom of the well. Solution: dig a deeper well, or move it to a better location. But present-day geology doesn’t provide us with much data about just how deep or just where, so it’s a crap-shoot.
Maybe a filtration system on your house would work. A water-softening system also might help precipitate sediment. There are a lot of expensive solutions available, so I hope your pockets are as deep as the well!
Thanks for your help, Musicat. I seem to have no trouble with pressure, though. The pressure stays good, even after a lot of usage, but the water gets discolored and gritty. We have a filter on the system, but when this happens it quickly overpowers the filter.