In the wake of the horrific flooding during Hurricane Harvey, homeowners across Texas have been stepping up their game in hurricane preparedness. However, among the emergency safety kits, food, and backup generators you’ve procured, you may have overlooked your private well. To help you cover all your bases, Morrow Mechanical is here to share some hurricane safety tips for your private well.
Knowing the Potential Risks
When flooding occurs during hurricanes, homeowners with well systems are particularly vulnerable to contamination of their water. To break down the risks, here are some flooding hazards to consider:
1. Toxic Runoff
As floodwater moves through the landscape, it picks up all sorts of bacteria from sewage, industrial, and agricultural waste. Then, if your well becomes flooded by this toxic runoff, your water supply can quickly become contaminated.
2. Algal Blooms
If you have a private well, you are at an even higher risk when rivers flood and develop algal blooms. Causing abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, liver or kidney damage, and neurotoxicity, algal blooms are no joke, if ingested.
3. Debris Damage
With the high winds and flooding that carry large debris during hurricanes, your well casing can easily become cracked or distorted. As a result, the surrounding floodwater full of harmful pollutants can infiltrate your water supply.
How to Prepare Your Well Beforehand
In order to prevent your well from flooding before a hurricane hits, you’ll want to eliminate any openings through which floodwater can infiltrate the well. For the most thorough defense, be sure to take the following steps:
1. Disconnect the power supply to your well.
Before the hurricane hits, plan ahead by disconnecting the power supply to your well. This means turning your pump off at the circuit breaker and leaving it off throughout the storm. By keeping your power off, you can avoid a surge through the electrical lines that might damage the electrical components to your system. Also, be sure to have a surge suppressor on your pump as an added measure of protection.
2. Replace the well vent or extend the casing.
Secondly, you should replace the well vent with a water-tight plug to ensure no water can infiltrate the tank. Another alternative can be permanently extending the casing so that it is above flood level. Either way, you will want to make sure your well is impervious to floodwater.
3. Cover the top of the well.
Once you’ve taken care of the well vent, you should cover the top of the well with durable plastic. To keep it in place during the storm, secure the plastic with waterproof tape. Not only will this help keep debris and runoff out of your well, but it will make clean-up after the storm much easier.
4. Surround your well with sandbags or water-inflated flood barriers.
Finally, in order to keep floodwater from infiltrating your well, surround the exterior of your well with sandbags or water-inflated flood barriers. This will keep floodwater and debris and runoff from entering your tank or damaging the exterior casing.
Signs that Your Well is Contaminated
Although we recommend having your water professionally tested after major flooding, there are some signs to look for on your own. For instance, if your well is cracked or damaged after the hurricane, it’s safe to assume that your water has been compromised. Also, look for signs of flooding. Even if there is not floodwater surrounding the well, debris and mud stains on the well could indicate that there was flooding during the storm.
How to Ensure Safe Water After the Storm
Once you’ve confirmed that your well water is contaminated, you’ll need to flush the entire well, clean and turn on the pump, and disinfect it. For the most effective disinfection method, we recommend using shock chlorination. With this process, you will flush your system, and then pour a strong chlorine solution in the well and distribution system. Once you’ve completed this process, you’ll need to submit a new sample for testing at a professional laboratory to ensure your water is safe again.
Have a Backup Plan in Place
Although there are plenty of measures you can take to protect your private well from flooding before a hurricane, it’s always wise to have a backup plan. Therefore, we recommend preemptively filling your tubs and sinks with water to use when the power cuts off. Furthermore, you should have an emergency supply of bottled water that can be used for drinking and cooking during the storm.
Prepare with Morrow Mechanical
With the help of the pros at Morrow Mechanical, you can discover the best solutions to protect your home. To protect your home like a pro, call the team at Morrow Mechanical today!