Plugging an abandoned well | Living the Country Life

Plugging an abandoned well

Keep family, guests and the environment safe

When people move out to the country, it’s quite possible there’s an old well on the property that hasn’t been used in years.

An abandoned well needs to be sealed up if it was improperly sealed in the past, threatens the quality of the groundwater, or poses a health or safety threat.
The temptation is to dump in a load of concrete or sand, dust off your hands and call it good.  However, if a well isn’t sealed right, it remains a health risk because contaminants can still get down into the groundwater. And in some states, it’s against the law to seal a well yourself.
Retired well expert Barbara Liukkonen at the University of Minnesota says your first order of business is to call your local conservation district or the county health department to find a professional who can properly seal it.

"And they run a line down to the bottom of the well and they fill it up with a mixture that will prevent water getting through, it’s a bentonite clay and slurry that hardens over time," says Liukkonen. "They fill it up from the bottom up to the top so you know that whole length of the well has been properly filled."

Professionals will also submit the right permits to get the job done. Not sealing the well properly can come back to bite you if you try to sell the property.

"They can affect your property values and they can delay a property transfer," says Liukkonen.  "At least in most states you have to disclose if there’s an unused well on the property and if it needs to be sealed before the property is transferred, it can be a real problem in terms of property transfer or property value."

You’ll spend $3,000-$5,000 to seal a well, depending on your location. However, county and state agencies often have cost-sharing programs to help pay for the job.

Learn more about plugging up an old well


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