In many areas of the country, wells have been installed to supply water to homes, animals, or as irrigation but when the well is no longer in service, leaving it open is not a good idea. There are many reasons that plugging the well when it is no longer in use is better than just leaving it. While water well plugging is complicated, there are well-drilling companies that have the ability to do just that.
What Is Well Plugging?
Understanding the process is not as easy as understanding the end result but essentially, once the well is abandoned, the well is filled with native soil or gravel then plugs made of Bentonite grout are placed at several levels inside the well. The plug does several things. It protects the water table from contamination and it closes the hole to keep anyone from getting hurt. Depending on the depth of the well, the construction of the well, and the time in service, you may not be able to easily plug the well yourself but you are allowed to in most states as long as you follow local guidelines and rules.
Can't I Just Fill In The Well?
The simple answer is no. Filling in the well with soil will not properly plug the hole. It can still allow water to seep to the surface and contaminants to seep through to the water table. Bentonite is used in the drilling processes and is the best option because when it comes in contact with water, it expands to about 25 times its original density, forming a nearly impenetrable plug that the water can get through. If the plug is not put in properly, the water under the fill can erode the soil away until the top becomes unstable and sinks. This is the time when a person or animal walking over it can step down and suddenly fall into the well.
Who Can Do The Well Plug For Me?
Your best option when it comes to plugging a well is to hire a well drilling company to prep the well and install the plugs. Most well drillers use Bentonite around the casing as it is installed to secure it, stabilize the borehole, and seal the well casing to the borehole. They work with and have access to the material, they have to tools required to properly install the plugs at multiple levels and they will most likely be up on the local guidelines for plugging a well. In some areas you will have to file an application to plug the well with the city, town, or county it is in before the work starts so do your research before taking on this kind of project and don't try to do it alone.