Frequently Asked Questions

Are permits needed?

Yes, all wells, including irrigation wells, require a state permit that can be obtained only by a licensed well driller.  Many counties or municipalities also require their own permits, notwithstanding receipt of a copy of the state permit.  Upon completion of the well, the driller is required to submit a record of the actual well construction to the state.  Unrecorded or illegally drilled wells could impact the future sale of a property in addition to posing environmental risks.

How deep should the well be?

The depth of the well is dependent upon several factors, predominately geology of the specific area of work, anticipated water quality in that area and quantity of water sought.  It is important to note that deeper is not always better, inasmuch as deeper depths do not always yield the best or more water.  We have an extensive database of more than 7,000 wells that we have drilled.  Using this database and geological studies, we nearly always are able to estimate the depth of a well in your area that will provide a sufficient quantity and best quality of water available.

How long will it take to complete the installation?

Drilling may not start until permits are obtained, usually a period requiring two to four weeks.  The actual drilling often takes only one day due to the efficiency of our equipment and crew.  The pump and well tank installation typically requires an additional day.  However, the trench for the water and electric lines between the well and dwelling frequently must remain open until inspection and approval by the local health officer. Upon installation, the water should be run continuously for approximately five days or until the water is crystal clear and the chlorine disinfectant has been pumped out.

How much mess will there be?

The process of drilling a well results in surface land disturbance due to equipment access and drilling operations.  Drilling at some sites creates minimal or no residual mess, while other sites present much worse conditions.  Prior to drilling, we can give you a good idea of how much mess to expect when we visit your site.  We do our best to contain the drill cuttings, often pumping them away to a wooded or rough area where the environment is not affected and then washing the work area down upon completion of the well, or removing them completely if necessary at extra expense.  When conditions require, we use special mats to drive the drill rig to the well location to minimize lawn damage.  We also backfill and slightly mound the trench we dig to install the water and electric lines between the well and the house, however we do not provide final landscaping repair unless specifically provided for in our contract with you.

What additional work, if any, will I need to do?

You will be required to supply an adequate source of electricity to the well tank location.  On new installations, you must hire an electrician to run the electric, but on replacement wells we normally are able to reuse the existing electrical supply.  When a new electric line is needed or an existing line must be extended to a new location, you should hire a licensed electrician for safety and code compliance.  After the new well is functional, you will need to hire a state-approved water test laboratory to test the water and report the results to the NJDEP if the water will be used for drinking.

What is a constant pressure system and how is it different from a conventional pump system?

Conventional well pump systems for a household consist of a submersible pump (jet pumps are now considered outdated technology in our area) located within the well and a large well tank (approximately 2’ diameter by 2’ to 5’ high) that is sized based on the flow rate of the pump.  A pressure switch controls the pump by turning it on when the pressure in the system drops to a preset low point and turning it off when pumping restores the system to a preset high point.  Some pressure fluctuation is thus unavoidable in the water system.  Conversely, a constant pressure solid-state electrical control panel causes the pump impellers to spin slower when a small amount of water is needed and faster as more water is needed, while maintaining a constant pressure.  This constant pressure design produces “city water” like pressure.  Furthermore, it utilizes a small, wall mounted, space-saving well tank (approximately 1’ by 1’).  This design eliminates short cycling malfunctions that sometimes occur with conventional systems and also is moderately more energy efficient.

What is grouting and why is it important?

Please examine the well diagram on this web site showing how we construct our wells. Grouting is the process by which the space between the borehole and the well casing is sealed to prevent contaminants from the surface and upper water table seeping down into the lower water supply for the well, wherever wells are drilled.  When a well is constructed in our area of work in New Jersey, an oversized borehole is drilled to accommodate placement of the well casing and well screen.  Unlike wells drilled into rock (consolidated formations) in the northern section of the state above the Raritan River, a well screen is needed in our drilling areas that consist of sands, silts and clays (unconsolidated formations).  After placement in the borehole, the outside of the well screen is packed with specially sized sand (called gravel pack) that allows water to enter the well, but keeps out small sand and silt particles present in the aquifer.  The space above the gravel pack is sealed (grouted) by pumping under pressure either a viscous bentonite clay or cement to prevent downward migration of contaminants.  Proper grouting is essential in order to protect your water supply and quite possibly, your neighbor’s water supply, too.

What kind of water treatment will I need?

To remove dissolved iron and prevent staining water, softeners or salt-free water filters can be installed.  Water softeners remove dissolved iron and hardness using ion exchange.  These systems recharge themselves with salt that is consumed, but adding virtually no salt to the water itself.  However, they do require routine filling of the salt tank by the homeowner.  We also install treatment systems with a salt-free design that remove iron and sulfur odor by oxidizing the dissolved iron and hydrogen sulfide gas into a filterable form and then backwashing this precipitate out.  This treatment does not require filling of salt or chemical tanks.  The size of the water treatment system depends on the required flow rate of the well and pump system and if the water used for irrigation must be treated as well as the domestic house water.

What size pump do I need?

The size (horsepower) of the pump depends on your water needs.  Large homes with multiple bathrooms normally have a greater water demand than small homes.  Large, landscaped properties require big pumps to meet irrigation needs.  Deeper wells sometimes need larger pumps to effectively deliver water to the house.  We will discuss your present and future requirements in order to appropriately design a well and pumping system for you.

What type of training and licenses should the well driller have?

New Jersey requires that a licensed journeyman or master well driller be on site while the well is being drilled.  Similarly, a licensed well driller or pump installer must be on site when the pump, tank and controls are being installed.  Pickwick currently (2009) employs four master well drillers, one journeyman driller and one pump installer, in additional to helpers who do not require trade licenses.  A master drillers license is the highest category of drilling license, requiring a minimum of five years of drilling and pump experience and passing a comprehensive test.  Pickwick always sends licensed mechanics to perform new installation and service work.

Where does Pickwick work?

We drill wells predominantly in Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Burlington and Mercer Counties in New Jersey.   We purposely limit our work area to achieve in-depth knowledge and experience in these local drilling environs and to provide ready access and cost efficiency for servicing our wells.  Well drilling, particularly for drinking water wells and irrigation wells, is always local in nature and presents challenges that vary from one geological area to another.

Where should the well be located?

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regulates well drilling in the state.  Setbacks for water wells for drinking require that the well be at least 20’ from the house, 100’ from a septic field, 50’ from a septic tank, 25’ from a sewer line and 25’ from a fuel tank.  Wells should also be located for convenient access for drilling equipment and future service.

Will I need water treatment?

Many wells in our work area have naturally occurring levels of dissolved iron, hydrogen sulfide (causes sulfur odor), and/or low pH that do not meet high water quality standards.  Although these water characteristics are not harmful to your health, they are aesthetically unpleasing and thus require water treatment to prevent brown staining of fixtures, foul odor and corrosion of copper pipes and faucets.

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