Sketchof a drawdown test for a water well (C) Carson Dunlop Associates How to Increase the Water Flow Rate or Quantity
Guide to Improving Well Yield

  • WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT - CONTENTS: What is the Minimum Acceptable Well Yield or Well Flow Rate? How do we get more water from an existing well?How do We Get Enough Water From a Well with a Poor Recovery or Flow Rate? Well Stimulation Methods. Well stimulation methods & equipment: hydro-frac packers, DST packers. What is hydro-fracking or hydro fracturing & how does it increase well yield. What is the minimum acceptable well yield or flow rate?
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to get more water out of the well: increase the well yield or well flow rate

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This article describes the minimum acceptable well yield or water flow rate for a well to be functional. Next we describe how to increase the yield or flow rate of a water well using several approaches, and we define hydro-fracturing for well stimulation.

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What is the Minimum Acceptable Well Yield or Well Flow Rate?

Some wells can produce a flow rate of 20 gallons per minute (gpm) or more. But for a single family home, 5 gpm is good, and 3 gpm is livable. In some communities the health department or building department will require at least 3 gpm (or more) to approve a new well for new construction.

These are general flow rates, but a more accurate answer to the required well yield flow rate for a specific property depends on the anticipated water quantity need for a given home, number of occupants, types of water usage, and thus the anticipated daily water usage, factored against the well yield (and possibly well recovery rate).

A risk with a well that already has a low yield is that the yield is at risk of dropping still further seasonally or permanently (common), or possibly failing entirely (less common). Therefore in buying such a property it would be prudent to presume that you will face additional costs to provide more or better water quantity. You might want to consult with local well drillers to get an idea about their experience in success in drilling wells in your immediate neighborhood as well as the typical well depth, yield, and cost. See WATER USAGE TABLE for a table that will help calculate the water flow rate or daily water usage for a property.

In the worst case with a slow or low yield well people install additional water storage/holding tanks to collect water at the low rate available from a well and provide water and then deliver it at the needed rate.

If a well yield is too low, in addition to reducing unnecessary water usage (conservation), increasing the onsite storage quantity (holding tanks), making sure equipment is working properly (no leaks), and the option of drilling a new well and hoping for a better yield, there are various methods to increase well yield.

Just below we explain How to Improve Well Yield or Improve the Quantity of Water Available. Other Related articles:

How to Test Well Flow Rate & Quantity

WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT - increasing well yield.

How to diagnose loss of water pressure or flow from a well (or municipal supply)

The sketch at page top, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, outlines what happens during a well drawdown or well flow test procedure. At WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR we outline the first steps to take if you have lost all water pressure. We discuss well flow rate and methods for testing the well yield in detail at WELL FLOW RATE

Readers should also see Water Tank Types and before assuming that a water problem is due to the well itself, see WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.

How do We Get Enough Water From a Well with a Poor Recovery or Flow Rate? Well Stimulation Methods

Before drilling a new well to get more water, some plumbers or well installers will try these things:

  • Check for clogged piping or well piping leaks: before doing something costly when you think that the well yield is too low, check that there is not a simpler problem such as a leak in the well piping inside the well casing or between the well and the building.

    A leak in the well piping lines will result in less water reaching the building than is being sent up by the pump. Next, if water pressure in the building is poor, the problem could be clogged pipes, perhaps by rust or mineral deposits.

    Other problems with the well pump, water pressure regulator, or water pressure tank can also cause bad water pressure in a building. To diagnose these causes of insufficient water pressure or flow, See WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR.

  • If the well has a very large static head inside the building the occupants may never notice that the well flow rate is poor. However a very poor well flow or recovery rate might mean that the well has a limited future life if minerals are also clogging up the rock fissures through which water is flowing into the well.

  • If the well has a small static head and a poor flow rate the installer may place a very large water holding tank inside the building and control the rate at which the water pump will draw water out. Building occupants live off of the water tank itself and the pump and well recover slowly, pumping water back into the tank and recovering during periods when occupants are not drawing water out. A large water storage tank is not the same thing as a typical well water pressure tank:

    At WATER TANK SIZE & VOLUME we describe the water quantity stored in typical water pressure tanks.

    At BIG WATER STORAGE TANKS we describe large holding tanks used to accumulate a large volume of water supply when a well suffers from a low flow rate.

  • Well yield increase methods are used when a well's yield has dropped too low or if a well has "gone dry" entirely (due to sediment-clogged rock fissures and unconnected water-bearing cracks which are preventing water from entering a well).

    Patented processes such as AquaFreed™'s "hydrofracking" or similar attempts to open rock fissures in the existing well may be tried using special equipment and gases or ice such as frozen CO2. (We no longer use dynamite to increase well yield but we used to.) AquaFreed, a water retrieval specialist, claims a 95% "success rate" at improving residential well yields.

    In Australia AGE Developments describes well stimulation and well testing: [13]
    • Hydro-frac Packers are equipment that stimulates and improves the yield of a water well by opening and flushing out previously closed fractures (presumably in underground rock) using high pressure water. An inflatable "packer" is lowered into the well and operated at various depths in the drilled well segments below the well casing. The hydro-fracturing process uses pressures up to 10,000 psi (700 bar) to force water through rock fractures.
    • Drill Stem Testing (DST) is used to isolate and test the water flow rate within different segments (at different depths) of the well in order to diagnose and evaluate the overall well flow rate as well as to target areas for hydro-fracturing. Drill stem testing allows the well driller to identify and evaluate the multiple aquifers through which a well may have been drilled. Details about drill stem testing are at Drill Stem Testing

  • Limit water use in the building such as by use of gray water recovery systems, low water or no-water flush toilets, general water conservation. Shower with a friend.

  • Drill a new or auxiliary well this more costly solution may be necessary - though first we'd ask the well driller's experience with cost and necessary well depth for the neighborhood and we'd ask for typical costs for nearby successful wells.


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