Exploring Emergency Plumbing Services

How Lightning Can Damage Your Water Well

by April Rivera

Water wells are susceptible to damage from nearby lightning strikes in a number of ways. If you have experienced a recent thunderstorm, you should know the signs of possible lightning damage to your well. Below are some of the most common problems that can appear after a well has been struck by lightning.

Well Pump Quits Operating

One of the most obvious signs of lightning damage is a malfunctioning well pump. Since pumps are electrically powered, they are susceptible to power surges caused by lightning.

Not all well pump damage appears immediately after the storm, however. There may be residual damage inside the pump that will only manifest itself after a few days of seemingly normal operation. For example, if the insulation was melted, then the pump may continue operating normally until the insulation remnants fall away from the wiring and a short circuit ensues.

To confirm lightning damage to a well pump, the pump will need to be extracted from the well and evaluated by a qualified technician. Signs of damage to the pump include scorching or burn marks to the pump casing as well as melted wiring or other internal components.

Dirty Water Flow from Well

Another sign that your well has been damaged by lightning is the presence of dirty, brown or red water. A lightning strike can cause significant disruptions to the groundwater by shaking soil particles or crumbling minerals. These substances then enter the water and emerge from your faucets.

Fortunately, this type of damage may be transient, as the well will usually "settle down" once the water has circulated for a while. Allow the water to run continuously for at least an hour to flush out the particles. If the water continues to run dirty even after flushing, then there could be more substantial damage present in the form of a cracked well casing.

The well casing is the liner inside the deep hole that extends to the water-producing strata. It prevents the hole from filling in with surrounding soil and also keeps contaminants out of the well, such as non-potable groundwater flowing at higher levels.

Determining whether the well casing is broken will require the use of remote camera equipment. A well technician will send the camera deep into the well and use it to view the casing. Any signs of leaking or damage will be noted, and repairs will be planned and made per the landowner's approval.