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Want To Install An Irrigation System On Well Water? What Should You Know?

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Whether you've recently installed some new landscaping you'd like to keep looking lush, are hoping to breathe some life back into your tired, brown lawn, or just want a break from daily garden watering sessions, you may be considering installing an irrigation system. Homes that are connected to a public water source may be able to get by with just a slight increase in their monthly water bill, but for homes with well water, adding an irrigation system can take some additional planning. Read on for some of the factors you'll want to take into account when installing an irrigation system powered by your current well.

System Capacity Considerations

First, you'll want to determine how much water your well can reliably provide to your irrigation system--purchasing and installing a system that requires far more water than your well can provide at once will minimize its effectiveness and put undue strain on your well pump as it works hard to meet the system's requirements.

Instead, you'll want to measure your well pump's by-the-minute output and purchase a system that is compatible with this output. This usually means not installing an extensive, high-powered system if you have a shallow well or underpowered well pump. You'll also want to ensure your irrigation system is programmable so that you can run it at night or while you're not home, minimizing any interruption in the functioning of your home's regular plumbing. 

Well Pump Considerations

When selecting a system capacity, you'll want to match your well pump's output under the assumption it's constantly running. Having your well pump turn on and off repeatedly while your irrigation system is running could put strain on it, eventually causing it to fail and sometimes result in an expensive emergency repair. 

If your current well pump has already been meeting or exceeding its capacity in providing your home with water, now may be the time to upgrade to a higher-powered pump. A new pump can allow you to adjust your irrigation system so that you'll be able to do dishes, take a shower, or otherwise go about your daily life while irrigating your lawn and garden, and calibrating your system to a pump once (rather than undergoing an initial calibration and then having to replace your well pump a few short months later) can be efficient.

Hard Water Considerations

Most well water tends to be mineral-rich, or "hard." This is because wells themselves are created by drilling into an aquifer to allow water to flow through granite, limestone, and other surrounding minerals into a collection area; without softening or conditioning to remove these minerals, this water may leave a lime or calcium build up on various components over time.

While hard water can shorten the life of your dishwasher, clothes washer, or even faucets, it can be especially hard on an irrigation system due to the number of small holes that allow water to flow through. Over time, hard water can clog your irrigation system and lead to water main breaches as the pressure from your well pump forces water to escape through other outlets. With some maintenance, including manual removal of the mineral scale on the outside of your sprinklers with citric acid, vinegar, or harsher chemicals, you may be able to prevent some of the problems caused by hard water, but there may be damage inside the hoses you're just not able to access.

You may want to consider installing either a whole-house water softener to treat this well water before it's used in either your household or irrigation system, or a smaller and more portable softener that will ensure your plants are being watered with treated, scale-free water. Taking this step can extend the life of your irrigation system and preserve the value of your investment. For more information, visit websites like