How Much Does Well Drilling Cost?
Adding a well to a property can offer rural homeowners a reliable water source and peace of mind. Drilling a well typically costs between $1,500 and $12,000, with the national average well-drilling cost at $5,500.
- Well drilling costs a national average of $5,500 and typically ranges between $1,500 and $12,000.
- The precise cost of drilling a well depends on several factors, including well depth, soil type, drilling method, casing pipe material and size, well location on the property, permits, and water testing.
- Drilling a well has numerous benefits such as water independence, money savings, sustainability, healthier and better-tasting water, and a potential increase in home value.
- A homeowner may be able to dig a shallow well on their own, but a deeper well requires a professional to ensure there is no water contamination and that the well meets local codes.
A well is an artificial hole drilled into the ground that provides a property with safe access to groundwater. Property owners in rural areas don’t always have access to the public water supply, and drilling a well offers a sustainable solution that’s safe and reliable, even during droughts or emergencies.
According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the average cost to put in a well ranges from $1,500 to $12,000, depending on how deep the well is, what type of soil surrounds it, and what drilling method is used. On average, homeowners pay $5,500 to drill a well, though local well-drilling costs are different throughout the country. This guide will cover the factors that influence well-drilling costs, the benefits of adding a well to a property, and how to save money on installation and maintenance.
Factors in Calculating Well-Drilling Cost
Estimating the cost of drilling a well depends on several factors, including well depth, drilling method, and permits. Understanding the following influencing factors can help homeowners prepare for the cost of a well installation.
The depth of a well heavily influences how much it will cost to drill. Most wells measure between 100 feet and 400 feet deep, but depth can vary depending on the location and geology of the property.
In some cases, groundwater can be found much closer to the surface, and a well as shallow as 25 feet may be deep enough for access. However, it’s more common for a shallow well to become contaminated and the water unsafe for drinking. Even if drilling costs more, a deeper well is often the safer option. Homeowners can expect to pay between $15 and $30 per foot when digging a well, depending on the diameter of the casing (the material that lines the drilled hole).
|Depth||Average Cost (4-Inch Diameter Casing)||Average Cost (6-Inch Diameter Casing)|
Soil type can influence well-drilling costs in a couple of ways. When soil is soft, it’s usually easier to drill through, which can reduce labor hours and offer some savings. However, softer ground is typically less stable, and a well dug in such conditions may require additional materials and labor to prevent it from collapsing.
On the other hand, rocky or hard soil can cost more in labor hours to drill. It can require additional equipment to get through and more expensive drilling techniques. However, harder ground offers stability that can support a well casing and prevent collapse, saving on additional materials up front and reducing maintenance costs over the lifespan of the well.
Property owners with partially rocky soil can expect to pay 92 percent more to drill through it, while those living on dense, rocky ground may pay more than 150 percent more for drilling.
There are three main drilling methods, each with its own advantages and price ranges. Drilled wells are the most common type of well. They can reach deeper water sources, and using casing protects against contamination. While drilled wells can be expensive, they tend to be more durable and long lasting than other types of wells. Drilled well costs start at $5,500.
Driven wells are ideal for sandy soil. The drilling process mimics a straw being pushed into the ground, with a driver pushing a long steel pipe down until it reaches groundwater. Driven wells are less expensive, starting at $4,000, and can be installed quickly. However, this type of well has a screen used to filter sand out of the water, and that sediment can clog the screen on a driven well over time.
Dug wells are the oldest type of well and are ideal for shallow groundwater access. They’re the least expensive type of well and can be dug by hand, but they’re limited in reach and can be easily contaminated. The cost to dig a well starts at $2,500.
Casing Pipe Material and Size
Well casing is the pipe that lines the drilled hole, ensuring it doesn’t collapse while keeping dirt and rocks from falling into the well. The type of casing and its size both influence water well cost.
PVC is the most common type of casing material. It’s also the most affordable at $6 to $10 per foot. PVC pipe is highly resistant to corrosion but may not be the best choice for deeper wells due to the weight and pressure of the surrounding soil and rocks.
Steel is another common casing pipe material. Steel casing pipes are incredibly durable and long lasting, and their strength makes them ideal for deeper wells. However, they’re much more expensive than PVC pipes, costing between $33 and $130 per foot. Besides its material, a casing’s diameter can also influence pricing. Generally speaking, wider pipes cost more than narrower pipes.
Distance From House
Distance influences well-drilling costs in several ways. To start, a well that is farther away from a house will require more materials and man-hours, both of which come at a cost.
Another factor to consider is water pressure. As water travels from the well and through the pipes to a home, it loses pressure. If it has to travel a long distance, a booster pump or storage tank may be necessary to ensure adequate water pressure to the home.
Generally speaking, the closer a well is to the building or residence it’s serving, the less it will cost to drill. While several factors influence the cost to drill a well, property owners can expect to pay between $50 and $150 per foot to run water and electric supply lines between their well and their home.
Water testing pricing can vary depending on the specific test(s) being performed. Most wells need to be tested annually for bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. Results can tell a homeowner if the water from their well is safe to drink. A DIY kit costs between $30 and $150, and hiring a professional to perform the test costs between $100 and $500.
Water testing is usually included in the drilling cost unless it’s done as part of maintenance after installation. But if results are less than ideal, additional testing, treatments, or filtration systems can add to the overall costs of maintaining a well.
The average cost to drill a well can vary by state and geographic location, mainly due to differences in soil makeup and water levels. For example, drilling in an area with hard, rocky soil will likely cost more since specialized equipment may be required, as opposed to an area with more ideal soil conditions.
Higher demand for well-drilling services can bring higher labor costs in some areas. Additionally, some states have more extensive permitting and inspection requirements than others, which can influence well-drilling cost.
|State||Cost Range per Foot|
|California||$25 to $50|
|Florida||$15 to $30|
|Oklahoma||$20 to $40|
|Texas||$30 to $55|
|Wisconsin||$20 to $45|
A permit is a legal document that ensures a home improvement or construction project is completed safely and up to code. Many state and local governments require permits for well drilling, whether a licensed contractor or the property owner is digging it. In most scenarios, obtaining a permit is an additional yet essential cost that goes along with digging a well.
The cost of obtaining a permit for well digging will vary depending on local regulations, but most homeowners can expect to pay between $5 and $500. The permit process can be time-consuming, with some applications requiring specific information such as the well’s location, depth, and construction details.
One benefit of working with a contractor is that many handle the application themselves, saving a property owner from the stress and potential challenges of the permitting process.
Additional Costs and Considerations
There are several additional costs a property owner will need to know about when drilling a well. Possible scenarios include the cost of installing a well pump, septic system, or storage tank. Additionally, the cost of installing a new well versus upgrading an existing well can vary. A budget-conscious property owner will want to be aware of the following considerations to avoid costly surprises.
New vs. Existing Well
There can be a cost difference between drilling a new well versus redrilling an existing well. When drilling a new well, especially on a rural property, there may be costs associated with building access roads, installing pipelines, or building other infrastructure related to the well and the areas it will serve.
Many of these up-front concerns and costs have already been addressed with an existing well. But drilling an existing well deeper doesn’t cost much more or less than drilling a new well. Property owners can expect to pay between $35 and $84 per foot or a total of $3,000 to $6,000.
Drilling a well deeper doesn’t guarantee a better water yield, but it can be the more affordable solution compared to the cost of new well construction.
Septic System Installation
A septic system is a type of wastewater treatment system. Like a water well, a septic system is a standard solution for a rural property that’s unable or unwilling to connect to a public waste system.
Installing the two systems are separate processes, so one doesn’t necessarily influence the other. Some well installation contractors can also install a septic system, so it can make more financial sense in some cases to have both systems installed simultaneously. Property owners will want to explore potential discount options for drilling and installing the two systems at the same time. A septic system alone costs between $3,300 and $10,600, while installing both systems ranges between $5,000 and $22,500.
Well Pump Installation
Most types of wells require a pump. A well pump extracts the groundwater and delivers it to the surface, where it travels through the system’s pipes. When a homeowner is choosing a well pump, there are two main types to consider. A submersible pump is installed at the bottom of the well, while a jet pump is installed aboveground and pulls water up. Finding the best well pump for each well type is essential.
The type and size of the pump can influence the total installation costs, with larger pumps and those installed deeper into the ground costing more. Additionally, the location and accessibility of the installation site can also influence costs. The cost of a well pump ranges from $300 to $2,000.
Storage Tank Installation
A storage tank, also known as a pressure tank, is used to store water from a well system. It also maintains consistent water pressure, allowing a well system to act more like a public water system. A storage tank can also help during periods of high water demand, ensuring every appliance and faucet within a home has a steady, strong flow of water, even when operating simultaneously.
Not all wells require a storage tank, but interested property owners can expect to pay between $100 and $700 for a storage tank, depending on its size. Smaller tanks can hold only a few gallons, while larger tanks can hold over 40 gallons of well water.
There are several types of electrical components that a water well system may require, including:
- Water pump: pumps water from the well to the surface
- Pressure switch: turns well pump on and off in relation to water pressure in the storage tank
- Control box: regulates the operation of a submersible well pump
- Electrical wiring: connects all the components to the home’s electrical system
It’s possible to have a fully functioning well without any electrical components. But for systems that require or can benefit from electrical components, property owners can expect to pay between $50 and $150 for materials and an additional $160 to $500 for labor.
A well purification system, or well water filtration system, is designed to remove impurities and contaminants from well water, including bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. There are several types of purification systems, including:
- Ultraviolet (UV) purification: relies on UV light to kill bacteria and viruses
- Reverse osmosis system: uses a membrane to filter out impurities
- Activated carbon filters: attract and absorb impurities into the filter
Most wells use a reverse osmosis system, but the best well water filtration system for each well depends on the specific impurities found in the well water and whether the well is supplying water for agricultural or domestic purposes. A purification system can add between $800 and $2,600 to the well-drilling costs, with an additional $200 to $400 for labor.
Well-Drilling Cost by Type of Well
Well-drilling costs can vary by well type. Some of the most common well types, including how they influence drilling costs, are explained below.
|Type of Well||Drilling Cost|
|Artesian||$25 to $45 per foot|
|Geothermal||$20 to $40|
|Irrigation of agricultural||$35 to $55 per foot|
|Residential||$15 to $30 per foot|
|Sand point||$200 to $1,500|
|Shallow||$1,800 to $3,000|
An artesian well is unique because it doesn’t rely on a pump to move groundwater through its plumbing system. Instead, the well taps into a confined aquifer or a layer of porous rock surrounded by impermeable layers of rock or clay. This geological scenario results in high pressure, and when a well is drilled through it, it pushes groundwater upward.
The most obvious benefit of an artesian well is that it doesn’t require a pump, which eliminates the need for electricity. Artesian wells are often drilled very deep, accessing high-quality groundwater sources with little chance of contamination.
However, the initial cost of drilling an artesian well can be expensive, running between $25 and $45 per foot.
A geothermal well is less about water and more about heating. Geothermal wells use natural heat from deep within the earth to heat and cool homes and buildings. These systems require minimal maintenance compared to traditional heating and cooling systems while also outlasting less energy-efficient heating and cooling methods. However, geothermal heat pump cost can be much higher than that of conventional heating methods.
It’s important to note that, depending on the geological conditions, geothermal heating is not available in all areas. Geothermal wells must also be drilled with a specialized rig and measure at least 150 feet deep. With such strict requirements, geothermal wells can be expensive to install, with a typical drilling cost range of $20 to $40.
Irrigation or Agricultural
An irrigation or agricultural well, as the name suggests, is a type of well designed solely for agricultural purposes, including watering crops or keeping livestock supplied with drinking water. An agricultural well is typically drilled deeper than a residential well and may require specialized equipment.
An irrigation well can provide a reliable water source for crops and livestock during droughts or periods of low precipitation. This can boost crop yield while reducing water costs.
However, an irrigation well can be more expensive to install and maintain, costing between $35 and $55 per foot. It can also be at risk for contamination from fertilizers or pesticides.
A residential well is designed to provide water to a single-family home or residential property. Groundwater is accessed by either digging or drilling and is then pumped to the surface and into a home’s plumbing system, where it can be used for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and more.
Residential wells can be shallow or deep and tend to get more expensive the deeper they go. Deeper holes may require multiple drill bits, bumping up material costs. The cost of digging a residential well is also strongly influenced by the local geology and water table.
Residential wells are less expensive than many other types of wells, with drilling costing between $15 and $30 per foot. Additional installation needs like casing can add to the overall cost.
Sand point wells typically access only shallow groundwater. A small pipe measuring only a few inches in diameter is driven into the ground to install a sand point well. While sand point wells are not usually large enough to provide water for larger households or agricultural use, they are ideal as an affordable backup water source for emergencies or for watering small gardens.
Sand point wells are relatively easy to install and offer minimal maintenance compared to other types of wells. They’re also relatively cost-effective, with a price range between $200 and $1,500.
However, sand point wells are susceptible to contamination and often have a limited lifespan compared to other types of wells.
A shallow well, as the name suggests, is ideal for a shallow groundwater source typically less than 25 feet deep. A shallow well is often the go-to type for irrigation purposes, though it can also be used for residential water.
A shallow well can be dug by hand or drilled. Since a shallow well often requires fewer materials and less labor, it can be a more affordable option than other well types, even with the cost of one of the best shallow well pumps. Shallow well drilling can cost as little as $1,800, though prices can be as high as $3,000. Shallow wells are also easier to maintain and offer higher flow rates.
However, a shallow well can be more susceptible to contamination and is more likely to be affected by pollutants.
Benefits of Choosing to Drill a Well
Wells offer the obvious benefit of access to fresh, clean water. But they can also include a variety of other benefits for property owners, from water independence to potentially increased home value.
A well can allow a property to become partially or entirely water independent, depending on the property owner’s goals. Rather than relying on the public water supply, a home with a properly installed and adequately supplied well always has a reliable water source, even when natural disasters or emergencies disrupt the public water supply.
Living in a home without a reliable water source can be inconvenient and, in some cases, even dangerous. Without easy access to water, keeping up with personal hygiene, cooking, and cleaning can be nearly impossible. A lack of water can also wreak havoc on a home’s plumbing system. Being water independent can help a property owner feel more secure and in control of their water supply.
Relying on public water often comes with a hefty bill. While there are initial drilling costs to consider when adding a first-time well to a property, it’s an investment that usually pays for itself and then some over time.
When a well provides for all of a property’s water needs, there are no monthly water bills to pay. Additionally, some areas offer lower property taxes for properties not connected to the public water supply.
Wells also come with low maintenance costs. Public water systems are less durable, and harsh chemicals can corrode pipes over time. A private water system isn’t subject to the same wear and tear, which can result in maintenance cost savings over time.
A well is a sustainable water source, especially when compared to using a public water system or transporting drinking water to a property. Wells tap into groundwater, which is naturally replenished during rainstorms and through other forms of precipitation.
Well water comes from a local source, meaning there are no transportation costs or treatment processes that eat up additional resources. As long as a well is properly maintained, it can provide a reliable source of water for several uses, including irrigation, cleaning, cooking, and drinking, without using up resources unnecessarily.
With wells, the more properties they serve, the easier it can be to take care of a local water supply and ensure it remains clean and healthy.
Healthier and Tastier Water
The taste of well water can sometimes be better than the taste of water from other sources, including tap water. The crisper, cleaner taste can be attributed to the natural minerals and nutrients typically found in well water.
Also, well water doesn’t include chemical additives or go through the same treatment process as tap water, which can negatively affect the taste and smell of water.
For the same reasons, well water can also be healthier than water from other sources. However, to ensure that a well is providing healthy water, regular testing is a must.
It’s also important to note that local geology can heavily influence the taste and appearance of well water. But in general, it’s hard for other types of water to compete with the noticeable difference in taste well water offers.
Increased Home Value
A property with an operational well can often be worth much more than a similar property lacking an on-site water source. Potential buyers may find a well appealing for many reasons, especially if the public water system in a town is limited or unreliable.
A well offers a certain degree of self-sufficiency and independence, which could be a specific criterion a buyer is searching for in a home. A well also offers potential cost savings, making it easier for a seller to request top dollar from potential buyers. Also, a well can be a unique property feature that helps set it apart from competing properties.
It’s worth noting that a well alone won’t be enough to increase a home’s value. It must be in good working condition and offer high-quality water to boost a property’s asking price.
Well Drilling: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
For budget-conscious property owners, a DIY well might sound like the perfect solution. But before grabbing that shovel, weighing the pros and cons of a DIY well is important.
The biggest advantage of DIY well drilling is the potential to save on costs. A DIY well-digging project typically costs around $2,500, including the following costs.
|Well-drilling rig kit||$700|
|Water storage tank||$500|
DIY drilling also allows a property owner to schedule their well construction around their schedule, which can be beneficial during a busy drilling season that may otherwise keep them waiting for a professional.
But DIY well drilling can be dangerous, especially when it comes to deeper wells. And in some areas, DIY well drilling isn’t legally permitted and can result in legal consequences and fines. When a property owner decides to drill their own well, the job may take longer than it would if hiring a professional. This extended task duration can result in extra expenses, especially if the drilling equipment is rented.
Conversely, hiring a professional to drill a well can offer its own advantages. Professional well- drilling companies have the right equipment and experience to do the job safely and quickly. They’re also familiar with legal requirements, ensuring a well is functional and compliant with local laws.
Of course, hiring a professional well driller does come at a cost, but having the task completed safely and correctly can make the money spent well worth the cost.
Overall, it’s highly recommended to have a professional drilling company handle a well installation project. While a DIY approach may seem like a cost-effective solution, it can be dangerous and ultimately more expensive in the long run.
How to Save Money on Well-Drilling Cost
Homeowners considering drilling a well may be concerned about the potential cost. However, there are several ways to save money on well drilling without compromising the quality of the project. Here are some money-saving tips to keep in mind.
- Get several estimates. Contact multiple drilling companies and compare their quotes to find the best value, ensuring each quote includes the same scope of work.
- Drill in the off-season. If time allows, consider drilling during the off-season when a dip in demand can result in more competitive pricing.
- Consider location. Choose the best well location, considering that shallow wells can be more affordable, though they are at higher risk for contamination.
- Choose an irrigation well. Dig an irrigation well, which provides water for gardening, filling pools, and other outdoor uses. Irrigation wells don’t have to be hooked up to a residence, making them a cost-saving option for properties that can still access public water systems.
- Maintain the well. Keep up with regular inspections and proper maintenance from the best well pump services to minimize the chance of costly repairs down the line.
Questions to Ask About Well Drilling
Asking a professional well driller questions before hiring them can help a property owner get a better understanding of their experience, pricing, and process, ensuring a well is drilled correctly and efficiently. The following are some questions to consider when shopping for a professional well driller.
- Are you licensed and insured?
- How many years of experience do you have in drilling wells?
- Can you provide references from your past clients?
- How do you determine the best location on my property for the well?
- How much water does my property need?
- What type of well do you recommend?
- What is the average cost of drilling a water well?
- How deep do you typically have to drill wells in this area?
- Can you provide a total cost estimate, including permits or additional fees?
- How long do you expect the drilling process to take?
- What is your cleanup policy after the drilling is complete?
- Are there any potential risks or environmental concerns I should be aware of?
- Do you offer a warranty or guarantee for the well and materials?
- What ongoing maintenance do you recommend?
- What is the average cost of well inspections?
Drilling a well offers multiple benefits to property owners, especially those in rural areas, including cost savings, sustainability, and reliability. But it’s important to consider all the different cost-influencing factors that can come into play when drilling a well, including well depth and type. The following FAQ section can help property owners better understand the well-drilling process, the costs, and how to budget for them.
Q. How long does it take to drill a well?
The timeline for a well-drilling project depends on how deep the well is and how difficult the soil is to drill through. However, most wells only take between 1 and 3 days to drill. Once the drilling is complete, it can take a few more days to set up a pump system, run electricity, and test the water. On average, drilling and installing an operational well takes a week.
Q. How deep should a well be for drinking water?
Generally speaking, the deeper the well, the better the water will be for drinking. Deep groundwater is protected from surface contamination thanks to layers of soil and rock. These natural filters make the groundwater less likely to be polluted or contaminated. It’s recommended that a well be at least 100 feet deep for safe drinking water.
Q. How much water can a well produce a day?
Every well’s daily production rate is unique. The amount of water a well can produce in a day depends on how the well was made and how porous the surrounding rock layers are. The general recommendation for the minimum amount of water a well should produce is 1 gallon every minute, or 1,440 gallons per day. While a well can produce much more, anything less than this recommendation can leave a property without an adequate supply.
Q. How long does a well maintain water?
A well should last at least 20 years, but with proper maintenance can last up to 50 years. The lifespan of a well also depends on how much rainwater it receives. Sometimes leaks can shorten a well’s lifespan, which is why it’s so important to routinely inspect a well and handle any necessary repairs as soon as possible.
Q. Does a well use a lot of electricity?
When a well relies on an electric pump to move water, it can use a lot of electricity. One way to ensure a well pump is as efficient as possible is to ensure it’s the proper size. Larger pumps use more electricity, so downsizing can often save on electricity costs if a smaller pump can still get the job done.
Q. How clean is the water that a well creates?
Well water doesn’t go through the same treatments as public water and can get dirty enough to make someone sick. In fact, a United States Geological Survey study found that nearly a quarter of all private wells are contaminated. Testing well water regularly, especially after heavy rainfall, plumbing work, or when noticing a change in taste or smell, can help ensure well water is clean and safe.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide, WelGard