The Pros and Cons of 3 Common Water Well Drilling Methods

A water well is widely considered to be an affordable way of accessing clean water without relying on a major city system. If you've decided that a well is an ideal solution for your household's water supply, then you may be wondering what drilling technique is best for your property. As you and your water well service prepare for the installation of your new well, you should take a look at the various drilling methods that are commonly employed today. Keep reading below to learn more about the pros and cons of each technique.

1) Jetting

The jetting method is a popular approach that uses a pump to send a powerful stream of water through a drill pipe to break up the sediment. Debris is flushed back to the surface before flowing into a reserve pit. The water is pumped down again through the pipe, and the process continues until the well is completed. Typically, the rotation of the drill pipe is achieved by hand to ensure that the hole is straight.

Jetting is an excellent method for small water well crews, as it requires just two people and minimal tools for proper operation. In fact, the only equipment a contractor needs to bring is a pipe and water pump. The most significant drawback to jetting is the limited type of sediment that can be drilled. Jetting will only work with soft sediment consisting of fine grains. Additionally, it is somewhat difficult to build a sanitary seal against contamination due to the narrow borehole.  

2) Rotary

Rotary drilling is another common well drilling technique. A special bit is added to a drill pipe and pushed into the ground to create the borehole. The pipe is lowered and raised repeatedly by a motorized mechanism attached to a mast on a rig. The cuttings are either removed by compressed air or through a clay fluid mixture. A benefit of rotary well drilling is that it is a much faster method than some of the other techniques. The equipment can also be set up relatively quickly, and time is not wasted to dig a reserve pit.

The main disadvantage to rotary drilling is that it can be expensive, especially if you must drill through rock with a larger rig. Since so much weight must be exerted on the drill bit, a substantial amount of fuel is used in the rigs and support vehicles. 

3) Cable Tool

With cable tool drilling, a very heavy steel cable moves a drill bit up and down into the borehole. Water in the borehole holds the cuttings until they can be manually removed by a bailing device. A winch is usually placed on a trailer or truck bed, and a pulley system does the work of controlling the cable's movement. An advantage of cable tool drilling is how easily it can dig through any kind of material, from soft sand to heavy rocks. Water wells can also be created at extreme depths with the cable tool method.

The cons of cable tool drilling include slower operational timing and the need to have a steel casing to prevent the collapse of the borehole. Additional equipment, such as a cutting torch, is generally necessary as well. 

Be sure to choose the method that is best suited for your particular geological area. Your well drilling contractor can help you determine exactly which technique is right for your property.