How to Clean Sand Out of Water Well

If your well is old, shallow, dry, or drilled into porous bedrock, it may accumulate silt and sand.

Once sand enters well water, it can cause clouding, bad tastes, and can clog the well pump. This leads to potential damage of the pump and water pipe, as well as issues with water flow rate and functioning of appliances and fixtures inside the home.

Illustration of a water droplet with check mark

How to clean sand out of a water well: use a surge block and submersible pump

If sand pollution is a new problem that has arisen as a result of a single event, the traditional method of removing it is to pump it out of your well.

Your well may have recently gone dry, or you may have recently repaired a malfunctioning pump, to name a couple of examples. In these cases, pumping the sand from your well should be sufficient to resolve the situation.

What is a surge block?

A surge block is a long tool with a seal at the end, which should fit snugly into the casing of your well. Think of it as a plunger for wells instead of drains.

Surge blockers are typically comprised of a disc with rubber bands that move down and up the well-casing as you work the controls at the handle.

This plunging motion is done in order to stir the water and incorporate the sand into the water column. Any sediment stuck to the sides of the well should be loosened at the same time. Once the sand becomes mobile inside the water supply, it will be easier to remove.

Insert a submersible pump or similar device into the well. Remove as much water and sand as possible until the water flows clear. In some situations, it may be necessary to pipe the water away from the property, whilst in other settings water may just run free across the surfaces.

Repeat this plunging and pumping process several times if necessary, until all the visible sand is removed.

How to fix sand in a water well by raising the well pump

If your well is correctly drilled and in good repair, you may be experiencing sediment accumulation due to a wrongly placed well pump.

Typically, the well pump is set somewhere around 15 feet higher than the well’s base. However, if the pump has been incorrectly fitted or the well is simply too shallow to accommodate this kind of gap, the pump may begin to draw sand and bedrock sediment up through the base of the well.

Sometimes, the shaft can actually get shorter as silt and debris accumulates, so a well pump that was once placed at an adequate height in the well is no longer best positioned. This is more likely to be the case in a very old well.

How do I raise my well pump?

Unless you have previous plumbing experience or some serious DIY know-how, raising a well pump is not a job to be taken on without professional support

If you suspect that your pump needs maintenance, have a well professional check your well health by placing a camera down your well. If the pump, casing, or screen needs repair, they will perform a full service.

Well water filtration for sand

For a minority of wells, sand accumulation will be a continuous problem, and not a one-off event due to well integrity issues or the pump.

In these situations, it may be necessary to install a well water filtration device designed to capture and remove sand.

There are two main types of sand water filters: centrifugal separators and spin-down screens.

Centrifugal sand separators

This device works by encouraging water to move through it in a downward spiraling pattern as it travels through the device's internal chamber. As the water rushes down the separator, centrifugal forces push undissolved particles, such as sand, to the outer edge, where it's collected by the system.

One advantage of centrifugal systems is that they do not include any moving components or cartridges, lowering costs and reducing the need for maintenance.

Spin-down filter screens

This type of filter works by screening undissolved particles from the water supply before they enter the well pump. The "spin-down" part of the filter refers to a flushing valve that needs to be periodically used to clear out the device.

Other causes of fine particulate/sandy substances in well water

  • Over time, it is fairly common for the lining of hot water tanks to begin corroding and leaching into the water supply, causing the appearance of sand or silt. Check to see if sand is appearing in both your hot and cold water supplies to rule out heater lining corrosion.
  • Likewise, corrosion of the anode rod in water heaters can also result in the release of small particles into the water supply. When well water contains high levels of hard minerals, it may prematurely corrode any heater rods constructed from magnesium or zinc. Consider a well water softener in this case.
  • A new carbon filter that hasn't flushed through properly can produce black sand or grit-like substance. Simply continue to run your faucets until the water clears.