How to hire a good driller

Choosing the right driller can be a huge task.  And, it is probably the most important decision you will make regarding your water system.  Here are some tips to get it right.

  1. Hire a local well driller.  I often get requests to drill a well in areas that I am not familiar with the underground formations.  People see my great website and they automatically assume that I am the best driller for any well.  This could not be further from the truth.  The local well driller knows which formations go dry during droughts.  They know which zones have the best water quality.  They know what drilling techniques work best in your unique aquifer formations.  My number one recommendation, is to ask the neighbors:
    1. Who drilled your well?
    2. Are you happy with the results?
    3. Who services your well?
    4. Are you happy with the service?
  2. Schedule a site visit with at least 3 prospective companies.  You can learn a lot from a site visit with a driller.  You will find that usually half of drillers will not go to a site visit.  That is usually a sign that you should avoid them.  Of those that show up, test their knowledge of your aquifer.  
    1. Have you drilled any neighboring wells?
    2. Have you had any problems completing any of those wells?
    3. What is the water quality like?
    4. Are there other production zones that we should consider?
    5. What regulations do we have to consider and who takes care of that?
  3. Get a contract in writing.  You need to know what the driller is going to do.  If you don’t spell it out in writing, then you can expect a conflict if there are any issues that arise.  Most drillers today have a standard contract that they use.  If not, write your own.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It just has to be written down.  Here are some things to address:
    1. Do I have to pay if you don’t hit water?
    2. Do I have to pay extra if you have to go deeper?
    3. Do I get a discount if you stop shallow?
    4. Do I have to pay more if you hit (rock, gravel, sand, caves, etc.)
    5. What are the variable charges?  
    6. How long is the warranty and what does it cover/exclude?
  4. Watch the well drillers.  You need to be involved in the drilling of the well.  You need to be there asking questions.  Don’t go crazy and harass the drillers all day.  But, ask a few questions.  Sit out there and watch for 30 minutes.  Check in with the crews onsite daily if possible.  You will learn a lot about your well, but more importantly, you will show the driller that you care about the outcome of their work.  You will show them that you are involved.  This will encourage them to make sure they get it right.  If you have to pick one time to be there, the most critical time is when the casing is being installed.  Typically, this happens right after the well is drilled.  The most important advice that I can give anyone getting a well drilled is this.  Be onsite while the entire casing is being installed.  Watch all of it go in the hole.  This is the make-it or break-it point for the well driller.  If something is going to go wrong, this is usually where it happens.  And, if the driller is going to take a short-cut, this is the place it happens the most.  You may not even realize that things have gone wrong.  But, just because you are onsite paying attention, you will likely force the driller to do the right thing.  The driller doesn’t know that you don’t know what is going on.
  5. Give the driller some room to work.  Now that I just told you to sit out there and watch the driller, I want to give the driller some room to work.  He has to work with the conditions that he finds underground.  Things are not going to go 100% to plan.  Give the driller the freedom to change the design based on the formations that he finds.  A good driller will pay attention to the formations that he finds and will adjust the design of the well to work with what he finds.  You need to get out of his way and let him make those adjustments.  If a driller says, “if it was mine, I’d do it this way”, that is probably the way you should go.  That driller usually has to warranty his work, so he will likely do the right thing.