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The soil over the pipe from our well to our house has been subsiding for the last five years. I'm looking for advice about what might be causing it and what I can do to fix it.

  • There are about 100 feet between the well and the house
  • The 50 feet closest to the well (away from the house) have sinking soil.
  • It seems to be worst closer to the well (starting about 5 feet from the well)
  • The worst subsidence is about 12 inches deep.
  • Nearest to the house, I don't see any problem.
  • I'm located just outside Boston (warm summers, cold winters)
  • The soil is dirt with granite rocks in it. Not too much sand or clay.
  • The well is located slightly uphill from the house. No more than a 10 foot rise over 100 feet.

When I moved in, I chalked it up to being poorly filled. I filled it in with dirt and wood chips. That subsided more over the next couple years. I chalked that up to the rotting organic material.

This fall, a 10 foot section about half way to the house subsided 6 inches. I'm now thinking there is a bigger problem.

Could it be caused by a leak in the pipe that is washing soil away? Our water pressure and quality seem fine.

What would be the next step to diagnose the problem and then fix it?

  • What is the soil like in your area (sandy, clay, etc.)? What is the topography like in the area (hilly, flat, etc.)? What is the weather like in the area (rainy, cold, etc.)? – Tester101 Jan 14 '15 at 16:17
  • I've edited more info about that into the question. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 14 '15 at 16:21
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    If you have a submersible pump, you can check for absence of a leak: turn off the supply to your house (after pressure tank). Watch the pressure: if it stays steady, there's likely no leak. If it goes down, there is either a leak in the pipe, or your check valve is broken and water is draining back into the well (and in my experience, it's usually the latter). – gregmac Jan 14 '15 at 16:59
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A well can allow oxygen into the soil where it will thin out any organic materials present, possibly causing subsidence. Without redigging the well using expensive methods it is hard to prevent this. Also, if the water is in a reservoir of some kind, reduction of that reservoir can cause subsidence. There is not much you can do about either of these problems except trying to locate the well elsewhere maybe.

  • The subsidence is in a line right over the pipe between the well and the house. If it were just the well itself, I would expect it around the well and not associated with the pipe. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 14 '15 at 18:23
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    It is probably just settling. If it was a leak, the water movement under the ground would probably be random and probably be in just one spot. If the subsidence is happening all along the pipe, then it suggests settling, not water. – Tyler Durden Jan 14 '15 at 18:29
  • I ended up doing the pressure test as @gregmac suggested in the comments. There was no leak, it must just be subsidence. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 23 '17 at 19:14

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