Well, Well, Well: Drilling a Well in Ohio

gray house with white trim

If you’ve been following FindingOhio, you probably remember that my daughter and I took two months this summer and did an intensive remodel of an abandoned house. It was our first project together and quite an undertaking, utilizing every spare moment of our August and September last year.

Crossing the Finish Line – Or So We Thought

But October 1 was the light at the end of our tunnel. Our final push took us into the wee hours of the first, but we were ready by 8 a.m. for our new renters’ arrival. We were tired. We were proud. But we were finished.

Everything seemed fine at first. Our renters got moved in and absolutely loved the place. It’s a one bedroom, one bath but has adequate space and a large, modern kitchen.

“We Are Out of Water”

Then a few weeks in we received a text. “We are out of water.”

Oh no. Apparently one of our renters was mid-shower when suddenly the water stopped. After waiting some time, the water eventually restored to the point that the shower could be completed. But there was clearly something wrong.

Finding the Problem

We had out a plumber who assured us that it was an issue with the pressure tank and that replacing it would be the answer. Eight hundred dollars later we found out that it wasn’t. It was clearly the well.

We called several well companies and each one gave us about a 50/50 chance of solving the problem without drilling a new well. The prices ranged from $1000 to about $2500. And none of them were in agreement as to what was the best technique.

One suggested they would use high pressure air to blast down the well to clear any obstructions, while a second company proposed to do the same but with water. Still a third company wanted to use chemicals to dissolve any obstructions.

We chose a fourth option. We bet our money on a company that would use their equipment to manually remove any obstructions in the well.

Fixing the Well

We arrived at the property bright and early, excited that this would be the answer to our well dilemma. At first everything seemed to be going great. In addition to sludge, the men brought up pieces of wood and some rope. It seemed as if somewhere along the line someone had thrown some things into the well, perhaps trying to fix a problem?

Well drilling in Ohio. Two men work with equipment to repair a well in Ohio.
The men worked at repairing the old well.

Pushing past that, they hit a problem. Someone had also thrown a piece of metal into the well. When their equipment hit it, it collapsed the casing, essentially destroying the well.

The Pit of Despair

I felt like all the air had been sucked out of my body. Not only are new wells expensive, but we had been told by multiple companies that the lead time on drilling a new well was three to six months.

All kinds of questions flooded my mind. What would we do with our renters while we waited on them to drill the well? What would happen to the house sitting without occupants or water into the winter months? Would they be able to drill a well in January or February with the ground frozen? Why, oh why, did we buy this house in the first place?

In seconds I had decided that this house was the ultimate money pit. I was sure our renters would sue us, leaving us destitute and living in a cardboard box.

Well drilling in Ohio. Two men work on a well with digging equipment. A large tree is in the foreground.
Eventually, it was determined we would be drilling a well in Ohio.

Just as I’d sunken into my pit of despair, the owner of the drilling company came up with a better timeline. Maybe he felt sorry for us. If I was willing to run get the permit at the county health department, he had a day the following week when his team could drill the well. Natalie and I set out right away.

Drilling a Well in Ohio

If you plan on drilling a well in Ohio, there are a couple of things you need to know when you apply for a well permit. They’ll ask you information about the property, ownership and things of that nature. They’ll also ask you the drilling company you’re doing business with and may ask you that company’s permit number.

You will also be asked to draw a picture of the property showing the location of all building structures, roads and the proposed site of the new well. Oh, and they’ll also ask for $475, at least in my county.

The rest of the process went off without a hitch. The permit was approved within a few days and one week and $8000 later we had a new well with plenty of water. Even though I still know very little about the process, I thought that was a good price and I really appreciated them fitting us into their busy schedule.

Two more weeks and an iron filter later (more money, of course) the water was beautifully clear, had no odor and was drinkable. Our renters were happy. We were happy again.

Real Estate Lessons Learned

I did learn some things from the well drilling process and from the house restoration in general. I’ll remember them, for next time if there is one. We’ll call them my rules for real estate.

(1) Things will go wrong, more things than you think could go wrong will go wrong.
(2) The things that go wrong will undoubtedly be expensive.
(3) Don’t despair. It could all work out and likely eventually will.
(4) Don’t buy 130 year old houses with a hole in the roof in an “as is” condition.

Drilling a Well in Ohio – Resources

I also learned that there is a website within the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that logs every well in the state. It’s pretty interesting. It will tell you the depth of the well, what the soil is like, the size of the casing, the year the well was drilled and the name of the company that did the work. You can click through and see the handwritten report that was originally filed.

For instance, the well on our property had been drilled in 1986 and was 91 feet deep. It tells us that they encountered clay from 0-15 feet, sand and clay from 15-28 feet, sand from 28-80 feet and gravel from 80-91 feet. It tells us that the original flow rate of the well was 14 gallons per minute.

None of this is especially important information if you’re not in the business of well drilling. But my husband and I found it interesting and spent a few minutes clicking around, looking at depths and information on different properties.

For instance, we found that the well my dad had drilled at my childhood home in Pickaway County was just 55 feet deep. His childhood home in Fairfield County had a well drilled at 270 feet. Again, this is not important but we found it interesting.

If you are thinking of drilling a well in Ohio, or are thinking about purchasing rural or township property, you may want to give this site a look. At very least you can determine the age of the well on the property in question.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

All in all I wouldn’t have this discourage you from purchasing a property or from trying outside of your comfort zone. It was difficult and stressful, but it was an adventure and Natalie and I are still very proud of our work. Eventually I purchased her out of her position which was enough to pay for one semester of study at The Ohio State University.


Thank you for FindingOhio with us. If you’re interested in looking at more of our adventures in home renovation there are two articles. You can click through to how we got started or to see our grand reveal.

Have you had experience with drilling a well in Ohio? How did it go? Do you have any tips or advice to share? If so, leave a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Well, Well, Well: Drilling a Well in Ohio

  1. Hi. My step-aunt thinks she should establish a whole new water source for her corn field already before summer starts. It was really enlightening when you pointed out that an excavator might be needed for the initial digging process before subsequent drilling can me made. I’ll share this detail with her so the end result will be magnificent really soon.

  2. I’ve been following findingOhio for a while now, and this article has been extremely beneficial to me. Very thorough and informative. Thank you for the tip. Real Estate Lessons Discovered

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