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Basement wells and well pits

Wisconsin well code has prohibited placing wells in basements since 1953. Basement wells are subject to flooding, sewage backup and other sanitary hazards. Outside wells, terminating above ground level, are generally safe from these hazards. A pitless adaptor provides a freeze-proof connection between an outside well and the basement of a building. Basement wells can be located in a walkout type basement if it is possible to walk outside without walking upstairs or uphill.

What is an unacceptable well installation?

Unacceptable well installations are wells installed in a basement before April 1953 that:

  1. are located too close to a contamination source (like a sewer pipe or floor drain) or a contamination source was later installed too close to the well;
  2. are in an unsanitary basement or condition;
  3. produce bacteriologically unsafe water after three attempts to disinfect the well by chlorination;
  4. are a threat to groundwater or other water supplies; or
  5. are too shallow (less than 25 feet deep).

Wells installed in a basement after April 1953 do not comply with the Wisconsin well code.

Can I repair or replace the screen on an existing screened well point located in my basement?

Screens (screened well points) may not be replaced on driven point wells [PDF] in basements. Well point replacement constitutes new well construction, and the well must be driven down in a new location outside the basement to meet current well code requirements.

Can I construct a well pit?

The construction of a well pit, be it for a well, pump or pressure tank, was prohibited by the 1953 Wisconsin well code. Pits are usually poorly constructed, seldom looked at, subject to flooding and are often unsanitary.

Although pits are not recommended, the well code does contain an approval mechanism for a new well pit which requires a written approval from DNR prior to pit construction. Pit construction specifications are stringent and expensive, and must be met in all cases.

Can I continue to use the well pit on my property?

Pits constructed before April 1953 may be continued in use provided they are of substantial construction (crack-free concrete or concrete block), are continuously dry and have a concrete roof at or above ground grade. Any access opening must have a 4-inch-high curbing and an overlapping tight fitting shoe-box type cover. The well casing must extend at least 6 inches above a concrete floor and be sealed with a watertight well seal. The well must produce bacteriologically safe water.

Upgrading of substandard well pits is not permitted. Substandard pits must be abandoned by extending the well casing above grade, breaking up the floor, breaking up or removing at least one wall and filling with clean native compacted soil landscaped to provide drainage away from the well casing.