How to Locate an Abandoned Well?


  • Property owner.
  • Previous owner(s).
  • Relatives or acquaintances who may know about the property.
  • Neighbors (neighboring wells may give a clue as to well location, depth, etc.).
  • Contractors (well drillers, plumbers, builders) who have worked on the property.
  • Inspectors (well, plumbing, building, septic system).
  • Current or former employees, maintenance personnel.



  • Windmills or wishing wells.
  • Casing visible above ground, concrete slab or basement floor.
  • Small outbuildings (may be well house).
  • Circular ring in cement or patch in the floor.
  • Basement offset (small room off of basement).
  • Patch in step or concrete (access for well below).
  • Pit in yard or basement.
  • Manhole cover.
  • Crock, brick or stone structures.
  • Hand pump, hydrant, or faucet in yard.
  • Waterline or patched hole through basement floor or wall.
  • Water system components (pressure tank, pump, control box).
  • Damp circular depression in yard.
  • Additions, false walls, access panels which may "hide" well.
  • Old building sites recognizable by an old foundation.
  • Ornamental shrubs, flowers, or trees outlining old, home or farm sites.



  • Water Well Record or Water Well Plugging Record at local health department or EGLE.
  • Water well or sewage disposal permits at local health department.
  • City, township or county officials - zoning or building permits
  • Municipal water department - records on water line extensions to homes previously served by water wells.
  • Old photographs of the property.
  • Aerial photographs of the property (showing windmills, well houses).
  • County plat book, soils map, or topo map showing locations of buildings, roads.
  • Owner's records (bills, deed easements) or information written on pressure tank, control box, etc.



  • Metal detector.
  • Tape measure or "snake" to follow pipes.
  • Digging equipment including shovels, hammers, chisels, backhoe.
  • Magnetometer or electro-magnetic anomaly detectors (these are available through groundwater consultants).