Thursday, March 5, 2009

Well Enema

This last fall we had our well run dry three times. Usually, this happens about once a year. We're not real sure what happened, but it was probably the confluence of a dry fall and Owen learning to use the toilet, hourly. We also ran out of water Christmas week. That time, we might have just had a frozen pipe. Needless to say, we've been real conservative with our water usage since then. However, we didn't move out here to use less water. So...

My grandfather had mentioned that the last time he pulled the pump out of the well, there was 6-8 feet of gunk in the bottom and the pump wouldn't go all the way back in. So, we thought maybe the well needed to be cleaned out to have a little more capacity, and maybe open the bottom back up, where the water's supposed to come in from the limestone.

It's taken 2 months to find someone who provides this service, get our schedules to match up with the weather, and get the health department to clear him to work on our well that has a well pit (which is no longer kosher with health code). He came out today to flush the well out for the first time in the 60 years since it was put in.

Well pit. I put in the red tank and associated newer plumbing in during a snow storm a couple of years ago after the original pressure tank (lower left) sprung a leak.

After pulling the top off the pit and pulling my pump (>15 years old) out of the well, he did some tedious measurements and pumping with his own pump to measure the well levels. Most of the water seemed to be coming out of the soil, rather than out of the limestone. Then, he put some massive 6" PVC together and stuck it onto the top of the casing (top right in the picture). Then, he fed some 2" rigid PVC all the way to the bottom and pumped ~1200 gallons down in there to loosen up and float out all the gunk. Mostly what came out was gray shale drill cuttings that have washed into the well over the years. Some rust came up as well.

Our well pump and it's 60 feet of pipe.

This rust stuff flushed out first. This is why our filters clog up so fast.

Mostly, this stuff came out. It's all tiny little pieces of clay-like shale that had washed into the well over the years. The water eventually became clear, for those who have drunk water at our house.

Next came more tedious measurements that seemed to indicate that we had revived some of the limestone supply. The well seemed to be constantly producing ~5 1/2 gallons per minute, after pumping several hundred gallons to dissipate the water in the soil. The well guy thought that was an impressive number for our well and is probably about as much as our plumbing can handle anyway.

Finally, he put our pump back in, and we cleaned up the untidy wiring that was in the pit. Now, we should be able to "pump the hell out of it."


  1. Just think, this is probably where most "pure" bottled water comes from!!

  2. Sweet, you definatly do not want to impede potty traning, it will be my #1 priority