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Thread: Replacing submersible pump

  1. #1
    DIY Member dirtmover's Avatar
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    Default Replacing submersible pump

    Any tips on replacing a submersible pump? I want to do it myself but have never done one before and am looking for some advice.

    The current pump is hanging from the pitless adapter by a PVC drop pipe. The pump is set at 60' according to the drillers report so should not be too heavy, about 20lbs of water plus the pump and pipe, so maybe 40-50lbs at most. The previous installer has left a 3/4" copper tube attached to the adapter which extends to just below the cap so it's all ready to pull. This tube terminates in an elbow and a short stub to form a handle. There is also a safety rope. Should I pull on both the rope and the copper pipe? Should it lift easily off the adapter or will it need some coaxing. Any advice for preventing a disaster, i.e. losing the pump down the well?

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    I replaced my own pump several months ago, and our details sound similar as to depth and type. Along with your "handle" and safety rope, do you also have a release cable or is that actually what you are calling a safety rope?

    My pitless adapter needed a piece of 1" pipe for pulling the drop pipe and pump, and I made sure that pipe could not possibly fall below the top of the well casing if I let it slip after I had pulled the release cable. Getting the catch to release was a bit difficult since it had been there untouched for nearly 15 years.

    Be sure to first disconnect the power, then make only calculated moves while knowing what to expect and having a second set of capable hands hanging onto whatever else is available other than the power cable.

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    DIY Member dirtmover's Avatar
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    I wasn't aware of this type of release mechanism. I'll double check this but the only type of pitless adapters I've seen for sale are pulled up out of a dovetail fitting that stays in the well and have no release mechanism.

    I didn't look too closely but I think the rope goes beyond the adapter and into the water. I just assumed that it goes all the way down and attaches to the pump.

    As for the seal/o-ring on the adapter, should it be replaced or lubed with silicone grease before re-seating?

    Is the copper pipe OK to pull the pump. It must be soldered into a 1" threaded fitting which is screwed into the adapter. Will this joint be strong enough to sustain any wiggling that may be required to release the pitless adapter or should I try to unscrew it and replace it with a galvanised pipe and T-handle?

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    DIY Senior Member rshackleford's Avatar
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    when you have the pump pulled do yourself a favor and get rid of that rope. the rope will rot off or get dropped down the well some day and ruin your well. the rope acts as a brake and you may never get your pump out of the well again. it gets wedged between the pump and the well casing.
    rshackleford

  5. #5
    DIY Member dirtmover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rshackleford
    when you have the pump pulled do yourself a favor and get rid of that rope.
    Should I replace the rope with a stainless steel wire or is the poly pipe strong enough on its own?

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member rshackleford's Avatar
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    don't use anything. the pipe will be more than strong enough to hold the pump and wire. make sure that everything is double hose clampled.
    rshackleford

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtmover
    I wasn't aware of this type of release mechanism. I'll double check this but the only type of pitless adapters I've seen for sale are pulled up out of a dovetail fitting that stays in the well and have no release mechanism.
    Maybe mine is different, and it is the only one I have ever seen!

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtmover
    As for the seal/o-ring on the adapter, should it be replaced or lubed with silicone grease before re-seating?
    The instructions attached on my release cable and my well driller both say to use Vaseline, but folks here say to not use any petroleum product. When I did mine, I used Crisco ... but somebody else here can tell you what is actually best.

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtmover
    Is the copper pipe OK to pull the pump ... or should I try to unscrew it and replace it with a galvanised pipe and T-handle?
    Evidently the copper was strong enough for installation, but I had to do some wiggling to get my own adapter to release and I would not have trusted copper for that.

  8. #8

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    You might want a T handle on the pipe coming off of the pitless adapter. With your first pump pulling it will help if you drop it. It can take a bit of muscle to get the pitless adapter. I would use Crisco on the seal and replace it if you can reach it.

    I think this would be a 2 person job.
    I have seen stainless plastic coated wire on some wells but, they were 200 +.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member Mr_Pike's Avatar
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    Best bet for preventing disaster, is 2 large vise grips on the pipes with one on the pipe at all times. A pipe brake is one of those tools that would be worth the trouble to aquire or build as well.

    Your problem is going to be what to do with a 20 foot tall wobbly stick of pipe full of water in the air. They are like a wet noodle when un supported.

    Getting them back into the couplings without top support is going to be difficult at best. You might want to look into scaffolding or some sort of jerry rigged A frame to help you out.

    This is definetly a 2 man job without a hoist.

  10. #10
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    Trick is, he doesn't know what kind of pipe the pump is hanging on. It could be poly, PVC or galvanized. The last two are probably going to be in 20/21 foot lengths and do not bend well. Like Mr_Pike said, "wet noodles" for the PVC but in the case of galvanized, it's got to go straight up and will be tricky to let down once unscrewed. Remember too, this pipe is full of water so expect a bath when unscrewing the joints.

    I don't think I would want to trust vice grips to hold pipe. They make a tool that works great but they are almost $300.00. This is a great price as oppossed to losing a pump. Elevators as we call them are great for sitting the couplings on to hold the pipe while your unscrewing a section but they are not easy to find or make.

    Good luck,

    bob...

  11. #11
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    They best lubricant for o-rings used in domestic water, is water. Next is silicone made for that purpose. Petroleum based is going to ruin o-rings and has anyone seen what Crisco and vegetable oils look like after a few weeks hanging around in a dark damp place where air can enter? I haven't but I don't think it will look good. All plumbing and pump supply houses will have the silicone, most if not all water treatment dealers, pump guys, plumbers that do submersible well pump work will also, and it only takes a thin coating. If you grease up a pitless adapter's o-ring and put it in the groove of the half you pull out of the well, you are increasing the chance of losing it down the well.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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    DIY Member dirtmover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by got_nailed
    I have seen stainless plastic coated wire on some wells but, they were 200 +.
    I would have thought it was just as disasterous loosing a pump down an 80' well as opposed to a 200'+ well.

  13. #13
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I've pulled pumps down over 500' deep on PE pipe without regular rope or SS wire. I've pulled some with rope, what a MESS. Many years ago I added or replaced rope once and refused to do so since then. I've pulled many pumps with it. I've replaced the drop pipe and cable without "Safety" rope or wire. It/they get in the way and can cause more problems than they could ever solve.

    It does give well owners a warm'n fuzzy until they find out the problems it can cause; like costing a new well, pipe, cable and pump...

    BTW, 160 and 200 psi rated PE is fairly stiff but will bend easily at no more than 8-15' out of the casing, You can coil it around the well or drag it out away from the well. Dragging is best, especially when you don't know how deep the well is.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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