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Thread: The well seal bolts broke...now what?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    Default The well seal bolts broke...now what?

    We began smelling the rotten egg odor after the water sits in the lines for a few hours and googled the problem to discover we needed to chlorinate the system.

    So I read a few procedures online, and one of the first few steps is to remove the well cap via bolts removal. So while loosening the bolts, each of the four broke.

    So back to the internet to discover some well caps are not caps but well seals, in which case I was to only loosen the bolts. Well, whether I loosened or removed still would have resulted in broken bolts.

    Further research discovered there could be a plug in the cap as well. I didn't see a plug, but there is another bolt that has some black rubber looking sealing around it...upon loosen it, it appears to just turn and not loosen.

    Further research, I may have this well seal:
    http://www.do-it-yourself-pumps.com/...-well-caps.htm
    or this one:
    http://www.simmonsmfg.com/online_cat.../seals1_2.html
    but again, the plug is replaced with a bolt.

    So it maybe this one:
    http://www.simmonsmfg.com/online_cat...s/seals10.html

    So what is the last unbroken bolt holding...is it the eye bolt...should I not mess with it anymore?

    The well seal does say simmons on it, and it is a split cap or splite top plate...I think, as it looks like two semi circles.

    So now that the bolts are broken, I'm guessing I need to replace the seal...I mean I can't just leave it in...can I?

    I'm also guessing I'm going to be into some work here. It looks like I will need to disconnect some galv. piping (drop pip I think) from top and connecting lines, disconnect the sub pump wires (after turning off the power of course ), somehow lifting the drop pipe, pump, and seal out enough to get the seal out, replacing the seal, runnning the wires through and reconnecting the conduit, then putting the whole thing back in the casing and tightening up the seal.

    So here are some things I don't know, which I was hoping someone could give a bit of guidence on...:
    1. Is there anything in my process above that doesn't sound right or something I missed?
    2. How do I lift the drop pipe, pump and seal out...can I lift it myself, use a couple floor jacks with a square pipe, chain and tractor?
    3. How do I determine ahead of time what size seal to get...when I'm working on this, we will have no other water source except maybe bottled source to use for the day, so I'm hoping I can complete in 1 day.
    4. Should I also have some backup pipes just in case one of those break? How do I know what size to get?
    5. If I do break a pipe and replace, should I coat the threads with teflon tape or some other sort of goo? How tight should I go...as tight as I can?
    6. Is there something I should put on the seal before assembly, vaseline or something to slide in better...or should it be dry...should I clean the casing first...what if dirt or stuff falls in the well during casing cleaning?
    7. How tight do I tighten the seal.
    8. How do I get everything back down in the casing...do I have to pound it down, or will it go pretty smoothly?
    9. Is there a perfect level at which it should be...should I measure the existing height now for reference and match this height when everything goes back in?
    10. I'm guessing after this process would be the time to chlorinate the well...so a plugged cap will useful...but what if the bolt eye is holding onto something...should I get a cap with a bolt eye, then I need to chlorinate before putting everything back in, which means I don't think I'll be able to do this all in one day.

    Sorry of the amount of questions, but I wanted to jot everything down I could think of...don't feel like you have to answer all...1-2 or all per reply would be great, or anything would be great...thanks in advanced.

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member upper's Avatar
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    How do you know the bolts are broken?How deep is your pump?How big is the pipe at the well seal?How much is a service call?Can your wife cook? Upper

  3. #3
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    Do the pipes come up through the cap?
    The ring holds the safety rope
    If it's a split seal you only need one side to come off to get chlorene down there.
    Depending on how far the pipes go down it could be real heavy but you only need to pull it up a foot or so to get a new bolts in the cap. The old seal should be fine.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by upper View Post
    How do you know the bolts are broken?How deep is your pump?How big is the pipe at the well seal?How much is a service call?Can your wife cook? Upper
    The bolts came off in my hand...they were pretty rusty...when I turned them, they broke. It's easy to see half the bolt broken and the other half still in the bottom of the seal.
    Not too deep, I live in the bottom of the valley, could be 50-100 feet. I think it is more like 50 feet because, at first I removed that plug up top (see image below) and ran some drip tubing down the drop pipe and the drip tubing stopped at between 30-50 feet...now whether i hit a coupler or the pump, i don't know. I was going to pump some water out of the drop pipe and chlorinate that way...but it didn't work...I couldn't pump enough water out for 2 gallons of chlorine.
    The casing is around 6", whether it is 5 5/8, or 6, or 6 1/4 I don't know? I'm unsure how to get an accurate measurement...do you need to measure the ID without anything in it? Or is the measurement they go by the OD? If that's the case, I'll need to remove everything. Also, does it measure accurately at 5 5/8, or 6, or 6 1/4, or is it like a 2x4 where the actual measurements are off by a certain amount, but the wood is still called a 2x4?
    Same goes for the drop pipe...I haven't put a ruler up to it yet, but even then, I'm not sure how to measure it.
    Yeah, my wife can cook.
    Thanks for your reply.
    Last edited by jfharper; 10-02-2009 at 08:08 AM.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhmaster View Post
    Do the pipes come up through the cap?
    The ring holds the safety rope
    If it's a split seal you only need one side to come off to get chlorene down there.
    Depending on how far the pipes go down it could be real heavy but you only need to pull it up a foot or so to get a new bolts in the cap. The old seal should be fine.
    Well, there is only one pipe that is probably around 2" or so that comes out the middle of the seal top, then has a tee, where the top of the tee has a plug, the side goes to more pipes...looks like there is a restricter on it...maybe I should take a picture and post it...I'll try that.
    Thanks for the rest of your reply notes, but the seal looks pretty old, going thru the work to get new bolts in maybe more trouble than just replacing the whole thing...but maybe not...I'm really unsure.
    Last edited by jfharper; 10-02-2009 at 07:25 AM.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    OK...here is the picture.

    You can see one of the four bolts that are broken.

    The bolt remaining could be the eye bolt...the other side is where the wires go in. Thanks for any more assitance anyone could give.

    That measurement looks closer to 5 5/8 in the picture, but that maybe caused from the camera perspective and distance...when you look at each side more straight, it's closer to around 6" give or take.
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  7. #7
    Porky Cutter,MGWC Porky's Avatar
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    Default That's Bad!

    By the photo it looks as though when the bolt heads twisted off the bottom of the well seal has two pieces. Two bolts in each piece. When the bolts twist off the two lower pieces of the seal sometimes fall to the top of the pump. This can cause the pump to lock in the well and be hard and sometimes impossible to remove the pump. Hopefully though one of the pieces is still attached by the bolt/nut that only turns. The drop pipe in the middle is probably a 1" galvanised pipe with a "T" fitting protruding through the well seal. The pump man usually removes the pipe plug in the top of the "T" and screws a lifting plug (threaded connection with a ring in one end) for a cable. The cable is connected to the vertical lift wench (Hoist Truck) or in your case a Tri-Pod with a Come-A-Long. You just lift straight up and if the well seal doesn't come up with it, pry the two pieces up from the casing.
    Once everything is up I recommend that you take the old well seal to a well supplier or last resort a big house store and buy a new well seal.

    Once you have the new well seal you can cut 1/2 the rubber seal so that it will go around the galvanized drop pipe. This way you won't be taking a chance of dropping the drop pipe, pump, wire and rope in the well.

    Install the wire through the seal and reinstall it in the casing, lower the drop pipe to the top of the seal, tighten the four bolts until they are quite snug. This should squeeze enough to seal.

    NOTE: When buying a new well seal be sure it has a hole for the wire and a plug to insert chemicals without removing anything except the plug in the seal.

    Porky, MGWC
    "NGWA" Master Ground Water Certified
    porkyva@cox.net

  8. #8
    Porky Cutter,MGWC Porky's Avatar
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    Default It may be a 2" Drop Pipe?

    Looking at the photo again it could be a 2" drop pipe but I don't understand why unless it's a big volume pump.

    The bolt with the ring on the bottom probably is probably going through the hole intended for inserting chemicals.

    Porky

  9. #9
    Porky Cutter,MGWC Porky's Avatar
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    Default It may be a 2" Drop Pipe?

    Looking at the photo again it could be a 2" drop pipe but I don't understand why unless it's a big volume pump.

    The bolt with the ring on the bottom probably is probably going through the hole intended for inserting chemicals.

    Porky

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by Porky View Post
    By the photo it looks as though when the bolt heads twisted off the bottom of the well seal has two pieces. Two bolts in each piece. When the bolts twist off the two lower pieces of the seal sometimes fall to the top of the pump. This can cause the pump to lock in the well and be hard and sometimes impossible to remove the pump. Hopefully though one of the pieces is still attached by the bolt/nut that only turns. The drop pipe in the middle is probably a 1" galvanised pipe with a "T" fitting protruding through the well seal. The pump man usually removes the pipe plug in the top of the "T" and screws a lifting plug (threaded connection with a ring in one end) for a cable. The cable is connected to the vertical lift wench (Hoist Truck) or in your case a Tri-Pod with a Come-A-Long. You just lift straight up and if the well seal doesn't come up with it, pry the two pieces up from the casing.
    Once everything is up I recommend that you take the old well seal to a well supplier or last resort a big house store and buy a new well seal.

    Once you have the new well seal you can cut 1/2 the rubber seal so that it will go around the galvanized drop pipe. This way you won't be taking a chance of dropping the drop pipe, pump, wire and rope in the well.

    Install the wire through the seal and reinstall it in the casing, lower the drop pipe to the top of the seal, tighten the four bolts until they are quite snug. This should squeeze enough to seal.

    NOTE: When buying a new well seal be sure it has a hole for the wire and a plug to insert chemicals without removing anything except the plug in the seal.

    Porky, MGWC
    "NGWA" Master Ground Water Certified
    porkyva@cox.net
    Thats Bad! Thanks for the vote of confidence.
    Thanks a bunch...I didn't think about a Come-A-Long...I have one. Also the 2" drop pipe maybe because there is a disconnected Aeromotor Windmill directly above the well (you can barely see one of the legs in the left side of the photo)...perhaps 2" drop pipe for the sucker rods...or maybe there is a hugh pump down there...who knows.

    So you don't think I should install the seal without cutting it? I mean, if I'm going thru an amount of work to do this, why not go a little extra and do it right...I imagine I would have to rig holding the drop pipe from underneath where the seal would go, after it is raised out, so I could slip the new seal over the drop pipe, then attach coupler on top, sshort pipe and T to the top, etc.

    I guess the pump and entire assembly will just lower back down huh? It won't get stuck or I have to jump on it to get it down?

    Also, any lubricant for the seal? Or leave dry. Again, thanks for your replies.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    Oh Yeah...I forgot to mention, that the bottom of the seal is pretty old and stuck at the top...it didn't fall or go anywhere, but I'll try to grab or keep an eye on both pieces as they come out.

    Also, I'll be sure to take your recommendation about the well seal with a hole for chemicals if I can...I haven't seen one yet that has both the eye bolt and bleach hole...but I'll look for that.

  12. #12
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I agree with Porky. Get a new seal before you do anything else but I've never seen a seal for larger than 1.25" pipe.

    If the broken half of the bolts are still stuck in the seal, do everything you can to prevent them from falling down the well because if they do, two matching halves of steel as you see on the top will also fall down the well. And then you may not get the pump out of the well. Superglue or epoxy something (a welding rod) to them without it geting on the rubber seal.

    You won't get the top halves of steel plate off until you lift the pipe off them. And you won't lift the pipe until you unseal the seal from the PVC casing... or you run the risk of lifting the PVC casing or busting it.

    Or maybe the seal will let go of the PVC much easier than they do with steel casing and you can lift everything out of the casing together.

    Or cut off the top 2" or more inches of the PVC casing now without fooling around with anything else. I would probably go with that before trying anything else. But you'll have to lift the weight to cut it or you'll stick the saw blade. The plastic cuttings will float on the water in the well.

    I have/had a piece of wire with loop handles on it that pulled back'n forth on plastic cuts it off real quick by melting through any plastic pipe with friction heat. That keeps the cut going to meet up at the far end where a saw will wander and not meet up at the end evenly.

    The seal is on piece with the pipe and other holes through it, about 3/4" to 1" thick. It is sandwiched between two halves on top and two halves on the bottom. The tightened bolts squeeze the seal out against the casing and around the pipe and bolts.

    I should add that shocking a well with bleach etc. rarely gets rid of a water quality problem for very long. IOWs it is a bandaid type thing on an artery.
    Last edited by Gary Slusser; 10-02-2009 at 02:35 PM.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member jfharper's Avatar
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    Default All Fixed!

    OK...thank you to all to replied.

    I tried to epoxy the broken bolts, but there was too much corrosion, even after trying to shop vac the pieces out. I raised the drop pipe very carefully, and the seal came out very well with the two bottom plates as well. After I got passed this step, I felt much better about the rest of the job. I got a new seal from a pump business for $38. and was able to install everything just fine. Thanks again.

    Next repair...the second photo shows my booster pump which leaks a small amount of water from the bottom only when it runs. I've downloaded some pdf documents outlining the various parts for the pump which is a gould's J+ series pump (J06853L). Question is, which part do I need? Here is the PDF I found:

    http://www.goulds.com/pdf/7381.pdf

    On Page 5, the J+ pump is what I have, would the part I need be #11 (seal ring), 7 (gasket), 16 (mechanical seal, rotary), 17 (mechanical seal, stationary), or something else? If anyone has any advice or guidence on this, that would be great...thanks again.
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  14. #14
    Master Plumber nhmaster's Avatar
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    If you are going to take the pump apart you might as well get the rebuild kit for it which includes gaskets, seals and such. When you are done you will have essentially a new pump cept for the motor.

  15. #15
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Why do you have a submersible in the well and a booster pump on top? You should just have a sub that is large enough to do the job by itself. If you are feeding the booster with the submersible, the booster may be getting more pressure than the seal is rated for.

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