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Thread: Brown and sandy well water

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member njrick's Avatar
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    Default Brown and sandy well water

    I have read several post about this same type of issue with a multitude of suggestions to correct the issue.
    My issue has me a bit baffled.
    I have a shallow well, depth unknown as I cannot remove the cap at the top of the pipe to place a weighted rope into the pipe to determine depth of well. The age of the well is 40+ years or more I would guess.
    There is a single pipe that draws the underground water from the well that appears to be iron or metal of some sort.
    At ground level, a foot below the top of the pipe there is a connection resembling a cross with four openings, top, bottom,left and right side.
    The bottom opening is connected to the pipe that draws the water from the well, the top opening is capped (which I cannot remove), the right opening is attached to a length of pipe that runs to the bank of the creek behind my house that has a constant flow of water, and the left opening is attached to a pipe that runs to the pump under the house to supply household water.
    My problem is this. The water that runs steadly from this overflow pipe that drains into the creek is crystal clear.
    My household water has turned brown with with large amounts of black dirt. The longer I leave the water running, the worse it gets.
    This has been going on for about a week. I have had sporatic incidences of small amounts of this black dirt over the years, generally after heavy rain storms that clears up in a day or so.
    What has me baffled is this. If there is an issue with the well going dry, corrosion or hole in the pipe
    clogged screen in the well pipe, collapsed soil in the well, etc., why would the overflow water be clear and my household water be brown and dirt filled?
    It seems reasonable to me that if there is an issue with the well or pipe, I should have brown dirty water also coming from the overflow pipe the same as I have when I turn on the household water.
    A side note, I did replace the pump a few weeks ago, a 1/2 hp shallow well pump with a small, maybe 8 gallon pressure tank attached.
    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    My guess is that the flow rate increases significantly when the pump is drawing and this is churning up the well. The lower flow rate of the overflow to the creek is not sufficient to churn up the sediment.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member njrick's Avatar
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    thank you for the response LLigetfa, I considered that.
    I should have mentioned that when the pump kicks on, the overflow water still remains clear.
    My next thought is perhaps there is a hole in the water supply pipe that feeds to the house.
    There is no evidence of a damp, wet area or sink hole anywhere that would indicate that ( the pipes are only buried a foot below ground) , but I guess I will start digging to expose the pipe for a visual check.

  4. #4
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njrick View Post
    I guess I will start digging to expose the pipe for a visual check.
    You should be able to disconnect the pipe at the wellhead and pit a Tee on the end with a pressure gauge and shraeder valve. Pump a bit of air pressure into it and see if it holds.

    Does the water at the creek continue to flow while you are pumping or does it stop and then resume? I'm trying to understand why the pump doesn't reverse the flow unless there is a check valve on the overflow.

    You say you put in a new pump. Do you still have the old pump and does it still work? Maybe you could set it up at the wellhead and pump from the well for a few days to flush it.

    When I had my well drilled, the driller put his 5 GPM pump in the well and pumped it for days until it ran clear. The reason for 5 GPM was the mortgage lender needed the well to test to a minimum of 5 GPM. When I installed my new 10 GPM pump, it immediately churned up the well and sucked up mud. The higher flow rate was to blame. The driller came back and put crushed stone down the well to hold back the mud.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member njrick's Avatar
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    I am not able to unscrew the the cap from the well pipe. I do not know if it has rusted or if there was epoxy placed around the threads. Short of cutting the pipe, I do not know how to get the cap off.
    The overflow at the creek will generally stop when the pump kicks on unless I have one faucet on with a small stream of water coming from it. With the faucet fully opened, the overflow stops.
    I have the old pump, but it has a bad leak at the seal. The old pump was also a 1/2 hp, the same as the new one.
    I am not familiar with troubleshooting well problems, I was hoping this issue had a relatively easy and inexpensive fix.
    I appreciate your help.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member njrick's Avatar
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    Got it resolved. Thank you for your suggestions. Since I could not uncap the well to set up a second pump to pump water from the well to attempt to clear the water, I used a variation of your idea.
    I connected a garden hose to the cold water to my washing machine and ran it out to the creek. After about 5 hours, the water cleared up.
    I took a chance of clogging up my new pump, but if it resolved the problem, which it did, I would rather put out a few hundred for another new pump then the 6-8K for a new well.
    Thanks again.

  7. #7
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Glad to hear it cleared up for you.

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