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Thread: Irrigation Well Problem - old well, new pump, no water

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jphiii's Avatar
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    Default Irrigation Well Problem - old well, new pump, no water

    First, a gracious thanks to anyone who reads my entire post. I suspect it's going to get very long as I attempt to explain my particular circumstances in detail.

    To the best of my knowledge, the well was struck in the late 60's, early 70's. The system is strictly for irrigation, it runs three sprinkler circuits on a timer. My property is only 3' above sea level, in between the Atlantic ocean and Intracoastal waterway.

    Everything worked fine until one day long ago (about 2 years), when the pump seized up. Water was flowing right up until that point.

    Unfortunately, numerous issues put its repair on the back burner; but now I'm laying new sod and really need my sprinklers back up.

    There's a 2" galvanized shaft running down to the well. I have no idea what's at the bottom, but based on my oldest neighbors' speculation, it's a metal screen.

    At the top of the shaft is a 90 elbow, then a service/inspection tee, then a brass check valve.

    After the check valve is a standard Flotec 1/2hp jet pump.

    I replaced the pump and began trying to prime, but I could never get any water flowing. After shutting off the pump and unscrewing the check cap on the inspection tee, I could tell there was vacuum behind the check valve, since I could hear air sucking in as I unscrewed the cap on the inspection tee.

    Having no documentation on this well, I began investigating its depth and water levels. I tied off a fishing sinker on a long string and let it plummet. I hit water at 13' (yes, 13 feet. I hear that's not good).

    I let the sinker keep dropping, and it finally settled at about 80'.

    Next I removed the elbow from the top of the shaft and sent a garden hose with a jet nozzle down. My goal was to see if I could get sediment to start bubbling out of the shaft. I started to hit resistance with the garden hose at about 20'. Using a plunging action with the hose, I was able to get it down to about 45' with lots of effort.

    Unfortunately, I was never able to get water bubbling out the top. I can get the shaft filled all the way to ground level, then there's a big burp and water drops back down to about 12-13'.

    I suspect that the screen at the bottom of the shaft is so clogged up and coated with mineral deposits that I can't get any flow going. On top of that, I think the bottom of the shaft is fulled with sand and clay.

    Can anyone offer any advice or suggestions? Is is possible to pump all the sediment out of the shaft? And is there anything I can use to break up all the sediment that's already in there? If it's possible for me to get some water flowing again without having to strike a new well; I don't care how much elbow grease is involved, I'll do it.

    Also, if anyone has any comment on hitting water at 13'...or why I can get a fishing sinker to drop 80' but can only get a garden hose 45' down, I'm all ears.

  2. #2
    Well Drilling/Service justwater's Avatar
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    if u can run a garden hose full blast into the well and water never comes up, the well will produce water. "if it'll take water, it'll make water".

    if the casing is in fact 2".. I would recommend that u quit pulling directly off the casing and install a 1" pvc drop pipe no more than 30' with a foot valve on the bottom.. use a doubletap fitting or 2"-1" well seal and plumb into the pump. then prime and run it off a while. 13' isn't a bad water level so long as the well produces. most shallow jet pumps will pull water from as deep as 25'. good luck.
    Last edited by justwater; 03-06-2011 at 09:51 PM.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member jphiii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwater View Post
    if u can run a garden hose full blast into the well and water never comes up, the well will produce water. "if it'll take water, it'll make water".

    if the casing is in fact 2".. I would recommend that u quit pulling directly off the casing and install a 1" pvc drop pipe no more than 30' with a foot valve on the bottom.. use a doubletap fitting or 2"-1" well seal and plumb into the pump. then prime and run it off a while. 13' isn't a bad water level so long as the well produces. most shallow jet pumps will pull water from as deep as 25'. good luck.
    Thanks for that advice, it's very encouraging.

    I've already set out to do this today. The first supply shop I stopped at insists that my casing is probably cracked or damaged, and told me I should abandon the well. When I mentioned that the garden hose came up with what looked like a thin film of clay on it, they didn't even want to sell me a foot valve.

    I'm going to try flushing the shaft and installing the 1" pvc drop, thanks again.

  4. #4
    Well Drilling/Service justwater's Avatar
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    I'm not disagreeing with the parts place. there is a good chance the well casing has rusted out and has a hole somewhere letting dirt/sand/clay/etc into the well. in which case the proper procedure is to plug it and redrill. either way though, if it will take water, it should produce water (even if dirty). install the drop pipe and run it off a while, might clear up good enough for irrigation use.. but the fact is, with steel casing, it will eventually rust out so bad that it's unusable.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member jphiii's Avatar
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    Understood about the casing, hopefully I can get a little more use out of this well before I have to bite the bullet and have a new one struck.

    Well, I had three 10' sections of 1 1/4" laying around, so I thought I'd use that instead of the 1" you suggested. I glued some threaded male and female adapters onto each section. Also rigged up one of those "well point installation" tools that are sold at some hardware stores (basically just a union which lets you connect two garden hoses to your downpipe). I carried all of my pipes out to the casing, hooked up the "well point installation" thing, and set out to start flushing. I really thought I was hot stuff with my threaded sections, ready to add each section as I progressed further down.

    Whadaya know, because I used 1 1/4", the damn threaded couplings don't fit down the casing. I was only able to get one 10' section down. I think I can file off the little nibs all around the outside of the couplings and just barely squeeze it in there, but that's not going to leave any room for water and sediment to flush out around the pipe.

    That's what I get for not following directions, I guess. That and the fact that traffic is a mess in this city right now thanks to Bike Week, and what should have taken a few hours ending up taking all day.

    On a positive note, though, with two garden hoses attached, I was able to get the water level to maintain just a few feet below ground, which let me plunge with the one section I could get in there. Everything coming up looked nice and clean. Guess I'll start over again in the morning and see what kind of trouble I can get into.

  6. #6
    In the Trades Texas Wellman's Avatar
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    You just found one of the most annoying things about 2" wells. All 2" jets and well heads are threaded 1-1/4" and you have to use turned or thin collars to make them usable. I prefer to use 1" PVC or steel as drop-line but then I have to convert back to 1-1/4" at the well head and have to use special fittings that are custom made just for that purpose. And you cannot buy turned collars just anywhere, that too is a speciality item. For all practical purposes 1-1/4" drop pipe makes the least sense in a 2" well and they are all set-up for that. There is much better clearance with 1" PVC and regular couplings.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Well Drilling/Service justwater's Avatar
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    u are wasting ur time with all the other junk, just put together 30' of 1" PVC drop pipe with a 1" foot valve on the bottom and plumb it to the pump.

    anything larger and ur risking getting it stuck in the old well.

  8. #8
    In the trades WellWaterProducts's Avatar
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    This would be a good place to use this pipe: http://atlanticscreen.thomasnet.com/...-screen-casing
    ----
    Chris Kofer
    h2oguy.com




  9. #9
    Well Drilling/Service justwater's Avatar
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    I was wondering yesterday if they made FJ pipe smaller than 2".. thanks chris.

    If OP hooks up a drop pipe and runs it off a while to see that there is in fact dirty water coming out, he needs to do some research to find out if that well is rock well with no screen, or a screened well.. because there are definitely ways to line that casing and possibly fix the well permanently. a local driller that knows his area could likely tell him what type of well it is, being 80' and 2" steel.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member jphiii's Avatar
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    It's alive!

    Thanks for all of the help, everything's flowing once again.

    The footvalve is sitting right about 24' below the top of the casing. So far it's run through four 10 minute cycles. Water has never stopped flowing, and everything coming out is nice and clear.

    Also, I appreciate the link above. Maybe that will be the next project!

  11. #11
    Well Drilling/Service justwater's Avatar
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    congrats!... glad to hear you got it going.

  12. #12
    In the Trades Texas Wellman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WellWaterProducts View Post
    This would be a good place to use this pipe: http://atlanticscreen.thomasnet.com/...-screen-casing
    To line the 2" casing with or to use as drop pipe? I have done it with a 2-1/2" casing before successfully. I suppose you could line a 2" well and use a shallow well pump.

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