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Thread: Well problems, the saga and sanity check

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member spiral_72's Avatar
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    Default Well problems, the saga and sanity check

    South Carolina, 6" drilled well from 1985???, 3/4hp pump at 220ft deep 5yrs old, two 30micron filters in series, pressure switch at 38/50psi, 2 adults and a baby in the house. We use on average maybe 600gal per week which includes laundry days.

    Six months ago I had well troubles, no water, very little water regardless of how much we conserved, etc. I had a well guy come out who stated we only had 0.5gal/min recovery and that we needed to drill a new $10,000 well. I'm as frugal as they come, so in an effort to save money I did a LOT of research.

    I never realized wells require maintenance for the 9yrs I had been living here. That has rewarded me with what I now know as a serious case of iron bacteria with all the expected symptoms, two times worse than you can imagine and poor well performance in general.

    Then (eight months ago) I come to the conclusion that the bacteria colony I have had plugged the pump input, screen and the rock fissures feeding my well. I used 1.5gal (as I remember) of unscented bleach in a 220ft well then filled my well with water to the cap from the neighbor's well. The water bled out, I assume into the water table, then I repeated filling, without bleach, dumping a total of several thousand gallons of water into my well over several days. All was good for six months, I can't say that we conserved water really, just had no problems. When I change the filters I still had the brown slime filling them.

    This week we've had no water again. The pump runs without building pressure. I changed the filters, broke the filter housing so in the 5hrs it took to get a replacement installed I had water till it run out again after 12hrs. I did not detect any water with 125ft of string. We have had a crazy amount of rain this past 12 months. Yesterday the US Geological site says the water table is 49ft below here. I've done some more research, supposedly chlorine is 100% effective at 5.5ph (http://www.moravecwaterwells.com/) so I also dosed white vinegar. My PH kit states <6.0ph. I also dosed 1gal of chlorine into 300gal of water (filled to the well cap) and let it sit overnight. Tonight I added maybe another 150gal water to the well up to the cap and added another gallon of chlorine because there was no odor and my test key said <1ppm CL.

    If you are still reading.....Am I insane and these exercises are useless??? Do you suppose biofouling might be the problem here? I don't know yet if I have recovered the flow this time but if so is there something I can do to permanently fix this iron bacteria problem? If so I can't find the solution on the internet.

    Thank you for your time. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member VAWellDriller's Avatar
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    Bio fouling can completely plug a pump, or the fractures, or both. You need to have the pump pulled, and then determine which is the problem, the pump, the well, or both. That's the first step. I've had good luck with a product called Boresaver plus. Its an iron bacteria treatment, that we brush and swab a well with, then airlift out...best left to professionals; but its probably cheaper than a new well. It's also very possible it's just the pump.

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    I am certainly not an expert on water quality issues, but this sounds like it might be a good candidate for a Sulfur Eliminator. You might want to talk to the guy who makes them at wellwaterstinks.com

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VAWellDriller View Post
    I've had good luck with a product called Boresaver plus. Its an iron bacteria treatment, that we brush and swab a well with, then airlift out...
    Do you have an opinion on the use of high pressure jetting to clean the borehole?

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    DIY Senior Member VAWellDriller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    Do you have an opinion on the use of high pressure jetting to clean the borehole?
    I really can't say on a rock well, but we do it all the time on screened wells with good success. I might be a little concerned on a rock well with dislodging loose material around a fracture and possibly creating a cave in of sorts; but I don't know. I've used the bore saver on both screened and rock wells.

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    DIY Junior Member spiral_72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VAWellDriller View Post
    Bio fouling can completely plug a pump, or the fractures, or both. You need to have the pump pulled, and then determine which is the problem, the pump, the well, or both..................... I've had good luck with a product called Boresaver plus.
    Could you expound briefly on how they would determine which problem is at fault? The pump would be easy to diagnose, the fractures I would assume a well guy would calculate recovery, but without a pump? Would they use a camera?

    I'll look into Boresaver. Thank you.



    Quote Originally Posted by valveman View Post
    ..........might be a good candidate for a Sulfur Eliminator. You might want to talk to the guy who makes them at wellwaterstinks.com
    I have not considered this, neither read any on it. Thank you, I'll research this so I have intelligent questions for wellwaterstinks.com


    I don't know how to ask this, but does anyone have any suggestions for finding a good well service? There are few I found here to choose from. The first gentleman I had come out, while he seemed to know his stuff, seemed set on drilling a new well regardless of how many other alternatives I proposed. Either he's right I need a new well, or he wasn't interested in troubleshooting, or he doesn't know about this condition, or he was playing on my ignorance to make himself a lot of money. I don't mind spending the money as long as I'm not wasting the money.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member spiral_72's Avatar
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    FWIW:

    The well has been parked for 24hrs now with very little water use and a strong chlorine odor.

    You might say 48hrs, but I don't know what happened to the first gallon of chlorine I sent down there the day before....... I did cycled the water back into the well with the garden hose for 30minutes before checking it, but detected very little CL.

    On a side note, I learned I need to air up the bladder tank (or at least check it) periodically. It should come as no surprise it was completely deflated after 9+ years. The huge increase in water pressure has made the wife a little less frustrated since I appear to be making progress. Before that we had plenty of pressure for maybe five seconds, then it would bleed off to a heavy stream. Hopefully it holds air.

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    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spiral_72 View Post
    I also dosed 1gal of chlorine into 300gal of water (filled to the well cap) and let it sit overnight. Tonight I added maybe another 150gal water to the well up to the cap and added another gallon of chlorine because there was no odor and my test key said <1ppm CL.
    You did circulate that by running a hose into the top of the well enough to get the bleach to mix well, I presume.

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    DIY Junior Member spiral_72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    You did circulate that by running a hose into the top of the well enough to get the bleach to mix well, I presume.
    Yessir I sure did for at least 30minutes plus another 15minutes to find the CL test kit and use it. There was just a hint, barely detectable, of bleach odor in the water out of the hose. From my one previous experience, it didn't take near that long to get bleach through the system.

    I had what I think was a good idea based on the high pressure jetting mentioned above by LLigetFA. 1/2" CPVC fits through the threaded plug hole nicely. I plugged the end of the CPVC and drilled twenty 5/64" holes radially around the capped end. The streams at 50psi were almost enough to sting your skin. I've been using this to spray down the casing tonight. In another 30 minutes I'll start dumping fresh water into my well from the neighbor's well to dilute..... drain my well and repeat. It's been sanitizing 24 - 48hrs now and I stink so I gotta get fresh water for a shower soon.

    UPDATE:

    I run 350 gallons of water out of the well into the yard, which is pretty amazing considering the trouble we've had. The water was well below the cap when I started though I didn't drop a string to measure level. The water was the color of tea throughout. I'm filling my well now from the neighbor's well. We'll see.

    Thank you for the help. I'll let you know....
    Last edited by spiral_72; 02-06-2014 at 07:15 PM.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member VAWellDriller's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=spiral_72;409030]Could you expound briefly on how they would determine which problem is at fault? The pump would be easy to diagnose, the fractures I would assume a well guy would calculate recovery, but without a pump? Would they use a camera?

    They would pull the pump the well and measure the water level and the pumping rate. A camera wouldn't do much good. You'd need to do a yield test to determine if its the well, so they would need a properly working pump in the well to do this.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spiral_72 View Post
    Yessir I sure did for at least 30minutes plus another 15minutes to find the CL test kit and use it. There was just a hint, barely detectable, of bleach odor in the water out of the hose. From my one previous experience, it didn't take near that long to get bleach through the system.
    I would circulate at maybe double the time it took to get 200 ppm chlorine coming back through the hose. The level below the pump might take a while to get the chlorine level up. The ability to detect chlorine levels by nose varies a lot. Cutting your test strips into smaller pieces can make the supply last longer.

    You might consider re-checking the pH on the recirculating water too.

    Nice idea on that homemade well bore scrubber. Maybe I will be able to replicate it, tho I don't know yet if I will have that big of a hole to work with.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member spiral_72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    Nice idea on that homemade well bore scrubber. Maybe I will be able to replicate it, tho I don't know yet if I will have that big of a hole to work with.
    Stagger the holes so there's some material left. I actually plugged the end with a 1/2" wood dowel I tapered on the lathe then rammed inside. An actual plumbing cap won't fit the hole... I'm not sure if they sell test caps for 1/2" CPVC but that would be an option too. I don't know where the idea come from, but it seemed to work pretty well.

    I'm still draining to rid the well of bleach. I drained, then flushed the system with clean water and my scrubber. I'll do it again in the morning.

    It looks like my pressure tank is shot. Another thing I didn't realize needed maintenance. I'm considering a Cycle stop valve from http://www.cyclestopvalves.com/index2.html to keep the pump running while using water for an extended period of time (shower, laundry etc.) I always thought it was stupid for the pump to cycle on and off, but I didn't know about CSV's until I started researching pressure tanks.
    Last edited by spiral_72; 02-07-2014 at 09:09 PM.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spiral_72 View Post
    It looks like my pressure tank is shot.
    That statement implies that water comes out when you try to check the pressure in the tank when there is pressure in the pipes, and that with the pressure off of the pipes (pump off, faucet open) you cannot build up the precharge pressure to 2 PSI below the pump turn-on pressure.

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    DIY Junior Member spiral_72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reach4 View Post
    That statement implies that water comes out when you try to check the pressure in the tank when there is pressure in the pipes, and that with the pressure off of the pipes (pump off, faucet open) you cannot build up the precharge pressure to 2 PSI below the pump turn-on pressure.
    Well, yes The bladder pumps up fine to pump start pressure -2psi (I found several articles) which gives me glorious and sustained pressure for a time. The next night it was -10psi. I didn't check it last night, but today the water pressure is down to it's normal pathetic values, 60psi at first then trickles down to 40, then back up to 60psi, then 40, 60, 40. I have not had water come out the valve in the tank, however figured air leaks through a pin hole(s) into the water supply. Filling air and checking was by draining the water system empty with the pump off and leaving the plumbing open to rid any + or - air pressure in the lines.

    Which brings me to another point, maybe another post: Is there a brand or feature of a tank I should specifically look for? I'm fairly sure I'll be purchasing the cycle stop valve CSV1W. Since I think I need a new tank I'll get a smaller one to match the valve, according to what I've read.

    Maybe this one with a 3.75gal drawdown at 40-60psi??
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_424496-41278...orker|Vertical
    Last edited by spiral_72; 02-08-2014 at 08:04 AM.

  15. #15
    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    The CSV1A is better. It is Stainless Steel and has ports where the smaller tank, pressure switch, etc., can screw directly into the CSV, which also saves space and a tank cross. See this link. http://cyclestopvalves.com/prod_psidekick.html

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