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Thread: How to remove deep well cap?

  1. #1

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    We have been using city water since our submersible pump failed about 5 years ago. We miss the good tasting well water and want to replace the 3-wire 1/2 HP 220 volt Franklin submersible pump. The top of the casing is 5' down in the ground! I've dug down to expose the well head, water pipe, electric cable and copper vent line.

    I know the plastic water pipe will have to be cut, as will the electric cable (electric power is disconnected), and the copper vent line will unscrew from the well head.

    Problem is I don't know how to remove the cap. I expected to see some bolt heads but there are none. How do we remove this cap? Is it threaded into the casing? How does it seal?

    I have another question: Several years ago a neighbor had a pump problem with a 2-wire 1/2 HP Goulds submersible pump. The well driller installed a new pump and gave me the old one. I took it apart and found the impellers were clogged with silt and there appears to be no resultant damage. After cleaning and reassembling the pump, it runs fine. I would like to use this pump to eliminate the cost of buying a new one. The city water would be there as a backup in case the pump fails. Am I being penny-wise and pound-foolish?

    This forum was a great help to me a few months ago when I first started checking into our submersible pump problem. The pump would run for a minute then trip the 20 amp. breakers. I found the load on one AC line measured about normal at 5 amps. but the other a whopping 24 amps, so there is an overload for sure.

    Thanks again for any help!
    Fred in sunny NYS

  2. #2
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Assume that you get the new pump, or the old pump, installed and working.

    The city is going to have serious heartburn about a connection of a submersible pump to their system without, and maybe even with, a Reduced Pressure Zone Backflow Preventer.

    A valve separating the systems and a promise to keep it closed when using the pump is not going to be acceptable. The only thing that might be acceptable will be the backflow preventer, or physical separation of the plumbing in a way that is not easily restored.

    I would install a used pump only after checking its performance, and if I were capable of removing and replacing it without having to hire a pro. The cost of a pro fixing the system will be more than the cost of a pump.

  3. #3

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    Thanks for the advice. Does anyone have the answer to my other question?

    "Problem is I don't know how to remove the cap. I expected to see some bolt heads but there are none. How do we remove this cap? Is it threaded into the casing? How does it seal?"

    Fred

  4. #4
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    The well cap is usually slipped on and may held with set screws. It shouldn't be supporting any pipe. There may be a junction box for the wiring.

    If it is metal, it may stick to the casing. Revove the set screws if they are there and use something to drive the cap upward. You might put a square bar or something on the edge and pound upward, working around the pipe to keep it from cocking. Just a hammer is often not effective.

    If you have well seal, that is a different animal. It fits inside the casing and is sealed by compressing the rubber seal between the top plate and an inner bottom plate. You have to LOOSEN; not remove, the screws to relieve the compression on the seal; then pull the whole thing up, including the pipe which usually goes through the seal.

    In many wells the water pipe goes through a "pitless adapter" that is usually installed below the frost line. Too complicated to explain here. Google it and figure it out.

  5. #5
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    The only seal I am aware of is the good old well seal. In a four inch well, it usually has 4-9/16" bolts that must be loosened like Bob said, not removed. If you don't have any bolts, I have no idea what you have. If you had to dig the well up, I will assume you have no pitless adaptor. I mean that would be a giant oxymoron.

    So look harder on the top where the pipe and wire come out, there should be bolt heads there. Two turns is plenty to loosen the seal. Getting it to move upwards is another thing.

    I would never put a used pump in a well.

    bob...

  6. #6

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    Thanks again Bob and Speedbump.

    You're right, there is no pitless adapter. All connections go through the cap's top. Tomorrow I will again clean the cap and look for any screws. It sounds like there must be set screws flush with the surface and caked with old dirt as no bolt heads are visible on the top.

    I plan to weld a 6' extention to the casing and bring it a foot above ground level and install a pitless adapter. Never did anything like this but there's always a first time - should be interesting!!

    Fred

  7. #7
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    That's the best way to bring the casing up. Not the easiest, but the best. There are several pitless manufacturers out there and I haven't used one in over 20 years. They are not needed in Florida. The easiest one to install if your in the market is a weld on unit. I think Whitewater still makes them. There are kits also, but I can't remember how they work. Ain't old age great!

    bob...

  8. #8

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    "ain't old age great" . . tell me about it - I'm 75 and still learning <GG>. It's raining here so won't get much done on the well. Thanks for the extra info.

    Fred

  9. #9

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    "Well", I just got the well cap off. There are no bolts or set screws, not even a gasket or "O" ring type seal, and no evidence of any sealant. Maybe the installer put some kind of compound sealant on top of the casing and depended on the pump's weight to hold the cap down.

    To further complicate things the pump pulled very hard and up only about a foot then the plastic pipe broke in two just under the cap. I knew it was pulling way too hard and tried working the pipe up and down plus spraying water down the casing to help it. Now I'm thinking maybe the electric cable was not taped at the pump and wedged between the pump and the casing. There is about 6" of pipe sticking out of the well and it's clamped to keep it from slipping out of sight. BTW, there is nothing other than the plastic pipe and the electrical cable to assist in raising the pump.

    This installation was done about 30 years ago by a reputable (?) well driller in this area. However, I'm wondering what kind of work he did.

    Fred

  10. #10
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    I would try a few things to minimize the risk of dropping the pump.

    1. Try to keep the wire just snug so if the pipe breaks there won't be a lot of energy at the end of the drop.
    2. Make a square cut at the end of the pipe and cement on a male adapter. Let it cure at least 24 hours and then screw a steel coupling on it to pull with a rope or cable arranged for a center pull. That way you will have little bending at the pipe. I would try to avoid tools on the plastic pipe that might weaken it.

    When all else fails, you may want to try some muriatic acid, but it is hard to get a concentration of it down where it will do the most good. The acid might dissolve the rust or lime deposits. It won't do anything to the sand.
    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/face/stateface/mi/01mi061.html

    If you could put a small pipe, such as 1/2" poly or PVC, down to the pump you might be able to get the acid down near it. As you add acid it will tend to raise the level in the pipe, which might force it down past the pump. I would be thinking about 5 gallons or so of acid as a start. Something like a little "Drill pump" would pump it down and you could arrange to operate it remotely to avoid handling the acid.
    You could get a siphon started with a hose connection and a check valve on the inlet end in the acid bucket, thereby eliminating the pump.
    Last edited by Terry; 10-17-2008 at 04:47 PM.

  11. #11

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    Bob,

    I just came in fromr working on the pump again, then found your note.

    I put a 3/8" bolt through the pipe a couple inches from the end and attached a small chain inside it. Pulled on the cable and pipe with a small chain falls and finally got the pump dislodged from where it was stuck. The pump will move up and down about a foot, and up to a point where it bumps against something solid and won't come any further. Is there any possibility the cable is getting jammed between the top of the pump and the bottom of the well opening?

    I'll do as you say and cement a threaded fitting on the pipe then let it set up for a day - don't care to work on Sunday anyway.

    You really believe there's that much buildup in the casing huh? What, if anything, will the acid do to the water quality?

    Later,
    Fred

  12. #12
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    When you lower the pump to the bottom of the 1 ft of motion, then take up the slack in the cable to keep it snug. The cable probably weighs about 0.1 # per foot. You can probably feel when the slack is taken up.

    Your best shot to getting it out is probably lots of "up and down". The things you don't want to do are break the pipe or get it jammed so hard you can't move it either way.

    When you cement the fitting on, be sure you get a Schedule 40 fitting; not DWV. Also, there are some new Schedule 40 fittings that have the absolute minimum engagement. I have found that HD has the older style which are better. If you don't already have cement, then get the heavy duty style and use primer/cleaner with it.

    The cable has a cover where it passes the pump. If you can keep the slack out of the cable it shouldn't get wedged.

    If there is a steel casing in the well there is probably a lot of rust.

    The acid will be diluted and pumped out of the well when you operate the pump. If you want to neutralize it you can dump some sodium hydroxide (lye) down the well. NaOH + HCl = NaCl + H2O

  13. #13

    Default How to remove deep well cap?

    When you lower the pump to the bottom of the 1 ft of motion, then take up the slack in the cable to keep it snug. The cable probably weighs about 0.1 # per foot. You can probably feel when the slack is taken up.

    If the cable is taped to the 120' of pipe every 5' or so, do you think any slack near the pump would get taken up?


    Your best shot to getting it out is probably lots of "up and down". The things you don't want to do are break the pipe or get it jammed so hard you can't move it either way.




    I'll do that next Monday. Almost got it stuck too hard today!



    When you cement the fitting on, be sure you get a Schedule 40 fitting; not DWV. Also, there are some new Schedule 40 fittings that have the absolute minimum engagement. I have found that HD has the older style which are better. If you don't already have cement, then get the heavy duty style and use primer/cleaner with it.



    Good advice! Will do.



    The cable has a cover where it passes the pump. If you can keep the slack out of the cable it shouldn't get wedged.



    That would be nice!



    If there is a steel casing in the well there is probably a lot of rust.



    The cap was heavily rusted, if that's any indication.



    The acid will be diluted and pumped out of the well when you operate the pump. If you want to neutralize it you can dump some sodium hydroxide (lye) down the well. NaOH + HCl = NaCl + H2O



    I better not put anything in the well because my next door neighbor's well might be on the same vein. If he tasted something strange in his water after watching me dig our well he would get upset big time.


    Thanks again Bob - your info is really appreciated during these "trying times".
    Fred

  14. #14
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    You shouldn't use sch 40 PVC, only sch 80 (dark gray) or metal fittings.

    You are washing rust particles down the well against the obstruction. or creating one and when you're in a hole, stop digging!! no acid etc. that will cause more particulate matter to fall to the obstruction and add to the one you may have now.

    As you slowly lift the plumbing, no sharp jerks, rotating it with an up/down motion may find a way through the obstruction or you'll loosen or remove it. It has always worked for me.

    Usually the pump cable is cut with an extra 5-10 feet stuffed down the well and reconnected with wire nuts. Usually the cable won't be capable of preventing you from pulling the pump unless it is broken and has fallen down, but a torque arrestor or cable guards will 'bind' up. Or the extra cable at the motor pigtails where the splices are can hangup due to the tape breaking or otherwise coming lose etc.. So lift the cable and pipe together and rotate it as you lift and push back down etc.. I wouldn't go over 360 degs though and once I got past the blockage, I'd always go back to where it was when I first starter to pull. So index/mark it so you know where it was. Many wells are not drilled straight down, they twist and wander with the geology so the drop pipe friction on the side of the well may be hanging it up too. If you are in NY as I think, you probably have a 6" well. One good thing is that most 1/2 hp pumps will be something like only 50-100' deep.

    What type of drop pipe do you have, sch 40 or 80 PVC or polyethylene (with hose clamps? If 10-20' lengths of PVC, any of the couplers could be 'stuck'. If PE tubing, careful you don't pull the pump off a fitting at the outlet but usually the tubing is rubbing somewhere. Of course there could be a cave in or a fallen stone above the pump in any rock bore well and that's probably what you have if you are in the north east US.

    BTW, if I in another 12 years at 75 could go dig up a well and pull a pump by hand.... I'll be very grateful and enjoy every minute of it.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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  15. #15
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    I agree with Gary, no acid, no water down the casing. Just smooth up down motions to gently knock the scale off the pipe as the pump keeps gaining footage. I don't know how much you will be able to turn the pipe if it is plastic, but if the pump will turn it will help.

    Keep the wire tight so that it is coming with the pipe, don't let it get any slack. I know you have heard of Chinese handcuffs.

    Another thing that will help, is to add pipe and drop the pump down lower. This kind of grinds more of the buildup on the pump and motor. It will also let you snug the wire if it's loose. If you think the wire is the problem. By pulling on it until it breaks is not a bad thing in most cases. The wire will usually pull apart at the splice a few feet above the pump and the other wires if properly installed will be taped to the pipe.

    bob...

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