Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pulling the Well Pump at our House

Last Thursday water ceased flowing into our house. We have a drilled well with a submersible pump, so there are a number of things that could be causing this problem. I checked the obvious things first--breakers, the pressure switch inside the well casing (this is what tells the well pump to turn on and off). Everything checked out fine. I still had college related responsibilities, so this would have to wait until the weekend for my full attention.

Once the other possibilities had been eliminated, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to pull the pump all the way out of the bottom of the well and check to see if the problem was with the wires that feed it power, or if the pump itself was toast. The following are a few pics of the process.

As you can see in this first pic, there is a fair amount of snow on the ground. As noted, we had already gone about a day and a half without running water before I could turn my attention to repairs. The moment I began working on it in earnest, it began snowing--really hard! The weather obviously made it much more challenging. As you can see, I tied an old 55 gallon drum to the side of the well casing to provide a smooth transition for the pipe to slide up and out of the well casing without damaging it. The pipe was attached with a rope to my tractor's front bucket as my plan to pull it out. With a check-valve in the pump, the entire pipe was full of water and VERY heavy. At this point I really did not know how deep the well was going to be.

As you can see it worked great! I decided to creep slowly in reverse so that I could keep a good eye on the process. My wife stood watch guiding it along on her end making sure nothing would get hung up. She was a real trooper in these frigid temps.

At this point I was still not sure how deep the well was going to be and I am still heading in reverse down a hill, in the snow, toward our largest pond. My initial guess was it would be 150 ft. deep. I was not far off in my estimate.

Here is a photo of the pipe about ten feet before the pump finally emerged from the well casing. This gizmo you see on the pipe is a torque arrestor. Basically, when the pump kicks on it twists the pipe with initial start-up force. Left unchecked, this torquing motion can rub on the pump wires and cause abrasion, shorting, breaking--basically failure of the system. Guess what happened in this case? The wires had worn away and split by precisely this type of movement; hence, no electrical power was getting to the pump. The torque arrestor is meant to center the pump as well as push against the well casing sides and dampen this torsion force. There was only one arrestor on the whole pipe when I pulled it out. When I reinstalled everything I put another two at near equal distances up the rest of the pipe. Hopefully that will cheer that problem in the future.

This last photo is of the pump. It is actually a very high quality one made by Gould. I was glad I did not have to replace it yet, as a good quality one for my well runs $400-$600. The tractor is barely visible (above my back)--that is the full length of the pipe. The total depth down to the pump was ca. 130 ft. I could have spliced the line where it broke, but it is such a job pulling the pump, I just decided to install brand new wire. The stuff is not cheap, but it is a whole lot cheaper than having someone else do it for you, or coming back and doing again in a year.

I managed to get everything rewired and reinstalled by about 10:30pm Sunday evening. I made some changes to the pressure switch level and replaced the pump's panel breaker with a new one, but we now have water again. Hurrah! It is always a good idea to pour a bit of bleach into a well when you mess with it--to shock treat it against any bacteria introduced. Just be sure to run it for a good while to clear the bleach before drinking water from the well.

Overall, I am pleased with the end results. As I prayed through each step of the project, the Lord was gracious in helping me trouble-shoot at a number of points where I was stumped. The best part was getting to take a shower again after three days. We were all getting pretty ripe, heheheh.

1 comment:

tree said...