Saturday, January 16, 2016

A fun week

I live out in the boonies.  I know, I know, Kansas IS the boonies. I mean out of town, off the beaten path, and away from the distractions. It has its draw backs, but I like it most of the time.
Last week was one of those times I don't particularly like it. I got home Monday night and no water.
When I built, I had the option to get rural water. It was gonna be expensive though as they would have to run the line over a half mile. Since the last segment was gonna be through rough rock, it would have been expensive. I opted for a well instead.
Its not a shallow well by my standards. I grew up in Minnesota, and there, post holes fill with water while you take a coffee break. There we dig em twenty to thirty feet and call it good rather than drown. My well here is 220 feet, 210 of it through limestone and shale.
A quick check of the pump controller confirmed my worst fears, the pump had died. I've pulled this well before, it aint fun and definitely not a one man job anymore. Age is turning me into a wimp.
After rounding up tools Tuesday morning, I set about getting it up and out.
Most modern wells are put in using a pitless adapter, a coupling about three feet down that  slides together and supports the pump which is on flexible pipe. The adapter in my well is slightly cocked. The normal method to pull it is to screw a piece of one inch pipe into the top of the adapter, then lift it on out. Since mine is turned, I instead screwed a half inch pipe with a threaded bushing in to it instead. Three things come up the well shaft, the well pipe, wires to power the pump, and a rope for pulling the dang thing. As I began to unfasten the wires, the rope which had been attached to the well head dropped down the well and out of sight. Something had gnawed the knot off!
Having turned into a wimp, rather than pulling it by hand, I chained it to the forks of an all terrain forklift instead. Should be a cinch.
Dead wrong! after sliding up a total of ten feet, the 1/2 inch pipe snapped off at the threads! Bye!
Since I'd hung the pump high off the bottom, it dropped about twenty feet. At that point I called a well driller. I think he is still laughing at me, but Hey, That' life! He offered a few solutions, but they also failed.
Wednesday morning I started fresh with new resolve after having pondered the problem all night. I went to the nearest construction supply yard to purchase a length of 1/2 inch rebar. They suggested I opt for 3/8 instead. After a few minutes consideration, I decided to stick with half inch.
I bent a very tight loop in one end, just large enough to slip around the pipe below the pitless adapter and canted it, then bent a shepherd's crook in the other end.  Turns out it was even deeper than I thought, the hook wouldn't reach. No problem, I attached a length of unistrut and in minutes had it snagged. Then back to the fork lift, and up she comes!
Dream on. I was keeping a close eye on my shepherd's crook, and before I had the adapter out of the well, it began to straighten! Had I gone with the 3/8 rod, it would have failed. Clearly there were issues. As soon as the adapter was clear of the well, I roped and chained the pipe so it was secure, then began pulling again.
Bad news! At roughly the same height, it again bound up. This time the pipe ripped. This is one inch PVC. This stuff can pull a truck! and it ripped apart like laffy taffy. Now I'm seriously screwed. Instead of having a head hanging twenty five feet down, I have nothing in sight, and my well is effectively rendered useless. This is gonna take some figgerin.
After a bit I came up with what I hoped would be the final solution. No, I wasn't going to Germany. I rebent my rebar, the end had stretched to where it no longer fit the well. I then got several hundred feet of good strong rope. I figured that I'd have to drop that rebar to the bottom and snag the pump itself.
Turns out I was wrong. After dropping almost 100 feet, the end speared in to the well wires which had bunched up as the fell. They were originally taped to the well pipe, but when it stretched, the tape broke for part of the length of the pipe.
I managed to get my rebar hooked into them though and then prepared again to pull the darn thing. This time though, I got some help. my neighbor was kind enough to come over. I guess he needed some cheap entertainment, but in any case, he came and helped.
We hooked the rope to my skid loader, then I had him slowly back it across the lawn and out into the field.
Finally! It's out! This project isn't over though, I still need to get a new pump into the well and get it working. Well pipe, wire and a pump are all needed. Pump? no problem, Home Depot has them. Wire and pipe are another issue though. We have a plumbing supply house about five miles from me as the crow flies, twenty miles if you drive, and he is the source for well pipe and wire. He is the only source locally.... and... he is out of stock.
Option two, Use pex pipe instead. It's smaller diameter, one inch OD vs one inch ID, but at this point, I don't really care. I just need it in a length long enough to reach water in my well. I finally locate Pex in long lengths at another whole sale supply house. They have done business with me in the past, so no problem. They don't carry wire though. I locate it at Meynards, but it is only in 150 ft rolls, and my well is 220. That means I have to splice it. No problem, that is the least of the problems.
Wednesday is now shot. Its long past dark, and I don't want to attempt this at night. We've had enough issues, I want a win!
One more night with out water.
Thursday morning bright and early, I am ready to put this baby to rest. I call the neighbor again, but he can't help, he has an eye appointment and will be gone all day.
I get the pex end screwed into the pump and go to crimp it. One of the things I picked up was a brand spankin new crimper for 1 inch pipe. I have them for 1/2 and 3/4, and use them a fair amount when making repairs on my rentals. As soon as I go to crimp the first ring, the handle breaks on the crimpers. What! Can things get any worse? I jerry rig the damned thing though and make it work. Hey, I've been Jerry all my life. Every thing I rig is Jerry rigged. Next up is solder the wires, water proof the connections, tape them to the pipe, and get it lowered back in place. By now, I desperately need a shower.
Nope, aint gonna happen easy. The third splice from the kit failed, the shrink tube formed an air bubble, and it popped just like bubble gum. I've never had that happen before, and I've done a hundred of these things over the years. You start with your heat gun at the center to prevent that,but happen it did.
Connection #4 is a clusterfuck as well, it splits!
At long last though, I finally have it all together  and drop it slowly down the well, Once its on the bottom, I mark the pipe, carefully raise it and remark the pipe so the pump will hang ten feet off the bottom. Cut it, crimp on the fitting, attach the pitless adapter, then lower it into place.... except, the other part of the adapter is twisted about 20 degrees out of position. It was crooked before, but now its really bad. Seems something hit it one one of the failed attempts at lifting the old pump. A few deft blows with a length of pipe and a mallet though, and its back in almost its original position. I get it hooked on, fasten the wires, secure the rope, and now its time to turn the power back on.
Water at last! Muddy water! Its been nine years since I first hung the dang thing, I couldn't remember why I put it so high. Now it dawns on me, the sediment at the bottom of the well was the reason. Drilling through limestone and shale produces fine dust. Not all of it will flush out of a well, and the first time I'd done it, I pumped many a gallon before giving up and raising the pipe.
Back to the drawing board. Anybody got a spare pencil?


Chams90 said...


Bob Tamewitz said...

Your Roger Miller "Dang Me" post kind of sums this up................

JeremyR said...

LOL yup