Author Topic: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?  (Read 3190 times)

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Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« on: July 02, 2012, 08:59:09 AM »
We've been in our off-grid cabin for a few months now and it so far has working well with a few hiccups (cough...solar...cough) and now the latest hiccup is our shallow well. We have not had much rain at all and everything is dry as a bone around here I also thought I noticed the water coming out with tiny "air bubbles" and was whiteish in color. We had friends staying with us over the weekend so I had to put it out of my mind for the time being. It is 1.25" in diameter and ~25 feet deep.

I woke up this morning and after running the water to brush my teeth I noticed that the water flow got slower and slower and never built back up. I went outside and could hear the pump running in the pump house, and it never stopped, so I opened up the pump house and saw that there was no water pressure. Due to previous experience with the set up it sounds like the pump can't suck up any water -- not that it is sucking up water but losing pressure due to a leak.

My plans are to take off the pump and physically look down the well pipe to see if I can see the water with a flashlight and if so use some string to gauge the depth of the water. Another test would be to check out another shallow well that is located near a hunting cabin on our property. I haven't used it in a long time but it has always produced good clean water. It is ~600 feet away and may have a different elevation -- it is hard to tell.

This area of Michigan finds lots of shallow wells as peopls main supplies of water, especially right in my area (e.g. adjoining land). I wonder if I just picked a bad spot. I guess I am SOL if the water level is too low to draw water. I shut off the pump for all day today so it will be interested to see if it recovers. Anyone ever been in this spot before? Advice/recommendations?

Online rick91351

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 09:06:57 AM »
Chances are it will recover.  Chances are you will have to find another source.  Those types of things work that way it seems.  Shallow wells and septic systems.  When guests show up the one runs dry and the other over flows...... [waiting] :o
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 09:18:09 AM »
Haha good point. It didn't seem like we used much water but I guess flushing the toilet, washing hands, etc. can really add up.

Since I already have a pump house built (4'x4') that houses the pump and well, would it be unwise to sink another shallow well within 3 feet of the other one? Maybe sink it another 5' down to a total of 30 feet? I cringe at the thought of moving my pump house and trenched water line into the cabin. That was a ton of work.

My wife and 3 little kids are at home -- I have to get something working soon  :-[

Offline alex trent

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 09:26:32 AM »
Worth a try, especially given thoptions.

We had shallow wells in NJ sand.  Have drilled within feet and hit water at deferent depth.

Might be the point that is clogged...how long has it been down?

at

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 10:42:42 AM »
It's only been down ~1.5 years but hasn't seend hardly any used until this past March.

When I first sunk the well I was able to pump water for over 4 hours without let up. It surprises me that the lack of rain may have affected it this bad -- especially because we are ~800 feet away from a creek. I will remove the pump and try to visually inspect if there is any water in the well. If that doesn't work I may be sinking a new well on the 4th :(

Thanks for all of the help.

Offline archimedes

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 11:21:05 AM »
Did you backwash the wellscreen after you drove it down?

If not,  maybe the screen is just clogged.
Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough,  and I will move the world.

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 11:44:09 AM »
Did you backwash the wellscreen after you drove it down?

If not,  maybe the screen is just clogged.

I did not. I believe you are asking if I dropped a hose down the well and blew water down through the well point. I did not have a source of water available at that time of installing the well. Getting water to this location would prove to be tricky as I don't have a large water tank -- just some 5 gallon buckets.

Offline alex trent

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2012, 12:05:33 PM »
Backwashing is a good idea, but since you go good flow for over a year before it went south, that is likely not the problem.

At 25 feet you are in groundwater, so the drought coupe be the problem.  Deeper might just do it.

Here is something you could they to clean the point...would not need a lot of water..

There are several ways to develop a new well by surging and pumping. One simple method is to take a wooden rod or closed end pipe and—simulating piston action—rapidly work it up and down for about 5 minutes just below the water level in the well. This surging effect will draw fine, loose sand and silt into the well, leaving the coarser and more permeable material outside the wellpoint. Remove the fine sand from the well with a pitcher pump or other pump capable of handling sand.

I have also heard of "turning the pipe"..use a pipe wrench and try to turn it...supposed to help free up dirt and sand



« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 12:31:19 PM by alextrent »

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2012, 06:27:02 PM »
Well call me Chicken Little but I checked the well with twine and a flashlight and surprisingly it was full of water. E.g. water was within 6 to 7 feet of the surface. I hooked the pump back up and still had the same symptoms -- pump running and not building pressure. I listened for air leaks and found none although I figure it has to be an airleak of some kind? It has been working since March or so, so I am surprised that it just gave up the ghost one day.

I took apart some of the plumbing around the check valves and re-teflon taped them. Same behavior.

I have this kind of pump with the attached small pressure tank. I tried checking the air pressure (recommended as 23 PSI per the manual) on the back of the tank but my tire pressure gauge for some reason couldn't read the tank. When I pushed the valve insert with my finger I could hear air escaping. I am going to pick up a better gauge and the proper attachment to fill up the tank with my air compressor tomorrow. Looks like my night tomorrow will be filled with re-doing plumbing.


Looks like this, different brand.

Offline alex trent

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 05:01:19 AM »
Did you re-prime the system?

Check or foot valve stuck shut?

Even with water inn the pipe you can have a clogged point which lets water in slowly but will to permit enough in to pump.

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 05:50:46 AM »
Did you re-prime the system?

Check or foot valve stuck shut?

Even with water inn the pipe you can have a clogged point which lets water in slowly but will to permit enough in to pump.

Alex, thanks for the message. I did re-prime and I verified that my check valve was operating when I removed some of the plumbing.

I will try the trick of rotating the well pipe with a monkey wrench to see if it frees up the works. I have a suspicion it is my cheap Harbor Freight pressure tank, but you never know. Turns out I am quite wrong about diagnosing a pump.

Offline alex trent

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 06:10:59 AM »
I have problems with pumps too. For me they work or they do not. I fiddle with them until they do or I get tired of it all.

One last thing..if you can fit a hand pump on you could see quickly if it was the point.

at

Offline BassLakeBucki

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 10:39:37 AM »
I have a cabin in mid western Michigan. We used to have a shallow well with a similar pump and tank. Had the same problem with the pump one spring. There was plenty of water in the well but could not get it build pressure, had us stumped. Went to the local hardware store complaining about the problem. The older gentlemen who owned the hardware asked if I had disassembled the nose cone of the pump and made sure it was not obstructed. Sure enough, while the pump was off for the winter, a chipmunk has “stored’ an acorn in there . Took out the acorn, hooked it back up and problem solved. We still laugh about it today. A low water table due to the drought is another possibility making recovery much slower.

The county health department ended our use of the shallow well my parents used for forty years when we got our septic permit. Our new $5000 well is 90’ deep with a 6” casing. Can’t say the water quality is any better although the lab says it is safer. The water is high iron and sulfury at times.  We still buy water for drinking.

You may want to check the pump for something causing aeration.

Offline JRR

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2012, 11:19:01 AM »
I agree with checking the pump.  Will it lift water from a known "easy" source?  Say a hose, or flexible pipe, dropped over into a water-filled 5 gal bucket?

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 11:33:20 AM »
All good points. JRR -- that is an excellent tip. I will try the bucket method first. If that doesn't work I will try to take the pump apart but it doesn't look like it is user serviceable -- this is a cheap Harbor Freight pump.

Thanks for the help!

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2012, 06:53:30 PM »
Well, I replaced the pressure gauge and refilled the diaphram of the pressure tank with air and it is working. I had '0' pressure in the diaphram when I took my measurement. Is this a sign the diaphram is on it's way out or it happens once in a blue moon?

Thanks for the help!

Online rick91351

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2012, 08:18:05 PM »
I have one friend for years it is a once a month thing.  Never get worse it seems just leaks down some where.   ???
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

Offline PorkChopsMmm

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Re: Shallow Point Well Going Dry -- Options?
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2012, 11:16:13 AM »
BTW I also had to clean out the screen caps on the end of my faucets -- there was sand in them affecting the water flow. I was going crazy wondering why the water was coming out funny.