James writes about all things water-related, from aquariums to jellyfish to well points.
A good number of people throughout the U.S. still rely on wells for their fresh drinking water. If you were have ever lost power (like due to a hurricane, for example), then you know you can lose access to your well water in the blink of the eye. With city or public water, you have a constant supply of fresh, cold water, but well water sometimes requires more work.
Let's face it: Anything to do with water and plumbing fixtures can cause unwanted problems and drain your piggy bank. It's not uncommon for a plumber to charge $50 to assess a problem. Instead of doing that, you can read article like these to learn how to do it yourself.
In the following guide, I describe how I drilled a new well point and what tools I used. We'll cover these topics in this order:
- How to diagnose a bad well point
- The need to recruit help for this job
- A list of tools and equipment you will need
- How to drive the pipe
- How to find the water table
- How to attach elbows, clamps, and nipples
1. Diagnosing a Bad Well Point
What do you do if you wake up one morning and find that your water pump has lost its prime and no water is being drawn up out of your well? Do not lose all hope and do not call that plumber yet!
Washing Machine Cold Water Hose Check
One of the major reasons you may have lost water is a damaged screen at the bottom of your well. By unscrewing the cold water supply hose behind your washing machine you can assess the health of the well point. The cold water supply hose will be a black rubber hose that comes off of a blue colored handle.
Take a look inside the end that goes into your washer. If the hose is full of sand or fine dirt particles, it's a telling sign that a well point is starting to go and will eventually lose its prime.
A way to confirm the well point is bad is by cleaning out the hose and doing a load of laundry. If you find it has accumulated with sand particles once again after running your washer, it is highly likely it's time to drill a new well point.
Don't Call a Plumber
If you're seeing the telltale signs of a failing well point, do not panic and do not call the plumber. Visits from the plumber are expensive, and this is a job you may be able to do yourself.
2. Recruit a Helping Hand
Replacing a well point is tedious. This project is a great opportunity to reach out to a friend who is strong and, ideally, mechanically inclined. This project typically requires at least one extra set of hands, and it's a great excuse to spend time with a friend. You can then repay your friend by cooking them dinner. They did just save you somewhere between $3,500 and $5,000! That is what a professional well driller would charge.
3. Tools and Equipment You'll Need
You won't need too many tools to drive a new well point, and fortunately, the ones you do need are not very expensive. Most DIY plumbing supplies necessary for this job can be purchased at your local Lowe's, Home Depot, ACE Hardware store, or your local plumbing supply store.
You'll most likely need to purchase:
- galvanized pipe: Ten 5' sections of 1 1/2" galvanized threaded pipe
- well point: Pipe that allows water to enter and keeps water table in place; find this at you're local plumbing store
- screen: A filtering device
Other Required Parts
More or less of any single material may be needed depending on the below surface depth of your water table. All of these items may vary in size depending on your personal well. Measure parts with this in mind, and be sure to ask your mechanically-inclined friend or neighborhood hardware store if you're struggling to determine proper sizes.
- one 2-3' by 1 1/2 inch screen: Screws this onto the end of the first section of galvanized pipe that gets driven into the ground, about one to two feet away from where the old point was.
- one 1 1/2" brass check valve: The check valve goes on the black flex tubing located between your water pump and last section of galvanized pipe. Its purpose is to keep water within the pump, so the prime is not lost. And this last section will be sticking about a foot out of the ground.
- one 1 1/2" galvanized elbow: Screw this elbow onto the last section of pipe above ground level.
- one 1 1/2" galvanized nipple: Screw this nipple into the end of the 1 1/2" elbow, mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- one 5' length of 1 1/2-2" black flexible pipe: Cut this with a hacksaw and place it on the end of the galvanized nipple to one end of the check valve. Securely fasten it then with hose or pipe clamps.
Additional Tools and Plumbing Supplies
- one 100 lb. or heavier post pounder or well driver: This is the most important tool. It does not need to be purchased; typically you can rent one from your local hardware or plumbing store.
- two 12" or larger pipe wrenches: Wrenches hold and screw the separate sections of threaded pipe together.
- Teflon tape or Grey plumber's putty: Plumber's pipe putty used in conjunction with Teflon tape between pipe sections is necessary before driving the individual sections into the ground. If there is not a proper seal between the pipe sections seepage could occur resulting in loss of prime to your water pump.
- one hacksaw or Sawzall: A saw is necessary for trimming extra lengths of pipe.
- two Hose-type clamps 1 1/2-2": Hose clamps secure ends of black flex pipe to your pump and well point.
- manual hand pump: Used to bring water to the surface of the ground, the manual hand pump is used to prime the check valve on the electric pump. This allows the electric pump to turn on and pump with ease. Manual hand pumps can be rented from the hardware or plumbing supply store.
4. Connecting and Driving the Pipe
This job takes some initial hard work in the way of connecting several lengths of 1 1/2" pipe, screwing the lengths together and then pounding each length vertically into the ground. Repeat this process for each pipe length one length after the other, until you have reached your water table. Depending on how deep your water is you could be placing anywhere from five 5' sections of pipe to twenty or more sections of pipe.
Getting the pipe lengths into the ground is the most difficult part of this job. As previously mentioned, this is where a good, strong friend could come in handy. The hollowed-out pole pounder or well driver that you and friend will be using weighs at least 100 lbs.
5. Determining if Your Well Is in Water
It is important to determine if your well is in water so you know how far down to drill the new well point. To find out if your well point is in water, take a 30' to 50' piece of strong string. At one end tie a fish sinker that weighs a few ounces. Place the sinker into the pipe where the old well point pipes enter the ground. Slowly lower the string with a sinker attached down the pipes. Try to feel for some sort of resistance.
If none is felt, bring it up gradually, If you notice wetness on your string, then you will know that your point and screen are within the water table. You may not need any additional sections of pipe, but you may want to drive the last section of pipe a few more feet into the ground with your well driver. This will place the well point and attached screen in even more fresh groundwater.
6. Attaching Elbows, Clamps, and Nipples
After your point is in the ground and you have hit water, the remainder of the job is nothing more than screwing together the nipples and elbows. Attach one end of the black flex pipe to the check valve attached to the pump. Attach the other end of the black flex hose to the well point side. Securely attach both ends with hose or pipe clamps and you're ready to go.
While this project is very physically difficult, it is fairly conceptually simple. The most important parts of this project are:
- Gather the tools beforehand
- Have a handy friend to help you
- Patiently follow the steps outlined here but adjust them for your specific well project
Have Your Water Tested
Have your newly driven well tested either by the local water authority in your township or by a company who does this routinely. This is just a good sensible habit, that will in addition give you peace of mind, knowing that your drinking water still has the same quality that the old well provided.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
After you've completed this big DIY plumbing project, you can give both yourself and your helper a big pat on the back. Even though you will have shed approximately four to five hours of blood, sweat, and tears, you will also have saved yourself well over $4000. The tools and materials for this job typically cost no more than $750.
Take a seat, turn on the electric water pump attached to your new well point, and take that long, well-deserved drink of fresh water!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on February 09, 2018:
Hi Cindy - Glad you found my article useful in some way. And informative as well. However I never heard of an older, or original well point pipe coming out of the ground with that much ease! I like to utilize galvanized sections of 2 inch pipe to utilize in place of PVC pipe. But mainly for driving the point along with the point screen into the ground.
PVC pipe could be used to go from the new well point to the water pump. That's Ok. But I still prefer to use galvanized pipe with a check valve installed in between the main point and pump. It is difficult to drive PVC into the ground without shattering it. At least I would think this to be the case.
Also it may be a good idea to consult a certified plumber for some additional feedback. If you have leak issues, using pipe dope I think, would definitely be an advantage over the PVC pipe sections. At least that's my feeling. So hopefully I've helped you and your husband, answer additional questions when it comes to installing a new well point!
Cindy on February 08, 2018:
You're article was very informative, thank you. We had to replace our pump & in doing so, before we installed the new pvc from the well point going to the pump, my husband pulled on the check valve & the pvc pipe going into the ground came straight up with ease. Is this suppose to happen? We put it back & finished the install. But now we have leak issues going from the well point to the pump. As well, the pump surges & we've been told that the brass check valve at the well point is bad. So, in retrospect, before we pull it all back apart again, I wanted to find out if we have bigger problems we need to be concerned about. Any insight on this issue would be greatly appreciated.
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on November 27, 2017:
Thank you for reading my article and hope you found it somewhat helpful! I would consult a local plumber for additional help and instruction on this topic in addition to utilizing my directions, which should also be useful in putting a new point in. I am also thinking that you may have a shallow well in your home, because of the clouding of the water when it rains. Recently I switched over to public street water about a year ago. It may not be an option where you are located? I now use that old well point for a separate irrigation system used to water my lawn. My own home is 60 years old. Good luck with the point installation and hope that I had helped answer some of your previous questions.
Laura on November 27, 2017:
My well runs out of water filling my stock tanks. I was told my well line diameter is small for what I have going out through my water hose. So my out going water leaves faster than incoming. True over ten years I can stop the flow and few minutes later I again have water. Every now and then I get same build up on my washer. Low rain season. Heavy rain my water is clouded. My home is over 100 years old. I've had to replace my pump and I bought a new pressure tank before I was tiles it was the lines think it may keep me in water. My pressure is never good. I will say my water is very very cold and pretty most time..
Wouldn't these instruction work for a new well. Once to determine where to drill is the difference?
Sourav Paul from DHARMANAGAR on October 16, 2016:
Thanks, James, Please do read my blogs when you have some time and keep encouraging!!
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on October 16, 2016:
Paul I'm glad you found this article useful and that the information contained within, will prove useful to you in the future! Also I see you're new to the HubPages writing community - welcome aboard and happy writing!
Sourav Paul from DHARMANAGAR on October 15, 2016:
Very technical and all the details are covered. Thank you for the article.
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on January 18, 2013:
I am glad that my article helped you out with your well problem. Actually it sounds like you do have a problem with you own shallow well. It sounds like the screen at the end of the point is either broken, or badly clogged with sand that had been taken in from the surrounding ground water table. How I could tell when this problem, started with my own well point, is that the cold water side of the washing machine. Well the screen within the hose kept getting filled with sand and causing my washer to fill very very slowly. So if you are having this similar problem with your sprinklers and so forth, it might not be a bad idea to drive another well point, parallel to the old one. Hope that helps you out and good luck.
Peter on January 17, 2013:
Hi James, thanks for the very informative article. Water was not reaching my sprinklers from my shallo well point, so I put in a new pump, valves etc..still no joy. Once primed, the pump was not holding the prime and I noticed fine sand in the filter after priming and running the pump for awhile- Could this mean my wellpoint is picking up sand particles, clogging the check valve and causing the water to run back down the pipe, thus not holding the prime? Is there a quick-fix for this?
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on September 22, 2011:
Thanks for the comment and glad you found the article to be useful. I could write a separate article on this topic, but if you follow the same steps that I highlighted in the article, you will have a separate well point tap. All you have to to is leave the last length of pipe approximately three to four feet from grounds surface. Than you would simply screw on your hand pump to use in drawing water up. You could also simply put a cross tee in between the original, new well point and the water pump with a shut off valve. At this point you could place your hand pump for future use, in case you had lost all power during a storm. Hope this helps a bit.
jamesofaklan on September 22, 2011:
Clearly illustrated do it yourself plumbing installation. Congrats!!! It is very useful and interesting. But I wonder if you have time to make a hub how to connect another hand water pump 5 to 10 feet away from the existing one? Can you help? Thanks in advance.
James Bowden (author) from Long Island, New York on September 12, 2011:
Thanks for your recent comment, I hope you found my article useful in some way. Glad you found it entertaining. I do not know if you still have well water in your area, but as you know from my article I still do. And yes the tools are not that expensive. It would be the labor that is required to have a well-driver install a new well outside the home. That in itself can be complicated and costly. I am glad that I had a friend with some knowledge who helped me replace my old well. Welcome to hubpages and look forward to checking out some of your articles.
jcbmack from Stillwater Oklahoma on September 12, 2011:
Very detailed and technical explanation, while still being very entertaining!I did not know the tools were relatively inexpensive.
James Bowden on September 06, 2011:
Thanks for reading my article about well water. Sometimes its like living the lives of the Flinstones, if you know what I mean. However we still have all of the other modern conveniences that life has to offer. Hopefully we get public water here where I reside on L.I. soon! Take care.
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on September 06, 2011:
Whoah, what an interesting process! I've never used well water before or been in a house that uses it, so it has been fun to read this!