How to Drive a New Well Point
Lets face it anything to do with water and plumbing fixtures, can cause not only many unwanted problems, but they can also drain our piggy bank. In this economy we do not want to spend more than we have to. Paying a handyman to correct our leaky faucet may not be nearly as costly, as what it will cost to replace an old well point. Besides that call to your friendly neighborhood plumber, may in addition cost you. In fact service calls are not always free these days.
And it is not uncommon to be charged $50.00 to have a plumber come over to the house and assess your problem. But the good news is that a good number of people throughout the states, still rely on wells for their fresh drinking water. If you were one of the unlucky ones who previously lost your power due to Hurricane Irene, than you know what I am referring to. With city or public water you still have a constant supply of fresh cold water, even if you do lose all power, including water during a winter storm or mid-summer hurricane.
So what do you do if you wake up one sunny morning and find that your water pump has lost its prime and no water is being drawn up out of your old well? Do not lose all hope and most importantly, do not call that plumber. Why you may be asking? Because there are other reasons besides a bad well point that could be causing low water volume or no water at all.
But lets talk about one of the major reasons and that is a bad point and damaged screen at the bottom of your well. A sure tell sign that your well is starting to go and will eventually lose its prime, is by unscrewing the cold water supply hose behind your washing machine. The cold water supply hose will be a black rubber hose that comes off of a blue colored handle.
Take a look inside of the end that goes into your washer. If this is full of sand or fine dirt particles, than you have a problem. Particularly after you have cleaned it out thoroughly and than find it has accumulated with sand particles once again after running your washer.
Don't Call a Plumber
If you have determined that your well point could without a doubt be on its way out, the first thing to do, is not panic and call the plumber. That call alone could cost you $50.00 for a plumber to come over to your home and assess the situation. If you are like me, you know someone, possibly a good friend, or someone who is somewhat mechanically inclined - particularly in the cooling and plumbing area. Besides to replace your existing point, you will need a second pair of hands to help you out with the somewhat tedious job of placing a new well point.
In the end when the job is completed, you can thank that friend by cooking him or her up a good homestyle meal. Don't worry about the money at this point, just remember that your extra helping hands is going to save you somewhere in the ballpark of $3500 to $5000. This is what a professional well driller or plumber would charge to install a new well, either outside in your yard, or in your basement. My old well happens to be below my homes foundation, a positive point about this is that it is that much closer to the water table. Next you will want to see if you have all of the tools and parts needed to start and finish the job.
Ladies, if you are single, I suggest you have someone help you with this task. This job does take some initial hard work in the way of connecting several lengths of one and a half inch pipe, screwing the lengths together and than pounding each length vertically into the ground. This process for each pipe length must be repeated one length after the other, until you have reached your water table. Depending on how close your water is below ground, you could be placing anywhere from five, five foot sections of pipe, up to even twenty or more sections of pipe, one on top of the other, until you hit water.
To find out if your well is in water, take a thirty to fifty foot piece of strong string. At one end tie a fish sinker, that weighs a few ounces. Place the sinker end into the existing length of pipes coming out of where your old well point pipes enter the ground. Slowly lower the string with sinker attached about twenty feet or so down the pipes, if you have driven this many so far. Even though this may sound somewhat impossible, try to feel for some sort of resistance.
If none is felt, than after you have dropped the string and sinker through a few lengths of well pipe, bring it up gradually, If you notice water or similar wetness on your string, than you will know that your point and screen are within the water table. At this point in time, 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 assure you that the well point with attached screen, is sitting in a good amount of fresh ground water.
And by the way banging five foot lengths of pipe into the ground will be far the toughest part of this plumbing job. As previously mentioned this is where that good friend of yours steps into their respected role. I cannot stress this enough, when I say that this is really too tedious a job for most women to tackle. On top of that it can be dangerous, because the post pounder that you will be using, could accidentally slip off of a section of pipe and cause injury.
The hollowed out pole pounder or well driver that you and friend will be using, to place on top of each section of pipe that is to be driven into the ground, weighs at least a good 100 lbs. or more. Believe me after you've lifted a one-hundred or so pound well driver up and down over your shoulders for two or more hours, you will be glad when your finished.
After your point is in the ground and you have hit water, the remainder of the job is nothing more, than screwing together a few fittings, such as nipples and elbows. Than attaching one end of black flex pipe to the check valve attached to the pump. And the other end of the black flex hose to the well point side. Securely attach both ends with hose or pipe clamps and your ready to go.
Tools and Equipment You'll Need
Since you now know what the hardest part of driving a new well and point is, you will need to find out if you have the necessary tools. Which by the way are not many and very inexpensive. Most likely you will have a few of the tools mentioned below, but will not have the lengths of galvanized pipe, well point and screen.
These parts and other DIY plumbing supplies can be purchased at a store such as the home depot. Better yet, you may want to consider utilizing the local plumbing supply store in your town, when tackling this job. The reason being is that home depot may not have the well point and screen you will need, that attaches to the five foot lengths of pipe. The following is a descriptive list of the parts needed to install your new well and point.
Ten five foot sections of one and a half inch galvanized threaded pipe. More or less may be needed-depending on how far down your water table is.
- One two to three foot-one and one half inch screen-this screws 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 one and a half inch 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 out of the ground by about a foot.
- One One and a half inch galvanized elbow-This elbow screws onto the last section of pipe which is above ground level.
- one one and a half inch galvanized nipple-this nipple screws into the end of the one and a half inch elbow, just mentioned in previous bullet point.
- Five foot length of one and a half to two inch black flexible pipe-This is cut with a hacksaw and placed between the end of the galvanized nipple to one end of the check valve, which exits from your water pump. Than it is securely fastened with hose or pipe clamps.
ADDITIONAL PLUMBING SUPPLIES AND TOOLS REQUIRED
- A 100 lb. or heavier post pounder or well driver-This is the most important tool that will get the job completed. It does not need to be purchased, usually your plumbing supply store will lend it out to you for a minimal amount.
- Two 12 inch or larger pipe wrenches-the wrenches will be needed to hold and screw the separate sections of threaded pipe together.
- Teflon tape or Grey plumber's Putty - The plumbers pipe puddy used in conjunction with teflon tape, is a must before driving the individual sections into the ground. If there is not a proper seal between the pipe sections, when driven into the ground seepage could occur, resulting in loss of prime to your water pump.
- A hacksaw or sawzall for cutting off extra lengths of pipe.
- Two hose type clamps - 1&1/2 to 2inches - to be used for securing ends of black flex pipe to your pump and well point.
- Manual hand pump - This is sometimes required to screw onto the last section of well point pipe. It is used to bring the water to the grounds surface, in order to prime the check valve. Afterwards, the electric to your pump can be turned on to complete the process. The hand pump, like to well driver can be rented for a small fee from your plumbing supply store.
Basically that's it and it really does look easier than it appears. Even though this may be true to some extent, you really have to gather the parts and tools mentioned above and follow the steps in driving your new well point, as stated in this DIY plumbing project. With the additional assistance and guidance from a friend, follow the above guidelines, one careful and patient step at a time. It may also be a good idea to 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.
Just think after you've completed this big DIY plumbing project, you can give both yourself and helper a real big pat on the back. Because even though you will have shed approximately four to five hours of blood, sweat and tears. You will also have saved yourself well over $4000.00 at the same time, given the fact that the tools and materials for this job comes out to not more than $750.00. So take a seat, turn on the electric water pump attached to your new well point and take that long, well deserved drink of fresh drinking water.