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non-electric well pump

Gail HGail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

I chimed in on the shelter in place thread that we are pretty good in terms of food, shelter and warmth. Our Achilles heel is water. We are on a deep well and it's good water, but without electricity, we have no well pump. Truth be told, we don't even know precisely where the well is. A contractor needed to know and it wasn't in our deed so we called the previous owners (who built the house). They were pretty vague and indicated that it was on the west side of the house. We called the home of the man who dug the well and he had passed away. The man who got his records was very helpful but couldn't find anything. The county health department is supposed to have a record, but they don't.

All that to say, we need to know how to find our well and once we do, we need to know how to make it functional in case of a power outage. My husband is understandably nervous about opening the well and introducing contamination, so other ideas are welcome as well.

The helpful well guy suggested digging a second, shallow well deemed an agricultural well. It would only be about 60 feet deep. I don't know if that's even a possibility anymore since all of the water rights in my state were sold off recently. I know they are slapping up water towers and laying pipe as fast as they can, which seems odd for such a sparsely populated area.

Again, we are open to any suggestions are how to remedy our water problem.

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Comments

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin

    I will be watching this thread. What a dilemma.

    We sailed that we would use a for and haul water up or...get fittings for the big hand pump that we bought a while back & see if it could be hooked up (much safer). But, if you don't even know where your well is...

    I would hope that it has a proper cap on it. If not or it it has rotted/rusted, that is very dangerous. I think it would be very good if you could find it.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,769 admin

    @Gail H We also have a deep well with a submersible electric pump. When our power goes out for any length of time, we have a small generator that we can run long enough to fill containers and the pressure tank. Not a good solution but at least we have water.

    There are solar powered submersible pumps available. https://thesolarstore.com/submersible-pumps-c-53_62.html Might be a bit expensive for start up but should start to pay for itself in reduced electric costs.

    You should be able to see some sort of depression in the ground where the well head is. It shouldn't be too far below the surface. They actually aren't supposed to be buried, as the heads on deep wells are supposed to have access for repairs. Ours is about 6" below the surface of the ground but has a hole around it about a foot in diameter. We usually have a small bucket over it so people don't trip in it.

    There are companies that can send a small unit through the water line and it will send back a signal to the surface, so you can trace the line to the well head.

    Don't worry about opening it up to contamination. Its not likely and you could always shock it if you are really concerned.

    When you say your water rights were sold off, does that mean that you can't legally drill or dig for water on your own property?

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin
    edited December 2020

    My husband said that the grass might even be growing better where the well is. A depression is generally suspicious out here on rural farm yards. A wheel of a farm implement suddenly dipping into a hole that didn't exist before is also a strong indicator of course. It can indicate an old well on the property. Sometimes there are multiple hidden walls. Sometimes they cave in and sometimes they don't. The thought of a hidden well is always a concerning thought to me. At least you know a general area.

    He told a story of a neighbor they had who build their yard up 2 1/2". They buried the well. They also did not know where it was because of it.

    You can do as @torey said or find a way to switch power to another type of power source wherever the power source currently is.

  • Gail HGail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey & @LaurieLovesLearning Thanks for the input. While it would be nice to locate the main well, we are thinking it might be best to leave well enough alone. (Sorry! I couldn't think of any other way to phrase it!)

    I am leaning toward the agricultural well if we are allowed to access the ground water. I have to call the township and see what they say.

    A pond would be wonderful, but I'm not sure where to even begin with something like that . I'll put it on my Christmas list! :o)

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,769 admin

    @Gail H There are some suggestions in Marjorie's blog post about watching the next big rain storm for a place to put a pond.

    I get why you might prefer to leave "well" enough alone but if your pump dies and needs repair or replacement, it is nice to know in advance where the well head is. Shortens the length of time you might be without water. Our pump needed to be replaced after about 20 years of service. Just a couple of years ago the pipe that connects the pump to the main line going from the well to the house sprung a leak and we had to open it up again.

    A couple of other reasons they might need to access the well head. Here in Canada (at least in my part of Canada), in order to obtain a mortgage for rural properties that are on well water, you have to do a well test for the bank/mortgage company to determine gallons per minute. If the well doesn't produce enough, you might not get a mortgage. Some people like to do a potability test which is usually done both from a household tap and the well itself. If the water needs to be shocked, that is usually done at the well head.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,771 admin

    @torey That must be for certain areas. There are very few wells in my area. Most people hauled water here. We were very fortunate to have a well. Now most are on municipal water due to ease of use.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,769 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning We have an abundance of underground water. Everyone in rural areas here have wells. Some are shallow dug wells but the majority are deep drilled wells. There are a few people who live right on lakes that draw their water from that source. I know very few people that have to haul water or have it brought in. We are pretty spoiled here in BC for water.

    There is one water hauling company here but it is mostly for deliveries to work camp situations where drilling a well isn't practical. But we have several drilling companies. Municipal or community water systems are only available in well populated areas where the houses are very close together.

    Solar powered pumps have become quite popular here for outlying areas that don't have power. Also for irrigating so you don't have to run power lines to distant fields.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 701 ✭✭✭✭

    Gail H Having your own separate power source for emergency use would be one solution. We live off grid but have a well. We have a spigot on the top of it with the wires for the pump also at the top. We have a generator that the pump plugs into when we need to fill our water storage system or for watering the garden. In your situation it would probably be easier to have it tied into your house with a switch box to switch your power over to the generator during any type of power outage. That way if they are working on the lines your power from generator does not feed back into the lines and get the repairmen hurt. Once power is restored you just switch the lever back again. It would allow you to run other electric items in your house as well. Just have to be sure to match the generator output to your power needs, or shut off as much as possible during outage to bring power use down to a level your generator can handle.

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