Opening the Well Head

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by johnpm, May 16, 2009.

  1. johnpm

    johnpm New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Hello all.

    My submersible well pump is out. It is a 1/2HP unit so I figured I could replace it myself. I've done some research and have a plan, using a come along, for getting it out.

    My difficulty is opening the well head. There's a lot of rust on the well head but this is what I can see. There are two pipes coming of the top (I presume one for power and the other for water). From the top of the well looking down (about six feet), I thought there were bolts holding it in place. When I climbed down, what I thought were bolts was small piles of rust.

    Inspecting the head, I could see grooves on the cover and a collar coming up to about an inch from the top of the cover. The collar is about 6 inches long. Just below the collar are two half rings bolted together. The bolts holding these rings are rusted badly.

    I can guess as to how to remove the cover, but I'd like to be sure. Does anyone have any experience with this type of cover. Any help would be much appreciated.

    John


    Per the request of Gary (who replied to this post), I have added pictures of the well head.

    WellHead1.jpg

    WellHead3.jpg

    WellHead4.jpg
    Last edited: May 16, 2009
  2. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Sorry, I can't visualize what you are describing, it might be a sanitary seal. Can you post pictures?
  3. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    Do not take the bolts all the way out!!!!! The bottom half of the seal will fall, and can cause a wedge against the pump and the casing. It can lock the pump in the hole. Most of the time the bolts were never tightened.

    It should just pull straight up, and the seal will come with it.
    Leave the ell on there and find a way to pull as close to the center as you can.
    If you pull from the edge of the ell, it may cause the ell to break off and the pump to fall to the bottom of the well.

    Travis
  4. johnpm

    johnpm New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Travis,

    Thanks for the help. I WAS contemplating removing the bolts.

    I'm still not clear exactly how the seal is made and how it works. You said the bottom half of the seal would fall into the well if I removed the bolts so those half rings are clamping together the two halves of the seal? Once the seal assembly is removed, should it be replaced since there is a lot of corrosion?

    So, just to be sure, I need to loosen the bolts (couple of turns??) then pull the entire assembly straight up from the center. I will pull up the entire seal as well as the pump discharge pipe. I'm planning to pull from the top with a come along attached to an A frame directly above the well. would you expect it to come easily or will I need to apply a fair amount of force?Any other tips? I'll let you know how it all works out.

    Thanks again.

    John
  5. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    It is hard to tell, but the well seal you have may, be a two piece, with just a top and bottom.
    Some seals are actually 4 pieces, 2 halves on top and two halves on the bottom.


    First, do you know how deep the pump is set in your well?
    It could be very heavy(500 to 1500 pounds), and can be very dangerous. The weight is just a guess.
    The pipe the pump is hanging on, is it steel, pvc, or poly? Each have there own set ways to be worked with. Having proper tools is something to be looked at. Something to hold the pipe when it gets to the top of your a-frame,someway to lift the pipe.

    I am not saying you cant or shouldn't do it, I just want you to know kinda what to expect.

    There are variables that wont be known until you start pulling it.

    From the amount of rust, or what looks like rust. It may be a bit hard to get the seal out. You should pull on the pipe not the seal. As you pull the pipe out of the seal, you may have to use a small pry-bar to get the seal out of the casing.



    Just some thoughts and a few things to be aware of.

    Travis


    Here is a pic of the well seal that you appear to have.





    [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 16, 2009
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Man I wish you luck with that. I've never seen anything like but it looks like you aren't going to loosen the nuts.
  7. johnpm

    johnpm New Member

    Messages:
    5
    The well pump is a least 20 years old - it been here as long as I have. I don't know the depth, but the motor is 1/2H HP so I would guess 100 feet or less. Also, the waster is terrible - high hardness, high iron and iron bacteria. I treat it as it comes into the house.

    After reading your posts and looking at the condition of the well head, this may be over my head. I don't want to make the situation worse. Can anyone tell me about what I should expect to pay a professional to pull the pump and replace it taking into account the condition of the seal.

    Again, thanks to all for all your help - your posts have been quite informative.

    John
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Good choice. Price varies widely from one area to another. If it were mine, I wouldn't use the same type seal again. And I'd hang the pump on 160 psi rated 1" PE pipe.
  9. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Something I think you guys are missing. That is a four inch casing lowered into a six inch well held with a clamp. If he pulls on the pipe, the whole thing might come up. This might not be a bad thing if it's not more than 21 foot of pipe. If it is, he could cut things as they come out. I don't see why they did this, but that's what I see in the picture. It's a very expensive way to keep from buying a six inch well seal.

    bob...
  10. johnpm

    johnpm New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Why is 21 feet of pipe a critical length???
  11. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    It's not critical, it's simply the length that most well pipe is made. PVC on the other hand is 20'. Unless of course you buy it at a big box store, then it's 10' and they charge you for the cut.
  12. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Looks like a a liner to me. I'm not sure why they would have one in there unless the 6" was full of holes. But still, if he just pulls on the well seal, and that 4" is just hanging there, it may come up with the pump. That well seal can hold on pretty good after being in there for years.
  13. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    More tan likely the 6" has a hole somewhere and the 4" was installed past the hole or bad spot. Hopefully it has a seal on the bottom of the 4" and should have been filled with grout to the top in between the 4" and 6".

    Without knowing for sure why there is 4" inside 6" or if the is a seal in between the two, I would use some kind of expanding sealer around the top, to try and keep the bugs and dirt out. If you poured cement down, and there is no seal, you could plug up the well for good.

    The are a lot of old 3" well around here that are steel, and have developed a hole. Then in the same fashion, 2" was placed inside down to the screen with a seal, and grouted all the way to the top. A new pump if it was needed was placed on top, and all was good again.

    It looks to me, that the same thing may have happen here. I may be wrong, but that is what it looks like.

    When the pump is pulled out, hopefully the 4" will stay there.


    Travis
  14. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Same here Travis. We have the old 2" and 3" wells that were drilled over 35 years ago and they are all slowly dying from acidic surface water eating through them. In some cases we can put a 3" sub in the well and save it as long as there isn't surface water pouring down the casing. If it were, the well should be grouted or lined like you described.

    I'm like you, I hope there is a seal on the end of the 4". If not, I'll bet a bacterial test would come back kind of scarey.
  15. johnpm

    johnpm New Member

    Messages:
    5
    One last shot at this - if I can't get it today, I'll bring someone in.

    Travis, the picture you showed of the seal is similar to what I have. Once I removed some of the rust, I can see the two halves and the four bolts. Unfortunately the bolt heads are gone. I don't have the tools to remove them - will have to get them. Question - Is there any way this seal will come out with those bolts in place?? Second, if you look at my pictures the seal looks like it screws in. There are threads on the seal going into the 4" housing. The picture Travis showed has a gasket sealing along the side of the pipe and no threads. I can see how that one will seal. Do you guys think mine seals similar to that or might it have an O-ring at the the bottom which when screwed in will seal against a lip on the housing. If that's the case though, what will the four bolts do?

    I guess my main question is should I take a pipe wrench and try to turn it, or try to pull it straight up.
  16. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Pulling is the only way. You can't saw the heads off the bolts or you lose the bottom half of the seal. Then you have a Chinese Handcuff situation trying to get the pump out. If you can get the droppipe moving up and down, you can bump the seal up with the first coupling you come to. It will come out, it just won't be easy. And don't pull crooked on the elbow, it will break at the threads.

    There are no threads on a well seal of any kind. The one you have is just like the picture Travis showed you.
  17. Waterwelldude

    Waterwelldude Well driller,pump repair. and septic installer

    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    Texas
    The 4 bolts, when it was new, are used to pull the top and bottom of the seal together. When the bolts are tightened it will flare out the rubber seal, sealing it against the sides of the casing, and the drop pipe. The rubber part you can see in the pic is one piece of rubber, not an o-ring. The four steel pieces act like a sandwich when the bolts are tightened.

    In some cases turning the well seal with a pipe wrench while pulling on the drop pipe will help in picking up the pump. You will more than likely have to use a pry bar on the seal and pull the pipe at the same time. Only pry on the outside of the seal. There will be a small lip that runs around the outside of the seal. Use that lip to pry up on, while pull on the pipe.

    Do not let any of your fingers get under the seal or pipe! If it were to slip or drop back down, you will lose your fingers or anything else that happens to be under there!
    Travis
    Last edited: May 25, 2009
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