Trying to fix/update an OLD shallow well, this should be interesting

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by stackz, Apr 25, 2014.

  1. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    I will get pics as I can, I'm at work after another unsuccessful trip around town trying to get pieces/parts...now for the fun!

    background:
    Ok, I inherited my grandparents place and back in 1948'ish, my grandfather (who used to work at the charleston naval shipyard) made his own shallow well. It used a 2.5" metal threaded-end casing (scrap pipe from the shipyard if I had to guess) and a wwII submarine bilge pump which had leather pistons and it was hooked to a 110v electric motor. The pump output went to a home-made 30~40 gallon tank with a 40psi pressure switch on it and it fed two spigots in the backyard that are used for watering grass/garden and such.

    again 2.5" metal casing. hits water at around 13' (will check/confirm this later) and its about 50' deep. The old 1" suction pipe had a foot valve on it and was that long black flexible type pipe. All other piping is 1" pvc after you get out of the well itself.

    worked great many years making its ole' faithful loud pumping noise. finally the leather seals gave out. I spent a year tracking down a place that could make replacements and they sent them and they never sealed right again. finally, the 110v motor locked up on me. I pulled the pump setup and set it aside, should I ever get brave enough to pull it completely down and try to fix it.

    I grabbed a shallow well jet pump off craigslist and hooked it to the system and never could get prime. went on vacation for two weeks and apparently the little pump house doors opened up and it rained and the jet pump froze up.

    left it two years until I got tired of my water/waste water bill and this winter spent some time trying to get it working again.

    I went to harbor freight and grabbed this pump:
    http://www.harborfreight.com/1-horsepower-shallow-well-pump-with-stainless-steel-housing-69302.html

    I couldnt get it to prime for anything! finally in frustration I dug up the well so I could check everything out going from the pump inlet to inside the well. after repriming a couple times and watching after I turned off the pump I saw that the 1" suction line was cracked at the junction where it adapts to the pvc. basically, the pump would pull the water I put in the line and then pull air through the crack and lose prime.

    At this point I just said screw it and wanted to update to a more modern well seal setup.

    ISSUES
    as I said, the well casing is 2.5" threaded pipe. I went to a large plumbing supply store and had them order me a female threaded 2.5" to 3" threaded cast iron adapter. My intention was to then go from the metal adapter to a pvc 3" threaded female -4" slip fit adapter, add a small section of pvc 4" pipe and then get a compression type 4" well seal (all from lowes).

    the well seal I intended to use is like this:
    [​IMG]

    the issue is none of the ones in stock at lowes have the center 1" pipe like in the picture (best I could find is one with a dual 1" and 1-3/4" pipe holes and then two small screw caps in case there's no submersible pump)

    regardless of that I was still going to use the dual seal but when I took it over to the 4" pipe section to get a small 2' section the stupid rubber seal portion will not fit inside the pipe even in the store! I dont want to assemble it all and then have to basically hammer on the seal...or is that what I should do? seems like it would be impossible to get it off to service it in the future.

    I guess my last question is have I really really overthought this?

    the old well cap was a threaded cap that my grandfather apparently just sorta set on top of the pipe and had a 1" hole drilled in the middle of it. then he inserted the black flexible suction pipe into it up to the adapter which just sat on top of the cap and then he caked it in plumbers putty for a seal. by the time I dug it up, the plumbers putty was all dry and cracking and falling off in sections and the pipe was just sorta wobbling around in place. I kinda want to keep dirt/rain run off out of the well in the future is why I'm wanting to update to a modern well seal.

    happened to have the old well seal, the 2.5"-3" adapter and the generic 1" foot valve in the car with me at work so here's a pic of them as well.
    [​IMG]

    At this point I'm wondering if I should just try to find a grommet to fit the old well head, use a wire wheel to clean off the threads in the well casing so the cap threads on better (with some teflon to seal the threads) and then drop down new 1" pvc pipe into the well and cap it that way. I'm just scared of the plumbing cement coming loose on the junctions between pipe inside the well for some reason. also, how far from the bottom should the foot valve be? I've read around 1' or so? I honestly have no idea exactly how deep the well is if anybody was wondering. I dont want to deal with the black flexible pipe anymore if possible just because its walls are so thin and its so old and might crack again.

    any help or advice would be greatly appreciated! this is frustrating me to no end.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  2. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    hah! nice! I like how it automatically makes my avatar my state flag :p

    anyway, I got home and took pics of the rest of everything to give a better idea of what I've been working with.

    first, the well itself. yup, there it is in all its glory.
    [​IMG]

    next, here's the suction line. I've just got it propped up against our small little garden as I dont throw anything for a project away until the project is done and functioning as it should.
    [​IMG]

    finally, the ancient bilge pump my grandpa rigged up. it will need a LOT of love if I end up having to revert to using it again.
    [​IMG]

    hopefully this helps you guys get a better idea?
  3. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    so nobody has any advice at all?

    Guess its time for some more experimentation on my part lol
  4. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    555
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    2.5" pipe/casing is very rare. Since you will be pumping shallow well style convert the 2.5" casing to 4" and then order a simmons 4x1 well seal. Install 1" pvc with a footvalve down about 20-30 ft (anything over 25' will not matter shallow well style).

    For some reason Lowe's doesn't carry the right well seal like you need, they only have those two holes meant for a twin pipe system. Get a good quality jet pump like Goulds. Anything from TSC/HF is junk.

    Good luck.
  5. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    ok so it sounds like I was on the right path then.

    so order one like this:
    http://www.****.com/itm/like/111252891298?lpid=82 ****=e.b.ay

    I know I wont be using the electrical feed opening so I'll seal that with the cap that comes with it.

    what do I do about the vent? do I seal that as well or leave that open? how do I protect it from the elements if I have to leave it open?

    as for the casing when I convert it up to 4" can I just use standard white pvc pipe from the hardware store? I only ask because even the 4" well seals that werent correct at lowes didnt fit the 4" pipe (white or black pvc) they had there.

    I dont want to force this thing on the pipe only to never be able to remove it again.

    also, only put the pipe down 25' even though I dont hit water until around 13'? will the jet pump suck it dry if I'm watering or something?
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  6. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    555
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    Make sure you get regular sch 40 pvc, not the thin wall stuff. The rubber seal will kind of give it an interference fit. You can either plug the other hole with a pipe plug or put a dab of silicone in there.

    Jet pumps have a maximum suction lift of about 25'. Maybe a little more depending on your elevation but not much. No need to go over 25-30 ft on the suction with a shallow well set-up.
  7. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    ok great. didnt know if I had to "shave" the rubber seal so it would drop into the pipe easier and then use the bolts to help seal it in place.

    so I dont need a vent then. doesnt matter if it pulls a vacuum inside the well casing for whatever reason?
  8. Texas Wellman

    Texas Wellman In the Trades

    Messages:
    555
    Location:
    SE Texas-Coastal
    It won't pull a vacuum no matter how hard you seal it.
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,819
    Location:
    IL
    That is surprising. Please tell us more.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    A shallow well pump cannot pull a vacuum.
  11. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    ok, it took me a little bit to get all the pieces together. got it all together and assembled today.

    I adapted the top of the casing up to 4" and sealed all the joints (don't want rain water seeping in) and got the well seal on (1" center feed) and capped both the side ports.

    I used a brand new 1" foot valve going to a 1"threaded/1" push coupler into 1" black pipe as shown below....one piece all the way up to above the well head. when I put the pipe down into the well I could literally hear when the pipe hit water and the water pressure forced the check valve open so the pipe filled with water so I know at least the check valve is letting water into the pipe.
    IMG_0109.jpg

    Then I used a 1" push/1" threaded elbow from this black pipe to a 1" threaded/1" slip pvc coupling. and then I cemented in a piece of 1" pvc pipe.


    [​IMG]

    this goes up a very gradual increase then elbows up twice and into the pump.
    [​IMG]

    I checked the piping once at the well seal by filling it completely up with water and waiting 10 minutes before going from the well head to the pump and again in the piping up to the pump itself before hooking into the pump.

    the piping holds water without draining back down.

    I cant get it to prime.

    what am I doing wrong? is it the stupid new harbor freight pump? or is it my horrible non-plumbing attempt at fixing this thing? I mean if its the pump, I'll toss it (eat the $100 I spent) and spend the money on whatever pump I'm told to get from lowes. But I don't want to waste any more money if its not the pump.

    please help me before the mosquitos eat away at my sanity back there.
  12. MikeSS

    MikeSS Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I hope it's not your pump since I have one just like it, although I bought mine back in 2004 I think it was and it's only 3/4 HP. Reading about these HF shallow well pumps the problems seem to be not that they don't work but that they don't last more than a season or two because the small tank size causes the pump to cycle on and off a lot, which causes excessive wear and stress. They may have other longevity issues too but they seem to work fine for what they are.

    I haven't gotten mine hooked up yet so no personal experience so far, but I've done a lot of reading.

    The maximum lift of these (or any suction pump from what I'm learning) is 26 feet so if you have your intake way down at the bottom of your well that could be the problem?

    Mike
  13. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    well I was about to give up on the stupid well and just leave it. was talking with my dad and he tells me my grandpa had apparently holed away some spare pumps at my parents place (for some ungodly reason I cant fathom) he tells me this AFTER I've gone through heck/back...

    anyway, ran up there and low and behold there's a myers 1909 leather piston pump for shallow wells.

    grab it and bring it back home. had to replace all the electrical line to the motor and then the motor tested good. pump was free so I opened it up and cleaned all the valves and checked the piston bore to be good. put it back together and filled the prime port with water and hand cycled the pump some and refilled. let it sit overnight and then the next day concocted a test bench for it.

    hooked it up and it started pumping immediately!

    let it pump for 10 minutes then let it sit overnight. next day, pumped it again for 20 minutes and let it sit overnight. next day, let it pump 30 minutes and then decided to hook it back to the well.

    got it primed and turned it on and it primed almost instantly and pumped up the tank to 40psi. been flushing the well the past day or so as well as the spigot lines. I have some leaks I need to address with the pump and such but aside from that it pumps out perfectly. going to see if I can find a couple spares of this particular pump setup so I can properly rebuild/restore one and get it going and then rebuild this one and keep it as a spare as well. dont want to get into this type of incident again.

    here's a video I took of it when I first turned it on and it started pumping when I was testing it. hmm can you tell how happy I was? haha

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkTEmC-zg5w
  14. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    654
    Location:
    NC
  15. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
  16. traveller

    traveller Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    British Columbia
    How did you measure the 2.5 inch pipe diameter? Is that outside or inside diameter?
  17. stackz

    stackz New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    james island, sc
    yes it is. also, the cap that was on the old well, actually screwed onto it. so I took that in with me to the plumbing supply store and had them match it up and it was 2.5" as well. then ordered my 2.5"-3" adapter and screwed that down on the original casing.
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