Well hole diameter problem

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by WBSisson, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. WBSisson

    WBSisson New Member

    Messages:
    5
    I didn't know how to phrase this.

    I have a private well, drilled in 1985. It has a 4.95" (O.D.) PVC pipe in it with my submersible pump at the bottom. The PVC pipe sticks up about 8" with a cap on it. About 2' under the ground is the outlet pipe.
    About a year ago I bumped the well head with my mower and it broke the outlet pipe out. I dug it up and plumbed it back in, but in the process noted that the well hole is about 8" across and the PVC pipe is only 4.95" across. I shined my flashlight down and as far as I could see the well hole was that perfect 8" across with the pvc pipe just sitting in the center of the hole.
    I thought it odd, but was able to cover it and fill the top of the hole back in.

    All was well until about a month ago when my pressure tank went bad and I had to have it replaced. It was buried about 3' from my well. The guy came in with a backhoe and dug it up and then replanted it. Ever since my water has been muddy. I called him and he said to let a hose run for a day. We did that and no change.
    I called him back and he said it was water getting into my well head and that he'd put an extension on it. I tried to explain to him that I thought it had more to do with water getting down the side of my well pipe, but he didn't understand what I was talking about.

    My question is- is this normal? For a well pipe to be in a well hole that's about 3" too big? I assumed it was a tight fit, or that dirt would settle in or something.
    Thanks,
    Brian
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,425
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    Tell the well man your casing was never cemented in. He will probably flip out, but he will know what you mean. That space around the casing should be sealed with cement. You can't just pour it in or it will also fill the well up. Depending on how wells are done in your area, it either needs to be gravel packed, or packed off to have a base for the cement. Bugs and everything else can get in your well.

    The muddy water is probably from a leaking fitting on the new pressure tank. The water is leaking into your well head, and that is what's making the water muddy. But the water is not coming over the top of the casing like the well man thinks, it is coming from the plumbing and running down the bore hole.
  3. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    How did you repair the outlet water line connection to the casing? It sounds as if he has 'disturbed" that and has a water leak there that is running down the outside of the casing. I'd make him come back and fix it. He may have caught the pressure tank or the inlet line with the backhoe.
  4. WBSisson

    WBSisson New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Hmmm- so the well should have had gravel dumped in the bore hole around the casing, then dirt on top of that? That makes sense.
    I wondered how he got dirt around the well head with the bore hole unfilled.

    I've tried calling him back, but he's not shown for a week despite his promise.
    I guess it's time to call another well company and get it repaired as my wife is tired of washing the kids in dirty water. The guy who did our pressure tank is the one who drilled the well 20 years ago. If he didn't do it right in 1985, I doubt he's going to want to do it right now.
    Thanks!
    -B.
  5. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    You aught to report this guy to the people that hold his license. The health depertment, or whoever it is that regulates well drilling.

    bob...
  6. WBSisson

    WBSisson New Member

    Messages:
    5
    I dug down to see if the fittings were leaking.
    It was just dirt for about 2 feet and then this (see pic).
    Whilst digging it out, a piece of dirt fell into the bore and I could hear it fall and fall and fall and then splash in water.
    No one around here seems to know anything about wells. I've had 3 houses with them, but other than messing with the pumps- I've no experience.
    I hear about "well packs" and "gavel packs"- what are the odds that this guy put in the gravel pack and then just left the rest of the bore hole open? Is that alright?
    When something falls down the bore, shouldn't I not hear water splash?
    Should the bore hole be filled to the top (with gravel, then dirt)?

    I'm in Memphis, Tn. Our dirt here is mostly sand'clay. Not a rock to be seen.
    Thanks,
    -Brian
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  7. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Messages:
    392
    Wow. Talk about opening up a can of worms. Fortunately I've never encountered something like that. There is no way that can be legal. Even in 1985. I'm no expert, but to me that looks like an example of how ground water ends up contaminated. You need to fix this.

    -rick
  8. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Whoever drilled this well really cheaped out on the grout, which he obviously didn't do. By drilling a large hole and putting a smaller pipe in it, he has opened up your drinking water source to the environment and anything that can wash down beside that casing from up above. This includes but is not restricted to Dog S**T, fertilizer, weed and bug killers, lawn treatment and anything else that can find it's way to the casing.

    This guy shouldn't be drilling wells. He should be in jail.

    bob...
  9. WBSisson

    WBSisson New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Thanks for the replies, and thanks for the info.

    I called the original well guy this morning and he said I was mistaken as he'd never have done that. I told him I had pictures I could send. He said that the grout might have slipped down in the bore to a point I couldn't see. I said that might be so. He said it was a cheap fix, but he couldn't do it until tomorrow and as it's supposed to rain tomorrow it might not be until the end of the week. I thanked him and then called another well company. That guy said he'd seen a few wells like that in this area. He said that if I followed the letter of the law, I had to get the health department involved and it would be a few thousand dollars. He said I could do it myself by measuring (with a string) to the bottom of the bore and then they had a chart that would tell me how much benzonite to get and I could just pour it down the bore. He said it would be pretty cheap and do a better job than the reverse seal that the health dept requires.

    My wife wants me to call the health department.
    I'm scared. It seems that the muddy water could turn into a few thousand dollars.
  10. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I agree that it should be plugged. Bentonite is as good as any unless you mix up portland real soupy and pour it down until it comes to the top. I wouldn't use anything but portland or Bentonite. I plugged two wells at my place a few years back with Bentonite. It swells up real nice when wet and does a nice job.

    By the way, a good grout job doesn't slip down. What a bunch of crap he is spinning. The health department should be made aware of this guy. Since they always start out with "We will save the world with our rules and regs" and then get real lax after a few months. So if they don't know about him, they should.

    bob...
  11. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    So what stops the Bentonite or concrete that is to be added now from going down outside the screening and plugging the screening?

    Whoa... I'd slow down here.

    Why is it that the well guy didn't do it with sand, dirt etc. originally (old wells in many areas were not required to be grouted) and the leak a couple years ago or whenever the OP said he found a broken something and fixed it, didn't wash down the outside of the casing and create this muddy water problem long before now?

    Or that another leak now (which is my guess), after replacing the old buried tank causing another leak that just now washed it all down. The OP just now saw muddy water for the first time, not when the original leak was going on... and not for all the years he's has this supposedly improperly done well.

    I'd go with the leak now causing this before I accused a driller and reported him, and got the health department involved to tell me I couldn't use this well at all etc. etc. etc..
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    So what supports the sand?

    And what about it being washed down with the water leak?

    I've seen pictures of leaks from city water distribution lines and sewers that washed out sink holes that swallowed houses, roads and other buildings within hundreds of yards away and the hole was hundreds of feet deep. So a jet of 30-50 psi water for a few days or longer could wash sand down a well fairly easily IMO.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    He said he throws dirt down the hole and the dirt hits water.

    So he is supposed to pour sand down and fill up the void all the way to the bottom of the casing, including any screening!! And if that doesn't happen now, what should he do if the sand falls down later and he gets muddy water?

    I don't think I'd take that risk. I'd cover the hole with a rock or patio block and then a couple softener salt bags (4 layers) laid on a slope (the rock/block sloped too) away from the casing over on to solid dirt and then lay the bags over the rock/block to keep the dirt from being able to get down the hole and I'd backfill with dirt.

    And then, I'd clear the grass way from the casing a couple feet or use gravel so no one wants to get even close to the casing again with a lawn mower or tractor. I might put something like a fake rock or wishing well over the casing to help with that.
  14. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    None of us know IF this well was constructed properly.

    So I wouldn't be telling someone to pour sand down that hole assuming that the driller had done the bottom end right after assuming he didn't complete the top end.

    This problem could simply be a washout due to the water leak. That is a fact not an assumption. And I know that across the US there are many older wells that were not grouted.
  15. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Sammy, in the first sentence in your first reply in this thread you said: Not to sure what type of well is there but most PVC wells are screened.

    I know that PVC is used for casing in rock bore wells in many areas of the country but haven't mentioned it until now because I have asked questions about what you have said based on your above assumption about it being a screened well and pouring sand down the hole. You have said how it should have been done originally but not candidly answered my question concerning what if the sand goes on down the well.

    What if this is a rock bore well? And remember he said he didn't want to get into teh health department and sounds to me as if he wants to fix himself.
  16. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I have got to say this. I know this well wasn't constructed correctly.

    Back when we were all pounding wells in with cable tool rigs, there was no need for grout. The casing being beat into the ground made a better seal around the casing than the original ground had. Once rotary's came along for drilling water wells, I can't imagine any self respecting regulatory agency (even though I don't have the utmost respect for any of them) allowing an eight inch hole being drilled and a 4" pipe stuck down the center without plugging the annular space with something. Used to be, drillers would pump their cuttings back up around the pipe. This was certainly better than what I just saw it the picture above, but now it has been proven that cement is far better. A well couldn't have been constructed properly being done like the one we see in the pic above.

    bob...
  17. WBSisson

    WBSisson New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Wow. Thanks for all the interest! Around here I was getting less than no help, but on this forum it seems like I'm overencumbered with advice and fact.

    So, I took off work at noon yesterday with the intent of getting this settled.
    I had spoken with 2 local well companies. The first one was the most informative as he told me there was no way my muddy water was coming from the bore, and it must be from the well head. I asked how to be sure and he told me to dump a gallon of bleech into the well head to dissinfect it.

    I pulled off the cap, and sure enough there was mud in there. I hosed it out and poured in my bleech. After the pump running about 10 minutes I smelled bleech coming from the hose.

    I ran all that out and cleaned the well head and then put it all back together. The water ran clean after a few hours and scrubbing the tank in each toilet and replacing the whole-house filter.

    So, then I called back and he told me to measure the depth of the bore hole with some string. I did and it was about 30'. He said that the well must have been sealed with grout at the bottom and the grout or dirt at the top was just washed away.
    Yesterday there was no water at the bottom of my bore hole.
    He told me to dump in a couple of bags of sand, then to dump in bags of grout until it was at the top, then to just backfill it and be done.

    I put in 2 bags of sand (into the bore hole). He was going to call me to tell me when to come get the groute, but never did.

    So, today I have a well that puts out crystal clear water (with a slight bleech taste) and toilets that flush with clean water. This is a 100% improvement over yesterday morning. Last night I could shine my flashlight into the bore hole and way down there I could see dry dry sand.
    The only problem I have now is that I need to extend my well head up about 8" so it'll be above the ground and it's an odd-ball 4.95" OD pipe that I can't seem to find anywhere.
    That, plus I need to continue filling in the bore.

    At least now I know that the water I was hearing at the bottom of the bore was not my drinking water.
  18. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    If the casing sticks up above ground, how did the dirt get into the well?

    I don't doubt pouring bleach down the well made the water in the house have bleach in it. That's a given. I still think your getting your mud by dirt washing down the side of the casing and into your well.

    I would get that bentonite and get it in there all the way to the top.

    bob...
  19. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,425
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I agree with Sammy and Speed. I keep going back and looking at that picture and thinking, people are drinking that?
  20. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Well it appears that the well was constructed correctly for the area it is in and there was a washout leak.... ;)

    I think it is too soon to say the problem is fixed.

    And if it were my well, I'd want to know how the dirt got into the casing, why it didn't fall to the bottom of the well (which I'm sure it did), is the water leak really fixed that caused the washout down along the casing, was the well pulled down far enough to dry out the outside of the casing below 30' and the well hasn't fully recovered yet and is that why you can't see water down there now.
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