Is my well salvagable?

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Kuraki

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Hello,

First let me say I appreciate all of the informative posts, you all have saved me a lot of time, trial and error.

Some back story to my current issue. About 10 years ago my well developed a leak right at the pitless adapter. It was threaded PVC and one of the threads cracked so the pressure tank wouldn't hold pressure. I pulled that out and dropped in a new pump on black poly 1" pipe. Pump is about 135' deep and sits in 10 or 15 feet of water.

Recently the pump breaker started tripping and I discovered my pressure tank bladder was low so I charged it up and life went on. Then the breaker started tripping more often, so I replaced the breaker thinking it may have gotten weak from all of the short cycling. At that point I realized the pressure switch wasn't cutting out at 50 psi. And if I flipped the breaker off, the water would sometimes, but aggravatingly not every time so I couldn't point clearly at the check valve failing. I replaced the pressure switch and the cut in and cut out started working as it should, however at that point every time it cut out, it would drain, so I decided to pull the pump.

I pull the pump and it is coated with thick chunky rust starting at about 15' from the pump. The pump itself had a ridiculous amount of this rust detritus collected about it.





Every time the breaker had tripped or pump cut out where the water drained back down, upon reenergizing the pump, I got a ridiculous amount of black dirt stuff in the first few gallons. Enough the plug up any aerators or screens in fixtures and once even clogging my 5 micron whole house filter that was a day old. 10 years ago I remember getting some black detritus in the same conditions but not nearly this much. I figured the bottom of the well was being agitated every time it backflowed down.

Anyway, got the pump out. The stainless barbed fitting at the pump was corroded through and I thought that must be the problem, either the gap was the leak, or junk was keeping the check valve from closing or both. Got a new pump, brass fittings this time, as well as a brass spring loaded check valve which I installed directly above the pump check valve. I simply don't trust the free floating check valve on the pump but trying to heed all the advice here about using a single valve only I figured that close proximity wasn't going to cause any hammering.

As I get the torque arrestor adjusted and start dropping it back down I was preparing to fight with the pitless adapter and sneaking the arrestor by. Except it went right by without a hitch. Which didn't seem right so I brought it back up and out.

Yep, the pitless adapter is gone. I never heard it splash at the bottom but somewhere in the process of pulling and dropping back down, it broke off.

When I first bought the house 15 years ago the well was in a pit. DNR made us bring it up to code which meant bringing in a well guy and welding another 8' of casing to get above grade. I'm trying to remember exactly what it looks like down there where the adapter is as far as pipe but can't exactly. I want to say it's black poly with a barbed fitting just like on the pump. So my working theory right now is that fitting rotted through and either that was leaking or it was leaking there and at the pump.

Either way I'm screwed. The only fix is digging down there and putting a new adapter on. That wouldn't be so bad if I could get at it with a mini ex, but my well is 6' from my house and under my deck...

So before I tear the deck apart and hand dig a pit, I was hoping to get an opinion on the rust. Do you think the casing rotted through somewhere? I've had this thing out 2 other times and never seen anything like this. Is my old adapter sitting at the bottom a concern?

Or do I need a new well?
 

Valveman

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First, having a well under a deck or any place where it can't be easily serviced is not a good idea. Just getting a pump man to show up when the location is hard to get to is a problem.

Second, I doubt that was a SS fitting. More likely it was galvanized that rusted through. Looks like the galv barb fitting screwed into one of those pumps with a cast iron pump head, or at least had a galvanized bushing. Black iron pump heads and motor adapters are not good as they rust out quickly. Brass, SS, or even plastic pump heads are better than black painted iron.

Third, any time you screw fittings of dissimilar metals together electrolysis will quickly rust a hole. This is easy and cheap to prevent by just wrapping the entire section with electric tape.

Fourth, it is very unusual for a pitless to fall off. Probably won't hurt having fallen down the well as there are lots of well with extra pumps and fittings down there that could not be retrieved.

Your well is probably salvageable. But that top 8' piece with the pitless will need to be replaced. I would remove the deck, dig it up, and try to install a new 8' piece with a pitless. Try not to drop dirt or anything else down the well while you are at it.
 

Kuraki

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First, having a well under a deck or any place where it can't be easily serviced is not a good idea. Just getting a pump man to show up when the location is hard to get to is a problem.

Second, I doubt that was a SS fitting. More likely it was galvanized that rusted through. Looks like the galv barb fitting screwed into one of those pumps with a cast iron pump head, or at least had a galvanized bushing. Black iron pump heads and motor adapters are not good as they rust out quickly. Brass, SS, or even plastic pump heads are better than black painted iron.

Third, any time you screw fittings of dissimilar metals together electrolysis will quickly rust a hole. This is easy and cheap to prevent by just wrapping the entire section with electric tape.

Fourth, it is very unusual for a pitless to fall off. Probably won't hurt having fallen down the well as there are lots of well with extra pumps and fittings down there that could not be retrieved.

Your well is probably salvageable. But that top 8' piece with the pitless will need to be replaced. I would remove the deck, dig it up, and try to install a new 8' piece with a pitless. Try not to drop dirt or anything else down the well while you are at it.
Yeah it's not an ideal location I don't have any idea why the previous owners chose it.

You're right they were galvanized. The hose clamps were stainless and they're in great shape.

The pitless would have had the same electrolysis/galvanic corrosion since the adapter was brass/bronze and likely connected to another galvanized barb.
 

Reach4

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Yep, the pitless adapter is gone. I never heard it splash at the bottom but somewhere in the process of pulling and dropping back down, it broke off.
What do you mean? The part that connected to the downpipe was gone? If that, how did you pull the pump? The part that goes at and thru the casing was missing? What?

It is best to use a long adapter for at least the top adapter. Then use 3 stainless worm gear clamps.

You may be able to get somebody to clean the sediment out of the well. A big engine-driven compressor blows air at very high CFM down, and stuff comes up like a geyser.

The well may have preexisted the deck. Is that casing 4 inch ID steel, or what?
 

Kuraki

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Since a picture is worth 1,000 words and I probably don't know the right ones anyway...

I'm sure the well was before the deck. It's an old farmhouse that's been added on to many times, however it's still ridiculously close to the original house. I suppose when it was a pit that made relative sense since you didn't need to trench a pipe in to it, just drive it through from the cellar through a couple feet of sand, climb down into the pit and make a connection. There's a cellar door right next to it which is the main obstacle to getting equipment in there.

It's either 6" or 8" steel case. I'd have to tape it. Definitely not 4".

I used long brass barbs this time with 3 clamps. I just bought what the well guy told me the last time.
 

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Reach4

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Sounds a bit like the well is in the cellar rather than under the deck?

How about a photo of the pitless part that is still on the drop pipe?

If 6 inch, and accessible, and if cleaned out, a pvc liner and a new pitless could be done. I don't know how that would compare in price with a new well with a PVC casing.
 

LLigetfa

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The half of the pitless that is attached to the casing may be welded on, wrap-around-clamped, or held by a jam nut. It should never just "fall off". Some styles of pitless don't intrude into the casing bore. Often they are made of bronze so unlikely to corrode to the point of falling off but there are some that are ferrous metal.
 

Kuraki

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This is the drop piece half. I swear I remember the other side protruding into the casing, but now you've got me thinking I should run my endoscope camera down there for a look.

If it was recessed then the drop pipe would end up almost resting on the casing.

 

Reach4

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The male thread is what you screw a t-handle to lift the pitless top, drop pipe, and pump?

And the pitless was installed only 15 years ago? I would think that was from the 50s if guessing. I am not a pro.
 

Kuraki

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As I'm thinking about it I'm pretty sure that pitless was what was being used as a junction even when the pit was there. But I'm super glad you guys posted what you did because low and behold:



So yeah it's recessed. And I just finished buttoning everything up. Now I've got to clean the water softener because I forgot to bypass it when I turned the pump on and it's got sediment in it.
 
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