Sand repeatedly getting into well

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tycen

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I'm looking for some help and have appreciated searching and browsing in these forums for a few years - time for me to post a question.

Here's the details (I'll try to be as thorough as I can):
- we bought the house in 7/2014 and I've been learning about this well ever since...
- well is dug to 120' (dug in 1984)
- 6" casing
- pump sits at 100' (I replaced it about a year and a half ago)
- well is located in Snohomish County, WA (near the Three Lakes area for any locals)
- I looked up the well drilling log online and it's missing a lot of important details, it seems
- I have a 575 gallon storage tank in my garage that the well pump keeps full (with a float switch) - I get a lot of sand in the storage tank, too
- I have the well pump on a timer to only run every 20 minutes for 1 minute - which is fine since the storage tank allows us to handle the ebb and flow of daily use

When the well is "healthy", it is actually an artesian well with about a 1/2 gallon per minute flowing out the top.

Since we bought the house, about every 4-6 months (but I no longer think the length of time is relevant - more below) I have had to *pump* sand out of my well. I use an "air lift pump" method I found online and it works great! (this video was the most helpful):
).

Basically, I attach an air hose to the bottom of a PVC pipe (or multiple pipes screwed together) and stick it down to the bottom of the well (I'm even able to sort of "push" past my pump and don't have to remove it). Then I rent a big 8.4 CFM electric air compressor and start pumping the air down the hose. Sand and water start spitting out the top. Here's a video I took the first time I did it - I muted the sound because my kids were being noisy in the background. :) Also, the tripod contraption was from pulling my pipe and well pump - it had nothing to do with the air lift pump part:

When I do this, I clear out around 15 feet of sand (I say that based on the fact when I start my pipes hit the bottom - then after I start pumping I add about 15 feet more of cleanout pipe). It's a fine silty sand. When I get to the real bottom of the well, I get less sand and the water gets more clear and starts to spit out some rocks/clumps of sand (the clumps look like rock, but then crumble when squeezed).

After cleaning it out, the artesian-ness is restored and water comes out the top. When my pump comes on there is a draw-down, then it recovers and water flows out the top again (I have it piped with an air gap into a drain pipe that takes it away).

When the well gets unhealthy, I start to notice that no water is flowing out the top - or that the recovery time is really slow. And, then one day I'll notice my storage tank in the garage is not staying full (or we'll just suddenly run out of water and I find my storage tank empty). When the pump comes on, I can hear it pump water for a second or two, then can hear it run out of water in the pipes going into the storage tank. Time to get out my PVC pipes and go rent the air compressor! Then I pump my 15' or so of sand out and boom - the well fills up and water starts flowing out the top again.

This does not seem seasonal. It has happened to me in February, October, and July. This last time it happened (a couple weeks ago) it happened right after our kid's birthday party where we used a lot of water in one day (slip-in-slide and swimming pool). It was flowing artesian before the party. During the party I noticed the water got sandy. The next day I noticed the artesian flow was gone and shortly after that we ran out of water.

Here's my current theory: when I put a lot of demand on the well and there's a lot of drawdown, the hydrostatic (?) pressure is forcing more sand into the well. Hence the reason it happened so suddenly this last time - I was using a lot of water and turned up the timer on my pump to pull water out more often that one day. My new theory is that if I only run the pump for a minute (it's a 10 GPM pump) every 20 minutes (as needed - the float in the storage tank would also need to be calling for water) then I'll be evening out the pressure on the well and less sand will be pushed in over time. (previously I had the timer set for 3 or more minutes every 30 minutes - so there was more of a drawdown each time).

Here's my questions:
1) is my theory reasonable?
2) how can I keep the sand out altogether down there?
3) for #2, I've wondered about putting a 4" casing down the 6" casing - but what would I do at the bottom of that 4" casing to keep the sand out?

And before anyone says, "call a well guy" - I did call a well guy when this first started. Heck, I even paid $500 for a well inspection before we bought the house! The "well guy" totally missed this issue - he said the timer on the pump was weird, but that was it. He missed the fact the water storage tank was about 1/5 full of sand. I'm not sure how the previous owners lived with it - they didn't disclose any problems. And possibly to their credit, it was an older couple and one of them worked - so probably not a lot of water usage. My family, however, we have a lot of kids so we use a lot of water. Anyway, when I called the well guy back after I ran out of water two weeks after moving into the house, he started by putting a 2GPM dole valve on the inlet of the tank ($200) thinking we were just emptying the well too fast. Then came back and put a broken Pumptec low water detector on the wall and couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work (I determined later it was just fired). He left and said he'd go talk to the wholesale house where he bought it and check with his dad (father/son well company). After a week of not hearing from him I called him and he said he was just talking about it with his dad and he'd call me back. I never heard from him. Luckily I didn't get charged for the dead Pumptec or that last visit where he installed it. I called some other well guys and they just wanted to drill a new well. Not wanting to pay any more money I went to work on researching all this myself, and went on to pull out the old pump with 100' of galvanized pipe (using a chain hoist and a pipe gripping contraption I came up with). Of course, the pump wasn't the problem after all, but at least now I know there's a new pump down there. And of course I put poly pipe back in so if I have to pull it again it will be a lot easier.

I have called a couple well guys and a few have been willing to talk about it, but haven't had any suggestions - other guys just want to drill a new well.

I just bought a GoPro camera (actually a cheaper knock-off version) - and hopefully this weekend I'm going to put it on the end of my PVC pipes with some bright glow sticks and send it down the well to see if I can see what it looks like down there at the bottom. I'll post an update when I do.

I really appreciate any ideas/suggestions/help!
 

Reach4

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You could try restricting the output of the pump to let it pump slower. If your theory about volume is right, that would reduce the sand being picked up. Maybe go for 3 gpm initially. There are valves that are calibrated to a number of GPM, but you could try a ball valve that you make inaccessible to the curious kids. Closing that valve would burn out the pump.

A PVC liner would have slots for water to come in. The slots would be fine enough that about half of the sand grains would not make it into the PVC, and after a bit, the bigger grains that have been stopped contribute to the filtering... if I understood what I have read. I am not a pro.

Are you able to run your air lift pump to the bottom with the submersible pump in place? That would be nice.

You could put a Lakos Sub K at your pump. http://www.lakos.com/groundwater.htm Or an extended PVC sleeve/shroud is very cheap. These would leave more sand on the bottom that you would suck out with your air lift pump. It would make things easier for the pump, and it would reduce the turbulence at the pump intake, if that is where the sand is coming from. So maybe you would get less sand.

Keep some sample sand handy in case a well person wants to know about the sand.
 
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Valveman

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Sounds like you need a good gravel packed well like we do in out area. We have to make a sand filter out of the well casing or they will never stop coughing up sand. We usually drill a 7 7/8" or a 8 1/4" hole, install 5" casing with .020 or .035 slots at the bottom water strata. Then we gravel pack the annular space between the 8" hole and the 5" casing with gravel that is almost as small as the sand. This makes a media filter that keeps the sand out of the well. When done correctly the water is perfectly clear.

You might have enough room in 6" casing to put in a 4" liner with .020 slots. Use some centralizers to keep the 4" centered, and gravel pack between the 6" and 4" casing. This might not leave enough annular space for a good gravel pack, which is why the other well guys want to drill a new well.
 

tycen

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You could try restricting the output of the pump to let it pump slower.
I had thought of this early on (mostly because the first well guy had put that 2 GPM restrictor valve on there and I figured since I paid $80 for the thing I might as well use it) - but I called the pump manufacturer and they said not not restrict it below the pump's 10GPM rating.

But, that brings up something I forgot to mention. One idea I had was to just let the artesian flow keep my tank full (and then put an overflow outlet from the tank) - my tank sits about 10-15 feet above the top of my well head, so as long as there's enough pressure to push the water up that much higher it would work. Then the pressure would stay very constant. I could still leave my pump down there if I ever needed extra water for something.

A PVC liner would have slots for water to come in. The slots would be fine enough that about half of the sand grains would not make it into the PVC, and after a bit, the bigger grains that have been stopped contribute to the filtering... if I understood what I have read. I am not a pro.
Yeah, I wondered how that would work - if the sand clogs up the flow inside the casing (when it piles up about 15') - would it clog the flow on the outside, too? Does that sand HAVE to move somewhere to maintain the flow?

Are you able to run your air lift pump to the bottom with the submersible pump in place? That would be nice.
Yes, thankfully - I'm able to slip the PVC air-lift contraption past the pump when I do my cleanout. I can definitely feel it hit the pump, then I just sort of move it to the side of the well and twist it slowly until I feel it slip past. It's tricking feeling it 100' away, but it does work. I even tried leaving the PVC/air hose down there between cleanouts, but during the cleaning I have to pull it all out a time or two to unclog it, so I just decided to pull it out after each cleaning - and the air hose fittings started to get corroded.

You could put a Lakos Sub K at your pump. http://www.lakos.com/groundwater.htm Or an extended PVC sleeve/shroud is very cheap.
I hadn't seen those products before (I've seen the spin down separators, though). I'm actually not too bothered by the sand in the tank. I mean, it's a problem I need to deal with and I know it's bad for my pump. But, for now I want to focus on not having to pump out the well every six months. My pump was only $300 online and is working great. And having the water pump into the tank keeps a lot of the sand out of my house plumbing since it settles in the tank. I really only get the very fine silty mud in the house plumbing - and then only when I get a bunch of turbidity from the well.

Thanks for the ideas!
 
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tycen

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Sounds like you need a good gravel packed well like we do in out area. We have to make a sand filter out of the well casing or they will never stop coughing up sand. We usually drill a 7 7/8" or a 8 1/4" hole, install 5" casing with .020 or .035 slots at the bottom water strata. Then we gravel pack the annular space between the 8" hole and the 5" casing with gravel that is almost as small as the sand. This makes a media filter that keeps the sand out of the well. When done correctly the water is perfectly clear.

You might have enough room in 6" casing to put in a 4" liner with .020 slots. Use some centralizers to keep the 4" centered, and gravel pack between the 6" and 4" casing. This might not leave enough annular space for a good gravel pack, which is why the other well guys want to drill a new well.

Thanks - I had read about gravel packs and wondered how they worked. What you're saying makes sense - although I was worried any gravel would get just as clogged as inside my casing. I also wondered about just pouring 5 or 10 or 15 feet of pea gravel down the well (I think I could suck it all up with the air lift pump if it didn't work) - but again had no idea if that would still end up clogging. I think it will be helpful once I get the camera down there to see what the bottom of that well looks like. I'm wondering if the casing even goes all the way to the bottom...
 

Reach4

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but I called the pump manufacturer and they said not not restrict it below the pump's 10GPM rating.
10 GPM minimum flow? What kind of pump is that? Please say it is not more than 1/2 HP.

Here is an idea: mount the pump very high. Put in a device that will detect if the pump run out of water and shut down. https://cpkits.com/collections/cycle-sensor-pump-monitors/products/cs1ph1-2hp230v is such a device. Then there would be a big area for sand to collect, and maybe it would not rise enough to need pumping. If the sand ingress levels are below the pump, it seems to me that the sand may not rise to the pump.

Yes, thankfully - I'm able to slip the PVC air-lift contraption past the pump when I do my cleanout. I can definitely feel it hit the pump, then I just sort of move it to the side of the well and twist it slowly until I feel it slip past. It's tricking feeling it 100' away, but it does work.
A sleeve made of ASTM D2729 sewer pipe would only increase the diameter slightly. It is very cheap. It helps a lot with pump cooling, so that the pump motor should be able to stay cooler with lower flows.
 

tycen

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10 GPM minimum flow? What kind of pump is that? Please say it is not more than 1/2 HP.

Here is an idea: mount the pump very high. Put in a device that will detect if the pump run out of water and shut down. https://cpkits.com/collections/cycle-sensor-pump-monitors/products/cs1ph1-2hp230v is such a device. Then there would be a big area for sand to collect, and maybe it would not rise enough to need pumping. If the sand ingress levels are below the pump, it seems to me that the sand may not rise to the pump.


A sleeve made of ASTM D2729 sewer pipe would only increase the diameter slightly. It is very cheap. It helps a lot with pump cooling, so that the pump motor should be able to stay cooler with lower flows.

Yup, it's a 1/2 horse pump - and I was mistaken, it's actually 12GPM: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005VHRNXO

I thought about raising the pump - but I don't think that would get me anywhere. The sand doesn't actually get to the pump before it chokes off the water ingress. The water flow is choked when the sand reaches about 15' off the bottom of the well. The pump sits 20' off the bottom. I thought about raising the pump so I don't suck sand into my storage tank, though. But I think I would still get sand in the bottom and it would eventually choke off the water supply.

I actually thought about LOWERING the pump - so I pump more sand out with the pump. Then I'd be replacing the pump and cleaning out the storage tank every X years - which may or may not be better than pumping the sand every 6 months. (I'm mostly joking when I say this - but I did think about it a time or two...)

I do need to get one of those devices that shuts down the pump when there's no water, though. When the sand chokes up the flow my pump definitely tries to pump air if I don't notice it right away. That was that Pumptec device the one well guy tried to install. It was the right thing to install, it was just too bad it was defective. Your product post looks pretty similar. Here's the Pumptec: https://www.amazon.com/FRANKLIN-ELECTRIC-Pumptec-water-protection/dp/B00T869ISW

I play with Arduino and Raspberry Pi micro-controllers - I've also wanted to rig something up that monitors my artesian flow and the water level in my storage tank - or even the flow on the incoming pipe from the well - so I can get a better early-warning.
 

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I thought it was but I had to look hard to find that Red Lion is actually made by Franklin Electric. They just don’t want their regular Franklin installers to know anyone can buy a Franklin pump at Amazon for $299. They try to tell their installers that they do not sell to big box stores or places like Amazon, but they do. They just paint them a different color and call them something different like Red Lion or Utilitech. So for those who think Franklin is loyal to their installers, you should think again.


This also means Red Lion has the “floating stage” design just like all the other Franklin pumps. And while this is a cheaply built design that heats up more than other pumps, their own charts show this pump works fine at 2 GPM when installed in a 220’ deep well. A 2 GPM Dole valve makes the pump think it is in a 220’ deep well so it can only pump 2 GPM, and is no different than actually setting the pump in a well with a water depth of 220’. So if their pump will not work at 220’ and/or 2 GPM, they should not publish this in their selection charts.


At 15 GPM the velocity in the well is high and will bring lot of sand. At 2 GPM the velocity in the well is low and it won’t produce nearly as much sand. So you really need the 2 GPM Dole valve. And I do not believe it will hurt the pump, but if it does, you need to replace it with a better pump that CAN work at 2 GPM anyway.


And when you do use the 2 GPM Dole valve, the amps on the pump will be reduced and a Pumptec will think the well is dry and shut off the pump. That is why we made the Cycle Sensor, as it is infinitely adjustable, and will know the difference between the pump being restricted to 2 GPM and actually pumping the well dry.


And you can get a cistern level and alarm here.

http://www.deanbennett.com/cistern-water-level-monitor-alarm.htm
 

PumpMd

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I thought it was but I had to look hard to find that Red Lion is actually made by Franklin Electric. They just don’t want their regular Franklin installers to know anyone can buy a Franklin pump for $299. They try to tell their installers that they do not sell to big box stores or places online, but they do. They just paint them a different color and call them something different like Red Lion or Utilitech. So for those who think Franklin is loyal to their installers, you should think again.


This also means Red Lion has the “floating stage” design just like all the other Franklin pumps. And while this is a cheaply built design that heats up more than other pumps, their own charts show this pump works fine at 2 GPM when installed in a 220’ deep well. A 2 GPM Dole valve makes the pump think it is in a 220’ deep well so it can only pump 2 GPM, and is no different than actually setting the pump in a well with a water depth of 220’. So if their pump will not work at 220’ and/or 2 GPM, they should not publish this in their selection charts.


At 15 GPM the velocity in the well is high and will bring lot of sand. At 2 GPM the velocity in the well is low and it won’t produce nearly as much sand. So you really need the 2 GPM Dole valve. And I do not believe it will hurt the pump, but if it does, you need to replace it with a better pump that CAN work at 2 GPM anyway.


And when you do use the 2 GPM Dole valve, the amps on the pump will be reduced and a Pumptec will think the well is dry and shut off the pump. That is why we made the Cycle Sensor, as it is infinitely adjustable, and will know the difference between the pump being restricted to 2 GPM and actually pumping the well dry.


And you can get a cistern level and alarm here.

http://www.deanbennett.com/cistern-water-level-monitor-alarm.htm

Since when did Franklin start making 12gpm pump ends? I have never seen one and just because they are using the cheaper made Franklin motor doesn't mean Franklin owns them. Show us your Proof where is says Franklin owns Utilitech or Red Lion!

They are close to us and have very good quality tanks. I can't say the same for the pumps because we don't use them.
USA
301 N MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73127-6616
 
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Valveman

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Since when did Franklin start making 12gpm pump ends? I have never seen one and just because they are using the cheaper made Franklin motor doesn't mean Franklin owns them. Show us your Proof where is says Franklin owns Utilitech or Red Lion!

They are close to us and have very good quality tanks. I can't say the same for the pumps because we don't use them.
USA
301 N MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73127-6616

Here is your 12 GPM Franklin pump. It is probably the same pump as you call a 10 GPM pump. It is a 12 GPM pump in shallow well and a 10 GPM pump in a slightly deeper well. Just depends on where you draw the center of the curve. And since Franklin owns Little Giant, I don’t know why they would make two different impellers.
http://littlegiant.com/products/water-systems/4-inch-submersible-well-pumps/12-gpm/

Here is the line about Little Giant and Red Lion being together.
“recently amalgamated the Little Giant Retail Hardware line with the Red Lion line”
http://redlionproducts.com/company/the-red-lion-story/

And your right about it being hard to find anything about Franklin owning Utilitech. But their FE stickers are on the control box, which is no doubt a Franklin.
http://www.lowes.com/pd/Utilitech-Steel-Control-Box/3136321

It is also hard to tell that Pentair owns Flotec. But if you look at the address Berkeley and Pentair say 293 Wright Street, Delavan, WI.
http://www.flotecpump.com/resources/images/42256.pdf
http://www.berkeleypumps.com/residentialContactUs_ContactUs.aspx
 

PumpMd

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I see that, very interesting to see Franklin getting into pressure tanks with Red Lion.

Definitely a Franklin box with a Utilitech sticker on it
 

tycen

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So for those who think Franklin is loyal to their installers, you should think again.
I can imagine that's frustrating to well installers - but honestly it's great from the homeowner DIY perspective. I understand that wells are complicated beasts, but I didn't need the well guy to drive his million dollar truck out to just look at my well, not notice the issues with it and charge me $500 for an "inspection". Or to come back and install a $40 dole valve and charge me $285 - and still not get anywhere. Shoot, even pulling and replacing my own pump would have cost what, $2000? if a well guy would have done it.

At 15 GPM the velocity in the well is high and will bring lot of sand. At 2 GPM the velocity in the well is low and it won’t produce nearly as much sand. So you really need the 2 GPM Dole valve. And I do not believe it will hurt the pump, but if it does, you need to replace it with a better pump that CAN work at 2 GPM anyway.
Great points - I hadn't thought of it that way. Next time I have the plumbing tools out, I'll put the 2GPM dole valve back on and adjust my timer accordingly.
 

PumpMd

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Here is your 12 GPM Franklin pump. It is probably the same pump as you call a 10 GPM pump. It is a 12 GPM pump in shallow well and a 10 GPM pump in a slightly deeper well. Just depends on where you draw the center of the curve. And since Franklin owns Little Giant, I don’t know why they would make two different impellers.
http://littlegiant.com/products/water-systems/4-inch-submersible-well-pumps/12-gpm/

Here is the line about Little Giant and Red Lion being together.
“recently amalgamated the Little Giant Retail Hardware line with the Red Lion line”
http://redlionproducts.com/company/the-red-lion-story/

And your right about it being hard to find anything about Franklin owning Utilitech. But their FE stickers are on the control box, which is no doubt a Franklin.
http://www.lowes.com/pd/Utilitech-Steel-Control-Box/3136321

It is also hard to tell that Pentair owns Flotec. But if you look at the address Berkeley and Pentair say 293 Wright Street, Delavan, WI.
http://www.flotecpump.com/resources/images/42256.pdf
http://www.berkeleypumps.com/residentialContactUs_ContactUs.aspx

Monarch made/owned Red Lion tanks and I don't see Monarch on the list. Check this out

Monarch Industry
51 Burmac Rd
Winnipeg, MB R2J 4J3
Ph #: (204) 786-7921
Fax #: (204) 889-9120
Orders Fax #: (204) 772-9496

Red Lion
USA
301 N MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73127-6616
Canada
Sales and Marketing:
Suite 101 - 310 De Baets St.
Winnipeg, MB R2J 0H4
 
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Valveman

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Monarch made/owned Red Lion tanks and I don't see Monarch on the list. Check this out

Monarch Industry
51 Burmac Rd
Winnipeg, MB R2J 4J3
Ph #: (204) 786-7921
Fax #: (204) 889-9120
Orders Fax #: (204) 772-9496

Red Lion
USA
301 N MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73127-6616
Canada
Sales and Marketing:
Suite 101 - 310 De Baets St.
Winnipeg, MB R2J 0H4

I know Monarch was bought by Franklin.
 

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From working in another industry that had a saying (down in the ranks), "If you can't beat 'em; Buy 'em"; this is what I know about that conglomerate.

Some products get re-branded. We had identical products with different part numbers for the two (or more) companies. You never know which parts get changed. Like I bought a Craftsman Chipper/Shredder from Sears. Needed a part and found out by researching on-line, it was an MTD almost. Thinner sheet metal and lower quality (cheaper) assembly hardware. When you make hundreds of thousands or millions of something, pennies and half-pennies add up quick.

I don't know but would not be surprised if by Franklin buying Monarch, some of there products incorporate lower quality (higher profit margin) components but still have the Franklin name on it.

Just my experience in another industry.

Caveat Emptor.
 
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