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  1. #1

    Want to upgrade water system - advice ?

    What a great resource this forum is!

    I want to upgrade this system, and prevent "no water" in the near future.

    Sorry this is gonna get a bit long I'm afraid, first a little history:

    Well is about 45 feet deep, 4" cast iron casing, probably about 35-40 years old. I've been using this well for about 20 years myself.

    1 1/4 inch black ABS out of well to a 90* elbow, transition to copper after the elbow, 1 1/4 inch check valve. <-is this check valve needed ? I'm almost certain there is a foot valve installed.

    Myers HC pump, ejector mounted to pump for shallow well use. Located about 3 feet away from the well head.

    42 gall bladder tank.

    This is all installed in a pit next to the house foundation. I haven't checked since moving in about 20 years ago, but at the time, the water level was about 10 feet below the top of the casing.

    I've never lost water from the well, even during very dry spells. The only problem I've had over the years is one bad air tank, and one pressure switch replacement. (knock wood).

    No disinfection equipment installed. (I only tested quality once, when we moved in...)

    OK, the questions:

    I believe I have a suction line air leak, as evidenced by spurts of air in the fixtures. Some of the stainless clamps were rusted out, so I replaced them and the problem is MUCH better, but still some minimal spurts. I have been considering pulling the pipe from the well, and installing new foot valve, pipe, etc. to cure this problem.

    Here's where it gets me freaked... One look at the well seal all rusted to smithereens makes me not want to even touch it. I'm afraid that the part of the casing that's exposed may also be fragile. Are there options for repairing the top of the casing if I do happen to break it ?

    My neighbor with an identical system pulled his pipe last year and couldn't get the new pipe in as far as he pulled it out. The assumption was that there was "crud" in the casing at the bottom and when he pulled the pipe, it settled to the bottom. He was only able to get about 35 feet of pipe back in. Is this assumption correct? Will I have the same problem ? If it is, and I do, are there ways of suctioning the well to clean it out ?

    Should I replace the black ABS with rigid PVC ?

    What are the options for disinfection ?

    The HC pump has been doing a fine job, but has gotten noisier over the past year or two. I'm guessing the bearings are about shot, and it may be time for a replacement. Would the less costly HJ series of pump suit my needs ? (two person household, one bath, washing machine, but no dishwasher)

    By the way, the water from this well tests at about 12 ppm Fe ... I do run a softener that _almost_ keeps up with the iron. Is there a better way of removing iron ?

    I'm probly gonna have more questions, but I'm sure this is enough for starters! THANKS!


  2. #2
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    Yes you probably will have the same problems the neighbor had. And you should replace the ABS with PE tubing or sch 40 PVC. I don't know of any way to suck the dirt out of a well, but you can bail it or blow it out with compressed air by running a line to the bottom and shooting air down it that will lift the water and dirt out. But with cast iron casing and iron in the water, I don't hold much hope of getting the well in real good shape. Wells do have a usable life, and I suspect this type at its age are close to the end.

    Gary
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  3. #3
    Pump guy speedbump's Avatar
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    I have an idea the cast iron casing is really black iron pipe. You can't beat cast iron pipe into the ground and there weren't too many rotary machines drilling water wells 40+ years ago. And if thay had rotored the well they would have used PVC casing or galvanized/black iron.

    The ABS is probably PE tubing. ABS is sewer pipe usually used for mobile home septic systems.

    If the well seal falls apart, the most important thing is to not let the bottom half/s fall down the well. Don't remove the bolts, just loosen them 2 turns. Pull the pipe straight up until the footvalve hits the wellseal and then juck it up and down to bump the wellseal out of the well.

    Replace the footvalve (brass) and droppipe with poly, or pvc. 30 foot is all that is necessary, so don't worry about the 35 foot. If the HC is as old as the well, I doubt replacing the bearings will be a very smart choice over a new pump. HC's come in single and two stage so without the rest of the model number I can't tell you if the HJ will do the same job. If it's just an HC no problem, if it's an HCM it's a multistage pump.

    You can see both here.

    bob...




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  4. #4
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    Bob, the first ever plastic sch 40 type pipe is/was black ABS, a thin walled stiff stuff that was solvent welded. It has elbows, tees and couplers like today's PVC. Up here it was used for drop pipe in 1" and 1.25" dia. in 20' lengths with glued couplers. That was back in the 1960s and it was pulled off the market in a few years due to it splitting etc.. There are adapters to go from it to PVC and we have a fair amount of it here yet. So he may have 1.25" ABS.

    Gary
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  5. #5
    Pump guy speedbump's Avatar
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    I'll be, I never saw that stuff in Mich when I lived there. Just poly pipe and the old grey pvc that wasn't worth a darn. They also had green poly that was worse yet.

    I guess it just depends on what area you are familiar with and what marketing took place in that era.

    I do have to say, I have never seen a cast iron well that wasn't a riser for a septic tank.

    bob...


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  6. #6
    Thanks for all the info so far...

    First, the casing:

    This thing looks to me like 4" cast iron DWV pipe, owing to the fact that there is a "flange" on the end that's sticking out. I have no idea how they got it in the ground, and my father-in-law who installed it is long gone. I don't think it's black iron... but I could be wrong.

    The drop pipe:

    The stuff he used for the drop pipe looks like the same stuff they install lawn sprinklers with. There was a coil of it in the garage when I moved in, apparently "left over" from the job. I believe it is a single length of pipe. I see they still sell the same stuff at the big box stores in the same aisle with the sump pumps, and I guess that's what they use for discharge lines on them. I comes in big coils, rolled about 4 feet in diameter. This isn't solvent welded at the 90* elbow, it's a barbed elbow, held with S.S. hose clamps.

    The Pump:

    I'll climb into the pit next weekend and see if there is more info on it, and pass that along when I get it. The pump isn't as old as the well, it was installed about 1982, shortly before we moved in, at the same time the drop pipe was replaced. I don't think it's a multi-stage pump, just a standard HC.

    OK, then, it seems I should start looking at having a new well drilled. In that case, everything else is probably moot... know any good well drillers in central NJ ???

    Thanks guys!
    Jeff



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    Bob, that ABS is very difficult to work with and I've turned down jobs where people refused to replace it if I pulled it out of a well. It's stiff and easily split.

    Jeff, the coiled tubing is PE (polyethylene) not ABS. It uses insert fittings and hose clamps. It comes in various ratings: 100, 125, 160 and 200 psi.

    Gary
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  8. #8
    Pump guy speedbump's Avatar
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    If that casing is actually cast iron and your father in law put it in, that would explain it. A driller didn't do the work. Home owners sometimes do strange things compared to the industry standard.

    Still if you repair all the air leaks replace the footvalve, maybe the pump, you might be good to go again.

    bob...


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  9. #9
    OK, PE it is...

    I don't think I'm going to be able to get the air leaks stopped on the existing pipe completely. I worked on it last night for a while, and I still get spurts of air now and then. I've only got about a foot of pipe sticking up from the well now, it looks like I might need to cut off a few inches and use some new fittings. I think the pipe might just be too old and brittle to get a good seal.

    Would it help if I used a heat gun to soften the old pipe before tightening the clamps, or am I asking for trouble doing that ?

    I'd prefer to repair what I've got now, rather than pulling the pipe and then finding out that I've made a major mess of things that nothing short of a new well would cure. Looking at this thing, I'm really scared about opening it up... I don't have the $$$ right now to have a new well drilled (I was quoted $20 per foot, is that reasonable ?) They told me that I would need to go AT LEAST 120' to get good water...

    At the very least, I'm going to purchase a new pump to have on hand in case this one craps out, so I will be getting back to Bob on that...

    In the meantime, is there any kind of SEALANT that is suitable for use on the PE pipe fittings ?

    Do I need to keep that 1 1/4 inch check valve in the line between the pump and the well ?

    Ciao!
    Jeff

  10. #10
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    Sucking air can also be caused by not enough water in the well.

    You should warm the tubing to allow it to accept the fitting easier than when cold. A hair dryer works, and if you had experience, you could use a torch but that can quickly overheat the tubing and damages it. Then you should be double clamping the fitting and opposing the two clamps. The bolts opposite from each other and in the opposite direction. And then, do mot over tighten the clamps. They are supposed to be torqued, and the torque (may be IIRC) 60 inch lbs. I have a tee handled ratchet torque wrench made just for them. And if you tighten them when the tubing is warm, recheck them when the tubing is cold; and I go about a 1/4-1/2 turn past torqued.

    In my opinion, you should only a foot valve if a jet pump and a check valve in/on the outlet of a submersible pump, only. Any other check valve hides leaks between it and the well/sub pump or foot valve in the well.

    That $20/ft sounds high to me, but then I'm in the middle of rural PA.

    Gary
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