Backup Water Supply

11 Oct

I finally got around to doing something about a secondary source of water for the Homestead. I found a man from Missouri that was willing to come and drill a shallow well, and it turned out he used the “water jet” method of drilling the well. If you don’t know what that is, you can go to Youtube and watch some videos of that method of well drilling.

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This man is 86 years old, and he is still growing strong! We had talked on the phone several times over the past month but we couldn’t get our schedules to mesh until last week. He shows up early in the morning, and says his helper didn’t show up for work, but he wanted to come anyway and not disappoint me since we took so long to get together. I told him if he didn’t mind I would be glad to help and do what I could. Well, the first thing he did was take a shovel and start digging a hole and he said “Uh-Oh”, This ground sure is hard! I said let me get my tractor with my backhoe attachment and I will have the holes dug in no time. He wanted 2 holes dug about a foot apart, with each hole being about 2X3 feet in size and 2 feet deep. After I dug the holes, he dug a shallow trench connecting the holes. I didn’t know why he wanted 2 holes instead of one large hole, but I found out later.

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He had a 250 gallon tank of water in the back of his pick-up truck, and we filled both holes with water. He had a small 2.5 HP water pump which sucked the water out of the hole and pumped the water to the boring tool, which was nothing more than 5 foot long pieces of PVC pipe.

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The first piece of pipe had jagged teeth cut into the working end, and the other end screwed into a metal T joint on the other end. The outlet hose from the pump was attached to the top of the T, and the sides of the T had pipes screwed into it to form a handle. As the water pumps through the pipe, you use a twisting motion to loosen the dirt in the bottom of the hole. The water bubbles up from the borehole, runs into the first reservoir hole, goes through the shallow trench into the second reservoir hole where it is picked up by the pump and recirculated into the boring pipe. The reason for two reservoir holes is the water coming up from the bore hole is bringing up lots of mud and sand and other debris, and having two holes allows some of this material to drop out in the first hole and helps the water stay a little cleaner so the pump doesn’t have to recirculate all that junk. After the bore hole reaches five feet deep, the pump is shut off and the pipe is unscrewed from the handle and a second piece of pipe is attached to the first pipe on one end and the T handle on the other. The pump starts circulating the water and the process continues. The driller and I took turns twisting and pushing on the boring tool, and it took us probably 2 hours to get it as deep as it needed to go.

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After boring down to 42 feet, he pulled the boring pipes out of the hole and inserted a 2 inch PVC casing into the hole we bored. The lowest piece of PVC is a factory supplied well screen much like the homemade version pictured above. There are tiny slits cut along the length of the pipe which allow the water to enter and at the same time filter out some of the sand. The factory version we used had much thinner slits cut into it which should be more efficient than the version pictured above. Anyway, now that the pipe was inserted into the well, the driller hooked his pump onto the pipe and pumped water up from the depths. The water wasn’t exactly gushing out of the hole, but he said it would get better with use. He let it run for 15 minutes and the water certainly cleared up a lot, and he said it would be crystal clear someday. When I got ready to pay, he charges $8 per foot, and my well was 42 feet which was $336. He said he wanted to give me a discount since I had to help and do the work myself but I said “Heck No, I’m not doing that”! I looked at this as a valuable learning experience so I didn’t mind being actively involved in this project. What I didn’t say was now that I have seen this done firsthand, I can rig up my own boring rig and dig another well myself next time! I had intentions of putting a quick coupler on the pipe where I could use a pitcher pump like this one,

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but after doing research, I am worried because these pumps are only rated for pulling water up from 25 feet. It is a matter of physics, that water can only be siphoned up from a maximum depth of one atmospheric pressure which is 33.9 feet. Since my well is 42 feet I don’t think this will work.

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I had also planned on using a quick coupler to attach this gas power pump I bought from Harbor Freight. It was on sale for $179 and I had a coupon for 25% off which made it $130 plus $7 shipping. The reviews were positive so I got this model instead of getting a more expensive unit elsewhere. This pump is almost identical to the one the well driller was using. But strangely enough, as I was reading the manual for this pump, it also stated it was intended to bring water up from only 25 feet. I know a pump like this will work on my well because I saw it in person. Maybe the water is rising up in the pipe and it is not really 42 feet down to the water? Anyone else have any experience with shallow wells like this? I’d like to hear from you. I really hope this works out because being a prepper you know I need a backup system! Someday I may have a submersible well with a solar panel setup to power it! I’ll let you know how my new well operates as soon I get a chance to hook it up. We have received several inches of rain this week with more predicted through Monday so it may be a while before I get a chance to work with it. Until then, keep prepping everyone!

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4 Responses to “Backup Water Supply”

  1. Pioneer Preppy October 11, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    I would try the hand pump and see. There is no way you are going to hurt it and like you suggested I would bet the water is filling up in the PVP pipe far enough to get it under 30 feet or so anyway.

    It must be nice to be able to hit water at a mere 40 feet.

    I hate you 😉

    • doublebhomestead October 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

      Oh? How deep do you go in your area? I talked to an engineer who said the shallow water table varies from 30 to 90 feet in this area.

      • Pioneer Preppy October 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

        The well I have behind the house that collapsed is reported as being close to 600 feet by the guy who says he drilled it. My mothers place down the road had to go to 480 feet with theirs which sounds about right as they are lower than we are by a good bit.

  2. doublebhomestead October 13, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    There are many places around where farmers have to drill that deep to get enough water to run pivots, but for homeowner use it is usually 200 feet or less.

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