Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spring up O well!

We have a bit of an interesting water situation here on the hill. First, we have three wells here on our little two acres. Two of them are in the cellar. Because I suppose when the natives were restless and decided to attack 220 years ago, it was handy to have a water source downstairs. And iron bars on the windows to shoot your musket through. Those are still there too.
The original well is a dug well and sometime during the last century, someone decided, hey, let's drill a well next to the dug well. So they did. And lost their well drilling drill bit way down there somewhere, stuck in bedrock and I'm sure there were a lot of not pretty words being said. So they moved outside the house with a new drillbit and this is the well we use today.
But back to the dug well in the basement. What makes it even stranger is that it is in a room of its own, out underneath our front walkway, before you walk onto our porch - not under our house.
Back to the current well.
All of a sudden our water pressure was finicky. I didn't like it. I whined to Sean about it because the delicate balance of our water lies in his capable hands. Seriously, one of the things I worry about if he were to ever die on me is how in the world would I figure out the water systems.
Our water is HARD. Water is considered hard at 20 parts per million, ours is a lovely hardness of 120-130 parts per million. It is mineral rich. Not great for appliances or my hair and so...
it goes through a whole house filter, then an iron filter, then a water softener, and then a reverse osmosis system.

So after replacing all the house filters and the water situation not improving, Sean decided to pull up the well pump, replace it since that was the only thing left to check.
Neither of us had ever done this before, in case you're wondering. Sean is brilliant at reading up on how to do things and forging ahead and so he did, placing an innumerable amount of calls to Florida to consult with his dad.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, a well pump should be fairly easy to pull up. Sean had a tripod setup with the steel ladder and rope and the tractor, figuring that the tractor would easily pull up the well pump. Soon the strain on the tractor was starting to tip it. This was not an easy lift and I was a nervous wife. Tipping tractors aren't my thing.

It became a family affair. Finally, finally! it budged and we moved to old fashioned arm power, Sean and I lifting and pulling and the kids lying the pipe out across the lawn. 148 feet of pipe we pulled. I could not believe how hard it was to pull. I joked on facebook that there was a lot of pushing, pulling and gushes of water reminiscent of labor, and seriously, I felt about as exhausted by the time our weekend a la well was over.

(hands orange from the iron in the water)

So to make a very long, very tiresome weekend short. Sean replaced the well pump. We started to lower it back down and with about fifty feet of pipe left to go down, we hit the bottom. How could this be? Was it stuck on something? We had no idea. Five times that weekend, we pulled the pump up.

Final dx for our well, now with it's spiffy expensive new pump, was that it collapsed near the bottom. I guess the way they do wells is if they drill through rock at the bottom of the well, they won't line the bottom of the well. Over time, the rock shifted and our well caved in on top of our pump, which is why it was tipping the tractor trying to pull it.

We called in the well people and conferred. The idea now is to see how well our much shallower well works for our family. Sean installed a low pressure cut-off by the tank in the cellar, which will turn off the water if the well gets too low so the pump doesn't get burned out. It has kicked on once already when we needed to water the garden and newly planted fruit trees.

I'm thinking a re-drilling of the well will be in our future, especially since we are in our wettest season and a lot of watering is needed come summer.

Another day, another lesson in homesteading learned.