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Old 03-11-2013, 11:17 PM
 
356 posts, read 641,579 times
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We just bought a place in Northern California at about 4k' and I was hoping someone would be willing to educate me on how wells work and maybe help with some of my questions. This is our first home purchase, our first time with a well, and our first time living in the snow...

Please note that the home hadn't been lived in for about two months before we first showed up to start cleaning on Saturday the 9th. Power was available at the property during this time, but they mostly kept the main breaker off.

Leak - There is a small leak by the house at a spigot that broke (PVC) and was capped, but not capped very well. I would guess that it leaks a couple gallons over a period of 10hrs.

Potential leak - There is another spigot by the garage (also PVC) where nothing comes out of it (not even a wisp of air), but I don't see any water coming out of the ground anywhere. The spigot by the garage is close to the pump house and the previous owner said that they thought it was run directly off the main by the pump house, but they weren't certain. It's either leaking someplace not very obvious, or there's a valve hiding somewhere. Does either sound more likely?

Our realtor told us that it would take a few days for the well to fill up (or something to that effect, I don't remember her exact words). What does this mean? We didn't get to talk to the inspector, but I'm looking at the well report and it says "Storage (Amount of water pumped out) 4834.996" and I'm not sure what that means? Is that referring to some sort of storage pocket down at the bottom of the well? The only storage I'm aware of is the tank in the pump house and the hot water heater. What would take a few days?

I checked the pressure gauge a couple times at the storage tank in the pump house and it was reading 0psi. When we show up, the pressure is low and it instantly improves when I turn on the pump breaker. Obvious, I know, but I'm wondering why the gauge would show zero when we really do have decent pressure? Physically, the gauge looks like it's in good shape.

How can I tell when the pump itself is running? Can you hear it running inside the pump house? I've read about people noticing their pumps cycling, but I haven't heard any sounds in the pump house. The wife said the water pressure was all over the place on Saturday, which was our first day there after the house sat for a couple months. She said it was basically acting like their was air in the line. Pressure would go up and down and spit air sometimes. Sunday the toilet tried to overflow once, but was fine afterwards (septic was just pumped) and was generally better than it was on Saturday. So far we've only been there for those two days and I turn off the well breaker when we leave because I'm worried that I'll ruin the pump if it constantly runs because of a leak.

I suppose that's it, any help is much appreciated!
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:16 AM
 
2,878 posts, read 3,926,100 times
Reputation: 3083
Quote:
Originally Posted by cedew View Post
We just bought a place in Northern California at about 4k' and I was hoping someone would be willing to educate me on how wells work and maybe help with some of my questions. This is our first home purchase, our first time with a well, and our first time living in the snow...

Please note that the home hadn't been lived in for about two months before we first showed up to start cleaning on Saturday the 9th. Power was available at the property during this time, but they mostly kept the main breaker off.

Leak - There is a small leak by the house at a spigot that broke (PVC) and was capped, but not capped very well. I would guess that it leaks a couple gallons over a period of 10hrs.

Potential leak - There is another spigot by the garage (also PVC) where nothing comes out of it (not even a wisp of air), but I don't see any water coming out of the ground anywhere. The spigot by the garage is close to the pump house and the previous owner said that they thought it was run directly off the main by the pump house, but they weren't certain. It's either leaking someplace not very obvious, or there's a valve hiding somewhere. Does either sound more likely?

Our realtor told us that it would take a few days for the well to fill up (or something to that effect, I don't remember her exact words). What does this mean? We didn't get to talk to the inspector, but I'm looking at the well report and it says "Storage (Amount of water pumped out) 4834.996" and I'm not sure what that means? Is that referring to some sort of storage pocket down at the bottom of the well? The only storage I'm aware of is the tank in the pump house and the hot water heater. What would take a few days?

I checked the pressure gauge a couple times at the storage tank in the pump house and it was reading 0psi. When we show up, the pressure is low and it instantly improves when I turn on the pump breaker. Obvious, I know, but I'm wondering why the gauge would show zero when we really do have decent pressure? Physically, the gauge looks like it's in good shape.

How can I tell when the pump itself is running? Can you hear it running inside the pump house? I've read about people noticing their pumps cycling, but I haven't heard any sounds in the pump house. The wife said the water pressure was all over the place on Saturday, which was our first day there after the house sat for a couple months. She said it was basically acting like their was air in the line. Pressure would go up and down and spit air sometimes. Sunday the toilet tried to overflow once, but was fine afterwards (septic was just pumped) and was generally better than it was on Saturday. So far we've only been there for those two days and I turn off the well breaker when we leave because I'm worried that I'll ruin the pump if it constantly runs because of a leak.

I suppose that's it, any help is much appreciated!
Curious, why were you not present for the inspection and talked to the inspector and asked all the questions then? That was your opportunity since you are paying for the service anyways. Inspectors don't do much, don't have much legal responsibility for what they do but at least you can use the opportunity to ask them. By the way, if you have the inspection report, call the inspector and ask what the numbers mean

You can also hire a well maintenance guy and have him come out and take a look. He can also take samples of the well water for testing if the inspector did not (I would do that if I were you and every house with a well that we ever bought - the inspector did that as part of the inspection) before you start drinking it. Spigots are easily replaceable and you can do that yourself, which you should - no need to waste water on a leak - not sure what the question is here.

Our house in FL has a pump which you can hear cycling when it is filling up the holding tank - ours is, I think, 80 gallons in size. Our property in TX has a different pump, you cannot hear it at all.

Finally, NEVER believe anything the realtor tells you unless they are willing to put it in writing (which they never are). The nature of the business is that they do NOT work for the buyer. Also, they have all interest in making a sale at the highest price possible since they work on a commission that is a % of that price. Yes, there is such a thing as a "buyer's agent" but ask yourself how they get paid and you will understand that there is no such thing in reality.

OD
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Lethbridge, AB
1,132 posts, read 1,676,066 times
Reputation: 976
Quote:
Originally Posted by cedew View Post

Our realtor told us that it would take a few days for the well to fill up (or something to that effect, I don't remember her exact words). What does this mean? We didn't get to talk to the inspector, but I'm looking at the well report and it says "Storage (Amount of water pumped out) 4834.996" and I'm not sure what that means? Is that referring to some sort of storage pocket down at the bottom of the well? The only storage I'm aware of is the tank in the pump house and the hot water heater. What would take a few days?
There won't be a storage pocket, per se. Your well is, in essence, a long tube into the ground, with a screen section to allow water access into the tube. Your pump (or the end of your pump hose, depending on set up, etc) hangs partway down the tube.

As you draw from the well, water will flow into the tube until it reaches equilibrium. The rate as which that recharge happens depends on the surrounding hydrogeology and the length of the screen. In order for your well to function properly, the well has to have a water level higher than that of the pump.

It's certainly possible for a well to take several days to fully recharge.
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Old 03-13-2013, 01:23 AM
 
356 posts, read 641,579 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ognend View Post
...Spigots are easily replaceable and you can do that yourself, which you should - no need to waste water on a leak - not sure what the question is here.
I was just trying to provide any additional information that may, or may not, help someone help me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ognend View Post
Our house in FL has a pump which you can hear cycling when it is filling up the holding tank - ours is, I think, 80 gallons in size. Our property in TX has a different pump, you cannot hear it at all.
Okay, good to know. I'm thinking we have one that you just can't hear.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubblejumper View Post
There won't be a storage pocket, per se. Your well is, in essence, a long tube into the ground, with a screen section to allow water access into the tube. Your pump (or the end of your pump hose, depending on set up, etc) hangs partway down the tube.

As you draw from the well, water will flow into the tube until it reaches equilibrium. The rate as which that recharge happens depends on the surrounding hydrogeology and the length of the screen. In order for your well to function properly, the well has to have a water level higher than that of the pump.

It's certainly possible for a well to take several days to fully recharge.
Ahhhhh, okay. So, the tube essentially acts as a reservoir, as well as the tank. Thank you for this explanation. Another question; do you think that where it says "Storage (Amount of water pumped out) 4834.996" on the inspection report, that they actually pumped out 4835 gallons? Also, what prevents the pump from running when all the water has been sucked out of the tube?

For what it's worth, we went up there after work today and I fixed the leak at the spigot by the house. When we left this time, I left the well pump breaker on hoping that if the other spigot by the garage has a break underground, I'll find surface moisture tomorrow.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Lethbridge, AB
1,132 posts, read 1,676,066 times
Reputation: 976
Quote:
Originally Posted by cedew View Post
Ahhhhh, okay. So, the tube essentially acts as a reservoir, as well as the tank. Thank you for this explanation. Another question; do you think that where it says "Storage (Amount of water pumped out) 4834.996" on the inspection report, that they actually pumped out 4835 gallons? Also, what prevents the pump from running when all the water has been sucked out of the tube?

For what it's worth, we went up there after work today and I fixed the leak at the spigot by the house. When we left this time, I left the well pump breaker on hoping that if the other spigot by the garage has a break underground, I'll find surface moisture tomorrow.
If there's a worry of the well being pumped dry, a transducer can be installed down-hole which will shut the pump off if the water level falls below a specified depth. However, it's unlikely that's a worry unless the aquifer you've tapped has a very slow recharge rate or you're using very large quantities of water.

I'm not 100% sure what measurement that number is in, but it wouldn't surprise me if it is gallons.

To jump back to some of your previous questions as well:

The pressure gauge is basically a reading of the pressure inside your reservoir (tank). Usually there's an air bladder inside the tank to measure it. The pump will be set to cycle until a specified pressure is reached inside the reservoir, at which point it will shut off automatically. There will be a second specified pressure at which the pump will begin cycling again (for example, the pump will kick on at 30 psi inside the tank and shut off at 50).

Can you get a look inside your tank? If your pressure gauge is reading zero, check to see if there's water in the tank. If not, then your strange gauge reading and intermittent tap pressure problems should be solved by letting it fill. If there is plenty of water, it would be likely that your gauge or air bladder is broken. The tank pressure may have been what the realtor was referring to as well when she mentioned the "well filling up".

Once you know your pressure switch is working correctly, there's no reason to not leave the pump breaker on.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
86,093 posts, read 73,640,738 times
Reputation: 27598
I would get a well company person to come out and take a look at it.
Ask them questions and learn about your well/pump.
Even if they charge to come out, it would be well worth it to get that professional inspection and education.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:15 AM
 
24,841 posts, read 32,887,308 times
Reputation: 11471
^^^ that is the best advice!!!!

Untill then.....here is some reading for you.

Wellowner.org - Informing consumers about groundwater and water wells
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Table Rock Lake
971 posts, read 1,213,491 times
Reputation: 952
Quote:
Originally Posted by Driller1 View Post
^^^ that is the best advice!!!!

Untill then.....here is some reading for you.

Wellowner.org - Informing consumers about groundwater and water wells
Having lived over 70 years with my own wells, I have read all posts and information provided the OP and agree with all. I also learned a lot of new infomation I hadn't considered. Many thanks to all the posters.

OP ....I always used a pressure switch with a safety lever that cut the current flowing to the pump in case the pressure dropped to a low level. The pressure switch was much easier to change out than a transducer. IMO Anytime a pump is pumping air into the lines, the pump itself will be running hot as it uses the water around the pump to keep it cool. The lower pressure of the air in the lines usually is sufficient to shut off the pump before it burns up.

I also would contact a highly local recommended competant well repair person to test the water and operation of your well. Also ask how often the well should be "hot shoted", also known as disinfected.

Wsh you good luck.
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