How to reconnect a well? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I've blackmailed my daughter into promising to spend New Year's Eve here with us, but I fear she may not be able to get here if things break down before that day. She bought an old house last year and I noticed there was a hand pump in her basement. It's not hooked up, but I'm wondering how difficult it would be to get it operational again. Wouldn't I love to have one of those in my basement!

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, September 02, 1999



I don't have a good answer for your question, but some considerations, possibly. Part will depend on who it is you can bring in to do it. You might try just an anon/hypothetical call to a plumbing place. Ask them what's involved in re-hooking up a hand pump.

Then, think hard, hard, hard to remember if you "know someone" who is gifted in a plumbing way and also trustworthy. They might be the best approach because there is one point of red-tape that I'll bring up--

The old farm house we were living in at one point had a 'point' or 'sand point' well that was driven through the basement. (Don't recall if there was a hand-pump there as well.) This was an earthen basement, not poured concrete. It started having problems. We thought we could just have a new point well driven, but that was no longer an okay type well to have according to the county govt., so there were no official plumbers who could install this type of well. Of course had we know someone gifted along those lines, the necessary work probably could have been done...

Bureaucracy could be the most difficult part of the job.

I, too, have been having a few daydream moments of 'wouldn't it be nice to have a handpump in the basement'... I even have an imaginary spot all picked out for it. It certainly simplify a lot of things.

Best wishes,

-- winter wondering (, September 02, 1999.

Like the other person said, it really depends on the situation. Asides from the zoning issue, there are other things to worry about. A couple I can think of off the top of my head: 1) Assuming you get it hooked up, is it safe to drink? 2) Some rural cities with wells ordered the "capping" of home wells when they went to a city provided water supply. The capping came 2 ways: 1) Cement down the pipe, or 2) a metal cap either screwed on the end or welded/sealed on. The idea, of course, being to make sure you only had one source for water... :) Your mileage may vary.

-- James Collins (, September 02, 1999.

Well, around here you'd call the well company and they'd send someone out to look at the site and make recommendations. No charge for this. If the water could be accessed you could send a sample to the county extension agent for testing prior to committing money to the renovation project. Best case, you'd have good water, the pump was just disconnected, and no city restrictions would apply. We live 9 miles outside a city that has extended their water lines to our road, but hookup is still optional. Drills and bored wells are everywhere. Get all the facts pertinent to your daughter's area and situation and see what you've got. Good luck! Wish there was one in my basement. We have a well, but I'm still not sure how to access it manually, it's so deep.

-- Jill D. (, September 02, 1999.

In Wisconsin, and many other states, it is illegal to have an inside well, or one closer than some certain distance, designed to insure access to equipment that might be used to pull the pump etc from the well. Therefore, a plumber or well driller might feel obligated to report your "illegal" well in some situations. How to hook it up depends on lots of things- especially depth and kind of pump now in use. Go to the library and get some books on wells and home water systems and do some reading so you get a better idea of what you may have to deal with. Maybe you'll be able to figure it out and do it all yourself.

You say the hand pump is not hooked up. Is it on the well, or just sitting loose in the corner? Can you look into the wll pipe (casing) with a flashlight and pocket mirror and see how far it is to water? Maybe we can help you figure this out yet.

-- Jim (, September 02, 1999.

I only saw it once, nearly a year ago. It was an old pump, still attached. I didn't inspect it at all. The location is near downtown Indianapolis, so you can see it must have been drilled a very long time ago. I think my best bet is to try and be sure my daughter is here (near a river) when TSHTF. Thanks for the suggestions.

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, September 03, 1999.

Disassemble the old pump. Replace the old leather pieces you will find inside (Lehmans or cut new ones your self-I did) Reassemble, pour water in the top of the pump (this is called "priming the pump") while pumping the handle at the same time. Repeat until the new leathers get soaked up and the air in the well pipe is replaced with water from the well at which time you will be pumping water! To drive a sand point well yourself, go to a rural hardware (or Lehmans') Get a sand point, a HARDENED drive cap, HARDENED couplings, and however many 5' lengths of 1-1/4" well casing you think you will need. Screw drive cap on well point, drive into ground with sledge hammer, remove drive cap, screw on coupling and casing length, screw drive cap on casing length and drive assembly down with sledge hammer. Repeat untill well is complete. Check periodically with hand pump to tell when water is reached. This is easier to do than it is to describe.

-- Lumber Jack (, September 03, 1999.

PS, It is also possible that the pump was connected to cistern rather than a well. If it is in a metro area, it will be difficult to make any significant upgrades without someone noticing.

If your daughter is in a city the size of Indy, it would seem wise to visit you for an extended time. Even with her own water supply, things could get rough in a hurry.

Good luck to you and her.


-- gene (, September 03, 1999.

Pearlie, you may not even need to replace the leathers. Try pouring water into the top of the pump (and we're assuming this is a "pitcher pump, with the piston in the pump, and not way, way down the hole). If it's a pitcher pump, it probably has a handle a foot or a little more than that long. If it's a deep well pump, I'd expect the handle to be about three feet long.

Anyway, assuming it's a pitcher pump, pour water into it, try pumping. If nothing happens, try pouring water into it again every ten minutes or so for an hour or two. If it still doesn't work, check out the leathers.

By the way, a friend of mine called last night, asking me about a well I dug myself in California almost thirty years ago. I did it with an auger type post hole digger. It had a five foot long 3/4 inch pipe handle, with a cross bar type handle (kind of like a handle bar on a bike, but straight--perpendicular to the pipe. At the bottom of the pipe was auger, a kind of bucket, six inches or so in diameter, designed so that when you pushed down and turned the handle around and around, it gradually dug into the earth.



Obviously, I did not get electroduted, but I was young, dumb, and lucky!

When you have dug down a few feet, add another length of pipe, again about five feet long, and continue. Each time the bucket gets full, you lift the whole thing out, and dump the bucket.

The whole operation took me about fifteen or sixteen hours, as I recall. I'd just work on it an hour or two after work each day, so's not to strain myself (remember, if you don't use your HEAD, your whole BODY suffers) It would have taken a lot less time if I had not been right under a power line. Instead of lifting the whole thing out to dump the dirt each time the "bucket" got full, I had to lift it out part ways, throw a pin through a coupling, rest the bottom section on the pin, disconnect the top part, then lift the next part to dump the bucket. Slow. Dumb. But it worked; I hit water about twenty feet, quit about twenty four or five. It would have been fine for a hand pump, but I didn't know much (like anything, actually) about pumps, pressure tanks, pressure swithces, etc. and tried to pump it out with a jet pump. It pumped for about thirty seconds, then ran the well dry. It would do this as often as you liked, but a real pain to reprime it each time!

If you have some way to determine how deep the water is in your area, this is one way to drill a well, with not much expense. Of course, it's probably illegal in most jurisdictions, but, if tshtf, will you care??

Lumberjack, your method, like mine, will depend on what type of material the person encounters. If a person does decide to drive a well point, and the soil is soft enough for this to work, I recommend making a driver instead of using a sledgehammer. I made one (I use it for driving steel fenceposts and ground rods) by welding the head off an old splitting maul onto the end of a piece of 2" steel pipe. It will flat DRIVE THEM PUPPIES!!!! And you can't miss, like you can with a sledgehammer. A sledgehammer head would work instead of the maul head, if you have one of those available.

If you do succeed in gettin water, get it tested, but not until you have pumped a LOT of water out of the hole. Any well will show bacterialogical contamination right after you drill it, or right after you install a pump or drop pipe in it. There are bacteria on your hands, and on any organic material--even a single piece of a leaf which gets into the water by being stuck to the pipe. So wait until the well has had time to flush all that stuff out. Or purify it with bleach first. Then test. Also, if there is reason to believe there is some scary chemical or pesticide pollution in your neighborhood, get a complete test. Otherwise, just a nitrate and coliform test.


-- Al K. Lloyd (, September 26, 1999.

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