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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been trying to put in a new sand point well. I know it is long, but I usually don't ask for help until I've exhausted all options.

Backstory-

We're preparing to build a new building in the field across the creek from our house by the road on our property. The building will have a 1/2 bath and utility sink, with a septic holding tank. The building will have very little water use and we are trying to lower the costs back down to semi-reasonable with this massive inflation we're experiencing. Our house has a sand point well that has been working great for at least 27 years. We even tested it by filling a 5,000 gal pool a month ago. Left the hose filling all night long, no problems.

What I've Done-

I dug a hole, with a mini-excavator, about 8-9 feet below ground level. Through clay. By the way, we have 1-2 feet of topsoil here, with an unknown amount of clay below. Well drilling records show 14-28 feet of clay before hitting sand in the area with most being 14-19 feet of clay. Also, the clay is a pain in the rear to dig though, even with the mini-excavator, very heavy packed stuff. I tried to drive my 1.25" sand point down from there, made it to 11 feet and bent the point. Didn't work, and my hole filled with water. We are back in draught conditions, but water filled the hole up to 5 feet below ground level. Took a bit of time (days) but it filled itself with water, with the creek so close (120 feet away from where I'm putting in the well) it is no surprise. Although, it filled higher than the creek level, slightly surprising.

So, I took a different approach. I bought a semi-trash pump and made myself a water drill. That being the easiest way I could find to get through the clay. I drilled a 4" pvc casing down a few feet into the clay, to keep the slurry from refilling my drilled hole, then used 2" pvc to drill down. In case anyone is wondering, you weld a flat piece of steel onto a short 2" galv pipe to cut the ground while allowing water to flow though. Then you attach it to the end of a PVC pipe and pump large amounts of water down through the pipe as you push the pipe down into the ground. It cuts the ground (clay) away and flushes it out along side of your drill pipe. 6 days of drilling later (3 holes total, first two got stopped at 11 feet by rocks, so I started over 9 feet away on a third hole), I finally got through the clay. Clay depth to 25 feet, then after several agonizing days of drilling the drill just dropped almost by itself. Like everything about the water drilling said, once you hit sand it should go nice and easy. From what I read, you should go 5 feet into sand, 3 feet for the sand point plus 2 extra. I got to 28 feet with only a couple minutes of drilling after breaking through the clay and got stopped by rocks. Couldn't get past, no matter what I tried. So we pulled the pipe (not an easy task when you have 30 feet of 2" PVC pipe cemented together). We dropped the sand point in and hammered it down to almost 29.5 feet total depth. Almost to our goal of 5 feet past the clay. Every bit of water I put down the well pipe comes up through the hole around the pipe and up through the 4" casing. Doesn't matter if I pour it down, or run the hose from the house down. It freely comes back up the 4" pipe. It levels off about 5 feet below ground level. I pumped my dug hole down, and it comes back up to that 5' level eventually. The 4" casing and well pipe doesn't change it's level at all, but I haven't been able to extract any water from there either.

Now the problem- I don't have water.

I ran a hose (actually every hose I own, plus 200' of pex with hose fittings) from my house to fill/prime my pump. I thought I came up with an easy way to bleed/prime the system. I have my well, then a check valve, house water T-d in, then to the input of the pump, out of the pump to 90' of hose, looped a few times to prevent air from coming back in. I figured if I filled everything from the well through the garden hose with water, the pump would be well primed and be able to pull from the well. It didn't work. I ran water through the pump, eliminating all air after the check valve, and the pump would pump the water out for a few seconds then just pull vacuum. Tried every way I could think of. Even bought a new pump that was supposed to self prime, and reorganized my piping. Now it is set up as; Well, Ball valve, T to house water, Check Valve, Water Pump, Hose, Shutoff Valve. I can guarantee there is no air in my system after the shutoff valve at the top of the well pipe. Still no water coming out. There is 30 feet of solid pipe, with the 3' sand point at the bottom, sticking a little over 3' above ground level, and a cavity running along side the pipe from 28' down up to open air.

I still have my big hole (still open to 6 feet below ground but 9 feet away, 1 foot of water in the bottom, slopes up to the newest hole, which is open to my 4" pipe, which is 7 feet long with the top being 3 feet below grade). So the 4" pipe is above the water level, but open enough to see the water down in the hole, as well as be able to see the water down in the well pipe that looks like it is the same level as the water in the 4" pipe around it.

What I don't understand is this, how the heck can I not get water to come out of the well pipe? If the picture I have loads, you can see the hole, the well pipe, the check valve, the T, the pex to the water from my house, and the water line to the pump's inlet. That was the first iteration. Now with the new pump I have another ball valve where the check valve was, and the check valve is between the pump and the house water T. That way I can run fresh water down the well pump and see the result. And the result is, that without the pump hooked up, the water will freely go down the well pipe and come up the 4" casing if I hold the 3/4" water line above this setup, but some will flow out of the 3/4" water line if I drop it below, which tells me there is no resistance, nothing stopping the water from traveling all the way down the well pipe and all the way back up along the outside of it to come out of my 4" pipe. With the pump hooked up, it will choose to go down the well rather than through the pump to come out the hose. No resistance parts through the pump, but it has more to go through than just dropping down the well. So at a very minimum (like if my entire hole was in clay and found no water at all), my pump should pull the water down the 4" pipe, down the cavity along side my well pipe, and up my well pipe, thus giving me water until that is all gone then sucking air. I have confirmed that the 25' max suction depth is to the ground water level and not the full well pipe depth, as the water outside the pipe will push water up into the pipe to the ground water depth.

WTF-

Sorry I'm very frustrated. But, how in the world can water not come out of my well pipe. If I had a 30ft 3" solid pipe capped at the bottom, dropped a 1.25" well point into it, and filled it with water, I would expect to be able to suck some water back out of the 1.25" pipe, until the 3" is empty. And with my high water table, knowing that I hit good sand at 25 feet, even if I went back into clay at 28 feet below those rocks, I would expect to be able to pull some water back out. That would mean my sand point is 1.5 feet in clay, and 1.5 feet in sand and should provide water flow. I would also understand if I could fill up the well pipe and not have it drain out the bottom, like being plugged, but it isn't, it comes right back up the drilled cavity and out my 4" casing as fast as I put it in. And I'm only working with 8 feet of galvanized pipe above the water.

The only logical conclusion I have is that there is an air leak between the pump and the water level down inside my well pipe. However, I find that very unlikely because after the ball valve (where the check valve is in the picture) is easily pressurized to 50psi with no leaks, leaving only a couple connections left above the water level. And any leaks below the water line wouldn't matter, because they'd suck the water in lowering the water level. The only other conclusion is that the pumps do not have the ability to create enough suction to pull water from the well pipe, or somehow there is a magical check valve installed backwards down in my pipe that I don't know about. And I did check before installing the sand point, there is no check valve internal to it, or any of the pipes connecting it to the surface.

I have one last idea, a simple hand pump. I can screw that directly onto my well pipe and pump away to see what happens. If that doesn't produce results, the only other thing I can think of is to install a vacuum gauge to see how much suction I'm getting with my pumps. I could hook up my little "Mighty Vac" vacuum pump, which theoretically could suck all the air out of the top of the well and finally give water.

I was a vehicle Technician, cars and med/heavy trucks, and was working on a mechanical engineering degree. I've done a lot of different things, I am (or was) good at understanding how things work. I've done a bit of building wiring, plumbing, building, repairing, landscaping, and many other things. I'm not as quick as I once was, but still going. I just don't understand why this is giving me such a hard time.

If anyone has ideas, or can see what I'm doing wrong, Please let me know. Thank you, Jeremy.
 

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Your well is not taking water if all the water you put in comes back out the top. There is a simple rule when it comes to wells. A well that does not take water will not make water.
 

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Think I would have stopped with the first hole you hit water in and forgot about the sand well. Your only feeding a sink and toilet.
An rv tankless toilet uses even less water.
As far as the waste goes a grinder and pump will get it up hill as well as down.

So to make this short what is the recovery rate of the first hole?
 

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if your water level drops below what your pump can draw, it will not work.

Think about it this way: absolute vaccuum is 14.7psi negative pressure (vacuum). That's like "outer-space" vaccuum.
A water column creates that kind of vacuum in just 30 feet.
What that means is that if when pulling the water, the level drops to around that (down to 30feet) - you pump has to be 100% efficient. Not 95%. 100%.. to be able to draw water out.
Naturally, there is no such thing... most pumps are lucky if they can draw negative 5-7PSI, which translates to 10-15feet. So if your water drops to that level below the pump, your pump wont be able to pull that water out.

This is why people invented the submersible pump. A pump can "push" water with no limit... you can push 1 million PSI with a pump, but you can only pull 14.7 (and in reality only 5-7) PSI.

Laws of physics, on the planet earth.

So... it sounds like you need a submersible pump... or excavate a hole and bury a a tank at the higher level (at the 5ft mark you said your water level gets to at-rest) and let gravity fill it, and have a pump drawn on the tank when needed. Only need a 55gal drum for the use you're describing, where you'd run 1gal for a sink, and maybe 2-3 gal for a toilet at at time.
 

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The only logical conclusion I have is that there is an air leak between the pump and the water level down inside my well pipe. However, I find that very unlikely because after the ball valve (where the check valve is in the picture) is easily pressurized to 50psi with no leaks, leaving only a couple connections left above the water level. And any leaks below the water line wouldn't matter, because they'd suck the water in lowering the water level. The only other conclusion is that the pumps do not have the ability to create enough suction to pull water from the well pipe, or somehow there is a magical check valve installed backwards down in my pipe that I don't know about. And I did check before installing the sand point, there is no check valve internal to it, or any of the pipes connecting it to the surface.
For THIS part - pressurizing a sealed system is completely different than drawing a vacuum on the same system. Seals around shaft of pump - depending on design - only work 1-way,.
Plus 50PSI pressure ability does not translate to 50PSI of vacuum ability... per my other post - that is because "there is NO SUCH THING" as 50PSI vacuum..... the universal vacuum limit is 14.7PSI by universal - i mean THE WHOLE UNIVERSE... not just earth... and not your backyard.... I mean the entire universe.....

For THIS part - yes... this is exactly your problem... per my other post.
 

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Very interesting. Growing up we had a shallow well 30 feet deep with about 25 feet of pipe. This was a cased well probably 12" diameter. Water level got to low we had to reprime the pump. So I am guessing we always had water in the pipe and the pump just would not draw it.
 

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Very interesting. Growing up we had a shallow well 30 feet deep with about 25 feet of pipe. This was a cased well probably 12" diameter. Water level got to low we had to reprime the pump. So I am guessing we always had water in the pipe and the pump just would not draw it.
yup... that's most likely the case...
depending on the pump design, some pump types can draw better than others...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update. Found the problem. Which should have been obvious, but apparently, I didn't see it. Silt/sand. Long story short this time, we have water, and plenty of it from the well. We pulled about 2000 gallons out over 2 hours of pumping. Up to about 40 gallons a minute by the end (timed filling a 5 gal bucket at 7 seconds). The inlet screen on the sand point was plugging up instantly. I removed the screen from the first point I bent, and dropped it down the well hole hooked up to the inlet on my 2" semi-trash pump and let her rip, until it ran out of gas. I bet I have half a yard of sand/silt in the field where it was pumping it out to. The water in the hole around the pipe disappeared at first, but the longer it ran, the more it came back up the hole. I believe the more space it opened up underground, the faster the water could permeate the silt/sand into my well hole. It would take water down the well pipe before because it would get pushed away from the screen, but once I tried to suck water out, it plugged up instantly, just like a good check valve, unfortunately facing the wrong direction. I also believe by the end the 40 gallons a minute I was getting out was as fast as that pump could suck it up through 30 feet of 1.25" pipe and not the amount of water the well could provide.

The problem is not solved yet. But it is identified. I need to find a way get water out of the hole, without the sand/silt, and without plugging my sand point screen. The plan as it stands is to fill my big pump up with gas when I get home tomorrow and let it pump until it runs out of gas again. When it started pumping out, I think it was only bringing up 5 gallons of water a minute, but bringing up a gallon of sand/silt with it. By the time it stopped it was only getting half a cup of sand/silt in a 5 gallon bucket. Much clearer than the start.

We'll see what sitting for 18 hours does, then pumping for 4 more. Might be clear enough I can put the other sand point with the screen back down, but I'm not sure I'd be confident that it wouldn't plug up over time. I guess we'll see what happens.

Thank you to everyone who tried to help. I know my physical problems are affecting my thought processes and simple issues turn into major problems, and a lot of times it just takes someone else looking at it to point out the problem.

In response to the other posts, yes it will be used year round. But by very few people, and the bathroom may only be used once or twice a week. I talked to the county here, and digging in or around the creek is a definite No Go, without a huge cost in permitting and other stuff. Side boring under it would be our best option at that point, but still would require special permits. The size of the creek is not really an issue, it is small, but I already almost got in trouble when they thought I was excavating too close to the creek. That is a downside to having an open field between your house and a well travelled road, I couldn't get away with anything here. I've tried putting in culverts/trenches with flowing water before, even much smaller than this small creek, and it was very difficult. I don't think the size of equipment I have access to, nor my experience in such things, is up to the task of putting a line in under the creek.

If you're wondering how we proceeded, here it is. I got a small drill mounted pump, hooked to a garden hose, dropped down the well pipe. Pumped for a couple minutes, until the pipe went dry, then the pump overheated and failed. Got an electric pump, and did the same thing, without the failing part. We could almost pump the pipe dry. Figuring it must be plugged because the water around the pipe never moved, we pulled the whole thing back out and found, it wasn't plugged at all, literally nothing in the screen. Mystery. So we dropped the hose straight into the hole and pumped for 5 minutes, water level dropped to about 12 feet below ground and held, water got cold, water got cloudy, but kept coming. As soon as we stopped, the level rose back up to 6 feet below ground, within a minute. So we put the well pipe back down, without hammering it stopped at 29 feet down. Tried to suck out of it, nothing. Tried a hand pump, and got water, but with great effort. Much more effort than there should be. Theoretically pulling water from 26 feet down (top of the sand point) would require 22.9inhg of vacuum (if the numbers I looked up are correct as well as my math), likely more than my pumps can produce. But, with the water column pushing down on the outside of the pipe from 6 feet down it should equalize with the inside of the pipe and only require 5.3inhg to pull water out. I would venture a guess that with as hard as I was working the hand pump, it was over the full 23inhg of vacuum. So, why could water go down freely, but not come back up, as if there was a check valve in the pipe? Because the sand/silt was effectively acting as a check valve against the screen, and it wasn't on the screen when I brought it up because it could easily be washed off by the column of water it had to pass through to get out of the ground. We raised the well pipe 10 feet, and repeated the testing. We got water out with the electric pump, but it slowed and then stopped. Hand pump worked great at first, but after a minute it was hard as heck just like before. We put a more powerful, and self priming, electric pump on. Back to my setup with water from the house piped straight in through a valve, another valve leading to the well, and a check valve to the pump. This worked to get 5-6 gallons of water out, then it wouldn't get any more. If we shut it off, and waited, we could get another quart or two. If we flushed water back down the well, we could get another 5-6 gallons. If we didn't flush any water down, but simply shook the well pipe a bit, we could get 5-6 gallons.

Then we talked to a well driller, who said in our draught he would be surprised if we got any water from a shallow well. But if we had the pipe suspended in water, that something must be blocking the screen, and he suggested we remove the screen and try again. So we took the screen off the original sand point, straightened it, and dropped it down to 10 feet above the bottom. First tried the hand pump. Pumped nice and easy, all the dirty water we wanted. Hooked up the electric pump, pumped water out at 5-10 gpm for 30 minutes, never slowed, water was very dirty, water in the casing surrounding the well pipe dropped to about 12 feet again and held, just like when there was no well pipe in the hole. I figured we had a lot of crud in the hole, so I got a 125 gal stock tank and started filling it from the house to use to push down the well pipe with the 2" semi-trash pump and hopefully flush some of the crud out from my well hole. While it was filling (not even 5 gpm coming all that way from the house), we thought, why not try to suck the crud out of the well pipe with the 2" pump and see what happens. It worked, slowly at first, but more water came out the longer it pumped. Eventually we dropped the well pipe the rest of the way into the hole and fired it up again. Ran it for almost 2 hours with incredible flow at the end. At first the water in the casing dropped too far to see in the hole, but by the end it had risen back to it's happy 12ish foot depth and held while the pump was pushing out 40 gpm. By the time my stock tank was full, we didn't even bother using it. The pump had already pumped much more sand/silt out of the hole than that little bit would have done.

We do not have a low supply issue, we have a contamination issue that may cause problems retrieving the water from the ground. We have friends with a drilled well that have silt problems. Their well is over 100 feet down and requires them to have the fire department come once a year to pump a thousand gallons of water down to the bottom to flush all the silt out the top. Then they put in a new submersible pump, and are good for another year. Costs them nearly $1,000 every time, and leaves a huge mess in the yard. I won't even have that option with my 1.25" well pipe inside the building. I suppose that worst case scenario, I could push a 4" pvc casing down 25 feet and leave it and just put in a submersible pump near the bottom. Might plug or wreck the pump every once in a while, but at least I could pull it back up to repair it.
 
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