Oh, Well….

Post by Bonnie

After living in the house for a week I turned the kitchen faucet on and… no water. Not a drop. Turns out this is one of the problems with purchasing a formerly vacant home. The well pump was sitting at the bottom of a galvanized pipe for five years, unused. Then we purchased the home and used it – a LOT. During the period of vacancy sediment settled into and around the well pump so when we started it up again the sediment created a blockage, effectively rendering the pump useless. So, we called a repair person.

Wonderful fact about galvanized well pipes: They corrode. And being that our home was built in the 1970’s ours had corroded a lot. Or, we think a lot. At least enough to prevent the pump from being pulled out and a new one replaced (estimated cost of repair at this stage about $400). New plan! If we break the connection between the old pump and the existing hoses and electrical lines, we can wire up a new pump and try to drop it down the pipe on top of the dead pump. Estimated cost, still a few hundred dollars. That’s a good option! Let’s do that one!

After about 4 hours in the pouring rain, a borrowed forklift stuck in my front yard, a mini excavator brought to haul the forklift out, and no luck, the guys called it quits. The pipe had broken too high up the line and would prevent a new pump from going down. Game over.

The only option now is a new well. The way digging companies typically work is by charging a flat rate up to 120′ and then a flat cost per foot dug (in our case, $23). Problem is there are no guarantees. The water could be at 50′, 150′, 250′ or not there at all. The best we could do was cross our fingers for a shallow dig.

They DID find water… but not until 220′. This meant our well was 100′ past the base charge and cost us an extra $2300, plus the charge for the extra pump casing required because of the depth. On top of these charges, we paid for acidizing using hydrochloric acid to try and improve the rate of flow (measured in gallons per minute) because the flow was very poor. The acidizing helped, but the flow rate is still poor. This is going to cause problems for us in the spring when we will be setting up a garden as we hoped to install drip irrigation – That’s right, a garden hose running for more than 15 minutes drains our well dry and it takes 45 minutes more to recharge. In the spring we will likely call the drilling company back to go down another 100′ or so and try to hit the good stuff that we know our neighbours have.

a blue and white well drilling truck in a front yard with trees

In the meantime the cost of a new well once everything including the drilling, hookup, and equipment is considered was about $11000. Definitely NOT something we had thought we needed to budget for, and eliminated any long term savings we would have had not being on metered city water anymore. Unfortunately this is not the kind of thing that can be picked up on a home inspection, and may not happen just because a pump hasn’t run in a while. Therefore we couldn’t reasonably have foreseen the issue and knocked the $11000 from our purchase price – Just plain old bad luck. Things can go wrong with any property you purchase but a rural one has the challenges of a suburban one PLUS.

For now we are happy to have water. From the time the pump broke to the new one was hooked up it was about 1.5 months. Thankfully we have a fantastic neighbour who allowed us to run about 300′ of hose from his shop near the property line to our exterior faucet which then backs water through our system and gave us (very low pressure) running water.


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