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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Well retrieval tools & methods: this article describes methods & tools bought or home-made that can be used to fish materials out of a water well if you've dropped the pipe, well pump, or tools down into the well casing. The poly rope shown in our page top photo can be used to pull the well piping from this drilled well - if the rope remains intact. But what if the rope breaks or what if the well piping separates while the pipe and pump are being pulled. The solutions are here.
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Well Pipe Fishing Tools, Grabbers, Overshoots, Spears, Retrieval Tools: sources & designs to get pipes, tools or whatever out of a well
Reader Question: we were pulling an old pump and piping out of the well when the pipe broke and fell back into the well - how do we retrieve the well pipe and pump now? How to Fish Stuff out of a Well
Help! 50 ft well.. old... pump not been replaced in over 20 years that we know of.. we use well as main source of water... pulled black plastic pipe out, broke off and snapped cable connected to it. the previous owners left no information. we used a come along and that is how it snapped. We dropped a weight in water, hit water at 45ft.. bottom of well at 50ft... can't see the pump.. don't know what to do? thank you! - P.T.
Reply: How Do Well Drillers & Well Plumbers Retrieve Pipes, Pumps, Tools dropped into a Drilled Well Casing
Dropping stuff into a well, or worse, a person or animal falling into a well is a problem as old as mankind and wells. [See Luke 14:5 and Matthew 12:11.] And I know about this "Honey I dropped the Pump" problem too, and haven't added a full article on retrieving stuff from water wells at InspectAPedia because of lack of photos of the array of in-well-stuff grabbing tools, and also because I don't think most homeowners will have much luck retrieving stuff that has fallen into their well on their own.
First off, it sounds like a horrible problem when a well pipe breaks and we drop stuff into the well. But don't panic. You have to figure that you're not the first people to have such bad luck - and it happens most often to well drillers not homeowners.
Our photo (left) shows an old galvanized iron well pipe being pulled out of the steel casing at a Minnesota home. [Click to see a larger detailed version of any image at InspectAPedia] . You can see the clamp being used to secure the well pipe at the top of the casing while the well driller removes the upper length of well pipe that has just been lifted.
The well drillers/plumbers I've worked with, including this one, tell me that once they've had a few bad experiences the are scrupulously careful to avoid a repeat of breaking a well line or dropping the whole shebang down into the well - say while trying to pull things out of the well in the first place, or during reinstallation of a pump and piping.
But sometimes bad luck, or a mistake, or a bad fitting or section of pipe can cause a length of pipe plus well pump, foot valve, what-have-you to fall back down in the well.
Certainly that device is used when, during the well pipe and pump pulling process, the operator has to stop to remove vertical lengths of well piping. Otherwise we'd have many feet of pipe sticking up in the air - creating another problem.
As a length of well pipe rises out of the casing, leaving the winch assembly attached to the top of the pipe, the operator will stop the winch, tighten a clamp around the well pipe a few inches above the top of the well casing, gently, using the winch, lower the pipe back down so that the clamp rests on top of the well casing - to "test" that the clamp is secure.
Then, trusting the clamp, the upper length of well piping is removed, the winch pulling connection is made to the newly exposed top of well piping just above the clamp, and the process continues.
I Would Call a Well Driller for Help Getting Stuff out of the Well
You can infer from all of this, that in your case the bottom line is you'll need to call your local well driller/well installer who should have the winch equipment as well as a clamping system to both grab and retrieve the top of the broken well piping as well as to pull it out without further catastrophes.
Or if it falls back in again, the well driller or plumber will be in charge of getting the pipe and pump back out for you themselves.
Sources of Home Made & Ready-Made Well Pipe Grabbers for Picking Up Lost Pipes or Other Stuff in Wells or Holes
Watch out: when buying or fabricating a tool to pull a dropped well pipe or something else out of a well, be careful not to drop your new tool into the well alongside what's already in there. Test your device above ground first and also be sure it's strong enough and long enough to do the job.
Watch out: also that you do not jam the item you are trying to retrieve. For example, using a grappling hook to try to fish out a well pump from the well bottom risks jamming the whole assembly inside the well.
Concepts useful to understand when fishing stuff out of a water well:
There are just a few basic types of pipe or junk grabbers used to pull stuff out of oil or gas or water wells:
Any tool you make or buy is going to be of one of these classes.
Fishing Tools to Retrieve Stuff from Drilled Steel Casing or Other Water Wells
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