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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
Here we define the static head in a well and we explain how the well's static head can compensate for a well with a poor flow rate.
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This article series describes how we measure the amount of water available and the water delivery rate ability of various types of drinking water sources like wells, cisterns, dug wells, drilled wells, artesian wells and well and water pump equipment. The sketch at page top, courtesy of Carson Dunlop, shows how the static head of water in a well is located and estimated. Details are below.
Readers of this document should also see Water Tank Types and before assuming that a water problem is due to the well itself, see Water pump and pressure tank repair diagnosis & cost an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.
In a companion article, How to Test Well Water Quantity, we describe both valid and questionable ways people measure well yield, and we offer some simple steps any home owner or home buyer can take to check the adequacy of water pressure and water quantity at a building.
Calculating the gallons of water per foot of well casing
We have about 1.5 gallons of water per foot of depth of a well when we're using a standard residential 6" well casing. The height of water column inside the well and available to the pump is less than the total well depth. Except in artesian walls the water column does not extend from the well bottom to the top of the ground.
Static head location in a well
In this sketch, distance (h) is the "static head" which is the total volume of water available to the pump. The static head in a drilled well extends from the very bottom of the pump (since water can't jump up to the pump) upwards to the highest point that water reaches inside the well casing when the well has rested and reached its normal maximum height.
Well water quantity calculation at pump startup
The Formula to Calculate the Static Head of Water in a Well
To find the amount of water in the static head of a well we find (h), the depth of the column of water in the well when the well is at rest, and then based on the well diameter we calculate the volume of (h) in cubic meters, feet, or inches. Last we convert that volume into common liquid measures such as liters or gallons.
Using the symbols and definitions given just above, the formula to express the size of the static head of water in a well first in feet of height is simply:
(h) = (d) - [(a) + (c)] - we subtract the well top air air space and pump to bottom clearance distances from total well depth
The actual water quantity in (h) is calculated based on the volume of the well cylinder interior.
In a standard 6" steel casing well, the water volume is about 1.5 gallons per foot of height of the static head
But remember that's just for the portion of the casing that actually contains water when the well is at rest - don't count the air. The formulas for volume of a cylinder and thus of water in a well casing are shown and an example are calculated just below.
The formula to calculate the volume of water in a cylinder is
Vcyl = pi x r2 x h
where pi = 3.1416,
Watch out! be sure to write the radius and height in the same units of measure - here we're going to use inches.
Vcylinches = 3.1416 x r2inches x hinches
So for a 12-inch (one foot) height of 6" diameter steel well casing,
Now we can calculate the static head water volume in cubic inches:
Vcylinches= 3.1416 x 32inches x 12inches
Vcylinches = 339 cubic inches (in this example, for a one foot high, 6" diameter cylinder of water in a well casing)
How to convert cubic inches to cubic feet
Since there are 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot (12 x 12 x 12) we divide:
Vcfeet = 339 / 1728
Vcfeet = 0.196 cubic feet
How to Convert Cubic Feet to Gallons
since 1 ft³ = 7.48051 gal(US Liq),
Vcgallons = 0.196 x 7.4 = 1.46 gallons
That's why we use an easy to remember "rule of thumb" of 1.5 gallons per foot of static head of water found inside of a 6" drilled well casing.
Formula for Static Head in Gallons of Water in a Typical 6" Steel Well Casing
Static Head (h)gallons = (1.5 gallons per foot) x (h) measured in feet
Here's a simple example to calculate the volume of water in the static head of a particular 100 foot deep well. Remember that for your well you'll need to plug in the actual measurements.
(d) = total well depth = 100 ft.
We want to calculate (h), the static head, in gallons of water - we just need to calculate the height of the column of water (in feet) inside the 6" diameter well casing and multiply it by 1.5 (gallons per foot)
Static head water quantity (h)gallons = (Total well depth (d) - Air (a) - Clearance at bottom (c) ) x 1.5
Or if you prefer
(h)gallons = (h)feet x 1.5
For this example, using the (d), (a), and (c) measurements from above, we calculate (h)feet and multiply it by 1.5 to find the static head in gallons - (h)gallons
(h)gallons = [(100 - 45 - 5) feet of height of static head ] x [1.5 gallons per foot]
(h)gallons = (50) x 1.5
(h)gallons = 75 gallons of water - that's how much water is in the static head of the example well.
Static Head Measurements for Other Well Types
Note that the static head description and calculations given in this article apply to round drilled wells and round dug wells.
If your dug well is a different shape, say a rectangle, the principles are the same but you'll need to use the formula for volume of a rectangular shape V= length x width x height rather than a cylindrical shape given above and again just below.
The static head of a driven point well is practically zero - just the volume of water inside the lower section of the driven well point (a pipe) below ground. For a driven point well, if you still want to know its static head, you might try the calculation of volume of water stored in water piping, just below.
In some circumstances such as deciding how much water to flush out of a pipe for certain water tests, it is useful to know the volume of water required to fill well piping or water piping. But let's be clear - the volume of water resting in well piping does not increase the volume of water available at a property. That is, the water stored in well piping does not increase (nor decrease) the well's static head as we defined it above.
For long runs of well piping there may be a significant volume of water in the piping itself. Using 600' of plastic well piping as an example, we need simply to calculate the volume of a cylinder (the inside of a water pipe) into cubic inches per foot.
The volume of a cylinder V = pi x r2 x h
where pi = 3.1416,
r = cylinder radius (1/2 the diameter) and
h = the cylinder height or length of pipe in our case and
G = the volume of water in gallons = 0.004329 gallons per cubic inch
There is more water in long piping runs than one would have guessed.
To translate cubic inches of water inside of a pipe, 1 cu. in. is about 0.004329 gallons
Does the Static Head Quantity in a Well Change?
Absolutely. The static head, the amount of water in a well when the well is "at rest" - that is, no one has pumped water out of the well for some time and the well has filled back up as much as it's going to - changes:
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