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Well bore & well screen cleaning:
This article describes approaches for removing silt, sand, or other debris from the bottom of a well bore or well casing; these methods may also be used to clear a clogged foot valve or well screen.
Water flow rate or water pressure improvements can be obtained if we un-block a clogged well screen or foot valve.
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(Aug 18, 2014) Bill K said:
Would it be conceivable to use a jet pump to clean out sediment at the bottom of a water well bore? We have six windmills on our ranch that are all around 140 feet deep that are 50 to 60 years old and sediment can get to be a problem over time. I was hoping to achieve a new "lease on life" for these wells if I could clean them out in some way and a jet pump is the only thing I could think of that would be able to lift mud and such off the bottom if it could fit down the bore hole.
Page top sketch courtesy of Tornto home inspection & education firm Carson Dunlop Associates.
It's no surprise that articles on removing sand or silt from water wells mostly focus on filtering the water using various methods ranging from a cartridge filter to a centrifugal sand separator. But for removing sand or silt from the bottom of a well bore, well drillers have had to deal with this matter for generations and have several approaches.
The most common approach, provided we're not also going to exhaust the well's flow rate, is to pump silty sandy water from the well bottom for an extended period of time - possibly days. (Normally the water pick up in a well is set several feet above well bottom to avoid picking up settled debris).
You could use a 2-line jet pump whose pickup is at the end of the pair of pipes near well bottom COMBINED with some other jet to stir up muck to try to pump it out of a well bore, but you may destroy the pump in the process. Well drillers have a variety of approaches to removing debris from wells. Typically a pump particluarly designed to handle sludge is used. Some examples are the Waterra pump line (waterra dot com)
Or search for sludge-pumps made by a variety of manufacturers.
Assuming your well bores are lined, it's possible that your lining has leaked or corroded or cracked. So you want to inspect the well bore (well bore camera) and if necessary, insert appropriate repair sleeves to cut the dirt or sediment or sand entry rate into the bore.
In 2010 the state of New Hampshire in the U.S. published a helpful article "Sand and Sediment in Water Wells", WD-DWGB-3-14 online as a PDF. des.nh.gov
Farmshow dot com has an interesting article about a home-made well-cleaner (Richard Guthrie's design) that uses a combination of a steel cylinder lowered into the well and compressed air - which may not be practical for deep wells such as you describe.
(Aug 19, 2014) Anonymous said:
That gives me a lot more directions to go than I had before. I've been searching for an affordable well camera or even a rental place for one for several days now but they seem to be few and far between in West Texas. With six wells, not all working but we have plans for renewal on two, I'm tempted to buy one but at $3 to $4 grand or more each I'd hate to have one just sit for years after using it several times. I'd assume their resell value, if intact, would hold, though.
One personal theory of mine is that old well bores like this may also decline in production due to lime deposits at the layers of water production and may need to either be scraped in some way or acidized to promote continued flow.
This would produce a lot of debris that would need to be removed from the bottom of the bore but the cost of drilling another well (hit-or-miss proposition at $$$/ft regardless) and either moving the windmill or putting in a solar pump like we've done on one last year makes you go "hmmmm....". The well that's given us the most problems over the years is a high sulfur content water well.
As of earlier this year the sulfur aquifer or layer has either played out or caked over and what little water is coming out is now sweet but production has gone down to almost nothing. Hence my longing for a well camera to reduce the guess work. Have any suggestions for any brands or opinions yea or nay on personal ownership?
A bit costly to buy a well bore inspection camera. Here are a couple of ideas;
See if there are any chimney sweeps (probably not) in your area. Those guys may have a camera that can inspect the dry portion of the bore (which would be a partial exam)
See if you can partner with a local well driller - one of the younger, more interested, technical fellows but who does not have an inspection camera. Offer to share the camera cost with him or her in exchange for examining your wells. S/he will then have a tool and expertise that expands her business.
(Aug 19, 2014) Bill K said:
Thanks again Dan,
I finally had time to more carefully read over your suggestions and the well cleaner of Mr. Guthrie's in Early, TX is intriguing. My uncle may actually be acquainted with him as he's from that area. I may contact him or his family to get a better understanding of that cleaner's design. We have an old well cleaner in the barn that might be convertible to this method. And, yes, we have our own "magic pile" of junk that we've been re-purposing for three generations now! You NEVER throw anything away on a ranch or farm. Junk is a ag man's gold.
Our wells were drilled at a time that casing was only partially inserted down the bore to a depth, I'm assuming, that the rock layers began. I guess they thought the rock wall would hold for at least a generation or two but that would put us just about at the end of that time line.
(Aug 20, 2014) (mod) said:
Indeed the casing is usually stopped some short distance into the rock if rock is encountered - since we expect water to enter the well bore through fissures in that very stone.
Watch out: debris in the water supply system, including crud that clogs faucet strainers, shower heads, water filters, will also result in poor flow rate or "water pressure" at building plumbing fixtures. If the debris is not coming from the water supply itself it may be originating within the piping system or building equipment. See:
Continue reading at WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Or see WELL CASING LEAK REPAIRS - a cracked or rusted well casing can be a source of well contamination, mud, water loss.
Or see WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION if the cleaning your well needs is to address bacterial contamination
Or see WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS for other reasons (besides clogged well screens or clogged filters) that can explain poor water pressure or flow.
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(Dec 11, 2011) Ken said:
Problem: Pump will lose it's pressure very quickly.
It is a Two Line Jet Pump.
Question: If I put a check valve at the pump side do you think this will fix the problem?
The small line pushes the water down the well. The large line is pulling the water up the pipe. If the pressure leak is cased by something at the small pipe how could I put a check valve on the pump side to prevent the problem?
(June 30, 2012) Mike said:
I just bought the house with old Myers 2 line jet pump which is used for the sprinkler system only. On the instruction for home owner ( paper on the basement wall ) said to keep one valve ( intake) open , the other one ( from the pump) closed. I thought they both should be open. Any idea why ?
Mike I'd like to help but am flying blind here - I just don't understand what valves are where - certainly if you close a valve found immediately on the outlet side of a water pump (that is between the pump outlet and the pressure tank or any other piping) you're likely to blow the pump seals or damage the unit.
I am making a WILD GUESS that perhaps your home converted from private well to municipal water, and that the old pump and well were kept for yard watering, and you are being instructed not to feed pump output into the house (try following the pipes to see what's going on).
If this is the case, the installation is improper and unsanitary. If it's the case I describe the pump should have no connection to house piping whatsoever.
(May 11, 2014) Harold said:
I need to know if a double foot valve is requuired when the pump is drawing water from a lake.
You might need a larger size or larger capacity foot valve when picking up water from a lake if fast or frequent clogging of the foot valve screen is a problem.
You might need multiple check valves over the height of a long vertical water pick-up line if, for example, the total rise in height was more than 250 feet. In that case experts often say you need an additional check valve for every 250 feet of vertical rise.
(July 8, 2014) Anonymous said:
can i switch from a two drop pipe system to a one drop pipe system
Anon it depends on the well depth - the total lift that the pump has to achieve. If your well water pick-up point is more than 27 ft. below ground level you'll need a 2-line jet pump or if you need to go to just one pipe, then you'll need to use an in-well submersible pump.
(Sept 14, 2014) frank s said:
pump wont go up to forty lbs only goes to 36 and wont stop running
IN the More Reading links in the article above see
WATER PUMP WONT STOP RUNNING
Questions & answers on how two-line jet pumps work on water wells.
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