Well retrieval tools & method FAQs:
Frequently-asked questions & answers about dropping stuff into a well: how to pull out a well pipe, pump, tools, or other stuff someone has dropped into a well bore.
This article series 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.
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These questions & answers about how to pull out anything you've dropped down a well were posted originally at WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS - topic home.
On 2017-08-12 by (mod) - we dropped the pump, pipes, wires into the bottom of the well
Shoot, I hate when that happens, but you'll feel better to know it happens often enough that there's a whole industry of tools and people using them to pull out stuff dropped into a well. There are a bunch of grabbing tools described on this page.
If you're not experienced with grabbing and retrieving pipes and wires and pumps, I'd call around to some of the older well drillers in the area to see what they have that's close to you.
Often washers, grappling hooks, etc. can grab a dropped wire. But take care pulling that you don't force a jam worse than before. Pull slowly and on resistance try backing off, dropping down a bit, jiggling, and pulling again.
I'd also want to take a look at the well casing once the well has been cleared, since damage can not only foul the water but also contribute to snags again.
On 2017-08-12 by stu
While replacing my 1.5 hp well pump, we added 17 ft of inch and an half water line. this brought it too close to the bottom, pumping mud. while pulling it back out , it got hung up . we set up a scaffolding and began pulling with a come along . this caused the line to come apart where we coupled it together . also breaking the rope and wires .
this jarring broke the stuck pump free and it dropped to the bottom of the well . it is roughly 40 ft down. how can i get this 140 ft of line,wire, and my brand new $850 pump out?
On 2017-07-01 by (mod) - long plastic pipe has been dropped into my bore well
Some of the retrieval tools described in WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS are specifically useful for grabbing a pipe that has fallen into the well. Your choices are to rent, buy, or make one of those tools that fits into or over the end of the fallen pipe to retrieve it, or to hire a local well drilling company who can do that for you.
On 2017-07-01 by Aswini Kumar Swain
A 40 feet long plastic pipe has been dropped into my bore well... How to get it out.. plz help... My Mob No. 9124364678.. If someone is pulling things from bore well professionally, then I will pay for this. Someone please respond.
On 2017-06-05 by (mod) -
Sure, there are well retrieval tools descrbed in the article WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS.
My best results in getting troublesome stuff out of a well when I called a local well driller who was familiar with well retrieval tools and had some of their own. There are also rental tools - depending on where you live - that can grind up or pull out of wells stuff dropped into or stuck in the well.
On 2017-06-05 by Dbeaty
Hi thanks for this info. I think I found the source of a problem I was having with my irrigation well. I stumbled on the fact that there is a pipe down in there. Not sure what it is attached to. Until this week everyone told me my well was about 22 feet deep. But then I stuck a 2" PCV down 30 feet into my 22 foot well. Here is a video that explains it. [QUOTE=Valveman;91792]Yeah looks like steel pipe. Probably a sub or a packer stuck down there. Most likely just need to move over and drill a new well.[/QUOTE]
I was afraid of that. It's pretty expensive down here. One quote was $4000. If I could just get my intake down 10 feet more if might solve my issue. Are there ways a well contractor can pull this thing out?
I spoke with one here and they said that in my area it has to be a 2 inch well. Pretty much said there's no record in the local government for any permit for a bigger well casing and the fact that now there's a surface pump. But the casing looks bigger than the 2 inch pipe I stuck down there 3-4 inches maybe... here's another vid I made that explains it better and shows the casing and my pipe.
On 2017-06-01 by (mod) -
Erica if you can use the page bottom CONTACT link to find our email and send me some photos of the material and snu markings on ir, and I'll be glad to research it
On 2017-06-01 by Erica
Also, it really only snaps when its cold outside. It was made and used around 1968 to 1974
I have a question that Im not even sure will be understood. There is an old well pipe material that is no longer used. I despise working with it because it is so dangerous to remove. It looks and feels like plastic, comes out of the well (hopefully) in one piece, but it very easily snaps to bits.
When this stuff breaks, it breaks violently. Shards fly with serious force because the pipe has no room for flexing. The guy I work with calls it "collastic" but I cannot find ANYTHING related to that word online. Does anyone know what it is actually called?
On 2017-04-11 by (mod) -
I'm not sure that I understand the question. But I'm assuming that you would pull the well pipe, try a couple of different retrieval tools based on the shape of what has fallen into the well.
On 2017-04-11 by Twinabo Vincent
I have a problem of a piece and pump cylinder slipped into a well which had 6 riser pipes. The client seeks retrieval and a new pump can be installed. How best can I approach this?
On 2017-03-31 by (mod) -
Marty, thank you for posting the comment.
On 2017-03-31 by marty
If the pipe section that was dropped still has threaded end or coupling on it use proper fitting being a coupling to screw on end of pipe in well attach coupling to 2" pvc pipe and lower pvc pipe and try an screw onto existing pipe.
If coupling is already on old pipe in well use a nipple on the end of pvc and sctew it into coupling only 40' down shiuld have a good chance. Ive done this method at 100' down casing lost last 2 - 20' galvanized sections plus pump. I was able to attach on a coupling to pvc pipe and lower it down and turn it threading it onto the galvanized pipe and the gently pulling straight up as not to snap pvc pipe off.
by (mod) -
I think there is still a fair chance that using the proper retrieval tool or Grabber one could snag the chain and the pipes that are still in the well. You'll notice in WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS that there is quite a variety of grabbing devices depending on what needs to be grabbed. I would try that before considering a new well.
On 2017-02-14 by Reiner
Hi, we have a 400' deep well. The plumber tried to retrieve the galvanized pipe with the pump attached which apparently quit running. He was able to retrieve 2 sections and then the rest did drop back into the well and the pipe is sitting approx. 40' down in the well.
They tried to lower some weights and another small pipe with which we were able to get past the old pipe. But it would not budge to let the new pump and line go past it. They tried and tried with zero results.
When they originally came to extract the pipe they came with a bobcat, and then hooked a large chain to the bobcat boom and the other end around the galvanized 400' pipe and a pump attached.
I told him that it would not work that the chain would slip. They did get 2 sections of pipe. On the next try, guess what happened?
The f'n chain slipped on the pipe and all dropped down into the well and it is sitting now at approx. 40' down. And now they are trying to talk us into a new well and to pay half the cost. Are you kidding? What a friggin' Valentine's Day and we have no idea where when and how this is getting fixed, and this has been going on since Feb. 08, 2017. Somebody having an idea to help?
On 2016-11-30 by (more)Horizontal 12" plastic drainage ditch pipe
to clarify - it is not a hard plastic (like PVC) but what most would call a typical drainage pipe....has an accordian look (ripples/black) and probably also something that with some trying could be ripped apart (not what I want to do)....trying to avoid digging up the pipe, for now, although that may very well be what I have to do once I get the water flowin. Thanks for your trouble and interest in what you are doing on this site.
On 2016-11-30 by Horizontal 12" plastic drainage ditch pipe
Would any of these solutions for vertical wells etc also work for a Horizontal 12" plastic drainage ditch pipe - that is totally clogged with branches at the exit end for a few feet into it?
total length is about 15 or so feet from the open end until some unknown clogging point. all of the branches can be seen at exit (lake) end - but whatever was close that could be pulled out by hand is done....then there are the occasional Copperheads, but I digress.....
On 2016-11-05 by Woldeyesus Assefa
It looks good but need more
On 2016-11-04 by Sempr Fi RI
Hello. I appreciate this website, thanks! I was trying to change out on old well cap for a new sanitary one and dropped a socket attachment into the well.
Deep well. I called a local well company and they said almost impossible to get it out of there but that its not terrible that its in there. My question is what is worst that can happen? Could it ever pose a health hazard to my family?
On 2016-10-15 by jonny
I want to the out rod inside the boreal how
On 2016-09-03 by (mod) -
Anon: about Magnetic Retrieval Tools for fishing stuff out of a well bore:
Hole Products sells well fishing tools including magnetic retrieval tools.
We illustrate their magnets in the article WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS. Their well fishing tool or retrieval magnets include one that can lift 400 lbs. The company has offices around the U.S. - their website will find one closest to you: www.holeproducts.com/contact
Or call their Global Sales Office at 888.465.1569
Harbor Freight sells a magnet with a 250 lb lifting capacity as do well suppliers.
I'm doubtful that a conventional magnet will work well if the bit is at all jammed as it may keep sticking to the well casing wall; one might work in a plastic well bore where there's no steel casing to foul up the magnet as you try to drop it in the well. But I'd look through the retrieval tools listed above.
If an Alnico magnet with sufficient lifting strength doesn't work, a tool that slips over the exterior of a round shaft (such as a pipe section) may work also to grab the bit.
On 2016-09-03 04:14:37.281103 by Anonymous
as iam bore well contractor . how to lift a fallan 4.6mm borewell bit by using electro magnet or any other option.
On 2016-08-24 by (mod) - Fetch pipe retrieval tool
Thanks Dapalco, we've added an image and more detailed description of your Fetch pipe retrieval tool in WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS. We also welcome content critique, suggestions, questions.
InspectAPedia is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information provided free to the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.
Website content contributors whether it is just a small correction or an in-depth article series (which of course invites more search engine attention), are, if they choose, cited, quoted, and linked-to from the appropriate additional web pages and articles - which benefits us both. Those who wish to remain anonymous can also do so.
On 2016-08-24 by (mod) -
The Fetch by DAPALCO. is the perfect tool for fetching broken pipes or pumps from wells and other cavities with limited access, saving both time and costly alternatives.
(Aug 13, 2014) Anonymous said:
I have a 2" black Plastic pipe attached to an old well pump. I tried to remove the pipe and pump to replace it, however, the pipe cap slipped off the pipe, and the pipe and pump fell into the well. The pipe is approximately 50' down, and leaning against the 6" galvanized pipe. How in the world can I retrieve the pipe and pump?
I have read a few threads, but it doesn't seem like there is anything I can just go to the local Tractor Supply and buy. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Most well drillers have a collection of grabbing tools to retrieve a fallen pipe or pump - it's worth making those calls.
See WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS for a description of common well retrieval tools & equipment.
(Aug 22, 2014) Penny said:
We have a well pump with pipe still attached stuck inside the well. If we can cut the pipe down inside the well we can remove the old pipe and put the new pump in. If there such a tool? How would you make one. Thank you, Penny
Penny, in the oil and gas industry experts use chemical cutters (bromine trifluoride) to separate free from jammed pipe sections to enable pipe retrieval from a well, or jet cutters using a circular-shaped charge in very deep wells (much deeper than water wells). Other well pipe cutting tools include an RCT or radial cutting torch that is actually a ring of metals that ignite to burn through the well pipe, or a DCST - drill collar severing tool, also an explosive charge. These are not appropriate for water wells.
I'm not clear on how cutting off the upper end of the old pipe and leaving the rest in a water-well is anything but trouble; the remaining pipe is likely to prevent dropping the new pump and pipe down to a sufficient depth in the well. You'll want to free the stuck pipe, possibly simply by manipulating it with a well pipe grabber tool, then retrieve it from the well.
Bottom line, sorry I can't offer smarter help than to say your best bet for fastest repair is to ask for help from a local well driller with some experience (and equipment).
Sept 30, 2014) Jackie said:
Tried reinsterting a deep well pump when the cable broke. We can see the water pipe at just 15 ft down the 6" in diameter. Can someone help us figure out the best way to pull it back up?
Several well retrieval tools include cable grabbers, or ask your local well driller for help as that may be faster than trying to make your own tool. See WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS
(Oct 19, 2014) Jocelyn said:
I dropped a plastic cap down the well today. Is this a major problem? I'm contacting the well people tomorrow.
Jocelyin if the cap is small enough to fall past the pump most likely it's not going to cause harm.
(Mar 8, 2015) TOBYRAM said:
Can you post a link of a picture or website that sales this "single or double bite metal loop well pipe retriever"? - I really need one.
I'm not sure just what you're asking for, Toby, but the image below is a well casing tool lift tool whose image sounds like your description. This tool is provided by Hole Products and is cited, along with supplier source information at WELL RETRIEVAL TOOLS
(Apr 25, 2015) Jim Fath said:
how do i retrieve a droped steal [sic] pipe from a well
Store bought or home made single or double bite metal loop well pipe retriever: some well pipes can be successfully retrieved by fabricating a flexible pair of metal rings with squared or sharp edges connected and hinged to a rod that is in turn connected to the bottom of a working pipe long enough to reach down to the top of your well pipe in the well. When the pair of metal rings slip over the exposed upper end of the well pipe, push the assembly a few feet further down over the pipe.
If you've got your design right (test it above ground first) when you pull up on the assembly the rings will hinge to an angle that will "bite" onto the vertical pipe in the well and allow you to pull the assembly back out.
(Sept 5, 2015) avid flyer said:
What if the home owner does not have the money? they need it to live and the well service person charges $200.00 just to show up?
Ask the well company if they can offer financial relief for the needy, or ask for assistance from localmaidmsocieties, or shop for another well service company. Waiting and leaving junk in the well involves risk that ranges from very low ( a single fallen rock sitting at the bottom of the well bore) to significant (loose debris items that can damage the pump or foot valve).
(Oct 16, 2015) Terry said:
Process for removing a pipe with a packed ring at the bottom.
The well retrieval tool set includes pipe grabbers. It may take some care not to snag the pipe on an angle when pulling it up the casing, or it may be necessary to remove the existing well pipe(s) and pump to clear passage for fallen items.
(Dec 21, 2015) Akomeno Oteri said:
Good day. Pls is it advisable to leave a dropped submersible pump in a well and go ahead to install another pump?
(Mar 28, 2016) James Macintosh said:
Just had the last 22' of galvanized pipe plus the submersible pump break loose and fall approximately 275' into a 6" well. This will be nearly impossible to retrieve. Can the pump and remaining pipe be left in the well and the new pump and plastic pipe be installed at a lesser distance?
You can leave the old pump in the well but at a cost of having perhaps to leave the new pump a bit higher in the column of water - the static head - in the well. If that means the draw-down water volume is significantly lowered that's a concern. Figure you're giving up less than 36" of accessible water column.
A longer term issue might be rust and corrosion or even toxic oil that could poison the water if the pump deteriorates and leaks into the well - not so likely as modern submersible well pumps are designed to be submerged.
In sum I'd prefer to remove the old pump but if there's plenty of water in the water column, that is if there is a high static head in the well, you can probably leave it at the bottom.
Yes, though the import of that change depends not just on well depth but also on the static head of water - its height in the well. I'd not give up on retrieving a dropped pipe if there are well professionals in your area.
(Jan 10, 2016) Akomeno Oteri said:
Thank You for your answer to my question on Dropped pump in a borehole. My mid is at rest and I appreciate.
(Jan 21, 2016) Anonymous said:
Do you know if they make a small camera that you can insert into the well to see if there is any debris in the well? I recently just pulled the well pump and had a small fracture of the pvc pipe. I would like to know if they make they make a camera that can look down into the well to check for debris, or is there any other way of checking this well? The well pump was 50 ft down, so i don't know how deep it actually is.
There are well cameras used by some companies to inspect the well bore for damage, such as the GeoVISION TM Borehole Well Camera System and there are other DHV (downhole video) camera systems widely sold or perhaps rented for that purpose.
Look for "Downhole Video" camera systems or "well bore inspection systems" or "well bore camera" to see more examples.
(Jan 25, 2016) Anonymous said:
just bought a 100 endoscope that is USB for $80... I have to fish a black pipe out that's 60' down.
(Jan 30, 2016) Everett said:
I had a well drilled on my property approx. 19 years ago and a 1-1/2hp Gould pump was installed at the same time, there was no model number or gpm listed on the well log. The well was drilled at 280 feet and the pump was set at 273 ft. The well log states there is no perforation to the pipe. It also states the drill went through sand and clay, sand and clay and sand and clay.
Do you know how the well could be getting water when there is no perforation and it is set in clay? I wondered if it could be coming in from the bottom of the well some how, but I'm not sure.
At the time I had this well drilled and pump installed, shortly after I had went through a super hard divorce, through this transition of hard times of my life, the well had set idle for approximately 9 years and was never used in those years. Then I brought power in and powered up the well, it seemed to work fairly good as far as I can remember, but the well had no pressure tank or anything at that time.
I had a faucet plumbed out of the ground that I turned the pump on to fill jugs and watering cans as I wasn't living on the property at the time, I just had plants I had to keep watered, and I would only turn the pump on when I needed it and then turned it off.
This you might consider somewhat like cycling, but it wasn't rapid as there was time left when the pump was turned off and on. Not sure when the time spans were, but after a couple years, the pump became stalled or over a short period of time and surging power through the motor, it started to work again. This time it worked fine all the way up until a year ago.
Towards the last 4-5 years of operation of the well, it seemed to be doing what I would call aquanating or the water was mixing with microscopic bubbles and it would look cloudy when you put it in a bucket.
After sitting for some time, it would clear up and the bubbles would dissipate. This usually happened in the very hot and drier season, but before that it would always have low build up for the recovery of pressure for shut off on pressure switch.
I never really was concerned about it because I have 2 large bladder pressure tanks and I figured it just took a long time to build them back up to kick off as that's what their supposed to do to make less turn on and offs with the motor. But this last year, watering in the hot season, trying to keep the lawn from drying out and the plants from dying, it just quit pumping.
I noticed out of the hose I was losing pressure, so I went to check the pressure gauge and it was already past the point where it was supposed to kick on. I did your normal diagnostics and checked everything, I even went the extra 9 miles and bought another control box; which made no difference.
I put a stethoscope on the well casing, and it sounds like the motor is running smoothly, I know its not stalled because when it did stall, it was drawing a lot of power and it would blow the circuit breaker. This acts as if the motor is actually running like normal, it doesn't pop the reset in the control box or any breakers so I don't believe the motor is stalled, I believe its just motoring and not pumping water. I know this could be a number of problems like the built in check valve for the well pump could be bad, I could have something wrong with the discharge piping out of the well; its PVC, or maybe the pump is just wore out.
The one problem I kinda thought to myself is that when the well was put in, there were very few people living in my area, since then there has been literally hundreds of homes and developments that have been put in a little ways up the road. I was wondering if each one of them had a well drilled, and each one drilled their well deeper than mine, could it be lowering my aqua level, lowering the water from my well?
Or in the worse case scenario, the well has just become a dry hole. Common sense tells me that with the age of the pump, its time is up and its time to replace it! Some pumps last a long time, some go real quick and others go bad years down the road, I'm sure you know the scenarios. I feel mine is worn out, the motor is just turning freely but not turning the impellers or pumping water, I don't know. I know no matter what, the pump is going to have to be pulled
. I was also curious where I could buy a tool or the tool that reaches down inside the well casing and hooks the elbow that goes through the casing to ground? This elbow is not reachable by hand, and it is solely supporting the pipe, the pump, etc. Is there something that goes into the internal part of the pipe to pull it up from there?
I need some kind of tool that will grab the pipe and pull it up so you can cut off each section. Not like the metal pipe that you can unscrew each section and hook a cable into an eye coupler, there is nothing to hook to with a PVC pipe. You pull it up, cut off a section, pull it up and cut off another section and so on.
I also noticed on Google they have a machine that sits on top of the well casing, it has 3 small air tires; I believe one of the tires has power, and they come into a Y and it holds the pipe between the tires and draws the pipe out of the well. I haven't been able to find this machine or tool anywhere for sale or for rent. I have no idea where to find it.
I have checked around my area and there isn't anyone with anything to pull up the well pipe and pumps. Any information you can give me for pulling up the pipe and pump would be deeply appreciated! There is one more thing I would like to ask, my pump is set 13 feet above the bottom of the drilling of the well. I was curious when I set the new pump, I would like to set it as close to the bottom as possible.
Would it be safe to say I could set it 5 feet or closer to the bottom of the well?? Thanks a lot for your time and thanks for reading this, I greatly appreciate it! Sorry this got so long, its hard to try to explain something like this in only a few sentences!!
I'm a bit overwhelmed but I think the bottom line question is about how to pull out a well pipe and pump. Typically the well service company uses a tripod to support equipment including a winch or more often the well drilling rig on the back of a truck is used to winch up the well pipe and pump from the well bottom.
Additional hardware, including a tripod and clamps, can be used to clamp the well pipe at intervals to permit separation into lengths (needed with steel well piping), repairs, replacement of sections or valves, and to avoid dropping the whole shebang back down into the well bore.
(May 17, 2016) Anne said:
We have a ten foot deep wall for irrigation that suddenly stopped pumping water. There is a blockage at about four feet. We recently got a scope and looked down the 1 1/2" galvanized pipe and saw a piece of metal lodged in the pipe. We have no idea what it is or how to get it out. Unfortunately my father built a wall around the pump and well with a bedroom above it.
There does not seem to be a casing around the central shaft. Can you tell us what the metal might be and how to remove it. I asked someone if we could use a long drlill to try to drill through it but we have no clue how big the metal object is or how it ven got in the pipe because it is a sealed system. Thanks.
Whatever is in the well at this point was probably part of the system since a large chunk of metal wouldn't normally have a way to enter on its own: check for missing pieces of well cap, pitless adapter, pipe fittings, a pump motor itself, a snifter valve, or even a well sleeve liner previously installed to repair a damaged casing.
Contact well drillers in your area to see if they can come by with an assortment of pipe grabbers that might pull out the missing part; a scope can then inspect the condition of the casing. I don't think the situation you describe is amenable to drilling-through (a step that is taken in some cases in the oil fields).
(May 20, 2016) steve said:
i was using the "fishing line with a bobber" method to check the ater depth of my well. While checking to see if the line was slacked yet i noticed there was even more tension on the line then probably should be. imagine my suprise to find the line had snagged. I had two small rounded lead weights, and a small bobber on the end of the line, I tried to use small items to prevent this.
I worked the line for a few minutes trying to free it. My efforts were rewarded by the snap of the line...So i now have 100+ ft of fishing line, two small lead weights, and a small bobber kicking around in my well.
To my question, do i really need to worry about this thing? Like is it worth my time and efforts to pull the pump and try to retrieve this thing, or just wait and see if the line tangles up in my pump? I ran the pump for about an hour earlier (I figured if it was going to fail it may as well do it while i was emotionally prepared to pull and replace it) and it didnt seem to have any issues. Anyone have any thoughts?
Mayt 25, 2016 Bill said:
Had good luck retrieving a substantial section of water-filled plastic pipe with foot valve from a 117-foot drilled well. Bought the largest 3-barbed fish-hooks I could find. Rigged a weight on a thin 120-foot rope and jigged for the pipe (as my Newfoundland ancestors jigged for cod back in the day).
Had hoped to go right to the bottom of the well and catch the foot valve-- but that's not what happened. On the second attempt, up came the pipe-- with a hook snagged on a small stainless steel pipe clamp right at the top. The whole operation took about ten minutes, but it involved a lot of luck-- and maybe some genetic jigging skill.
Ugh, Bill, I hate when that happens. I speculate that what you snagged were remains of someone's previous attempt to sound the depth of the bottom of the well. Feel better, they, too, lost their weight and hook before you came along.
I don't much like the idea of leaving debris in a well, though it may have no effect until fishing line fouls a foot valve or bits enter a pump through a well screen.
When retrieving stuff dropped into a well it's important to use a line strong enough that you don't easily break it while fishing up fallen items.
Steve: my comments and opinion above to Bill pertain to your well fishing too. But also we'd prefer not to leave lead items in the well. I'm not sure how much two small lead weights might contribute to detectable lead in your water supply: that would depend on water chemistry, its corrosivity, the formation of a lead oxide coating on the weights themselves, and how much water movement occurs in the well.
My guess is that it'd be better to retrieve the lost weights, hook, bobber, fishing line and other debris from the well. Leaving them until they clog the pump or foot valve might result in loss of water supply at an inconvenient time (say during Thanksgiving when you have many guests but suddenly there is no water to drink nor to flush a toilet), and pulling the pump is perhaps more costly than another attempt to fish out the fallen stuff in the well.
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