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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Understanding water wells

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Budedm - Posted - 09/14/2018:  07:47:32

I have a spring that has good water. I had it tested. It was in a trench about 8’ deep. I built a concrete cavity around where the water was coming up from the ground and snaked a 4” perforated pipe throughout the cavity. Then I attached a 20’ solid 4” pipe to the end of the perforated pipe, covered everything up except about 2’ of the end of the solid pipe. The end of the pipe is actually about a 2’ higher than the ground level where the spring is. So, the water in the concrete cavity is also two feet deep and the cavity is about 10’ x 15’. Water has continued to flow out of the pipe for 15 years at the exact same rate. 300 GPH, no matter what season, wet or drought. I now want to pull water to the house for drinking. I will use a jet pump since I’ll only be pulling at a height of maybe 10’ and a distance of about 70’. I will shove the suction pipe up the end of the 4” outflow pipe about 20’ or so. My question is will this work since the suction pipe will be basically horizontal instead of the normal vertical? Will the check valve at the end of the suction pipe function? I’m thinking it will since all the water in the suction pipe will be higher than the valve. The weight of the water in the pipe will be enough to close the valve. I will also put a check valve near the pump in the suction pipe.

FlyinEagle - Posted - 09/14/2018:  09:01:48

The orientation of the pipe shouldn’t matter as long as it is completely submerged, and it sounds like it will be. The check valve should still function as well as that the weight of the water ahead of it is what closes it.

You have a couple other factors you have to consider, though. Your elevation above sea level being one of them (google pressure loss due to elevation). Your vertical distance ratings for the pumps you are looking at will be at sea level. If you are up in the mountains they will not be able to pull the vert distance stated in the specs.

The other thing you have to consider is the length of pipe. There is a force of friction involved between the water and the inside wall of the pipe. (google pipe friction loss). 75 ft is a long way for that pipe. There are charts that show the relationship between flow and pressure loss per distance of pipe.

You can play with the diameter of the pipe to give different results, or of course, you may have to consider a beefier pump.

Budedm - Posted - 09/14/2018:  09:44:33

Thanks Jeff. Here’s the pump I’m considering. I’m at 700 above sea level. I’m also considering a 60-80 gallon tank with a 20 gallon drawdown. (Im not sure I completely understand drawdown and what I need) I’m really new at this so any help is appreciated."">"; target="_blank">

Edited by - Budedm on 09/14/2018 09:45:55

Owen - Posted - 09/14/2018:  10:00:57

Your description, as I understand it, sounds okay to me... my  [now retired] "farmer's logic" says "go for it."

Budedm - Posted - 09/14/2018:  10:17:12

That’s kinda where I’m at. Farmers logic. I’m a retired engineer so I’m not dumb, but I’ve never dealt with water wells. But this is an unconventional well for sure.

FlyinEagle - Posted - 09/14/2018:  10:53:50

1 Hp certainly should be enough. The flow rate for that pump is 27 gallons per minute. 300 gallons per hour flow rate from the well is actually only 5 gallons per minute.

If I understand correctly, if you jam the inlet 20 foot into the 4" pipe it will now be uphill from the cistern? You may want to consider pulling the water from closer to the end of the pipe so the water in the cistern can supply the pipe.

O.D. - Posted - 09/14/2018:  14:51:00

If the pump flow rate is 27GPM and the spring produces 5 GPM sounds like you might quickly run out of water znd burn out the pump

Not sure how much water is stored in the resevoir

Budedm - Posted - 09/14/2018:  15:10:50

I was just thinking the same. I’m gonna look at smaller pumps. Thank you.

Budedm - Posted - 09/14/2018:  17:38:57

I am guessing that the reservoir cavity is maybe 400 gallons, so it should suffice. But I’m thinking three things. One, in this case, it’s the depth of the water that matters. It could be that the 4” pipe in the cavity is only covered by 3” of water (although my calculations put it at a foot or so). Two, the pump won’t pump any more than the tank
needs. Three, why use a pump that pumps more water faster than I can use it? I’m thinking it’s going to be pretty hard for just my wife & I to use more
than 10 GPM.

O.D. - Posted - 09/14/2018:  17:45:41

How much water is in reserve?
My idea would be to try a pressure pump

We use a Grunfos pump to increase pressure to our barn from an outside sistern
The barn is gravity fed
The gravity feed is not sufficient
The nice thing is the pump only comes on when water is called for. Then shuts down when done.
Something to consider

Good luck


O.D. - Posted - 09/14/2018:  17:54:27

Booster pump

Budedm - Posted - 09/14/2018:  18:02:04

I don’t know anything about booster pumps. Might be something I need to look into.

O.D. - Posted - 09/14/2018:  18:10:57

My buddy is a well pump man
He uses a booster pump and a water tank for temporary water when customers well pumps go bad.

Worth a look at.


O.D. - Posted - 09/14/2018:  19:52:43

After thinking about this is how Id do it based on your info.
run a line from the water source to the booster pump, then run a line with a valve to regulate pressure from the booster pump to your faucet. Done.

No need for check valves, holding tanks ,pressure switches etc. booster pump will only deliver what is called for.

less worries about over drawing the well,burning up pump,etc

Check one out.

Budedm - Posted - 09/15/2018:  04:16:59

Sounds easier. But why doesn’t everybody do it that way? What’s the disadvantage? 

Edited by - Budedm on 09/15/2018 04:24:36

O.D. - Posted - 09/15/2018:  06:04:47

I think your situation is unique in that you want to use a limited amount of water for drinking, as per your post. You said 10 gallons?

I think if you had greater water consumption purposes you would need to incorporate a larger system . More like your original design.


Edited by - O.D. on 09/15/2018 06:07:10

Budedm - Posted - 09/15/2018:  06:32:16

Maybe I need a well pro to come here and brainstorm with me.

FlyinEagle - Posted - 09/15/2018:  07:19:28

It is kind of a unique situation...

Here is a friction loss calculator I just found. Play around with this and see how small of a pump you can get away with.


Budedm - Posted - 09/15/2018:  07:37:01

Thanks Jeff. Looks like 2 ft max head loss and 1 psi max loss. Not bad.

FlyinEagle - Posted - 09/15/2018:  08:10:40

See if you can find the pump you like on amazon. Their exchange policy is basically no questions asked, so if you make the wrong selection you should be able to easily return it.

Budedm - Posted - 09/15/2018:  08:14:47

Saw this on Craigslist. He’s asking $275. New in box. Maybe I’ll offer $200.

O.D. - Posted - 09/15/2018:  09:41:39

That kind of pump is basically what I call a booster pump . Its has built in pressure switch with automatic on /off .
Its what I would use in your case.


Budedm - Posted - 09/15/2018:  09:50:17

Yes. And I can use it as a booster without a holding tank, or I could get a holding tank. I think it will with either way. Don’t you? What would happen if th pump over pressures the tank? Tanks are usually pre charged to 40 psi. This pump puts out more than that. 

Edited by - Budedm on 09/15/2018 10:02:17

mander - Posted - 09/15/2018:  10:13:43


Originally posted by Budedm

Maybe I need a well pro to come here and brainstorm with me.

Yes, I think that is best. I don't know much about what it is you are doing, but I do know enough to know, it requires someone with skill and knowledge. My experience is that a 400 gallon reservoir is a drop in the bucket. I've tried catching the rain water from the roofs around here to use for summer needs and finally gave up. 600 gallons was the most I could hold. Depending on how the rain fell, the system could collect that in as little as an hour, or it might take up to three days. Either way, it only lasted one, maybe two days. I decided I needed to learn to "dry garden." It would cost too much to water this yard. I now use those tanks for fish and plants. Don't tell anyone, but I've been know to drink from them. I figure if the dogs and deer can without getting sick, I can too. In the event of a "disaster" I plan to drink from the ponds and let the hubby have the bottled water.

I also tried digging holes in the ground to hold rainwater. My thoughts were, my soil is such heavy clay, it wouldn't need to have a liner. Well, that part proved to be true. What I didn't realize was how little water it would take to cause a potential landslide condition. (I'm on a moderate to steep hill.)

My son and his wife are looking to buy a house and one of the problems with the house is the water pressure is too high and likely to blow out the pipes. I believe 70-80 psi is the desired range. (the house has 150 psi)

If I had the money, I would build a cistern with a 30,000 gallon capacity. I would also love to have a water recycling system to clean and reuse water from the shower/tub, and sinks. Wasting water drives me nuts and it infuriates me that one has to be wealthy to afford a good solution. 

Since you live in SC, water hyacinth is a good plant to use for water purification. In fact, I'm told it is used in Florida in the sewage treatment process. 

Only other thing I know on the topic is, take a look at a chicken egg. Pointy side down, that's the preferred shape of a water tank due to the weight and pressure of water. 

Good luck!




Budedm - Posted - 09/15/2018:  10:26:37

Mander, I agree that 600 gallons doesn’t go far. My situation is different than trying to capture rain water though. It is a spring that has a 5 GPM (300 GPH) constant flow. Not a ton, but I think it is enough if I configure things to match that flow or less. In your case, I think I’d either have a well drilled or drive one myself. There’s water everywhere, it’s just a matter of how deep. Maybe yours is shallow?

O.D. - Posted - 09/15/2018:  10:33:11

Put a valve in line as I said earlier then you can manually turn of the pump with the valve when the tank is full
I regularly fill up a 500 gallon water trough and the back pressure will not turn off the pump
Good question

After re reading your initial post I think a check valve is a good idea if you arent sure about positive flow to the pump


O.D. - Posted - 09/15/2018:  11:21:55

Yes a float valve in the tank would work in conjunction with a pump. we used to do it on the smaller water troughs
We got away from it due to the cows beating them up when they crowd the water trough.
They would get stuck, broken , bent up. It wasn't worth the hassle for us.
I can see it working nicely for your project though .


Nels - Posted - 09/16/2018:  03:19:02

I'll describe my nephew's system that has worked for the last 20+ years. He has a Log Home that sits on a ridge about 500 feet above his spring. The spring flows into two 500 gal cisterns (these are inside what I'll call a well house). One cistern receives continuous flow and continues on to a cattle trough outside. The other cistern receives flow and is controlled by a check valve and float. A pump sends water up to a 40 gal pressure tank in the log home when the use demands it and the switch comes on. The pump draws down the cistern and the float in the cistern opens the check valve allow the spring to replenish that cistern while continuing to flow into the other as well.
This system supplies a log home with a laundry, kitchen w dishwasher, a half bath, and 2 full baths. The only draw back is on occasion people have forgotten and tried to use both baths, do laundry, do dishes, and flush the toilet in that half bath and the pump will lose prime. In other words it doesn't handle all things at once. duh...but it has served well for over 20 years. Specifics on pump size, spring flow, etc I don't have.
At the time we built his log home, I suggested putting a larger storage tank above the home and gravity feed the 40 gal pressure tank and only using the pump to refill the storage tank when it reached a certain level. But they went with what I described above.
NOW...this summer he decides to change things..I'll describe it..but unless you have money "to burn" you should disregard his new system. He added a cattle water trough near the home to water the cattle when they come to the upper area of the ridge. To do this and supply the house he had a plumber put TWO 500 gal tanks in the basement of the house. One supplys the cattle trough the other the house. Both have booster pumps and are refilled by the same pump at the cistern when one or the other reach a level that calls for water. Thus the pump at the well house 500 feet below now only comes on less frequently. The two tanks have an overflow that joins them allowing them both to stay a capacity. On the house supply side of one tank he added an automatic chlorinator. His wife says the system cost a pretty penny!! But, you can now do everything and not lose prime in the pump. Drawback....more pumps to go bad and more upkeep!! duh...he has money to burn!!

Budedm - Posted - 09/16/2018:  05:30:30

That’s some great info Nels. I’ll be buying a pump today and testing it in the spring within the next few days. Can’t today because of this dang hurricane.

Edited by - Budedm on 09/16/2018 05:30:52

O.D. - Posted - 09/16/2018:  05:59:57

Let us know how it goes Bud
I'm always trying to engineer stuff like this down at the farm for a large variety of things and find it interesting and sometimes challenging

Good luck


Budedm - Posted - 09/16/2018:  06:01:36

Me too. I’ll let you know.

BanjoLink - Posted - 09/16/2018:  11:29:34

Bud .... it's not really too complicated, but probably don't need to take up space here to explain, but if you are going to use your well/reservoir for water in your house, you need to also get a pressure tank. The pressure tank basically allows you to turn on your water at various sources without having your pump cycle on and off every time you need water.

You also mentioned check valves. I may be wrong, but don't really know why you even need a check valve. Check valves (actually double check valves) are used on water systems to keep the water flowing in one direction and not backing up. For example, the water tap on a city water line that comes to your house has one because, if for example you had an irrigation system in your yard and you had applied chemicals or fertilizer, you certainly don't want any of that water getting into your water lines and backing up into a main water line. Chance it could happen are very slim, but there are circumstances where it could.

O.D. - Posted - 09/16/2018:  11:40:35

You might want to re read the OP
Pretty much explains the contents of this thread


Budedm - Posted - 09/16/2018:  11:42:43

John, a check valve keeps water in the suction line so the pump doesn’t lose its prime.

Budedm - Posted - 09/16/2018:  12:06:08

Also, yes I plan on installing a pressure tank.

Sheenjack - Posted - 09/17/2018:  06:38:04

When I saw the title of this topic I thought it would be a tutorial on drilling water wells,smiley an enterprise in which I have a keen interest.  Their is an exceptional book on this subject titled Groundwater and Wells by Fletcher Driscoll.  I have a copy, it is a comprehensive work on every aspect of well drilling. Design, methods of drilling, development etc. Fascinating reading for those interested in the subject and enjoy books.  FWIW.

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