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Old 08-28-2006, 09:08 AM
Mostly harmless
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Capping a water well?

I have an old pumphouse on my property, with a junk pump inside. Considering the pump is beyond repair, the shed is falling down, and I have municipal water anyway, I'd rather just tear it all down and be rid of it than put any money and time into replacement.

Are there any tricks to capping the well? Logically, I'd cut the pipe off below grade, thread it, put on a cap, and bury it when done. Are there any special considerations, such as type of cap, or regulatory agency requirements I need to be aware of?
Old 08-28-2006, 10:06 AM
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We have an antique hand-dug well on our property that has always concerned me because it is big enough for an adult to fall into and I have young kids. I have a temporary cap made out of a thick tabletop right now. A contractor and excavator told me I should just put a heavy concrete lid on it so that it could conceivably be used again in times of drought or nuclear war. I don't think there is much to do except for covering it or burying it.
Old 08-28-2006, 10:38 AM
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You should check with your building inspector. In my area it is required that old wells be filled in. I use concrete for drilled wells. On a dug well the building inspectors will typicaly allow us to just knock it in with a backhoe and fill it with dirt.

One way to avoid the filling requirement is to claim the well will still be used for irrigation purposes.

If you decide to use your cap method there is no need to thead the well casing. The availible caps and seals work by compressing to make a seal.
Old 08-28-2006, 10:54 AM
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Check with your state water agency. In California, it's the Department of Water Resources as the overall governing agency and the local water purveyors as the enforcers. Wells here are required by law to be formally abandoned when no longer in use, not merely capped. There are specific procedures for this, and in this state, it has to be done (or at least signed off by) a licensed well driller. There are specific requirements of the mix of grout to ensure that it penetrates out into the filter pack and surrounding water-producing soil formation.

Grout is basically a cement mixture, not concrete. It typically contains some additives, but no gravel. After this, procedures vary by local water jurisdiction, but most require the well casing and grout column to be cut off four or five feet below the ground surface and capped off with a mushroom-shaped concrete plug.

All of this effort is to prevent contamination from travelling from the ground surface to the groundwater via those nice contaminant highways like the interior of the casing and the porous sand pack around the well's intake.

If you're in California, email me, and I can help you more specifically. I know some drillers who do this, and I've overseen it a time or two (or hundred.)
Old 08-28-2006, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowgirl Jules
If you're in California, email me, and I can help you more specifically. I know some drillers who do this, and I've overseen it a time or two (or hundred.)
I'm in North Carolina...

Your answer is the type of thing I wanted to know about, and had imagined as a possibility. I don't know that it's required in my case.

BTW, I've asked the regional Public Health authority what was required, but I have yet to get a response.
Old 08-28-2006, 11:40 AM
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North Carolina's Division of Water Quality regarding wells:

http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/agw.html

Procedure for decomissioning wells:

http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/aps/gpu/d...Well_decom.pdf

Also, I agree with Cowgirl Jules. The well needs to be protected so that groundwater cannot be contaminated.
Old 08-28-2006, 01:38 PM
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Personal anecdote:
I grew up in a 100+ year old farmhouse with a long gravel drive. One day, as my father was coming in from mowing the lawn, he saw a black spot in the middle of the driveway. He thought it was an oil stain, so he kicked some gravel over it, only to see the gravel disappear with a rattle. He poked the spot with his rake handle, and the whole handle was swallowed up. A little more digging revealed a hand-dug, stone-lined well almost a yard in diameter. It had been covered with thick wooden planks, and at some point these had been covered with gravel when the driveway was rerouted. The planks had finally rotted and dropped into the well, and the resulting hole looked about twelve feet deep- I say looked because when we had a dumptruck come in to pour four yards of gravel into it, the bottom dropped out and it took a second load to fill. We capped it with a concrete slab and regraded the driveway. I don't even want to think about the labor it took to make the well in the first place.
Old 08-28-2006, 05:09 PM
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Old farms in my area frequently had multiple dug wells. After the owners stopped using them most were forgotten. Before abandoning them they just covered them with planks or plywood, both of which last long enough for anyone who knew about the well to have past away. Every once in a while you'll here a story of someone finding one or falling in one. In sometimes they are in the basements of the homes.

When people build additions and such on their homes they rarely thing about where the well might be.

My grandfather installed many of the earlier drilled wells in our area. My records have alot of data that was lost to home owners. Before the wide use of pitless adaptors the well casings were cut off 6 feet below the ground level and a well pit was put around it made of cement columns and a cement cap. The pit is typicaly buried a few feet bellow ground. It is not uncommon for people to call us asking where there well is.

In one case I was called out to locate the original dug well for a property. My diagrams typicaly use a measurement off two corners of the house. As I was measuring I found the well was closer to the house then it was supposed to be. I found it when walking my foot went through the plywood and dirt that was covering it. That was not a fun sensation. Luckly I escaped uninjured. They had added an addition I wasn't aware of that screwed up the measurements.

In another case my father and I where driving down the street. My father noticed one of his customers was building a garage. The outside walls of the foundation had been formed already. We stopped by my father pointed out to them that the well was right where they were putting the garage. They had no clue. The well hadn't been worked on for over 30 years. It was where they still go there water from. Luckily for them the well ended up being in between the too bays for we just had to add a bit to the cement casing so it was even with the floor.
Old 08-28-2006, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boytyperanma
In another case my father and I where driving down the street. My father noticed one of his customers was building a garage. The outside walls of the foundation had been formed already. We stopped by my father pointed out to them that the well was right where they were putting the garage. They had no clue. The well hadn't been worked on for over 30 years. It was where they still go there water from. Luckily for them the well ended up being in between the too bays for we just had to add a bit to the cement casing so it was even with the floor.
[hijack]I don't really emotionally grasp the concept of having a well indoors. I mean, I know it's done, but it boggles my mind. Is the water table that shallow that you can pull the pump by hand? You'd have to in a garage or basement, wouldn't you? Or with a small mechanical hoist? Wells around here simply aren't built indoors, but then, the water table where I'm at is at its closest around 75 feet below grade. That's a lot of drop pipe to heave in and out when the pump goes bad.[\hijack]
Old 08-28-2006, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowgirl Jules
[hijack]I don't really emotionally grasp the concept of having a well indoors. I mean, I know it's done, but it boggles my mind. Is the water table that shallow that you can pull the pump by hand? You'd have to in a garage or basement, wouldn't you? Or with a small mechanical hoist? Wells around here simply aren't built indoors, but then, the water table where I'm at is at its closest around 75 feet below grade. That's a lot of drop pipe to heave in and out when the pump goes bad.[\hijack]
I think it's safe to hijack this thread as the question has been answered.

Mostly it's old farm houses where I have seen the wells indoors. Originaly they were hand dug and the owners had used a bucket and rope or a pitcher pump to get water. I guess durring a cold new england winter I was a nice feature to have.

I've dealt with a few drilled wells that for some unknown reason (probably ingnorance) that where in the basements of homes. The pumps and pipeing had to have been put in before they built the houses. It is a real pain to pull a pump put in with 20 foot lenghts of pvc when you only have 7 feet between the well and the 1st floor. It was a slow process putting a new pump back in feeding poly pipe in through a basement window.

In my area the static levels tend to range from a few feet to sixty feet. There are some that are deeper but not many. Deepest I can think of is 150 feet on a 800 foot well. 90% of the wells I deal with the pumps can be pulled by hand. If a well if over 300 feet I use a man poratable device to help out. Wells over 500 feet typicaly require a boom truck or crane because they use metal pipe that is far to heavy to pull by hand.
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