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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I started drilling and everything went fine until I got down to
about X feet (x= 10 to 20). Then suddenly the water stopped
coming back up to the top.
You have hit a soft spot. If you were a little deeper I'd
suggest you consider setting your well screen at that level.
Since you are so shallow you need to get past that soft spot.
Mix up some bentonite slurry and re-drill through that soft spot
while adding bentonite. It should harden up the sandy sides of
your hole so you can get deeper. Please check out the modified
drillhead on the "Making the Drillhead" page for an easy way to add
bentonite to your drilling fluid.
How do I know how deep I have to drill?
You need to drill deep enough so that the top of your well screen
can be 10 feet under the standing water level.
For example, say your standing water level is 12 feet down and you
are using a three foot long 1.25 inch diameter well screen.
You need to drill down 25 feet. This puts (starting from the
bottom) three feet of 1.25 inch well screen followed by 22 feet of
1.25 inch PVC. The top of the three foot section of well
screen is at the 22 foot level which is 10 feet below your standing
water level of 12 feet.
How do I know what my standing water level is?
You might be able to check with neighbors who have wells. If
there is a lake or a stream nearby the standing water level is
probably close to the level of the lake or stream.
Unfortunately the only really reliable way to tell the standing
water level is to drill a hole and leave it alone for a couple of
days and then measure how far down to the water.
I put down a small well for my first time on a small
piece of property in Bronson Florida. I told a well man that I
didn't have a very large flow, and he said to let the pump run for a
long time, and it would give me lots of volume! Sure enough, I got
more water than I could use. So, the longer you run the pump to
start with the more water you will get.
Hope this helps
Ronald, Gainesville Florida
How deep can I drill using this method?
Most wells drilled using
this method are two or three inch wells from 25 to 30 feet deep.
With enough patience you could go a little deeper but not much.
It isn't that your pipe won't drill deeper - it is that the sides of
the hole collapse on your drill pipe. If you add a mixture of bentonite clay with water
you can probably get another 10 feet, maybe a few more.
do you put the well screens into place?
would think that I would need to use the drill head to carve out the
bottom of the hole, then start from the bottom and start filling in
gravel by dropping it down the center of the PVC pipe. Then drill back
down through the full gravel and insert the screen. Please correct me.
Also, are you more concerned about natural water pressure, or more
concerned about water temperature for your geothermal installation?
WITHOUT AT MUD PUMP:
To put in a well screen with no gravel pack - Dill the hole with a 2.0
inch drillpipe. Then drop
the 1.25 inch wellscreen pipe down through it and pull the 2.0 inch
drillpipe out of the ground, leaving the 1.25 inch wellscreen pipe in
the ground. That is the
well. This is how most wells are done with the technique described in
this website. Be sure and
seal the well at the top 15 -20 feet with cement or bentonite.
To put in a wellscreen with a gravel pack - Drill the hole with a 3.0
inch drillpipe. Then pour a
few inches of gravel down the 3.0 inch drillpipe for a base of gravel.
Then put the 1.25 inch wellscreen down through the 3.0 inch
drillpipe. Then pour gravel
down between the 3 inch drillpipe and the 1.25 inch wellscreen pipe as
you slowly pull the 3.0 inch pipe up and out of the ground.
This leaves the 1.25 inch wellscreen pipe in the ground with a
gravel pack at the bottom.
Be sure and seal the well at the top 15 -20 feet with cement or
WITH A MUD PUMP:
Use either a 2.0 or 3.0 inch drillpipe to drill the borehole.
Mix in bentonite with your water during drilling so the hole will
not collapse. Drill the hole.
Pull the drillpipe out of the ground.
Then pour a few inches of gravel down the hole for a base of
gravel. Put the 1.25 inch
wellscreen down the hole.
Pour gravel down the hole to form the gravel pack.
Fill in the hole with clay and be sure to seal the well at the
top with 15 -20 feet cement or bentonite.
Regarding the geothermal issue - any groundwater is going to work just
fine. You just need enough
GPM to support your heat pump.
For most residential heat pumps, 10 GPM is adequate.
I would like to try your method to drill a well near a pond where I am
currently getting water from for a pond house to take showers and so
forth, not to drink. The water has a pond smell of course and I hope a
well would not. The streams flowing into the pond put out about 20
gallons a minute. My question is how far should I drill away from the
pond not to be contaminated by this surface water and how far down do
you think I should drill. My house well is about a half mile away and it
is around 100 feet deep. I see on your great website that one cannot go
over 35 feet with your method. I live near Columbia, SC. The land is
hilly where I want to drill also, but I am hoping the water table is not
so deep near this pond.
That is hard to predict. Best thing I can tell you is drill a hole
and see. It is pretty cheap to try.
If you can possibly get your hands on a mud pump (trash pump) you can
drill quite a bit deeper.
How do I know when I have reached the water table ?
Good question! The only sure way to tell is
to drill a hole, let it sit for a day and then measure how far down to
the standing water.
might be a good source if they have wells. The county agent might
know. The USGS has a lot of data about it at their site too.
Its a bit obtuse (at least to me).
What type of pump would I use to pump water out of the well if I drilled
down deeper than 35 feet with a mud pump.
Thanks for replying to my e-mails.
If the water table is lower than 25 feet down you need a pump that
pushes the water up from the bottom.
It can not be sucked up with a suction pump from those depths.
There are several ways of doing this.
The most common for commercially drilled wells is to use a
submersible pump. This
generally requires a four inch well casing.
There are some specialized submersible pumps that can fit in a
three inch well casing.
The other option is to use a jet pump.
Jet pumps pump water down the well through one pipe to a jet,
where the water is sprayed upward and used to push additional water up
while at the same time suction is being applied to the top of the second
upward flowing tube. It
might not sound like it but it works very well.
Most jet arrangements require a four inch well.
There is a jet pump arrangement designed specifically for two inch
wells. It is called a packer
jet.. I have used one and it
worked well for me.
I need to use a submersible pump. Can I
drill a four inch well with this method?
The simple straight answer
is "no" - or at least I don't think so. I have never tried it.
It would be awfully hard. The surface area of a four inch hole
is four times as much as a two inch hole. It would be tough.
[update - 8/2010 take a look at Ed's idea on page 2 of this section]
Thanks for putting up this site.
I made a bunch of mistakes learning how to do this myself. I
thought a site that was basically a tutorial on the method might be
useful. I hope folks like it.
What type of pump do you recommend?
I am no pump expert.
I have just used the shallow well pumps that Lowes and Home Depot
sell. They are certainly not premium pumps but they are readily
available. You might look at the "from a REAL Well Driller"
page. The fellow who I have linked to is a pump expert who sells
good pumps that won't crap out on you in a couple years.
My water table is at 90 feet. What pump
should I use?
First of all, you are not
going to be able to drill to 90 feet using this method. If
you did, theoretically speaking, you'd need a packer well jet.
Water is easy to push and hard to pull. Suction can only pull
water up 25 feet at best. From 90 feet you'd need to either
have a submersible pump or a jet at the bottom of the well.
The only jet that will fit in a two inch pipe is the packer jet.
I have used one before with a convertible jet pump and it worked
I drove one wellpoint down to 40 feet and
washed another down to 27 feet and got nothing. I am trying to use
a shallow well pump.
To advise you, I need to know what the level of
your water table is, i.e. how deep your standing water level is. Find out from
neighbors/drillers/County Agent where your water table is. In
many areas the wells you describe are plenty deep enough. If
your water table is below 25 feet, this technique won't work for you.
No amount of suction will bring up water from deeper than 25 feet.
Drop a string down the 40 foot wellpoint and measure how far down your
standing water level is.
Another thing: when you use
a shallow well pump, you have to fill up the pump and the well
casing with water before you start trying to pump. The pump
must be primed both above and below the check valve. Make sure
you have the well primed properly.
I really appreciated your videos showing how
you flush a well. It looks like you are using 3" PVC to drill with.
Have you tried this with 4" PVC?
Thanks! You are
absolutely right. That was three inch PVC I was using on that
particular one. Usually I use two inch because it is easier.
I have never tried four inch.
Does the well screen need to be open ended or closed off?
It should be closed off at
the bottom end unless the well is an injection well. Most well
screens come with points on the bottom end that are perfect for the
Do you make your own well screens or do you buy
from Campbells? Is it worth it to make you own well screen?
I buy them from Lowes or
Home Depot. They are pretty cheap. Not as cheap as making one
though! If you are going to make your own get a very skinny
saw... It is hard to cut a very narrow slot.
I am in south central Arkansas and we don't have flat land... but
it isn't hilly either..... Do you know of any sources for seeing what
the expected water table might be in a given area as well as rock
problems? My main question though is this: I saw some
illustrations where there was more than one water bearing sand pocket.
Once you hit water bearing sand how far should you continue to dig into
that sand? When do you know to continue through that pocket down to
The only way I know of (other than
drilling) to find out how far down it is to the water table is to
ask around - drillers, County Agent, neighbors. There are usually
multiple layers of water bearing sand around here (Coastal Alabama)
with clay and darker sand in-between. I have no idea what you will
encounter. Generally, it is best to go as deep as you can. My
experience is limited to this area and we have a high water table.
You can be guided somewhat by how far you are elevated above any
nearby lakes. Also, be aware that water runoff occurs underground
just like it does at ground level. If you are between a high
elevation and a river, it is likely that there is runoff occurring
underground that you can tap into. This method of “drilling" will
only take you down about forty feet at best. Thirty to thirty-five
is more typical. You’d be surprised at how often that is deep enough
for an irrigation well. The beauty of it is that it is really cheap
to try compared to hiring a driller.
On your site you say a 35 foot well, about
how long did it take you to drill it and what soils were you
drilling through? That looks like a lot of twisting.
Water bore drilling, using this
takes about 10 to 12 hours. Here, in South Alabama,
I typically encounter a couple of kinds of sand and multiple
layers of clay. This will vary by your geographic
location. It is a lot of pipe twisting!
Do I need a license or permit to drill my own well?
This varies by jurisdiction. Be
sure and check with local authorities on this issue.
I live in NC near the big water where there
is plenty of water about 12-15 ft down, I am however going through
the four hole thing like you did and this is not my first rodeo
neither. my question is how do you get the screen down in the sleave
and then put stone in around it I am trying the fourth hole on sat.
but would like to do it the better way instead of just a foot
valve. HELP ME PLEEEEASE.
A couple of others have emailed me about this. I have not made it
sufficiently clear on the website and I apologize.
Pea gravel will
not fit down a 2 inch pipe that has a 1 ¼ inch pipe in it but it
will fit down a 3 inch pipe with a 1 ¼ inch pipe in it. So…
For a two inch
1. drill the
2 inch hole down to whatever depth you are going to. Let’s
say, for purposes of this example, 30 feet.
2. When you
get to 30 feet work the pipe a lot up and down to every
side. What we are trying to do here is wallow out the
bottom of the hole so it is significantly bigger than the
two inch pipe. The larger the diameter of the wallowed out
area at the bottom of the well is, the better.
3. Have a 1
¼ three foot well point attached to 30 feet of 1 ¼ inch
pipe already glued up or glue it up while you are still
washing out the bottom of the hole. The well point must
have a pointed end. Practically all do but make sure you
have one with a point. This will give you a 33 foot long
piece that you can put down the well at one time.
4. Stop the
water and remove the well head, or the piece with the hose
attached, from the top of the drill pipe. Pour pea gravel
down the pipe until you can feel about three feet of pea
gravel. As you are pouring the gravel into the pipe work
the pipe up and down so you can tell how much you are
filling the bottom of the hole with pea gravel. When you
get three feet of fill, stop working the 2 inch pipe.
You’ll know when you have three feet because the 2 inch pipe
will be three feet higher than it was. You won’t be able
to push the 2 inch pipe down through the pea gravel so as
the bottom of the well fills up with pea gravel you can tell
how much is down there
the entire length of the 1 1/4 inch pipe down through the 2
inch drill pipe. The 1 ¼ inch pipe will stop when it hits
the gravel. At this point the bottom of the two inch pipe
and the bottom of the 1 1/4 inch well point are at the same
work the well point into the gravel at the bottom of the
hole by twisting and applying downward pressure. Don’t get
in a hurry. It will take a while and will slow up as you
get deeper but getting three feet in should not be a
problem. If for some reason you can’t work it down three
feet you'll probably be OK. Just raise the 2
inch piece some more so the entire length of the three foot
well point is exposed at the bottom of the well.
For a three inch
down to 30 feet. Have the 30 foot of 1 ¼ inch PVC already
attached to a three foot long well point.
2. When you
get to 30 feet work the pipe up and down and side to side
until it is good and loose in the hole.
3. Take the
well head off the top of the drill pipe. Insert the 1 ¼
piece in the 3 inch pipe all at once. Put the well point
all the way down to the bottom of the hole.
4. Pour pea
gravel in the three inch pipe slowly. Work the three inch
pipe up and down while someone holds the 1 ¼ pipe so it does
not raise up as well. Keep pouring in pea gravel and
working the three inch pipe up until the three inch pipe is
up three feet. This way you will have, at the bottom of
the well, all three feet of the well point surrounded by pea
gravel. Pull the 3 inch
piece out of the ground.
Hi Mike I live in Panama ,Panama, near the ocean , reading
your instruction a few questions pop up. Once I have drilled the
well using two inch pipe do I insert the well screen pipe into the
two inch pipe or withdraw the two inch , all your diagrams only show
one pipe, a little confusing. Also do I then insert the pump pipe
with foot valve into that Pipe. Thank you in advance .
First, have the 1 1/4 inch well
screen with enough 1 1/4 inch pipe already attached to reach the
bottom of your well. When you get to the depth you are
going to stop at, work the two inch pipe up and down and side to
side until it is very loose. Then, disconnect the water
connection piece on top, or what I call the well head, from the
two inch piece. Then put the entire length of the 1 1/4
inch pipe down through it until the 1 1/4 inch piece hits
bottom. Then pull the 2 inch piece out of the ground taking care
not to raise the 1
1/4 inch piece. After you raise the 2 inch piece a
few feet sand will usually collapse on the bottom of the 1
1/4 inch piece so it is easier to raise the 2 inch piece
without pulling the 1 1/4 inch piece with it.
Regarding the foot valve - I prefer
to put the valve near the pump so if it sticks I can change it.
I'm not clear on setting the well screen.
Should I pull the two inch pipe out altogether? Also,
should I put in a long gravel pack?
pull the two inch pipe all the way up. You just
have to pull it
up six or seven feet so the wellscreen is exposed at the
bottom. It is no problem if you pull it all the
You can’t put in a
really long gravel pack when you are drilling with a two
inch pipe. With a three inch pipe you can. With a two
inch pipe if you are going to use a gravel pack just put
in three feet of gravel. To do this, when you get to 35
feet pour three feet of gravel down the two inch pipe.
Raise the two inch pipe
and work it up and down so you can tell how much pea
gravel you have added to the bottom of the hole. When
your two inch pipe is up three feet, then you know you
have three feet of pea gravel at the bottom of the hole.
Then put the well screen with the blue point on down
through the two inch pipe. Then work the wellscreen
down three feet into the gravel. The first few inches
will be easy and it will get harder after that.
are not going to use a gravel pack it is critical to
hold the 1 ¼ inch pipe down while you lift the two inch
I live in West Mobile, yes that's in
Alabama, you're in Foley right? I have looked at your website
several times now and I'm ready to start this project of digging my
own well. I went to Home Depot today and I found some well points
and the 2" inside couplings along with some pumps, but that's all I
could find. Do you have a particular place that you find your
supplies? I'd hate to have to order on-line when they may be here
locally. Also, I'm not sure of my water table depth here, but I do
live out past the airport and there are enough farms and fields out
here and I would think that some would have wells. After watching
your videos and reviewing the 'how to' instructions from
Campbel.coml, I feel really confident, my wife though can't say the
same. Thanks for your help.
I have had no problem finding the
stuff at Lowes and Home Depot. I have had to go to
multiple stores a couple of times. Sometimes the
Brady kits are not stocked but they are easy to make
from PVC parts.
Thanks for your reply. How deep would you
say that your gravel pack is? I have read that the deeper your pack
is the better. Was it hard trying to advance the 1 1/4 pipe down
through the gravel? Also, do you cut the blue tip off of your
well point or just leave in on and bout how many well points do you
usually use together? When you finally are able to place the 1 1/4"
pipe down through the 2" pipe, how did you manage not to pull both
pipes out at the same time? Isn't it a bit difficult to pull a 35'
pipe out of the ground? Have you ever made the T pack assembly by
hand or have you just gotten buy with the store bought one? One more
thing, on your pump, do you have yours hard wired to your house or
do you just hook it up to an extension cord? What horsepower are you
using? 1/4 hp per linear ft? Oh yeah, I would say that I don't live
on a hill, though my house is elevated a bit from street level, but
my whole neighborhood is kind of in a valley from the main road,
bascially sloping down from the main road.
around West Mobile likely has a water table about 15 to 20 feet. I
previously lived in Spanish Fort Estates, one of the
only hills around and my water table was at 17 feet.
you start down you will notice you are going through
layers of both sand and clay. Pay close attention
to the color of what is coming up. After you get
down about 10 feet, go slow. GO REAL SLOW. Go a
lot slower than you actually can go. Do not
advance the pipe downward until you have it very
loose in the hole. It will be very tempting to go
fast when you get in soft sand. If you have to stop
for the night, pull up the whole pipe. If you need
to pull up the pipe to sharpen the teeth on the end
of your pipe, do it.
you (1) get to 35 feet, and (2) you are in light
colored sand and (3) you have worked the pipe really
loose, put the entire length of the 1 ¼ inch pipe
with screen down through the two inch pipe (have it
already made up) and then pull up the two inch pipe
at least six or seven feet so the three feet of 1 ¼ inch screen is
both exposed at the bottom and covered over with
fill for a few feet above the screen..
two inch inside couplings are not needed but
certainly won’t hurt as long as you later use inside
couplings for your 1 ¼ inch well screen pipe.
When you are raising the 2 inch pipe, you have to
hold the 1 1/4 inch pipe down to make sure it
doesn't raise up as well.
you are inserting the the 1 1/4" well screen into
the gravel at the bottom of the hole, it starts in
easily and gets harder as you go down. You
should be able to get three feet into the gravel.
your wife is a little wary, get a commercial well
drilling quote. Heck, if it takes you five tries,
it is still 1/5 the price of a commercially drilled
want to do a sand point well or what ever you are calling this.
Either you have left out a lot of important information or I can not
find it. What are you attaching to the top? is one house attached to
a water pressure source and perhaps the other is excreting the
waste??? please explain or guide me to the video with the missing
I have a connection that
attaches to the top that has fittings for two hoses. A
photograph is at
Both hoses are supply hoses. Get as much water pressure
as possible to those two hoses. Usually, that will be by
connecting them to two different faucets.
Hi Mike. How will I know that I
have reach water or do i go as deep as possible? Joe, South Africa
As you drill
you will notice as your borehole is going through layers of sand and dirt
and clay. You can tell what your are drilling in by the
material that is coming up. What you are watching for is
the light colored sand. When you get to the lighter
colored sand or any coarse sand that is well below the water
table, that will be a good place to stop. Ask around and
see what the water table is in your area. Make sure you
are significantly below the water table and then as you are
drilling watch for the light colored sand.
Hi , how interesting to finally find a informative well
drilling site after many searches on the net, plus were practically
neighbors. I live on Mobile Bay (Dog River area). I have
tried many times to jet a well for my garden with very little
success,or with no water yield - I am ready to try Your method after
searching Your site which is very informative-how deep should I have
to go to reach a good water bearing sand? I have tried to find
water table information for our area -but with no luck. As
mentioned I live aprox 800 foot from the bay at about 17 foot above
sea level. My failed attempts of 2-wells has been less than 20 ft
where I hit a clay hardpan. Should I go past the hard
pan at 30 foot as you show and use the gravel pack?? I have gray
very fine silty almost powder texture sand below my topsoil and clay
at about 4 ft on down to 20 ft which is as deep as I have tried- (
water is within that range but I cannot pump it any help would be
greatly appreciated, and thanks so much for the information on your
site ,it has been very informative and needed - Thanks
Thanks for your comments! In
the Dog River area I don’t think you can miss hitting water in
the first 35 feet if you tried. I'm guessing your water table is
about 10 to 15 feet..??
You can go right through the clay
hardpan but it will take a while. For example, where I live just
southeast of Foley, I have solid clay beginning at one foot down
and continuing to 11 feet down. Since, as you well know, there
are a bunch of houses built on sand around here I don’t really
mind! I just put down three injection wells in my back yard for
a geothermal heat pump system and each one took several hours to
go through that ten foot clay section. On each one, the clay
rubbed the teeth right off the PVC after a couple hours.
Assuming you got the pipe out of the
ground, go right back to the location of one of your previous
tries. Make sure you have as much water supply for drilling as
you can possibly get. Definitely use two hoses running wide
open. Then drill down to the clay layer. When you hit the clay,
pull the pipe out and re-cut the teeth on the bottom. Then, just
stay at it. There is no harm in cutting the teeth again after a
There is one good thing about
drilling through clay with this method. The clay won't collapse
on your pipe. There is, however, another hazard I will warn you
about as I have succumbed to it. After you finally get though
the clay and you are into the sand, it will be very tempting to
go as fast as you can. Don't. At that depth, you will stick the
pipe very easily.
Try to make it down to 30 or 35
feet. If you just put a well screen in sand at that depth, you
should be fine. A short gravel pack certainly wouldn't hurt.
Thank you so much for all the information you have provided!
After thinking about it, I have a question. Why do you only
lift the casing up 3 feet? Why not raise it up 10 feet adding pea
gravel all the way. That would be a way to make your gravel pack
longer. And why not pull the casing all the way up filling it with
the pea gravel and then adding dirt the last 4 feet or so.
Another question. Why not extend your screen to a length of 10
feet by cutting out the notches along the way. Wouldn't this allow
for greater possibility of hitting the water bearing sand at
different levels, especially it you have a 15 foot gravel pack?
Thanks for checking out the website!
The reason to lift the casing up
only three feet to install a well screen is you can’t jam the
well screen through much more pea gravel than that. You are
right a much longer gravel pack would be nice. It is just darn
hard to do. After you get the gravel pack installed,
it is a good idea to lift the larger pipe up a few more feet to
avoid the potental for sucking air when you pump.
It is best if you pull it out of the ground completely.
There is nothing at all wrong with a
screen of 10 feet in length as long as you know you are way under
the water table. If you aren’t deep enough though then you
are potentially sucking air up at the top of the well screen.
If you have a way of putting in a 15 foot gravel pack, then put
the screen at the bottom and you will still get the advantage
of the extra long gravel pack.
Subject: Water for the water hoses? Hi, I
was happy to find your webpages for I am looking to save the money
by trying to drill my own well. I was just wondering though, where
is the water supply for the two hoses coming from? If you are
drilling a well, there is no available water...
This method won't
work without water. Sorry. Most folks that use this method have
utility supplied water at their homes but want a well for
inexpensive irrigation and/or watering their lawn. You might
look at the videos regarding the Baptist method.
I am working with a community garden here in Florida and I am
looking for a do-it-yourself way to drill a well for irrigation
water. I am about 40 miles inland from the beach and the
terrain here is mostly flat. Limerock and maybe some clay are
the only things I am likely to find in the soil here other than
sand. I am thinking that your method of jetting a well with PVC
pipe may be my best option, but the nearest source of water is
an existing well that is about 1200 feet from the garden area.
We plan to eventually have a community center that will need
potable water so the new well will likely go between the
existing well and the garden. Can you give me some idea as to
how much water pressure is needed to use your method? Have you
considered used compressed air from an air compressor instead of
water to clean out the cuttings?
Also, do you have a parts/supplies list that I could use to
work up a budget?
I would appreciate any input and information you could
You need as much water as you can possibly get. Having said
that, I see no reason why you couldn’t do it with one hose,
PROVIDED you are really, really, patient. You might want
to drill a practice hole close to your water source so you
will have some perspective as to how to do it when your have
The parts list isn’t much. A Brady T-Pack and some two inch
PVC will get you started. Fashion a handle to hold the PVC
and that is pretty much it. The supplies run about $40.00.
If it looks like you are going to be successful go get a 1 ¼
inch well point and some 1 ¼ PVC to connect to it.
There are techniques for using compressed air but I have not
Since your water supply is limited you might want to try a
re-circulating system with a mud pump to pump the water down
the hole. It requires much less water. I don’t have the
instructions for that ready yet. I’m going to do one myself
as soon as I finish four other projects and I’ll document it
when I do it. I’ll post it when I do it but that will be
late this summer probably.
Questions from South east Texas: Love the site, but
still have a few more questions. After reading all the
information and watching the videos, I am thinking that using
the 3 inch pipe to drill is the way to go. Am I correct in
believing that when I get as deep as I need to be, I then stop
drilling and insert a length of 1 1/4 PVC pipe with a screen
into the 3 inch pipe. After this is installed, I pour gravel
through the 3 inch pipe until I get about 3 feet of gravel
surrounding the 1 1/4 pipe the work the 3 inch pipe out, and if
needed add more gravel. Do I completely remove the 3 inch pipe
from the hole and back fill around the 1 1/4 pipe or leave it
borewell drilling procedure you
described will work with a three inch pipe only. With a two
inch drill pipe there is not room between the 1 ¼ well
screen pipe and the two inch drill pipe. As you pour the
gravel in work the three inch pipe up gradually. Hold the 1
¼ inch well screen pipe down. Pour a bit and then work the
three inch pipe up a bit. Then pour some more and then work
the three inch pipe up. Keep it up until you get the entire
well screen (three feet) exposed and surrounded with gravel.
With a two inch drill pipe you
have to pour the gravel in first, raise the drill pipe three
feet, and then put the well screen pipe in. When the well
screen pipe reaches the gravel you have to work it into the
gravel. You should be able to get three feet of it in but it
gets slower as you get more well screen in the gravel.
After you finish setting wellscreen at
depth, pull the drillpipe, whether you use the 2 inch or the 3
inch, out of the ground. Pour enough gravel in to cover
well above the top of the well screen. Then seal the top
of the well so groundwater cant enter by pouring cement down the
First of all, thank you for an excellent website and videos on
how to drill a shallow well. I plan to drill one myself soon but
I have two questions that I did not see covered in the videos.
I plan to drill using 2" PVC and then insert 1-1/4" pipe inside
that. My plan is to hook this to a hand pump. My first question
is this. When the 2" pipe is down to the desired depth, how do
you hold the 1-14" pipe while you join pieces together to be
inserted in the 2" pipe? I plan to go down about 25' so I will
have glue at least three joints of the 1-1/4" pipe together
while it is being inserted in the 2" pipe. I just don't
understand how I am going to hold this pipe and glue it at the
My second question concerns the gravel pack. You said on your
website that the best option is to extend the gravel pack up
well beyond the well screen. How do I do this? I can not pour
the gravel between the 2" pipe and the 1-1/4 because there is
not enough room. If I pull the 2" pipe all the way out and then
pour more gravel around the 1-1/4" pipe, will it settle down to
where I need it to go or is there another way of doing this?
I look forward to hearing from you soon. I hope I have worded my
questions in a way you can understand what I am talking about.
your comment! I hope the website is useful. Your questions
are perfectly clear. Let me know if my answers are not!
After you get
the two inch pipe to depth and worked it until IT IS REALLY
LOOSE, make up the whole length of the 1 ¼ inch pipe. For
example, if you have drilled with the two inch pipe to 30
feet, make up about 35 feet of 1 ¼ inch pipe, fully glued up
with a three foot well point at the end. Then pour gravel
down the two inch pipe and work the two inch pipe up and
down keeping it on top of the gravel. When you work it up
three feet meaning there is three feet of gravel in the
bottom of the hole and the top of the pipe is three feet
higher than when you started, put the well screen pipe all
the way down at once. When the well screen pipe hits bottom
it will stop. Push it gradually down while twisting it back
and forth until you have it three feet into the gravel.
The only way
with this “drilling" technique to make a really long gravel
pack is by drilling with a three inch pipe and using a 1 ¼
inch well screen and pipe. First drill to whatever depth
you can with the three inch pipe. Then put the 1 ¼ inch
well screen pipe all the way down. Then fill the three inch
pipe with gravel slowly as you work the three inch pipe up
and down until you have filled and raised say, ten feet.
Then you will have a three foot well screen at the bottom,
and ten feet of gravel pack. Then pull the three inch
drill pipe out of the ground.
Would it help if I used a post hole digger and go down
about 3 feet before starting to wash out the hole? How
can I find the ground water table for my area of
Yes, a post
hole digger is a great way to get the hole started.
Update! Don't use a post hole digger. It will
dig a larger hole than you may need. Just start
drilling with the drillpipe. If the top of the hole is
too big, it slows the upstream flow of the water/cuttings.
Thanks go to Bill in Tampa for this tip!
best way to find out the local water table is to ask
around. Neighbors, drillers, county agents, etc. In
Norfolk it is likely pretty high, I guessing like about 15
feet since you are close to the water.
There is still one thing I am unclear on. If I drill to 30',
how am I going to get a 30' long piece of 1-1/4" pipe in the
2" pipe. I can't stand a 30' piece of pipe on its end, it
would be too wobbly. I had read on your website where you
said to glue all the 1-1/4" pipe together but I just don't
see how that is going to work. Will it bend enough to leave
the opposite end on the ground while I insert the well point
end in the 2" pipe? Forgive me for being dense, but I want
to do this right the first time.
As for making a longer gravel pack, I was afraid you were
going to say use 3" pipe. I am going to use 2" pipe so the
3' gravel pack will have to do. Hopefully it will work OK.
No problem, I should have made this more clear earlier.
The 1 ¼ inch pipe will bend enough to do it. It takes a
bit of effort. It helps if you have two people and
something high to stand on like the bed of a pickup
truck. One person should stand on the bed of a pickup
while the other is on the ground aiming the pointed end
in the two inch pipe.
foot gravel pack will very highly likely be sufficient.
Most wells just use a single well point. I described
the longer gravel packs just to try to be thorough.
I was so
thrilled to find your web site. I love simple and
I'd like to drill a well in an area that has hot water.
The water is about 10 to 15 feet down. Guestimates of
its temperature range from 80 to 110 degrees, depending
on which underground stream area one is close to. I'm a
total novice about this, so what I'm wondering is if
your method, using PVC pipe, would work (is safe, would
hold up, etc.) for hot water, or if you can foresee any
possible problems because of the hot water.
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and
Thanks for your kind words!
PVC has a service rating up to 158 degrees
Fahrenheit. Even so, it might be a good
idea to put a steel pipe at then end of your PVC to
do the actual cutting. If PVC has too low of
a softening point for your application, try PVC
conduit. The grey stuff. I know CPVC would work
but it doesn’t come in two inch sizes. As a last
resort you could just use galvanized pipe. Since
you are drilling such a shallow hole, the weight
should be manageable if you use five foot sections..
You might as well try plain ole PVC first since it is
so easy and cheap though
you for your fast response. I live in Truth or
Consequences, NM. I've been told there's a fairly
shallow layer of clay on the surface and then pretty
soon you hit sand, so it shouldn't be difficult to dig
in. I haven't heard of water over 110 degrees around
here, so likely the PVC will be fine, but I'll consider
the metal pipe, since I hope to not have to go down more
than 20 feet.
When I first thought of drilling a shallow well here, I
talked to a couple of well-drillers and was told none of
them in the area will charge less than $4K to drill a
well, even if they only go down 20 feet, so I was
feeling dismayed I wouldn't be able to do this. I know
nothing at all about well-drilling, so your web site was
By the way, I'd like to put a hand-pump on the top.
Will that work?
Thanks for your kind words. 4K is
outrageous for 20 feet. I think you can make 8K
per day if you can line up customers. With just
sand and clay you should have no problem.
Please let me know how it goes.
The hand pump will be no problem.
I tried putting down a well today and I was not
successful. Actually things were going very well until I
started to put the gravel pack in. I used pea gravel
purchased from Lowes and I poured it directly from the
bag just as you do in your videos. However, I ran into a
serious problem. After having poured more than it should
take to fill three feet, nothing happened when I pulled
the pipe up, which meant the gravel was not coming out
the end of the pipe. I tried everything I knew but
nothing worked. Eventually, I pulled the entire 2" pipe
out of the ground. I had no choice because the 1-1/4"
pipe wouldn't go down far enough because of the gravel
stuck in the pipe. When I got the 2" pipe all the way
up. I discovered what the problem was. The pea gravel
had gone almost all the way to the bottom of the 2"
pipe, but a big rock (apparently in the pea gravel bag)
had gotten lodged very tightly about 6" from the end of
the pipe. Have you ever had this happen before? I guess
I should have screened it before I poured the pea gravel
in the pipe. I will try drilling again but I am dubious
about putting in the gravel pack. This was an awful lot
of work to come up empty-handed.
I do have a question. How far away should I drill next
time. I would like the well in the same general
vicinity, but I remember reading where you said you had
run into one of your unsuccessful wells on the second
attempt. I really want my next attempt to be successful.
Darn it. That sounds frustrating! I have never
found a big rock in pea gravel. I have good news
though… Your situation is different from mine.
Under your circumstances, I’d go right back in that
same hole. The pipe will follow the hole as you
drill. When you get back down to the depth you are
going for you can either try the gravel pack again
or just go with a well screen. How deep were you?
It was frustrating to no end. I was down to 21'. I know
that isn't very deep, but I am only trying to put in a
hand pump and the water table in my area is about 16-18'
and there is a limit to how far shallow well hand pumps
will pump water. I will try going back in the same hole.
Maybe it won't be as hard to drill this time. Things
went very easy down to 17'. Then it took me three hours
to go 4 more feet. I do not have clay or rock. At first
I thought I had hit a root, but after continuing to
drill, I am convinced it is just a hard pan.
One thing I will do different next time. I will make the
bit for the drill out of galv. pipe instead of PVC. I
will just use a 2" galv coupling with teeth cut into it
and attach it to the PVC pipe with a PVC male adapter.
When I pulled the pipe up, all the teeth were gone off
of my PVC bit. Perhaps that is one reason the last 4
feet were so difficult.
Thanks so much for your help.
You're welcome. I have experienced the
same thing. Re-cutting the teeth is quick and
easy, if only you know to do it! I wasted
several hours myself in an identical situation.
The only reason I knew to re-cut the teeth was I
pulled up the whole pipe to quit at the end of
the day! The next day, after cutting new
teeth, I finished the well very quickly.
It is amazing how hard that hard clay can be.
[I have added a section under Miscellaneous Tips
in response to this inquiry] You need to
get through that hard pan. The two inch
galvanized coupling, or nipple, with teeth cut
in the end will work very
well. Be sure and put a set screw
through both the pvc and the coupling to keep it
from twisting off. The next layer of sand
below it will likely be productive.
* note!! I heard
back from this gentleman and the big rock turned
out to be a hunk of clay stuck in the end of his
pipe - something to watch out for...
I can't pump as much as I need to. It runs out of water
when I try to turn it up high. What is up?
You may be experiencing a drawdown
sometimes called the "cone of depression." This occurs when a well
is pumped. No problem if you ware way under the water
table, but - If the bottom of the well is just under the water
table, you can run out of water quickly and be sucking air - or
at least as much air as there is down there to get.
At any rate your water pumping will literally dry up.
Photo from Rio
Colorado Reclamation Committee Site
solution is go deeper or put down parallel wells
well spaced from each other. If you
decide to put down parallel wells be sure and make
the pipes going to your shallow well pump from each
hole are equal
Mike can you expound on the hand held device used to
work the two inch pipe. What kind of clamps are you
recommending/using & so forth. I was using a pipe
wrench until I found your web site.
P.S. Great web site. Very helpful.
Thanks for you kind words! I am just using
cheap pipe clamps with the screw drive that
takes either a screwdriver or a nut runner.
Unfortunately, they tend to last only one well
or two. I have experimented with better clamps
but the ability to tighten and loosen the the
cheap screw clamps with a drill/driver with a
hex bit is very, very handy. I’d suggest using
three at a time. There is absolutely nothing
wrong with four if you can engineer it into your
My son wants to dig a well
on the back end of our
property where he is
building a horse corral for
his one horse. Being
in Michigan , we have to
deal with frost line of
about 2 ft. in the winter.
Not having electrical in
that part of the field, he
is thinking of using an old
fashioned hand pump. Do you
think this would work with
your type of well? We
are estimating he'll find
water at 25-30 ft.
Also, what would you
estimate the total cost of
this project to be? By
the way, you did an
excellent job on your
website explaining how to
dig a well. Thanks for
in a 1
Mike, you done great job
on your web site for
drilling wells. My question
is: Can a 1 1/4" 4 ft. well
point from Ace Hardware that
has jet holes in the point
of it be attached to 1 1/4"
PVC and jetted into the
ground just as you show in
your instructions, minus
using the 2" PVC for well
casing? In other words, I
would have the well point on
a length of 1 1/4" PVC and
sink it in the ground until
I hit water bearing sand.
Then attach a pump for the
sprinkler system. Thanks for
any advice you can give me
Thanks for your kind
the well point with
holes in the bottom: It
won’t work as well.
It will work but it is
not nearly as effective
at evacuating the
sand/dirt from the
bottom of the well as a
piece of PVC with teeth
cut in the bottom. If
you have a sandy soil
and a high water table
it may be adequate
Hey Mike, First off let me
say thanks for the great
info and video on digging a
well. I think I follow you
most of the way until you
get to the part at the end
were you say you need to
install a Wellpoint. Is
this something that fits
snugly into the pvc pipe at
the end? Also, in what
section of Home Depot do you
find the Wellpoints? I
asked two people there and
they had no idea what I was
Thanks! A wellpoint or a wellscreen is a piece of PVC (can be metal) with a jillion tiny slots in it. A wellpoint is nothing more than a wellscreen with a point on the end. Usually they have a blue point on the end. Here is what most of the PVC wellpoints look like.
They come in lengths from two to twenty feet. Most of the time you will be using about a three foot long wellpoint. Plenty of water can get in a three foot long wellpoint to produce six gallons per minute for typical irrigation purposes. The Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware stores all carry them in my area (Lower Alabama aka LA). I'm confused as to why they wouldn't carry them in most other locations.
First you dig a two inch
hole with the two inch
PVC pipe. Then,
when you get to the
depth you want your well
to be, put the 1 1/4
inch diameter PVC pipe
with a 1 1/4 inch
diameter well point down
through the two inch
piece to the bottom of
the hole. Have it
glued up beforehand so
you can put it down
through the two inch
piece all at once.
When you get the 1 1/4
inch piece to the
bottom, hold it down
while you raise the two
inch piece up enough to
expose the wellpoint at
the bottom. Six or
seven feet is usually
enough for a three foot
screen. Water can
flow freely from sand
into the wellpoint.
Then you attach a pump
to the 1 1/4 inch pipe
and tell the city water
folks to go gouge
Mike, I got my pipe stuck
right at 14'. It is 3" pipe
and I was wondering if I
could start inside there
with 2" or drive a well
point or am I just plain
screwed? Let me know if you
have any friendly
You can start
there with a smaller
pipe, provided it fits.
probably get that one
loose. If you were
25 feet down I wouldn't
be so optomistic but 14
feet should be
unstickable (if that is
a word). Get a 1/2 or 3/4
inch piece and jet it
down around the edges as
well as in the
pipe and you can
probably get it loose.
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