Miscellaneous Well Drilling Tips

Time Savers and Problem Solvers

 

1.  A couple of these in-line hose valves are very helpful when it comes time to add a length of pipe.  They save you from having to go so far to turn the water on and off.


IN-LINE HOSE VALVES

Even better! - Here is a tip from Bryce, who saw the above tip on the website and wrote in with a very good idea:

FYI

Hose valves are built to be cheapů.and are thus poorly designed. They usually contain a rubber gasket that eventually fails and they have a very low flow rate.

 

The solution is to connect directly to the plumbing line using a full port 1/4 turn ball valve. (ideally 3/4 or 1") This solution will give you much greater flow especially if you use a commercial 3/4 hose. The ball valves also tend to last much longer and close without leaking. 

Thanks Bryce!

 

2. When you are working the pipe into the ground, sometimes you will start to feel very hard obstructions.   As you rotate the pipe, you will feel the teeth at the bottom catching on something.  It might feel like rock but if the area you live in is flat it probably isn't.  It is more likely wood that has been buried for a long time.  Don't give up until you are sure it is rock.  Keep trying for an hour or two.  I have had this happen several times and have gotten past it every time.

3.  Forgive me for repeating myself on this one but I stuck a few pipes in sand before I understood it.  It doesn't make sense at first but when you are using hoses for your water supply the weakest part of your "drilling" setup is not the plastic drill bit.   It isn't the human powered drill motor.   It is the water flow.  You have to give the water plenty of time to do its thing.   The water will bring the cuttings to the surface but it takes longer than you expect.  As you get deeper it takes even longer.  Go slowly, even if it seems like you are able to go faster.  Work the pipe up and down and side to side until it is loose before proceeding down further.

4.  When it is time to add another length of pipe and you are using PVC glue, you have to be especially sure you have worked the existing pipe very loose.  It is going to take about five or six minutes to add the pipe and give the glue a chance to set and the looser the pipe is in the ground is when you start, the less likely it is that sand will collapse sufficiently to stick your pipe while you are adding the new piece.   Also, always use PVC primer and give it a minute to set up before applying PVC glue.

 

 

5.  When you are drilling it hard clay and you don't seem to be getting anywhere, check to see if you need to re-sharpen your bit.  Pull the pipe completely out of the ground and look at the bottom end.  It is easy to underestimate how hard clay can be.  Sometimes, it feels essentially like rock.    When you are drilling in clay this hard, it will dull the teeth on the end of your PVC pipe.  On one project I got down to 25 feet, hit clay, and the next three feet took me six hours.  Like a dummy I never checked my bit.  Finally, at 28 feet, I had to quit for the day so I pulled the pipe out of the ground.  I found the end of the pipe was worn completely smooth.  You could not tell there was ever a tooth there.  The next day (after I cut new teeth on the end!)  I finished the well quickly.  An alternative solution to this problem is to use a metal bit.  Buy a two inch galvanized nipple and cut the teeth in it.  You'll need to include a set screw through the PVC and the bit to keep it from working loose.

6.  When you are drilling an injection well for a geothermal heat pump system, it is important to fill in around the annular space with cement (another one I learned the hard way!).   This will keep the water that is being injected back into the ground from coming up around the well pipe.

7.  There are two types of two inch connectors.  There are little short (about 2.5 inch long) ones that will fail every time.  There are longer beefier ones that are about five inches long.  You HAVE to use the longer ones.

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I have noticed a definite trend.  The tips I get from you tend to be better than the tips I have posted myself.  Embarassing, but true.  So, I'm going to start posting a bunch of the tips you are sending me.  Here goes.

From Phil :

Here are some of the lessons I learned that may be of assistance to others.

 1. Look up, It can be difficult to pull 25 or 30 feet of pipe out of the ground with overhead obstructions, in my case trees. If you are working inside, dig a deep enough pit to use ten foot lengths of pipe so you don't have an excessive amount of couplings. 

2. It's worth the time and trouble to make a steel drill tip. Mine is a 2" pipe coupling. 

3. If you cut teeth in the plastic, make a sawtooth pattern, not a triangle tooth. They only cut one direction, but they last longer and I believe they cut better. 

4. If you want to put down a large casing (over 3 inch) use inside couplings so it will pull up more easily. My 4 inch went quite well down to the 19 feet I went and except for the weight of raising it I believe I could have easily gone 30 feet. 

5. Use primer to make your joints. The extra strength is worth the trouble. 

6.. You can't have too much water flow. Buy or rent a pump and use a settling basin if you can't get sufficient water or don't want a high water bill from your efforts. Use full port valves on your water hoses as those cheap ones, no matter how short the distance through them, severely restrict water flow 

7. Use double clamps on your rubber coupling and sand the pipe to roughen it, sanding in a circular motion around the pipe. This increase the pressure you can produce a lot without blowing off the coupling. If that's not enough to free a pipe you'll just have to glue it together.  

8. If you have a pipe stuck and all else fails, try using a small diameter pipe alongside it (1/2 or 3/4) to get the soil or sand liquefied again and free it. 

9. A large heavy metal object on a chain (sharpened well) will break up all but (bedrock) the largest rocks.  

10. Perseverence, not cussing will get you the farthest :)

 Phil

From Jim in Texas on how to find out how deep wells are in your area.  This shows how to use the usgs.gov website to find data on wells in many areas of the country.  It covers a lot but it doesn't cover the entire United States.  The data was recorded incident to the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE).   The example below shows how to find well data in the Pell City, Alabama area.  Follow the example and you'll see how to look up your area of the country as well.  (no pun intended!)

From Jim: 


Its a little complicated,but here goes...
 
Take Birmingham for example.
 
Go to the USGS website
Click the black section in the upper right hand corner,where it says : SEARCH USGS
Type in Birmingham NURE,or your location NURE
The search should show : Birmingham Quadrangle NURE HSSR Study - click on that.
Scroll down to : 
Download The Data

Birmingham Quadrangle Water Data - click this (either here or on the website...)

There's 1,739 samples collected on that grid - not all of them are wells - some are stream samples.

Click Birmingham North and it will enlarge that grid.

Then you can click a specific region,like Pell City.There were 17 samples there.

Then click Browse Records One at a Time.

Scroll down about 1/4 of the way and it will say sample source : STREAM

Go back up to the top and on the upper right hand corner it says NEXT RECORD:,click this until you get 1182025 (about nine times - the previous 8 samples were streams...)

2/3 rds of the way down under : Site characteristics it shows the well was 185 ft.

Go back up to the top and click Google Maps and it will show the exact location of the well. 

You can go to NEXT RECORD and search for more wells in that area.

You could also go to other regions or other quadrants in the grid. 

My search got me pretty close to where I want to drill,and I know that the wells range from 24 - 35 ft. in my area. 

I guess the NURE study was looking for uranium levels in water,but they recorded well locations and depths as part of the study....Finally I have benefited from our tax dollars at work !!! 

This data is approximate,but it can give you an idea of well depths in your region.

 

NEXT:  Groundwater

 

 

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